Checklist: Clarifying Your Ideal Law Firm Platform

If you plan to evaluate the market as broadly as possible (versus exploring a single, targeted search), the following questions should help you gain more clarity.

Practice Area(s) 

  • Do you want a deep bench strength in your current practice area or is the opportunity to build appealing? 
  • Is the presence of other practice areas essential to supporting and growing your clients/practice?

Billing Rate 

  • What is your ideal range? 
  • How much flexibility do you need? 
  • How versed is the new firm with fixed-fee arrangements?

Your Clients 

  • Do your clients have stringent approved outside counsel lists? 
  • Are there any non-starter conflicts from a purely legal/ethical  perspective? 
  • Are there any non-starter conflicts from a business perspective (i.e., Coke vs. Pepsi)?
     

Brand 

  • How important is the reputation of the firm generally (it’s overall brand strength)?
     

Compensation & Finances 

  • Compensation structure (open vs. closed)?  
  • More compressed compensation structure (ratio of lowest to highest paid partner is 1:3 or 1:5) versus a much wider structure (ratio of lowest to highest paid partner is 1:20) 
  • Credit for originating vs. servicing new business? 
  • Firm’s Profits-Per-Partner and Revenue Per Lawyer? 
  • Firm’s profit margin? 
  • Amount of capital contribution?

Geography 

  • Are there certain geographic locations for offices that are important to you/your clients?   
  • Do you *not* want firms with expansive geographic footprints?
     

Partnership Structure 

  • Do you prefer a one or two-tier partnership? 
  • If you are non-equity, how important is the path to equity?
      
     

Others 

  • Are there leadership opportunities? 
  • Do you want to be a big fish in smaller pond, or vice-versa? 

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Picture of Author: Dan Binstock

Author: Dan Binstock

Dan co-owns Garrison & Sisson, where he focuses on lateral partner and practice group placements. He has consistently been recognized as one of the Top 100 Global Legal Strategists and Consultants by LawDragon, and authored "The Attorney's Guide to Using (or Not Using) Legal Recruiters." Dan is the Immediate Past President of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC), where he also served as Chair of the Ethics Committee. Visit here to learn more about Dan, or contact him confidentially with any questions at (202) 559-0492 or dbinstock@g-s.com.

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