An attorney in a small executive compensation department of a large law firm contacted us interested in potentially moving to one of the most prestigious law firms in New York City. The attorney had excellent educational qualifications and was coming from a well-respected law firm. However, the law firm the attorney was interested in joining was a firm that typically did not hire lateral attorneys and took all of its associates from its summer associate class. In fact, from what I understand this law firm has really hired laterally at the associate level.
This attorney not only had one year of experience and the law firm indicated to me privately that they might be interested in an attorney with 3 to 5 years of experience to replace one who just left. When I told the attorney about this opening, they told me that they were nervous about applying because the law firm is seeking someone with more experience than they had. I told the attorney that it was worth a shot and called the law firm and asked if it would be okay for him to apply despite the fact that they were seeking someone more senior. The law firm indicated that they would like to see his materials and the attorney applied.
The law firm interviewed the attorney shortly after receiving their application. The attorney was very surprised when several days later they received an offer from the firm. Some law firms are extremely difficult to lateral into opportunities at them come up very rarely—if ever—in an attorney’s career. Here, this attorney was able to get a position with a very well-regarded law firm despite not having been a summer associate at the firm. One of the exciting things about the legal profession is that even the most prestigious New York law firms are not impenetrable if the law firms have a specific need that they cannot fill internally. Executive compensation is a very niche practice area and had this attorney been experienced in something like litigation, corporate, or real estate the odds of them ever getting into a firm of this caliber would be slim indeed.