Tag Archives: Lauren Smith

Lateral Link Announces 2024 Promotions

Lateral Link is pleased to announce the promotion of several outstanding members of our team this year. These professionals have exemplified unparalleled expertise in legal recruiting, demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, and contributed greatly to helping maintain Lateral Link’s collegial and collaborative culture.

Jon Kahn: Managing Principal, New York

Jon Kahn, one of the co-leaders of Lateral Link’s partner practice group, is now a Managing Principal in Lateral Link’s New York office. With over 25 years of legal industry experience, Jon brings a unique understanding of lateral hiring, having been a partner at major law firms in New York and founding his own executive legal search firm, JEK Partners. His background in capital markets transactions, high-yield offerings, IPOs, and M&A transactions enriches our team’s capabilities. Jon holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Amy Savage: Senior Principal, Washington, D.C.

Amy Savage, the leader of our Government Transitions Group, is promoted to Senior Principal in our Washington, D.C. office. A recognized expert on legal career issues, Amy has made significant contributions to the D.C. legal market over 15 years, particularly in placing associates and partners with top Am Law firms. Amy earned her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.

Lauren Smith: Senior Principal, Washington D.C.

Lauren Smith, now a Senior Principal in our Washington, D.C., office, specializes in partner and group placements nationwide. Her diverse legal experience as both an Am Law 100 law firm litigation associate and in-house counsel provides a broad perspective beneficial to her recruiting expertise. Lauren graduated with a double major from Cornell University and later obtained her J.D. from William & Mary.

Christine Berger: Senior Director, New Orleans

Christine Berger is promoted to Senior Director, focusing on attorney placements in Texas and Louisiana. Her in-house, law firm, human resources, and resume writing experience offer unique insights into the recruiting process. Based in New Orleans, Christine’s outstanding dedication and drive has played a pivotal role in our expansion in the region.

Lateral Link continues to uphold our commitment to excellence in legal recruiting. These promotions highlight our dedication to valuing leadership and expertise within our team. We pride ourselves on understanding the complexities of the legal market, ensuring tailored and strategic solutions for both our clients and candidates.

We invite talented individuals who share our vision of excellence and collaboration to consider joining our dynamic and forward-thinking team. For those seeking opportunities in a highly-regarded recruiting firm with access to unmatched resources, a collaborative and collegial culture, and above-market compensation, Lateral Link is the ideal destination.

2024 Legal Industry Outlook: Strategic Transformations and Emerging Opportunities

The year 2024 marks a pivotal era for the legal industry, characterized by rapid technological advancements and significant shifts in legal practices. These developments are reshaping the landscape, and introducing new challenges and opportunities for legal professionals and firms.

“As we step into 2024, we’re witnessing a seismic shift in the legal sector, propelled by cutting-edge technologies and a redefinition of legal practice. This evolution is not just a trend but a fundamental transformation, dictating new paradigms in how legal services are delivered and managed,” remarks Lateral Link Director, Ashleigh Goldberg

  • The Influence of AI and GenAI in Legal Operations

Michael Heise, haistack.ai CTO: “In 2024, the greatest AI influence in the legal industry will continue to be Large Language Models (LLMs). In 2023, tools like ChatGPT showed their power in answering prompts quickly and in different voices and styles. Law firms will look to harness this power with LLMs secured for and designed specifically for their firm. Challenges still lie ahead, like ensuring documents that make up the LLM do not violate ethical wall barriers, but the technology is too transformative to be ignored.”

Analysis: Everlaw predicts significant applications of GenAI in legal practice, with AI technologies automating up to 50% of legal tasks in corporate transactions.

  • ESG and Climate Litigation

Zain Atassi, Principal, Lateral Link Chicago: “2024 will see a rise in ESG litigation, reflecting the growing importance of environmental and social governance in corporate strategies.”

Trend Overview: The PHA Group reports an anticipated surge in ESG-related litigation, driven by increased corporate responsibility and public awareness.

  • Evolving Billing Models and Litigation Funding

Lauren Smith, Principal, Lateral Link Partner Practice Group: “The trend towards alternative fee arrangements is likely to redefine how legal services are delivered as client demands focus more and more on value.” 

Market Insight: The Law Society Gazette highlights a shift towards alternative fee arrangements,  such as flat or fixed fees, with flat fees becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half of all external legal spend in 2023 utilized such models.  While alternative fee arrangements tend to emphasize value over volume, they are most applicable in situations when the work product is predictable.  Alternative billing arrangements do not suit all work, e.g., a litigation that could go in a variety of unpredictable directions.  

