For legal professionals, navigating the terrain of lateral moves demands strategic planning and keen insight. Here's a guide on the considerations, timing, and steps involved in making a lateral transition.
The legal industry, like many others, witnesses a continuous flux of professionals seeking lateral moves for multifaceted reasons. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, as it involves various complexities and considerations. For lawyers eyeing a change, several crucial factors play into the decision-making process.
Reasons for Making a Lateral Move
· Career Development/Advancements: The pursuit of career growth is a significant driving force behind lateral moves. Shifting to a new firm might offer varied challenges, opportunities for leadership roles, or a chance to specialise in a different legal niche.
· Higher Compensation: Financial incentives often act as catalysts for change. Many lawyers seek better compensation packages, including bonuses, profit-sharing, or equity opportunities, which can often be more lucrative in a different firm.
· Work-Life Balance: Achieving a better work-life balance is increasingly becoming a priority. Moving to a firm with a more supportive culture or flexible working arrangements can be a driving force for a lateral move.
Timing is Key
· Market Conditions: Being cognizant of the current market conditions is imperative. Factors such as economic fluctuations, demands for particular legal expertise, or firm expansions can impact the feasibility and timing of a lateral move.
· Skills Shortages: Identifying areas where your expertise is in high demand can be an advantageous moment to make a move. Firms might actively seek professionals with specific skill sets, leading to better negotiation power.
Role of a Professional Recruiter
Professional recruiters play a pivotal role in the lateral move process:
· Identifying Opportunities: Recruiters provide access to a wide range of opportunities and act as a bridge between lawyers and prospective firms.
· Market Insight and Trends: Their in-depth industry knowledge helps in understanding market trends and where opportunities lie.
· Confidentiality: They maintain strict confidentiality throughout the process, ensuring your current position isn't compromised.
· Streamlining the Process: Recruiters streamline the application, interview, and negotiation stages, making the transition more efficient.
· Help with CV and Business Case: Offering guidance on refining CVs and building strong business cases is a critical part of their support.
Firms, Networking, and Clients
Researching potential firms involves considering various factors:
· Practice Areas: Ensuring alignment with your expertise and clients.
· Culture: Evaluating the work environment, flexible working policies and whether it fits your professional ethos.
· PEP (Profits per Equity Partner): An indicator of a firm's financial health and success.
· Partners and Clients: Assessing any existing relationships or crossover in clients can facilitate a smoother transition.
Interview Process and Offer Negotiation
Lateral move interviews typically encompass several rounds, each serving a distinct purpose. These may include initial screenings, meetings with partners or hiring committees, and specialised interviews focussing on particular practice areas. It's vital to prepare for each stage by showcasing not only your legal acumen but also your cultural fit and how your expertise aligns with the firm's goals.
Navigating the Transition Period
As you make the move, considerations should include:
· Notice and Garden Leave: Adhering to notice periods and garden leave policies.
· Client Transitions: Managing the shift of clients from the previous to the new firm.
· Contractual Clauses: Understanding and navigating any restrictive clauses in your current contract.
In conclusion, a lateral move demands thoughtful planning, strategic timing, and thorough research. With the right support, a lateral move can be a rewarding leap toward career advancement and personal growth in the legal profession.
For a confidential discussion about the market/legal opportunities please reach out to EJ Legal. We are specialists in legal recruitment in London and work with partners, associates, paralegals and business services staff within the legal profession.