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The next lateral partner or group placement I work on in which portables are not a factor will be the first. Granted, lesser weight may be placed on that variable in some circumstances, such as when a firm: is recruiting a more junior partner whose book is just taking shape; brings in a partner to fill an unexpected need for a major, long-term matter; has longed to add a partner from a specific firm and hopes to use this recruitment as a springboard for other recruitments; is recruiting someone in a highly technical or niche practice area in which it has significant work; or needs to bring in a “name,” regardless of business, which could help it in any number of ways.

However, in most cases, numbers matter. This has only been exacerbated by the recession, as the need to minimize hiring mistakes has dramatically risen. In some situations, projecting what work will follow is not too difficult. Partners with repetitive work, especially for long-standing clients, should be able to provide highly reliable estimates. Litigators with serial cases (personal injury defense and products work come to mind) and transactional lawyers who handle recurring matters (such as closings or financings) are two good examples.

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