Why Lateral Attorneys Leave and What You Can Do About It | BCGSearch.com \n

Why Lateral Attorneys Leave and What You Can Do About It


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How successful has your firm been with its laterals? Even if your firm has few problems luring qualified lateral hires, retention among this group is more of an issue than it is with homegrown practitioners, law firm leaders tell BCG Attorney Search. One reason, according to the people we contacted, relates to problems with general integration.
Why Lateral Attorneys Leave and What You Can Do About It

This is confirmed by one survey of law firm recruitment professionals that found 50% of respondents concluding that laterals "underestimate the importance of fitting into a firm's culture." In many instances, lateral associates feel isolated and have a dearth of relationships with people outside of their departments. This sounds like a problem that's simple enough to remedy. Indeed, when we asked for their solutions, law firm leaders responsible for lateral recruitment in firms across the U.S. offered myriad suggestions. Their insights on integration, 10 of which we've outlined below, should help you devise a plan for addressing lateral attrition and also for facilitating the transition for all your new lawyers. The suggestions:
  • Encourage attorneys to reach out to new hires. After the mandatory lunches come to an end, try instituting a bimonthly luncheon series. Here, senior partners can discuss the firm's history, culture, and practice specialties, and explain the little things, like office protocol and evaluations. Pair lateral associates with home-grown class members and legal assistants as part of a team. This way laterals get to work and bond with the associates who will move with them as they advance. They'll also learn the ropes from the staff they'll come to work with in the firm. Laterals gain confidence when a new class of laterals comes in and they can help others out. And staff members benefit from the acknowledgement that they're an integral part of the firm's team.
  • Counter partners' false assumptions that lateral associates are fully-trained lawyers who can simply be put into an office to do their thing. Require lateral associates to compile a list of background skills (find out if they've been to trial, drafted a deposition, etc.) during their first week of orientation. Distribute lists to their assigned partners to help ease laterals' stress levels and assist partners in identifying areas where training is needed.
  • Address compensation disparities that leave laterals feeling isolated when your home-grown associates assume they are being paid one thing, while laterals are paid what the market will bear. Consider a plan that brings laterals in with a specific track to partnership. Then agree to pay them compensation commensurate with their class level, as well as a bonus for exceptional performance.
  • Set up a training program specifically for lateral associates. Have them take basic sessions on writing, deposition skills, oral advocacy, and the like. Afterward, try putting laterals into your existing in-house training program cycle, depending on when they come in during the calendar year. Then, have them start over again with the fall class until they've completed all components of the firm's training program.
  • Departmentalize your firm's mentoring program. Department chairs can assign and oversee the firm's program so all lateral associates have a mentor assigned in their area of interest. Teaming up laterals with lawyers from a different practice group may mean they're left with someone who has little interest vested in their development.
  • Conduct bimonthly surveys of lateral associates to check on their progress in the firm. And once you gather input and identify problems, use e-mail updates to keep partners in charge apprised of problems.
  • Create an impromptu lateral committee, akin to your firm's associates' committee. This way, laterals, too, can give input on issues that affect their stay in the firm during their first year.
  • Distribute bios and pictures throughout the firm before your new lateral hires arrive. This will help your existing attorneys establish ties that may facilitate the transition process.
  • Walk the halls to gather input from laterals. Many will be reluctant to admit they feel neglected. But ask anyway, and be sure to follow up on problems immediately.
Interested in Learning More About Legal Hiring? Read the Definitive Guide:

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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