Lateral Hiring: Integration Strategies That Drive Success

The LMA Capital Chapter 2015 programming year kicked off with the presentation of “Lateral Hiring: Integration Strategies That Drive Success.” Amy Knapp of Knapp Marketing and Ezra Crawford of BuckleySandler LLP spoke to a sold out crowd about how to be more successful at integrating new partners into our firms. According to a 2013 American Lawyer/LexisNexis survey, 96 percent of law firm respondents planned to hire laterals in the next two years, yet only 28 percent said that hiring laterals had been “very effective” in the past. Sounds like we can use all the help we can get!

First, before pursuing lateral candidates firms should create their strategic plan and ensure that all laterals support the plan. After a decision is made to bring on a lateral, firms should assign an integration partner to help with the lateral’s onboarding including making introductions and being their new colleague’s champion. Laterals should also have an integration budget for both internal and external marketing activities.

The marketing department can help drive their laterals’ successes through proper planning. A one year onboarding plan should be created and marketing and laterals should meet every four to six weeks to ensure that the plan is on track.

As part of their onboarding, laterals and firms should make lists of their clients and strategic discussions should be had to prioritize client introductions and the right outreach approaches.

After laterals have been at their new firms for a few months, they should identify three to five partners with whom building a strong relationship would help make them a success. These are the people they should prioritize getting to know.

Laterals should have the perspective that they are on a yearlong job interview. They need to prove themselves, gain their new partners’ trust, and show loyalty to their new firm. Without loyalty and trust, no one is going to make introductions to their clients. Laterals should make an effort to travel to different offices, attend office and practice functions, and introduce themselves to other partners whenever possible. They should go to lunch with their new partners and get to know them both personally and professionally. After their time together, they should reach out with ways they can help their partners through either billable or non-billable work. For example, from a non-billable perspective, a lateral could take the lead on writing an article and offer another partner the opportunity to be listed as a co-author.

We know that firms will continue to pursue lateral hires. With appropriate planning, we increase our chances of successful integrations. Read "Market the Heck Out of Your Lateral Lawyer" for additional tips and a checklist to build a successful lateral marketing/business development integration strategy for your firm.

By Helena Lawrence, Business Development Manager at Proskauer, for the January/February 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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