  • Cybersecurity Law

Romina Filippou, Senior Director, Lateral Link Northeast: “The rapid evolution of digital threats is making cybersecurity law a critical and growing practice area.”

Industry Perspective: The rise in digital threats and the evolving landscape of internet privacy and data protection laws underscore the growing importance of cybersecurity law.

  • Energy & Natural Resources Law

Susan Agopian, Principal, Lateral Link California: “As the world shifts towards renewable energy, the legal aspects of these resources are becoming more pertinent.”

Sector Analysis: The legal complexities surrounding renewable energy sources, including regulation and innovation, are driving demand for specialized legal expertise.

The legal industry in 2024 is poised for exciting developments, driven by technological innovations and changing market dynamics. Lateral Link, with its team of seasoned recruiters and industry experts, is committed to guiding law firms and legal professionals through these changes, ensuring they remain at the forefront of the industry.

Connect with Lateral Link today to leverage our deep industry knowledge and expertise. Let us help you harness these trends for success in the dynamic legal landscape of 2024.

Female Representation in Biglaw Partnerships — A Long Way to Go

Disproportionate attrition of female attorneys in Biglaw is hardly a new problem. As a 2019 ABA and ALM report on the issue noted, “entering associate classes have been comprised of approximately 45% women for several decades.” Indeed, at 5 of the top 20 Am Law firms (by gross revenue), female lawyers now constitute a majority of associates:

Firm% of Female Associates
Baker McKenzie53.4%
Norton Rose Fulbright53.0%
Morgan Lewis50.8%
Hogan Lovells50.1%
Jones Day50.1%

But when it comes to partnerships, representation of women is substantially lower. Among those top 20 Am Law firms, here are the four with the greatest proportion of female partners:

Firm% of Female Partners
Ropes & Gray31.8%
Morgan Lewis28.8%
Baker McKenzie27.9%
Jones Day27.3%

Ropes & Gray is the standout performer, as the only top 20 firm with greater than 30% female representation in its partnership. Interestingly, unlike the other firms in this table, Ropes & Gray does not rank especially highly for female associate representation: only 44.8% of the firm’s associates are women.

And here are the four with the lowest female representation in the partnership:

Firm% of Female Partners
Gibson Dunn20.9%
White & Case20.8%
Simpson Thacher20.2%
Davis Polk17.9%

Gibson Dunn is an interesting case in that the firm last year elected its first-ever female Chair, Barbara Becker. Gibson Dunn’s announcement of the appointment emphasized diversity and inclusion, noting that Ms. Becker created the firmwide Diversity Committee. It will be interesting to see if Ms. Becker succeeds in boosting the firm’s female partner representation above the current below-average level.

Any way you cut it, Biglaw certainly has a long way to go. Should that be cause for despair? Not necessarily. The good news is that firms are well aware of the problem and at least some of them are making a strong push to fix it, even if progress is slower than we would wish.

How to increase female representation — and retain female partners

There are a number of ways that law firms are pushing to increase female representation in their partnerships. Flexibility is a key theme. Many female Biglaw attorneys are working mothers with other schedules to meet outside of work. A one-size-fits-all approach to hours expectations (including office presence, billable hours, and business development targets) can disproportionately drive away women. We speak to many high-powered female attorneys who feel compelled to leave the law firm grind because they also want to raise a family, and they have concluded that it is impossible to succeed at both. When law firms incorporate more women- and family-friendly policies firmwide (not just for partners!) it paves the way for female associates to first rise to the equity partnership and then succeed there — both inside and outside the office.

Increasing female representation in partnerships is not enough. Law firms must also offer a solid support structure so as to not leave women high and dry once they attain equity status. Providing adequate and equitable associate and administrative support goes a long way in retaining female partners and promoting their longevity. In addition, establishing vibrant Women’s Initiatives with strong leadership and defined budgets is one way to support female partnership (and all female attorneys).  And don’t forget the men — they need to be involved!  Male participation in Women’s Initiatives is crucial in demonstrating that the entire firm stands behind a diverse partnership and supports female advancement.  

Pitfalls to keep in mind

Law firms should be careful not to simply promote women to non-equity partner status and assume that’s good enough. Not all partnership roles are created equal. These days, so many firms have deviated from the one-tier structure of partnership, such that non-equity partnership often amounts to what used to be called Counsel. When there are several tiers of partnership, it creates additional obstacles to attaining the ultimate goal of equity.

Law firm leadership should also be aware that non-billable requirements often disproportionately take women away from billable work as compared to their male counterparts. For example, for some reason female attorneys are especially likely to participate on committees. Women’s Initiatives and other firm programs are important, but they present a Catch-22 that must be acknowledged and monitored. Firms should be careful not to unfairly assign a disproportionate amount of non-billable tasks to female partners or just assume they will take on an extra load. This is something we often hear our female candidates complain about, and it is an easy fix once the problem has been identified. But firm leadership must first be cognizant of the pattern.

