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Gaining Insight – Looking at things from a Partner’s perspective

The meeting with the law firm was arranged with excitement and anticipation. As the partner drove to the meeting, navigating through traffic, she couldn’t help but reflect back on the last several weeks, when she had first received the voicemail. The caller was unknown to the partner, but left a message that she recalled as having raised her curiosity. “One never knows when a call may lead to a new client referral,” she thought. So she made a point to return the call upon returning from an extended trip out of the country.

The man on the other end professionally identified himself as a consultant and explained that this was no ordinary call, implying that this one should be heard with careful consideration. Following brief introductions and more informal conversations, a personal meeting was arranged. At the time, it wasn’t really a big deal to the partner since the consultant offered to travel to her city and meet over lunch. Upon meeting, there was an easiness in their conversation that struck the partner. The consultant carefully outlined that he had contacted her on behalf of a client, and began to talk more about the client, with occasional breaks to ask thoughtful questions. The partner was intrigued, by the consultant’s knowledge, but also by the manner in which it was presented. The consultant had definitely done his homework. She could tell that he knew more about her than he originally volunteered, and it was reassuring, if not comforting. He was obviously practiced; deliberate, and with an opportunity that actually sounded exciting.

Telephone conversations with the consultant became more frequent, with a friendship starting to take shape. They shared stories regarding people they both knew, the industry and the contacts they shared in common, and the conversations gave the partner a sense of well-being. The consultant became someone who the partner felt she could trust, all in a matter of a few weeks.

The partner realized that over the past six weeks she had become a targeted candidate for an exciting position with a law firm. The consultant was hired to assist the law firm in attracting top tiered partner level talent to their growing team. She couldn’t hold back a grin because at the time of the voicemail, she wasn’t even considering a career move. After all, she was still excited about her practice. With each year, she felt more and more confident that it was growing and expanding, establishing her brand. But there was something about this new opportunity that had become an interesting fascination, one that made her feel compelled to learn more.

But she couldn’t put her finger on what exactly was driving her interest. Was it the challenge of the new opportunity, or the law firm? She had to admit that it felt exciting to be pursued, and with each conversation with the consultant, who was always so encouraging, asking insightful questions that the partner knew made a lot of sense, it was tapping an entrepreneurial spirit that she hadn’t felt since… well, maybe ever.

On the day of the meeting with the law firm, as she parked and entered the building, the partner told herself to be ready in the event an offer was extended. She realized that her hands had become a little clammy, and her heart was racing. She laughed at herself. When was the last time that happened? Until a few weeks ago, she hadn’t considered that her life would take this exciting turn.

Unfortunately, when the meeting with the law firm finally took place, the reality was that the offer wasn’t what she had hoped. The firm was professional, the proposed offer was appreciated, but the terms lacked enough incentive to justify a career shift at this stage of her practice.

In spite of feeling a slight disappointment, she was strangely self-assured of her feelings as she left their offices. She reminded herself that it was smart to listen, to gain the full insight of the opportunity. She wouldn’t delay in contacting her friend, the consultant who had become a trusted advisor. She paused as she sent the text. Would the consultant be disappointed as well? After all, he did work on behalf of the law firm. Still, she knew she needed to talk over the details with someone.

Once again, the consultant surprised her. She liked that the consultant never attempted to tell her what to think or how to respond, but true to each of the other calls, the consultant carefully walked her through a series of basic questions. Some questions were straightforward, while others were emotionally insightful, such as, “How did you feel when you first heard the terms?” Again, his style was comforting, uniquely direct and served a meaningful purpose.

Understanding Other Perspectives Is A Key Leadership Skill.

After spending nearly an hour talking and walking through the terms, possible scenarios and potential outcomes, the consultant did one more thing that cut through the emotions the partner was attempting to sort through with one question that brought clarity into perspective. He said, “I’m sitting in the airport and I am holding a coin. I’m going to flip this coin. If it’s heads, you could suggest a proposal that you feel is fair; but if it’s tails, the law firm withdraws the offer.” While they’re on the phone, he tosses the coin and quickly, without hesitation, announces the coin turned up tails. “What’s your first reaction? Right now, go!” She knew he wanted her rawest emotion, and quick. The partner’s response even surprised herself. With all the potential hand wringing that the partner may have gone through, this question, albeit simple, helped her realize exactly what she needed to do.

The consultant’s last piece of advice was to take those thoughts and sleep on them. “Enjoy your weekend and let’s talk again in a few days to evaluate once more,” he said. Did this conversation save the partner hours upon hours of not sleeping and countlessly rethinking and deliberating on a position that just six weeks ago she never knew existed? As the call concluded, the partner felt she had a trusted advisor, who had become a friend, a compass to sort out her future path when she needed it.

* * * * * * *

While this is an actual situation that occurred with one of our consultants and a partner candidate, the point of the blog is to outline the value of working with experienced consultants. If you are entertaining a possible career move, we encourage you to take the time to invest in a relationship that will serve you as a trusted advisor as you contemplate your next move. At JAGLAW, our consultants are experienced in all phases involving high profile career opportunities. Our core focus is assisting law firm clients and partner candidates in evaluating future long-term partnerships that benefit both parties. We view this as setting the stage for future success, beyond the acceptance of a new position. Contact us at to speak confidentially with a consultant who is ready to go to work for you.

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