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Fact or Fiction?

Recently I was chatting with a client regarding the seemingly large number of lateral partner candidates who are suddenly available in the market. It made me think of the Wizard of Oz film, when the wizard told the scarecrow, “You don’t need an education, you just need a diploma!” It was a heartfelt sentiment in the 1939 movie, but in reality, we all recognize that the education is more valuable than the diploma. How does this relate to law firm growth initiatives? While the illusion may appear that the lateral partner candidate pool is deep, a lateral partner minus the loyal clients and the book of business that follows, may not offer the value your firm is seeking... even when they have the academic credentials. It's a reality, most firms are seeking rainmakers.

Here's a fact: Managing partners who are willing to discuss their results report that roughly 50-60 percent of the lateral partners actually hired are considered a success. And there’s a good reason for that. While there is definitely a risk/reward metric to the economics, and as more and more law firms continue to manage unproductive partners, firms that are in a growth mode should recognize that some of the candidates they may be courting, could have been asked to look elsewhere due to poor production. How can your firm improve its success ratio with laterals while making sure your firm is not actively recruiting a lateral partner who is being discarded by another firm? It’s important to have an advocate in your corner who is skilled and experienced in navigating these tough questions. You can call it optimism or denial, but many unproductive partner candidates will unknowingly portray themselves as your firm’s next rainmaker.

We have a strong track record of learning the truth (facts) for our clients. Not all growth strategies are the same, one size does not fit all. Investing the time to create the growth initiative that fits your firm's culture and objectives is not only smart like the scarecrow, but requires the heart of the tin man and the courage of the lion.

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of any candidate with respect to your firm’s interests and specific fit to bring the greatest benefit. To arrange for a confidential conversation with one of our experienced team members, contact JAG at

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