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There is only one group with more interest in lateral partners than law firm leaders — the partners themselves. Everything about law firms is changing. Partner moves are transitioning from phenomena to mainstream — and then will hit bubble territory.

The deafeningly loud alarm bell for the upcoming tsunami is buried in Google searches for how to make a lateral partner move. We checked Google Trends for searches for:

    • “How do I make a lateral move as a law firm partner” (in blue)
    • “How do I change law firms as a partner” (in red)

Both hit 5-year highs after spiking 3 times since 12/31/23 signaling surges in a single quarter.

Law firms will want to keep most of the partners who are exploring how to jump ship. We recommend the following to try to stem the tide before it swells up:

    • Form a “partners keep team” to measure retention and retention risk — and develop the tactics to retain and improve engagement. Invite key partners who enjoy universal respect to be part of the team
    • Identify the partners you have to keep and want to keep
    • Give the partners a bigger voice through stay interviews and discussions
    • Develop opportunity maps for partners to help articulate their path in the firm
    • Offer substantially more training in soft skills — especially business development and communication
    • Share origination credits among pitch teams
    • Craft a strategic lateral integration process
    • Hire full-time wellness coaches
    • Give keeping partners the same priority as recruiting partners
    • Celebrate and nurture early-stage rising stars
    • Gauge partner understanding of opportunities and expectations outside of billable hour targets
    • Conduct an anonymous partner satisfaction survey

The partner exodus isn’t just about losing revenue generators. It’s about keeping your firm’s culture and institutional memory. Those prioritizing retention with the same zeal as lateral hiring will enjoy a new source of advantage — retention provides uniformity to clients and stability to the firm — well worth adding to your list of strategic priorities.

Best in the market ahead.


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