Over the course of last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented daunting and unprecedented challenges to a multitude of industries, including the legal industry. However, it has also opened new opportunities. There are silver linings that can be found in any situation, and our current crisis is no exception.
Change and adaption will lead to opportunities.
During pre-pandemic times, attracting and recruiting lateral partners encompasses its own challenges. However, the pandemic has added another layer with even greater competition for lateral partners, especially with pandemic recessionary proof type practices. Some of these include dispute and investigation practices, intellectual property, privacy and data protection, healthcare, bankruptcy and restructuring, and other essential regulatory focused practices. A select number of law firms have refrained from lateral growth and adopted a “wait and see” approach, while many others have seized opportunities by making considerable investments in practices that are particularly important not only during the pandemic but long term. I personally view the pandemic as a unique avenue for many of my law firm clients to strategically reposition their lateral partner recruiting efforts to actively attract highly regarded individual partners and significant practice groups. We continue to see this as a rapidly developing theme with various law firms of all sizes, bringing in prominent teams of lateral partners, opening new offices, and adding to their existing core practices.
From a lateral partner prospective, and given the COVID-19 implications, many partners over the course of last year found their practices to be on a downturn for various reasons. These include court closures, lack of client activity, and decreased demand for legal services due to economic or other internal circumstances. However, we are now seeing the legal landscape dramatically changing in a positive way. This is especially true with recent launching of multiple vaccines, and a refreshed wave of new optimism and growth to the economy. This is also particularly important for law firm partners who have practices that are now on the rise and are increasingly strong. Timing becomes even more critical for law firm partners with expanding practices to perhaps consider exploring opportunities with law firms that may be better financially situated, offer a more extensive client base for cross marketing, and perhaps stronger practice recognitions in key strategic areas.
“The Big Picture”
Likewise, in order for law firms to remain competitive within this rapidly shifting landscape, I encourage my law firm clients to take a “big picture approach” to lateral partner recruiting. This approach incorporates an honest and objective assessment of increased strategic need and correlating demand for client legal services across all practice areas. This “big picture” analysis should serve as an effective vehicle for law firms to better pinpoint those practice areas that are in key tactical growth and appropriately align the needed infusion of new lateral expertise during the pandemic and well beyond. This analysis will also facilitate the ability for law firms to present a more detailed and enticing communication to potential laterals who are considering making a lateral move. This is where partnering with an experienced lateral partner recruiter could be beneficial and provide the knowledge needed.