The Lateral Partner Questionnaire (LPQ)

The Lateral Partner Questionnaire (“LPQ”) is perhaps the most important part of the process.  Lateral moves hinge on the LPQ itself.  Every firm has a different LPQ that they require partners to complete.  From a timing standpoint, the LPQ is routinely provided to you after the first, second, or third round of meetings when there is a genuine, good-faith level of interest.  So that you are aware of what to expect generally, the below outlines the main sections of most law firm LPQs and provides tips on how to best complete them when the time arises.  

Main Sections of Most Lateral Partner Questionnaires (LPQs)

HIGH LEVEL SUMMARY

  • Personal background information (name, address, etc.).
  • Education
  • Employment history.  (Some firms ask you to explain your reason for reason for leaving each of your prior legal employers, and your reason for potentially leaving your current employer.)
  • Bar admissions.
  • Summary of your practice.
  • Leadership positions at your firm.

PAST BILLINGS (your own time)

  • Your own billable hours for each of the past 3 years, including YTD.
  • Non-billable hours for each of the past 3 years, including YTD.
  • The collections on your own billed hours for each of the past 3 years, including YTD.
  • Your realization rate for each of the past 3 years.
  • Your billable rate for each the past 3 years, including YTD (standard, effective, and any alternative arrangements).

ORIGINATIONS

  • Top 10 (or more) clients you originated.
  • The amount of revenue billed and collected from the clients you originated for each of the past 3 years, including YTD.  (If you have partial origination credit, clarify this.)
  • The nature of the work you have originated for each clients.
  • For portable clients, a summary of WIP and A/R and how much work is in aged accounts past 60 days.

PORTABLE BUSINESS PROJECTIONS

  • For each of your potentially portable clients, project a “low, medium, and high” estimate over the first 12 months after joining a new firm.  Note:  Some firms will ask you to estimate the “likelihood” that each client would accompany you.
  • The type of nature you would expect to handle for each of the clients.
  • Any significant write-offs for any of your primary clients.

TEAM MEMBERS

  • Is there anybody on your current team who would be required to accompany you to support your practice? If so, what is their compensation, billing rate, and billable hours.
  • What levels (and types) of attorneys are required to staff your matters?

COMPENSATION (for each of the past 3 years, including the YTD)

  • Non-equity: Base/guarantee plus bonus, and distributions (if equity).
  • Equity: Monthly draw plus distribution plus bonus.
  • Any paid-in capital and schedule of return when you leave.
  • Note: Some firms may ask you to attach a W2 or K1.
  • Benefits

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXPENSES 

  • Marketing budget.
  • Conferences you must attend or sponsor for key clients.

DUE DILIGENCE ON YOU

  • Your authorization to work in the United States.
  • Whether you’ve been subjected to any complaints in your firm or elsewhere.
  • Whether you are aware of any circumstances that could lead to professional malpractice or a liability claim.
  • Whether you have ever been asked to leave an employer.
  • Whether you are aware of any circumstance that could potentially embarrass you or the firm (this is not the exact wording, but it’s to that effect – in other words, “Is there anything we should know about now?”).
  • Whether you are on any boards or have business arrangements with any clients.
  • Any outside business interests.
  • Whether or not you have filed for bankruptcy.
  • Whether you have filed your taxes on time for the past 5 years. (Note: Some firms will require you to provide copies of tax returns (or at least the cover page).
  • Whether you or a spouse are related to any judges or any of your clients.

CONFLICTS

  • List each and all the clients and matters you’ve worked on (that are not confidential) for the past 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on the firm. (Yes, this is the worst part, and there are certain things recruiters can do to help lessen this burden)
    • List whether the new firm (for whom you are completing the LPQ) is involved in the matter.
    • List all adverse or potentially adverse parties.
    • Whether the client is portable or not.

SIGNATURE/DATE

5 Tips on Completing Your LPQ

  1. Make sure you are aware of the ethical parameters of what is appropriate to disclose, and what might be considered too much information too soon in the process.
  2. Proofread, check for typos, and check for formatting issues. Treat this document as if it’s a proposal to your most important client for their most important matter. 
  3. Do not exaggerate your figures. You will be asked about them. 
  4. If more context is required to answer a question accurately, provide parentheticals.
  5. If you do not understand how a term if defined, or if your firm has different definitions that do not match (e.g., “working attorney” can mean different things at different firms), get clarification.

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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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