Business Planning for Senior Associates: Laying the Groundwork for Revenue Generation

If you’re a mid-level or senior associate with aspirations to remain in private practice long term, you already know that business development will be a factor in your ability to advance in the profession.  The early associate years are primarily about acquiring the core legal skills that enable you to practice competently and with relative independence.  But as you approach the window for promotion to counsel — and, ultimately, partner —  a solid legal toolkit is not enough.  Your firm must have confidence that you can make a material contribution to generating new business.

The good news is that business development doesn’t have to be intimidating.  If you lay the right foundation, it’s something that will start to happen naturally.  But the foundation is critical, and it requires a proactive investment on your part.  Business development planning is an iterative process, so the sooner you give it serious attention, the better placed you will be when your firm is considering you for promotion.  Do not wait until you are up for Counsel or Partner to get started.  To that end, here are some helpful tips.

Write a business plan and update it regularly.

Even as a mid-level associate, you need a business plan.  This is a living document that you should update at least annually.  Don’t wait until you are in the promotion window to do this!

A solid business plan will include details on what you have achieved to date, prospects you are actively working on, and your goals for the future.  List and quantify any matters you have originated, noting which business or client relationships would likely be portable in the event you switched firms.  List your business contacts, distinguishing between those to whom you are actively marketing and others in your broader network.  You should also make a list of attorneys who may be sources of referrals.

If you’re writing a business plan for the first time, you may have little to say about your (still nonexistent) book of business.  That’s totally fine!  Focus instead on spelling out the things you are doing to build your professional profile and lay the groundwork for future business development.  What organizations are you involved in?  Which articles have you published?  What about speaking opportunities?  If you don’t yet have experience in each of these categories, commit to building some in the next six months.

Foster a strong network, both in person and online.

It’s never too early to get serious about networking.  Relationships compound over time, often in unexpected ways, so there is substantial benefit to putting yourself out there early and maintaining an ongoing presence in the various communities with which you’re affiliated.  The range of opportunities for effective networking is wider than ever, both in person and online.  Remember that networking is about meeting and talking to people, without an immediate expectation of any concrete payoff.  So try to relax and be human about it!

One easy place to network is LinkedIn.  You can do it from anywhere, whenever you have a free moment.  LinkedIn is a great platform for marketing yourself as an expert in your field and making connections with prospective clients.  Low-effort ways to get started include sharing news about your firm and commenting on your connections’ posts.  As you grow more comfortable on the platform, start sharing your own insights relevant to your area of expertise.  In the process, you’ll find yourself staying in better touch with existing contacts, as well as expanding your network with new contacts.

And don’t forget about “internal networking” within your own law firm.  Getting to know attorneys outside of your practice group is key.  By gaining exposure to different practice areas, you lay the groundwork for future cross-selling.  A colleague who knows and trusts you is more likely to introduce you to clients and invite you on pitches.

If the concept of networking gives you anxiety, set yourself some small, achievable goals to help get more comfortable.  For example, if you go to a happy hour event, commit to making three new contacts and to making one LinkedIn post about the event.  And then vow to follow up with them.  The most important thing is to get started!

Leverage your mentors and learn from their experience.

If you’re a mid-level or senior associate, you likely have at least one or two mentors whom you trust to provide career advice.  (If you don’t, you should consider a lateral move to a firm more committed to mentorship!)  Business development is a great topic to explore with your mentors.  Ask about their experience generating revenue and the strategies that have worked best for them.  Share your business plan and ask for feedback.  Ask your mentors to include you in business development activities and pitches, where possible.  If you show that you’re committed to the business side of the firm, most partners will be happy to help you build the skills needed to become a revenue generator.

In addition to a mentor within your firm, assembling a group of other advisors who know the legal market and the profession is never a bad idea.  Forming a relationship with an experienced recruiter (even if you aren’t looking to lateral at this time), who knows the market, and will check in with you every six months or so to update you and provide advice, can only help you.  A good recruiter can provide you with solid business development tips, a business plan template, and can even offer edits to your plan.

Commit to stepping out of your comfort zone.

Many associates find business development intimidating because it is new and requires you to put yourself out there and risk rejection.  However, please rest assured that these are learnable skills, provided you have the right mindset.  Start by acknowledging that you must step out of your comfort zone to achieve success and move forward.  And keep in mind that building a book of business doesn’t happen overnight.  Good luck and remember that there are many experts eager to help you put yourself out there!