Hiring rainmaking partners who command stratospheric pay is an increasingly common tactic for ambitious Am Law 200 firms aiming to distinguish themselves in the mergers and acquisitions market. But there are risks as well as rewards for the firms that can afford them.

Blockbuster pay and big egos can cause tensions within a firm—and there’s no guarantee superstars will stay, as in the case of Jim Woolery, a highly connected New York dealmaker who joined Atlanta-based King & Spalding in May 2017, only to exit last September and start his own boutique, Woolery & Co.