Are There Lateral Opportunities for a Non-equity Tax Partner without Portable Business? |

Are There Lateral Opportunities for a Non-equity Tax Partner without Portable Business?


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Question:I am a Non-Equity Tax Partner at a large law firm and am considering a lateral law firm move, however I do not have any portable business. Will there be viable lateral opportunities for someone like me?
Answer: The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including your area(s) of tax expertise, geographic regions of interest and current market trends in those regions.
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We are seeing significant demand for senior level tax attorneys, at the equity and non-equity level, throughout just about every region of the US. However, firms differ in terms of what type of specialized tax experience they are seeking and why they are seeking that experience. For example, you may find that some firms are seeking transactional tax specialists and do not require portable business because their tax work comes directly from the firm's corporate group. In that case, while portable business would be a bonus, the firm is most concerned to find someone with the tax expertise needed to service existing work. In other cases, however, a firm may generally be looking to strengthen its tax practice by adding partner level talent to bring in new clients. In such cases, firms will typically want to see a sizeable book of business.

As a rule, the more specialized your practice the more likely it is you will be able to make a strong lateral move without portable business. This is simply because there will be fewer people out there with the requisite experience. Thus, if you are a multi-jurisdictional tax expert or a transfer tax specialist, you will likely have more opportunities to make a partner level move without business than would a tax controversy attorney.

All of this depends, of course, on market trends. The transfer pricing expert won't be able to make a lateral move, no matter how much of an expert he is, if there is no demand for transfer tax expertise; however, he will be in great shape when market conditions favor his practice area. Market trends are always evolving and, thus, it is often a matter of staying attuned to and taking advantage of changing trends. Keep in mind that market trends and practice area demand are not geographically universal - they vary from region to region and state to state. Candidates without portable business can often take advantage of favorable market conditions in other regions where they have personal or professional ties, or where they would simply consider relocating to under the right circumstances.

Finally, if you have an interest in developing your own client base at a new firm, there are always additional things you can do to enhance your candidacy. Consider preparing a business plan which outlines any prospective clients you might be able to bring to the firm and which presents ideas for developing new business and conducting outreach.
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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,, and, 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

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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