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.

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.

Continue Reading
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.

Continue Reading
Writing on wall

Partner lateral hiring returns to 2008 levels

Partner lateral hiring in the London market has returned to 2008 levels, according to my most recent research. I’ve compiled the first of what will become a quarterly review of trends in a new bulletin, with a ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ title: The London Lateral Hiring Trends Bulletin. There were 130 partner hires announced in Q1 of this year, a 12% increase on the same time last year.

Continue Reading

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, 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).

Continue Reading

The future: a more ‘intimate’ place…?

‘Client intimacy’ is – I have to confess – a new expression for me, but it was very much one of the topics du jour at the latest Client Day held by the guys (and gals) at Møller PSFG in Cambridge on Wednesday, where yours truly was very fortunate to be delivering a session as well.

If you are in professional services and interested in leadership and development and you haven’t come across Møller PSFG, then you very much need to.

Continue Reading

The lateral hire addiction

For the past twenty years, law firms in the UK, both domestic and foreign, have been consistently hiring partners.

The London market – where my earlier research was focused – sees recruitment of around 400 a year, increasingly in teams (where clients can get them…).

Given such consistent and ardent hiring, you’d think that the case for lateral hires had been pretty much made, but my experience is that many hires are opportunistic rather than strategic, and that many fail.

Continue Reading

Downloads now available

Thanks to my excellent web designer, Wes, the site now has a downloads section, currently including the first Monograph – ‘In Defence of the Billable Hour‘ – and a summary paper covering some of the results of my research into Lateral Partner Moves in London. I’ll be adding to this as I go along.

All downloads are – and will remain – free of charge, and users are welcome to share them as they wish. If you are quoting from them in communications or articles, it would be nice if you were to cite Motive as a source. If you would like to reciprocate, please simply Subscribe to updates from the site (RSS feed etc), or send me an email to move the debate along.

As ever, if there are any issues you would like to discuss or anything you need assistance on, please feel free to get in touch.