(For a downloadable pdf of this document, please go here.)
Q: How do I know if it’s the right time in my career to change firms?
A: Your reasons might be much different than a colleague’s, but the most common (and best) reasons have to do with finding a platform that suits your practice better and allows you to grow your practice in ways your current firm does not.
Another common reason is to find a firm with a culture that is more in sync with you, your beliefs, and your personality.
In general, changing law firms just for the money isn’t a good idea, unless your firm is grossly undercompensating you for the business you bring in (more on that below).
It’s also not a good idea to change firms because you hate being a lawyer. If you dislike practicing law, then changing firms won’t make you happier.
Think of changing firms as a chance to move toward something, rather than away from something, and you’ll be in a better mindset to make a good decision.
Q: I like my current firm and the people in it. They’re all great! Should I still consider changing firms?
A: Awesome! You’ve identified a type of firm culture and the type of colleagues you want to practice with. If your practice can grow and develop as you’d like at your current firm, then heck no: Don’t change firms!
If you love the people, but your practice is stymied, you have to decide what’s more important to you. Some people are content without growth and change. Know yourself and your preferences, and what’s best for you and your family, and decide from there.
Q: I want to bring my associate/paralegal/assistant with me. Is that possible?
A: Much if not all of that decision comes down to the numbers. If your client business can support your staff within the structure of the new firm, then yes. We do not charge a fee for non-lawyer personnel who move with you.
Q: Why should I work with a recruiter? I have plenty of contacts at other firms.
A: Working with us helps you in several ways. 1. We help preserve your confidentiality until we determine that there is a good practice-area fit, as well as a good financial fit. 2. We’ll save you time. Your friends won’t want to tell you that you don’t have enough business for their firm, but they’ll tell us. That leads me to 3. We help preserve your relationships with your contacts and avoid awkwardness.
Q: Does it cost me anything?
A: No. The law firm pays our fee, and most firms have a separate budget for recruiting fees.
Q: I’ve heard that I need a million or more in portable business to change firms. Is that true?
A: It depends. On the one hand, it’s frustrating that law firms use numbers to make decisions. On the other, once you’re at a new firm, it’s good to know they make decisions that help with the firm’s long-term financial stability.
If you’re in a unique practice area or have a unique client base that fills a particular firm need, especially one that creates good cross-selling opportunities, there is flexibility with that figure.
If you’ve been out of law school fewer than 10 years and have developed a client base, firms will not expect that base to create a million in business.
The short answer is: Contact us and we’ll be happy to talk with you.
Q: What can I expect my compensation to be at my new firm?
A: Again, it depends. A good rule of thumb is about one-third of your anticipated portable business will be your first-year base compensation. After bonus/incentive, your total compensation will be about 35-40 percent of your anticipated portable business.
Q: What can I expect from the recruiting process?
A: First and foremost, it’s important to understand that we NEVER send your resume/bio to a firm, or otherwise let anyone know you’re looking at new opportunities, without your express permission to do so.
Our first step is to learn more about you, your practice, and your career goals. Who are your current clients, and what do your ideal clients look like? Are you happy with your rate structure at your current firm? What type of firm would create a better platform for you? Those are the types of questions we delve into with you.
From there, based on our current clients’ needs and what we know about the legal marketplace, we’ll suggest firms for your consideration. We’ll also find out who is on your wish list: Which firms would you ideally want to join?
We then approach the targeted list confidentially, meaning we don’t tell the firm your name or other identifying information until we know your practice area and portable business align with their general needs. At that point, we make the formal introduction.
From there, we’ll arrange the interviews and help you prepare for those.
In the later stages, there is a due diligence form, the exact nature of which varies from firm to firm. This is where the law firm you’re considering joining finds out all the details about your practice, your portable business, and your client base to run a conflicts check.
Basically, we help you from start to finish throughout the process, making sure both your needs and the needs of our client firms are met.
Q: How long does the process take?
A: It varies, but 30 – 90 days is a generally reasonable time frame to expect.
Q: Your recruiting firm is small compared to other firms. Why should I choose you?
A: We offer a boutique service, and we match attorneys and law firms based on more than just business and practice area: We want to make sure you like your new firm, too. We personally work with a limited number of attorneys each year, so we focus on quality not quantity.
We never blast resumes out.
If you like a personal, hands-on style, individualized to meet your particular goals, we’ll be a good fit. We care about your career and your long-term success and happiness.
Do you have additional questions? Please contact us.