A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes
  • Who are our real competitors (in this practice area and in the eyes of candidates contemplating choosing your firm) - and are they active in the lateral market? How do we compare in the market place to our active competitors?
  • What is your competition in the lateral market at this time? A good search firm can give you a fairly complete picture of who else is seeking lawyers. An open ended dialogue with your key search firms about market trends and market conditions is critical to being able to assess the difficulty of a search and to determine the proper search method to employ.

All firms have 'issues' in terms of reputation, spin, and negative facts - understand how these may impact this search? Do we have "issues" in terms of turnover, recent exposure in the media, financial trends/facts/issues which may assist / limit us in lateral hiring?
Caution - You must accept that high performing, spectacular, well-adjusted associates currently working for your leading competitors are highly unlikely to move to your firm. The best lawyers are content - and almost all lawyers are risk averse.

Absent some truly compelling circumstances, spectacular associates at comparable firms are unlikely to move across the street. Understand that the assessments of potential lateral associates may not match your views of your relative strength in the community. As a recruiting professional one of your most important jobs is to manage the expectations of your department leaders - who may have unrealistic notions about the volume / quality / deliverability of candidates. Sometimes partners who have worked in one firm for a long time have decidedly unrealistic notions of what can be accomplished in partner and associate lateral hiring. When that partner is also the one who lets you know at the last possible moment that "we need 3 corporate lawyers ASAP" - you must work with them on what is realistic in terms of delivering exceptional candidates.