Attorneys typically want their “decision” to look for a lateral position at a new firm to translate quickly into a new job. But there are numerous factors that control the speed with which an attorney will get a new position and they are beyond the control of the attorneys looking for positions. The legal market is very competitive and there are typically multiple applicants for each position. Also, each attorney has “negative weight” that will be taken more or less seriously by law firms depending on factors such as the priorities of the firms, the geographic areas, and the economy in general and in regards to certain practice areas. This guide explains how law firms evaluate candidates.
 
Top 30 Factors Large Law Firms Consider When Hiring Lateral Attorneys
 
The Concept of the Applicant Bucket
 
 
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

The “concept of the applicant bucket” will govern how long it will take for you to get a position with a major law firm.
 
  • If you look at each application you file, there will be a certain number of applicants for that position that the law firm will be evaluating in a “bucket".
  • Most of the applicants will fall to the bottom of the bucket because they have too much “negative weight".
  • The law firm will ultimately choose the candidate who has the least amount of “negative weight” and the most positive “points” (buoyancy factors that help a candidate rise to the top of the bucket).
 
Law firms are businesses and governed by maximizing self-interest, which means they will hire the attorney who floats to the top of its bucket of applicants. You will succeed in lateraling into a law firm to the extent that you have the least amount of “negative weight” and are at the top of the bucket.