Law Firm Lateral Hiring: The Importance of Due Diligence and Background Checks

1. What should law firms investigate when considering lateral hires?
Law firms should investigate the candidate’s past ethical and professional conduct, including disciplinary actions, sanctions, or ethical violations. They should also review the candidate’s practices for protecting sensitive client information, marketing and advertising efforts to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations, and fee-sharing and referral arrangements.
2. What steps should law firms take to ensure a smooth onboarding process?
Law firms should develop a comprehensive onboarding plan outlining the new hire’s role, responsibilities, and expectations; introduce the hire to their new colleagues and give them an of the firm’s culture, policies, and procedures; ensure the new hire can access the necessary resources; and regularly check in with the new hire to address concerns, provide guidance, and facilitate their integration into the firm.
3. What are some benefits of lateral hiring for law firms?
Some benefits of lateral hiring for law firms include acquiring top talent and expanding practice areas, which can help them strengthen their competitive advantage in the legal market.
4. How can law firms mitigate potential risks associated with lateral hiring?
Law firms can mitigate potential risks by assessing a lateral candidate’s compliance with ethical and regulatory requirements and reviewing their fee agreements to ensure they are transparent, fair, and following applicable rules and guidelines.
5. What is the ultimate goal of lateral hiring?
The ultimate goal of lateral hiring is to create a mutually beneficial partnership that strengthens the law firm and gives the new hire a successful integration into the firm.

The Growing Trend of Lateral Hiring

In recent years, lateral hiring has emerged as a major trend in the legal industry. This strategy allows law firms to acquire experienced attorneys with specialized skills, valuable client relationships, and industry connections. Firms increasingly utilize lateral hiring to grow their practice, expand into new markets, and establish a presence in niche areas of law.
The legal industry has seen a significant increase in lateral hiring over the past decade, with law firms recognizing the numerous advantages of bringing experienced attorneys on board. This trend can be attributed to several factors contributing to the rising popularity of lateral hiring among both large and small law firms.
  1. Expertise and Specialization: As the legal landscape becomes more complex, law firms seek experienced attorneys with specialized knowledge and skills in various practice areas. By hiring laterally, firms can quickly acquire these sought-after competencies and better serve their client's evolving needs.
  2. Expanding Client Base: Lateral hiring allows law firms to acquire established attorneys with a strong client base. By bringing in new clients, firms can diversify their revenue streams, reduce dependency on a single practice area, and create opportunities for cross-selling services to existing clients.
  3. Market Penetration and Geographic Expansion: Law firms looking to expand their reach or establish a presence in new markets can benefit from lateral hires. Experienced attorneys with local knowledge and connections can provide valuable insight into the local legal landscape, help develop new business relationships, and ultimately contribute to the firm's growth.
  4. Competitive Advantage: In an increasingly competitive legal market, law firms constantly seek ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. By hiring experienced and highly-skilled attorneys, firms can bolster their reputation, showcase their expertise, and attract high-value clients.
  5. Succession Planning and Leadership Development: Lateral hiring can also be a strategic move for law firms regarding succession planning and leadership development. By hiring experienced attorneys, firms can ensure a smooth transition of leadership roles, minimize disruption, and maintain the continuity of client relationships.
  6. Demand for Agility and Adaptability: The dynamic nature of the legal industry requires law firms to be agile and adaptable in responding to changing client needs and market conditions. Lateral hiring provides an efficient way for firms to adjust their capabilities and expertise in response to these changes, ensuring they remain relevant and competitive.
  7. Talent Acquisition and Retention: With the war for talent in the legal industry intensifying, law firms are increasingly looking for creative ways to attract and retain top attorneys. Lateral hiring allows firms to acquire experienced and skilled lawyers seeking new challenges or a change in the work environment.
  8. Mergers and Acquisitions: Lateral hiring can significantly affect law firm mergers and acquisitions. By bringing in key attorneys from the acquired firm, the acquiring firm can ensure a smooth integration of the two firms, maintain client relationships, and capitalize on the combined expertise of the merged entity.