Recruiting lateral partners is one the most important ways that a firm may increase their gross revenue, profits per partner, revenue per attorney all while adding value and importance to the firm. Recruiting a “high profile” lateral partner should be treated with equal importance as landing a new client or getting additional business from an existing client.
I recently attended a meeting of the Los Angeles Legal Marketing Association (LA LMA) where members of The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) were also invited. I was really surprised when I observed marketing and recruiting professionals from the same firm greeting each other as if they barely knew one another! Almost as fascinating was watching where everyone sat and interacted with each other at the luncheon. By and large recruiters tended to gravitate to each other while marketers exchanged hugs and greetings and sat together at their tables. Rarely did the two groups mix or mingle.
The excellent panel was stressing the need and importance for recruiters and marketers to work together as a team in the lateral recruiting process. They then asked for a show of hands to see how many marketing professionals actually took part in the process of recruiting laterals; few hands were raised. When the same question was asked of the recruiters the results were similar. (Kudos to the smaller firms in attendance where marketers and recruiters seemed to have a better working relationship.) It was clear that there is a separation between marketers and recruiters and according to the panel this dynamic needs to change.
As marketing and communication specialists, most agencies tell law firms and accounting firms that when they write marketing materials they need to write for a scanning reader. The two exceptions to this rule are when you are responding to an RFP and when you are writing a pitch to attract a lateral recruit. When you’re developing these business critical documents you can count on them being read word for word and being reviewed with great scrutiny.
The recruitment of a lateral has to be as important as landing a piece of business, maybe more so, this is why marketers and recruiters need to collaborate better to attract important lateral partners to the firm. Marketers know how to develop collateral materials that will appeal to a recruit’s emotions getting them to listen to your firm’s message; recruiters have the vital information laterals are looking for that will demonstrate that this move is going to pay off for them in the long run. Most senior laterals are not looking to jump around, they want to find a home where they can grow their practice and know that they will be respected and given the support and business platform they need to succeed.
There are many reasons why good lawyers and accountants leave good firms: mergers, conflicts, changes in culture, however if your initial recruiting materials are not as convincing and as attractive to a lateral as another firm’s, you may never make it on to that recruit’s short list.
As with all important choices like this, the final selection is going to be based on the relationships that the lateral has or develops at the firm while interviewing. And, no one knows how to sell you firm as the “firm of choice” better than the firm’s marketing professionals. So recruiters please welcome the assistance of the marketing team in your lateral recruiting efforts, and marketers understand that recruiting is just as fine of an art as bringing in new business. Once both departments improve the lines of communications everyone will benefit, particularly your firm.