Without a doubt, there has been much interest in lateral partner candidates over the past few months. For firms, an additional partner with a new book of business is a great way to boost sagging profits. A new book of business can potentially add both new clients and new practice areas to a firm. For some partners, a “better fit” – a firm that will help strengthen and expand their practice – is desired. These partners are taking advantage of this down market to position themselves for the eventual upturn. For other partners, a lateral move is the chance to flee an underperforming and financially-precarious firm or to find a new home after the demise of a previous firm. Many partners have been left adrift after the collapse of their firm and have been seeking a new stable home. Many of these partners would never have jumped into the lateral market had they not been pushed there. All of these factors have increased the amount of lateral partners and the firms who are courting them.
Although there has been a great amount of interest in lateral partner candidates with books of business, firms have neither relaxed their usual requirements nor decreased the amount of due diligence done on lateral partners. Quite the contrary, the process has been slower and more labored than in previous years. In this climate, firms are scrutinizing partners' credentials and books of business because there is little room to bring on someone who will not pull their weight or more. This is especially true for firms who have let partners go or who have de-equitized partners. A strong business case must be made for a lateral partner acquisition.
For lateral partners to market themselves effectively, two documents are of principal importance: a resume and a partner business plan. Both of these documents, when properly crafted, can lay the groundwork for success in marketing a lateral partner candidate. They are the firm's introduction to the partner candidate. Now more than ever, firms are relying on these documents when making the initial decision whether to begin the interview process with a candidate. These documents can get a partner's foot in the door and demonstrate that the partner is a strong lateral candidate for the firm.
A resume is an important overview of a your career and credentials. It is not acceptable to rely on a your profile on your firm's website. Firms will be interested in your career progression, including the firms with which you have been previously affiliated.
It is important to ensure that every fact on your resume is true and correct, especially if you haven't reviewed your resume in some time. Firms are checking credentials much more closely. An errant fact on your resume can derail an otherwise bright candidacy. We have seen numerous recent examples in the media of jobs that were lost due to a faulty resume.
Partner Business Plan
A partner business plan is your chance to market yourself and your talents to prospective firms. A business plan should be detailed, thorough and insightful. It is a past, present and future snapshot of your career. A well-drafted business plan will allow prospective firms to identify the synergies between your practice and their existing practice. It will also assist the firm in identifying areas in which you can expand the firm's practice areas, services and (hopefully) bottom line. Although the preparation of a business plan might seem onerous, many partners consider this process to be helpful in preparing for a new platform. As it is a marketing document, you should definitely discuss why you are a strong candidate and why you will be a good fit for the firm.
In addition, a business plan should address the following:
- Your historic financial performance (three years) including your collections, billable rate and annual billable hours.
- Your current client roster, either by name or by industry/size.
- Your business development philosophy including your specific means to generate business (contacts, speeches, articles, networking, memberships, conferences, etc.) You'll also want to highlight the cross-selling opportunities that you will bring to the firm, as well as the services that you can sell to existing firm clients.
- Your action plan for the future including a statement of future goals and an explanation of how new platform will assist in the pursuit of those goals.
As a lateral partner candidate in this economic climate, you should distinguish yourself as a top-notch candidate with an effective resume and a detailed partner business plan. These documents can increase your chances of success with a firm. Once you are invited to meet with the firm, you will be able to sell yourself in person. Just make sure that you have that opportunity!
This article was written by Tricia McGrath. Tricia is a director in Lateral Link's New York office.
For questions please contact Tricia (email@example.com).