Checklist: Information to Prepare Before Entering the Market

Here’s the general information to prepare that a majority of law firms, ideally, want to know about a lateral partner’s practice towards the earlier stages of the process.  A few disclaimers:

  • Each firm is different, so this is a general sketch based on the majority. 
  • If a law firm’s need is very strategic and is meant to fill an immediate gap, the focus on portable business may be less pronounced and the metrics are less important.
  • Whether you are working with a legal recruiter can impact how much information firms expect to receive and when.   

Towards the Outset 

  • Reason for considering a move (see also “Questionable Reasons to Move”).
  • Practice breakdown (summary of your practice, ideally broken out by percentages). 
  • Industry focus of clients (if any). 
  • Billing rate (standard and effective).
  • Top 3-5 portable clients that are most important to your practice (for purposes of initial non-starter/showstopper conflict checking). 
  • Projected portable business over the next 12 months (low, medium, high).
  • How many clients are likely to move with you (related: do you have one or a few large clients or a higher number of smaller clients). 
  • Are there opportunities for potential business development that you have been unable to pursue at your current firm?

A Bit Farther Into the Process 

  • Billable hours for each of the past two or three years, and YTD for the current year. 
  • Whether you will need to bring people from your current firm to service your business. 
  • Your current compensation and/or expectations.  Assuming you are in a jurisdiction that allows this question to partner candidates, firms will ask for this during the process so it should not be hidden.   If you are working with a recruiter, firms will vet — at the outset — whether your compensation expectations are appropriate in light of your potential revenue generation.
  • Note: the lateral partner questionnaire (LPQ) addresses the above and much more, but it’s helpful to gather this information well before the LPQ process begins in earnest.      

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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

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