Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

Category: Lateral best practices

Jan 01, 2013

Law Firm Lawyer Laterals: Best Practices for Evaluating Lateral Hires


I am the chair of our firm's executive committee. Our firm – located in downtown Columbus, Ohio – has 20 attorneys. In an effort to expand our practice and talent base as well as our geographic reach we are currently considering a seasoned lateral. We have a person in mind that currently works for a very large law firm. What suggestions do you have concerning starting the discussion and process?


Initially consider and decide upon the actual goals and objectives that you hope to achieve by bringing in the lateral and your particular requirements and specifications for the candidate. Start by focusing on the person – then move to the other areas that must be considered. It is critical that you get the right person on the bus.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  1. Do some research on the law firm that the candidate is with now in order to understand the culture and environment in which he/she has been working, potential conflicts, referral issues, etc.
  2. What are the reasons that he/she is considering leaving the firm?
  3. Candidates experience and professional history.
  4. What practice area does he/she work? Clients served?
  5. Can the candidate bring clients?
  6. In the candidate's practice compatible with your practice and needs?
  7. Assemble a candidate financial profile – billings and collections past five years – working, originating, and billing attorney figures, realization, write-offs, etc. (If you can't get financials get what you can – at least get tax returns of candidate to determine what he/she has been making.
  8. Access financial health of client portfolio, if clients will be coming along with the candidate.
  9. Determine if a level of synergism will result as a result of the arrangement.
  10. Does a deal make business sense?

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

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