Drizzlemakers of the world unite…and that’s ok

Drizzlemakers of the world unite…and that’s ok

My latest missive in The Lawyer about doing your sums before deciding to hire partners laterally seems to have exercised a few commentators who accuse me of not knowing what the hell I’m talking about.

Being the kind of guy I am I can’t just leave that one alone; do they have a point? I immediately pored over the copy again to see where I might have gone wrong.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about lateral partner hiring…

My latest publication – to be titled ‘LATERAL PARTNER HIRING FOR LAW FIRMS: HIRING FOR SUCCESS’ – has just gone to the publishers, Ark Group, and should be out in a couple of months’ time.

The Ark format is that of a special report, perfect-bound and easily-digestible. This report is 40,000 words of entirely new material, a kind of revision of the report I did for Ark back in 2011.

Among other things, the report looks at the hiring process for partners in three distinct stages – Planning, Process and Integration – and introduces a new methodology for calculating when lateral hires break even. This concept will also be trailed in an article to be published by The Lawyer in September.

I will of course post a new piece when the report is out, including a link to buy it.

US firms and building London

US firms and building London

If you’re a US firm, what is the balance between home-grown and US-derived work in your London (or for that matter any other foreign) office?

One of my clients asked  what the balance was at other US firms, having read in this week’s edition of The Lawyer that Kirkland & Ellis, for example, derives 70% of its London revenue from the US.

That set me thinking about what the ideal balance might be, and how that might affect partner behaviours within the office and lateral recruitment.

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The difficult business of lateral hiring…

The third year of my research into failure rates of partner lateral hires in London has been extensively featured in The Lawyer today. The article points to outright failure of roughly a third, though the figure is somewhat distorted by the fact that some firms are terrible at it. In the mainstream, London mid-tier and hybrid firms, failure rates range from 15-25%, which is certainly expensive enough.The most interesting findings of the research this year are that US firms are worse hirers than UK firms, that hires from in-house directly into partnership suffer much greater failure rates than from other law firms, and that hires into transactional areas such as corporate and finance are markedly more likely to fail than those into specialist areas or litigation.

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What’s your R&D budget?

What’s your R&D budget?

What does your law firm spend on research and development? Do you even think about it that way?

In 2010/11, UK businesses spent around £18.6bn on R&D, according to government estimates, part of overall UK R&D spending of about £26bn, or around 2% of GDP.

For many businesses, R&D is the backbone of the company, but for law firms it may seem like a pretty strange way to look at things. After all, law is essentially a reactive discipline, delivering precedent-based legal advice in a trusted, time-honoured way.

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London train station

Dewey ‘bonanza’ disguises flat lateral market in London

The collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf caused a surge in partners looking for new positions in the London market, but did that phenomenon disguise a weakness in the lateral partner market in the second quarter of 2012?

My latest findings are that Q2 2012 may have been the worst quarter for partner lateral hiring (in terms of numbers of hires announced) for almost five years if one takes into account the ‘Dewey 20’, partners from the stricken firm forced to move rapidly to new homes as the US titan sank beneath the waves of its own hubristic expansion (see graph).

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Is there a magic bullet for legal services?

In my regular interviews with law firm partners and clients as part of my service, one of my favourite questions is: “in terms of the delivery of legal service, do you think there is a ‘magic bullet’, that is to say do you think there is a way of delivering legal services that isn’t currently being done?”

The answer is invariably – and I mean invariably – “no”.

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Lateral hiring: new research available

My latest research into lateral partner hiring in London – the second year I’ve undertaken this exercise – is now available for download in the Downloads section of this website or, if you prefer, directly from me at mark.brandon@motivelegal.com, which may serve if you have comments or questions.

The research looked at 2,295 partner hires in the London market from 2005-2011, and for the first time examines the relative success of team hiring (it isn’t, statistically-speaking, any more likely to mean partners hang around than if you hire them individually, btw).

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pulling the plug on poor investments

Lateral hires: pulling the plug on poor investments

When is the best time to pull the plug on a bad investment in a partner?

This crossed my mind a few weeks ago when I noted the move of a partner I once acted for, many moons ago when I was a recruiter. He was seeking to leave the firm which had headhunted him as he was finding the environment unsuitable for his practice.

It was a familiar story; he had been hired with great promises of lots of untapped work in the firm’s client base and – rare even at the time – had been hired on a two-year escalating (!) guarantee.

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Do lateral hires deliver value?

Taking a further exploratory jaunt into the murky world of partner lateral hiring, I’ve produced a pdf containing a little bit of research I’ve done, following up on my research earlier in the year.

Entitled ‘Lateral Partner Moves in London: Do they deliver value?’, it’s shortly available in the Downloads section on my site, or by email to me (mark.brandon@motivelegal.com) and has been featured in slightly cut-down form in The Lawyer today.

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