"What went wrong?”
That was the question the partner had called to ask me. Here’s a little background: a partner had recently joined a new law firm and while the law firm client was thrilled to have her on board, just three weeks into her new position with the firm, the lateral partner was already second guessing her decision. “What did I do wrong?” she asked herself. What most firm leadership fails to recognize is that the next question a lateral partner typically ask themselves is, “Did I make a bad decision?” So what could have happened in such a short period of time that could lead the partner to ask these questions and have feelings of “buyer’s remorse?” Believe it or not, this isn’t unusual and oftentimes, firm leadership isn’t even aware of it or the emotional distrust it creates. Let me offer some insight into a problem that we see too often. A law firm does a great job of focusing their recruiting discussions on a new lateral partner candidate and once the candidate has shown a level of interest, they put on the full court press. The firm launches a strategic courtship of lunches, cocktails and dinners leading up to the offer and the decision the partner makes to accept their offer. This love affair usually extends over a period of time, two to four months is the average. If all goes well, the partner candidate feels appreciated, valued, desired and emotionally begins to believe that this firm could really be different. They really like the new culture and the respect they show to one another. So naturally, with a little more money, the partner candidate accepts the firm’s offer. The celebratory dinner is quickly scheduled, and the wine is poured. The partner’s present firm soon becomes an ex, and then the clients are informed of the wonderful decision and the transition occurs. The romance is such a whirlwind.
Everything is great, right? The firm thinks so. And business continues. After the partner’s new office is chosen and the orientation is complete, the calls from top firm leadership begin to occur with less frequency. And no longer is the partner receiving the warm glowing voicemails, no more lunches or dinners with the top firm leadership… which many explain, “They’re the reason I joined!” Trust me when I say this isn’t an anomaly, nor a hypothetical. This happens 2 out of 3 times to highly sought-after partners. And consequently, the new partner expresses feelings of being trapped. “My clients would certainly think I’ve lost my mind if I went back to my ex-firm or if I moved again so quickly!” So they do their best to push their feelings aside, focus on transitioning their clients and meeting others within the new firm. But this leads to resentment, and trust me when I say, those feelings continue to linger, simmering like the steam on a hot bowl of Ghost Pepper chili. But this doesn’t have to be the case with your firm. Our team has designed a program that avoids the “buyer’s remorse” and actually keeps the momentum going long after a partner’s decision to join your firm. If you’re interested in learning how to keep the love light burning, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.