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Texas’ largest firms hired fewer lateral partners during 2013 than they did in 2012, according to Texas Lawyer’s annual Lateral Hiring Survey. [See " Risky Business," Texas Lawyer, Feb. 24, 2014, p. 1]. Five attorneys who lateralled to one of Texas’ largest firms during 2013, share their answers below to the question, “What advice would you give to other lawyers, particularly partners, who are contemplating a lateral move?”

Chris Pepper
Energy and environmental shareholder

“No. 1, I would say, ‘[W]hy do you want to move’? especially if you are a partner or senior associate. Before you do anything stupid, think about what you will be doing a year from now and stay put.”

“If you say your practice is suffering, is it because you’re not out there batting the bushes or not getting repeat customers? Sometimes you run into someone pigeon-holed in their current career path. They might be the only patent attorney at a full service firm, etc. But that’s the exception, not the rule.”

“I say: Come back a year from now. Are they having a bad day? Is it a bad supervisor? Every now and then, those problems work themselves out.”

Andrew Rosell
Corporate and securities partner
Kelly Hart & Hallman
Fort Worth

“If you’re in-house and want to go back into private practice, build a business plan. List out possible and probable sources of work and how much revenue those sources can generate. Identify potential clients and their legal needs and how you are going to get the business from them.”

“There are some firms that will pay for your expertise, because they have a need for it without you having any source of work. My response to that is caution. The firm owns those economics, and therefore the leverage is against you. Whereas, if you have the book of business, you have the leverage.”

Jeff Weems
Litigation partner
Porter Hedges

“Be deliberate. Set standards for what you are looking for, and then trust your instincts. With me, it wasn’t a money thing, which made it a lot easier for me to boil it down to what I was looking for. From what I read, a lot of people move around for money reasons. For me, it was not money-driven at all.”

Marcus Brooks
Tax shareholder

“Really make sure you’ve got a long-term business and cultural fit with the attorneys and your practice area at the firm. The financial side obviously has to make sense. After that, they have to spend a lot of time talking with lawyers they will be working with and really understand how they operate and how the firm operates.”

Nic Barzoukas
Litigation partner
Baker Botts

“Probably the most important thing is to make sure that their clients would be comfortable with the firm in any way they can; try to evaluate how happy their clients would be with that lateral move. Obviously it comes down to our ability to serve the clients.”

“Secondarily, and it’s important in any work environment, is to make sure that it’s a nice, collegial environment; that people obviously like working with each other and associates enjoy working there and that associates have prospects for advancement.”