Lateral Partner (Business Development) Integration
In a recent EIC article, I discussed the frustrations law firms experience in successfully recruiting desirable lateral partners; i.e., relatively few quality laterals willing to move for the large number of interested firms. The previous article laid out some strategies firms can adopt to be more successful in the recruiting land grab for lateral partners; however, once recruited, what do the law firm and the recruited lateral need to do post-recruitment in order to be successful? How can both firm and partner set, and have fulfilled, expectations that will cause each to ascribe unambiguous success to the relationship?
The below checklist lays out a framework firms might consider adopting in some form to create a track record of success with lateral partner integration efforts, and in so doing, make it easier to recruit the next desirable lateral partner. These checkpoints are relevant during the recruiting process, and become operational tactics during the onboarding process.
“It Takes a Village”
- Establish shareholder commitment to an ongoing intentional level of lateral partner support and awareness
- Is lateral partner success important enough to us that we’ll actively participate in causing it to occur?
Clear definition/articulation of why the firm is unique; the “Value Proposition”
- Define, educate, document
- What makes us special?
- How does our differentiation translate into reliable and practical commercial advantage? How does it make it easier to bring work in the door?
Establish lateral integration committee
- Small is desirable
- Sends clear message that firm is serious about lateral success
- Allows for ongoing feedback from lateral, particularly in early stages; two-way communication and managerial channel
Best practices intake
- Have dedicated discussion with lateral recruit about organizational and managerial approaches he/she has seen at previous firm that “work” that he/she would like to see adopted
- Assessment of practice group/sector/partner synergies to be jointly developed by firm and the recruited partner
- Exchange information on, and educate about firm clients and recruited partner clients
- Identify target rich clients; identify synergistic sectors/practice groups
- Assess collaboration appetite of relevant firm relationship partners/synergistic practice group partners/synergistic sector partners; create core list of clients, sectors, practice groups, and partners related thereto based on
- Validate presumed synergies through meeting with relevant partners
- Create opportunity-specific tactical plan
- Post-recruitment: how will recruited partner and firm collaborate on identified opportunities after recruited partner moves over?
Law Firm Partner Accountability
- (synergistic) Partner-specific concurrence
- Ongoing commitment – what is the nature of the accountable partner(s)’ commitment?
- Bonus construction – how can the accountable partner benefit financially from providing desired support?
- The “collaborating partner commitment” – can the accountable partner(s)’ commitment be documented?
- Non-website external communication of announcement
- Internal communication of successes along way
Lateral Partner Objectives/Plan
- Separate from the integration / synergy plan, the recruited partner creates this document to define success over a meaningful period of time-specific objectives, strategies, and tactics, and the resources he/she will need to accomplish them
- “What makes (law firm) different?” one pager
- One page description of the law firm lateral partner integration philosophy/elements
- Collaborating partner commitment document
- Opportunity plan
- Synergy analysis checklist
- Lateral partner objectives/plan