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).

I have also responded to comments on last year’s research that dividing firms into UK and US firms failed to consider the different character of US-UK mergers, or hybrid firms. I thought this was a fair point and as it happens, the hybrids seem to have been slightly more successful than UK firms and rather more successful than non-merged US firms, which seems to suggest a certain logic to the strategy, at least in hiring terms.

London lateral hires by practice area, and failure rate (image courtesy of The Lawyer magazine)
London lateral hires by practice area, and failure rate (image courtesy of The Lawyer magazine)

The research, although it did take some time to put together and check, is fairly simple in essence; it simply notes when partners were hired and whether they are still at the firms which hired them. It is for law firms to decide whether a partner they hire, and who leaves within three years, has been a success or not, although my contacts in law firm HR suggest that under five years’ tenure has to be considered a ‘failure’, purely in profitability terms.

I hazard that most lawyers moving from one firm to another would hope that they will stay longer than three years, hopefully longer than five. Lawyers do not like moving, and for good reason; there is a stigma around having moved too often and, while partners will be forgiven one wrong move which results in them having to leave quickly, they will rarely be forgiven two.

What underlies this research is a perennial theme of mine; the idea that law firms are failing too often in the lateral hire process, and that the reasons for failure are manifold and often a result of complex, interlocking factors which are not often readily identifiable. Nonetheless, too many firms are doing too little work on planning, selection and integration and far too often relying on recruiters and candidates to provide strategic shape to their offering.

Of course I have my own views on what law firms can do to improve things, and would encourage you to contact me if you would like more information or to discuss things in more detail – mark.brandon@motivelegal.com

I’ll also take this chance to plug once again the special report I wrote last year: Lateral Partner Hiring & Integration for Law Firms which is published by Ark Publishing. An abstract and sample chapter are available for download in the Downloads section (above). I am also hosting a ‘Masterclass’ on the subject for Ark Conferences on Thursday 29 March. Ark have kindly offered a 10% discount on the £495 + VAT cost of this one-day event. Simply mention this referral when you book.

Once again, thank you for your kind interest and all the helpful comments and questions I get on a regular basis.

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