Everything you wanted to ask ... but didn't know who had the answers
1. Would making a move to another firm be prudent for me?
While this can be a challenging question to answer, the search consultants at PKA are here to assist you in reaching an answer. There are several considerations that must be evaluated prior to answering the above question: will moving to another firm platform allow me to maintain or grow my practice? will my current clients follow me to the new firm? what is the culture of the new firm and will it be a strong fit for me and my practice? how will this move benefit me for the short and long term?
2. What kind of numbers do I need to be marketable?
While numbers will vary by geographic markets, most law firms that use recruiters seek a minimum portable book of $750,000 and up. Billable hour requirements and billing rates vary significantly by market and practice area.
3. What kind of compensation can I expect at another firm?
There is no one formula used by each and every firm. However, there are a number of key factors that can assist in answering this question including: size of portable book; billing rate; number of hours billed per year; and whether your practice fits within the scope of the services offered by the new firm. Again, PKA can help you maximize the value of your practice by identifying the firms to which your practice would provide the greatest compensable benefit.
4. Why should I be working with a recruiter?
While you are busy practicing law, we are busy gauging the pulse of the lateral legal market. We spend a great deal of time each day communicating with law firm leadership and management discussing their strategic growth plans for their respective firms. Equipped with this real time information, we are able to share with you the latest trends and events in the lateral hiring markets and provide outstanding guidance in identifying the best platform for you and your practice. Because we have direct relationships with the firms, we are able to short circuit the lateral hiring process and move the process in an expeditious fashion. Making a move to another firm can be very time consuming especially when you are working full-time. We are here to make the process as easy as possible for you and our law firm clients.
5. When I receive a call from a Palmer Kent Associates Recruiter, are they calling in regard to a specific opportunity?
The answer is unequivocally YES! Let us explain. As Attorney Recruiters, we spend a great deal of time speaking with law firm senior management (Firm Chairs, Managing Partners, Executive Committee Members, Hiring Partners, et al.) of the most well admired law firms in the world. During these regular conversations, we discuss intimate details about the firm and strategic areas where the firm would like to grow. This may be a particular practice area, a particular office or both. The discussion may be very specific such as, "we need a partner or group with a strong Antitrust practice with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, intellectual property and transactional antitrust with portables of a minimum of $2 million per lawyer" or possibly more general, such as, "we want Partners who are great people to work with, with strong portables and in a practice areas that fit well with our firm." A conversation with one of our recruiters involves a brief investment of time, at your convenience. The conversation is usually clear-cut: you share information about your law practice that lets us evaluate whether there is a potential fit with any of client's wish lists and we share information about the opportunities we are working on with you. Very simple. We are looking to learn about you and your practice and help your career flourish.
6. My friend is a partner at another firm where he/she is very happy. Shouldn't I just send my resume to my friend?
Like most everything in life, what's good for one person may not be good for the next. Your friend may value different aspects of the professional life than you or your friend may be part of a different department than the one in which you would practice. Our role is to make sure you are matched with a firm that values the same aspects of professional life as you.
7. Do cultures differ all that much from firm to firm or from office to office?
Of course. Most firms of similar sizes share the same basic characteristics, but there are noticeable differences in culture from firm-to-firm. Firms may differ based upon their geographic origination and within firms, cultures vary on an office-to-office basis. There is really no better way to assess a firm's culture—and whether it would be a good match for you—than to meet the people through the interview process. PKA can furnish insights based on our experience with prior candidates and our knowledge of the firm.
8. How are the negotiations with a potential law firm employer handled?
While a candidate is always welcome to handle any necessary negotiations directly with the law firm, it is our belief that your PKA search consultant should handle or play a significant role in the negotiations. The reasons for this are very simple.
While negotiations rarely become contentious, an intermediary is able to minimize any emotions or misunderstandings that may arise out of the process. Letting PKA handle the negotiations reduces the likelihood that negotiations fall apart. Furthermore, leaving the negotiations to PKA allows you to join the prospective new firm without having just gone through intense negotiations with your prospective partners.
This is what we do on a daily basis and we have many years of outstanding experience in legal recruiting. Our principals have been in the legal recruiting business for close to 50 years combined and have placed candidates everywhere from small regional firms to major international firms with dozens of offices throughout the world. It is this experience that allows us to complete successful and mutually beneficial placements.
9. How quickly do law firms usually make decisions on lateral partners?
We have seen firms make decisions within just weeks, and we have seen decisions go through multiple rounds of interviews taking several months. Our goal for you is to find the right fit, not just the fastest one. That said, in most cases it is in both the firm and your best interest that the process not drag out. Accordingly, we will do everything possible to keep to the recruiting process moving in the right direction.
10. Is accepting my firm's counter-offer ever in my best interests?
Almost without exception, the answer is no, and you should almost never accept a counter-offer from your firm. It well established and statistically supported that candidates who accept a counteroffer are often gone within a year of accepting a counteroffer. The reasons for this are simple: your colleagues will feel betrayed by you for what they perceive as disloyalty. They will resent the fact that you considered leaving and your standing at the firm will be compromised. There will forever be a lack of trust. Often, the counteroffer is merely a means of the firm buying time to allow them to find someone else to replace you with your expertise. Inevitably, the same dissatisfaction you were experiencing when deciding to make a move will still be there.