Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Question mark

It is a truth universally held that a partner in possession of a good book of business is in need of a better firm. If you are a partner considering such a lateral move, then you are probably focused on the boost a new firm could offer your practice and on cultural fit. These are certainly important factors in making a successful move. However, our review of the 2,353 partners who moved between Am Law 100 firms in 2010 through 2012 suggests some more prosaic factors matter too.

When should you make the move? Well, fall seems to be the time of year to start exploring seriously so that you can move early in the new year. As the columns in Fig. 1 show, the volume of lateral partner moves declines through the year from 35 percent of a year’s moves happening in the first quarter to 15 percent in the fourth quarter.

This is perhaps not surprising. What is surprising though is that the success rate of laterals (as indicated by staying longer at the new firm) declines through the year, with an almost 15-percentage point difference in the 5-year retention rate (i.e. percent of laterals still at their new firm five years after the move) for movers between the first half of the year and the fourth quarter, (see the line in Fig. 1). A likely explanation for this falloff has to do with the nature of the move—voluntary vs. involuntary. Involuntary moves are very common—in a recent Altman Weil survey over 70 percent of firms reported using involuntary departures to improve profitability. Our hypothesis is that voluntary moves are biased to earlier in the year—shortly after partners receive their profit share for the prior year. For partners who move involuntarily, our hypothesis is that they are often informed of their separation early in the year as part of the compensation discussion and that it takes some months for them to find a new position—hence they are inclined to leave later in the year. Involuntary departs are generally substantively excellent lawyers but lacking in the full complement of business development and related soft skills required of a successful partner in an elite modern law firm. The need for such skills doesn’t dissipate, nor is it more easily met, by moving firms. Hence, it’s not altogether surprising to see later-in-the-year movers, with a higher portion of involuntarily-departed partners, enjoy less success at their new firms.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at customercare@alm.com


The Competitive Landscape is Changing

Where are competitors expanding? What practices are growing or shrinking, and where? Get the latest reports on lateral moves, liftouts, promotions, and more by accessing ALM's Legal Compass. Don't have a subscription? Click to get a free trial.

Get More Information

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.