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Confessions of A Legal Recruiter: Don’t Let Fear Get In The Way Of Future Planning

FEAR Factor Attorney Breakdown . . . False Evidence Appearing Real

F … False
E … Evidence
A … Appearing
R … Real

Fear is something we all feel as a natural response to physical danger. For an attorney is not realizing that your future is a risk due to your being numb to the warning signs.

F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. It appears real, even though it may have no real substance. Arising when we feel threatened or undermined, which makes us cling to the known and familiar. Such fear creates paranoia, worry, nervous disorders, and apprehension.

Confessions of a Legal Recruiter

Case Study 1

Senior Divorce Attorney with 30 years’ experience who has built a successful practice with $1 million in billings loses 80% of his business. The trusted associate jumps ship and takes the firm’s book with him. The Senior Attorney ignored the signs and chose not to do anything.

Now the Senior Attorney needs to find a replacement and will end up retiring several years later.

Case Study 2

Two Senior Partners with 3 associates of a successful T&E Practice losses large percentage of their billings to stay at status quo.

After the first of the year, one associate left and took many of their clients. Within, the next month or so, the next two associates departed with more clients. Between 75-90% of their business walked out their door.

The two Senior Attorneys now need to decide what they are going to do.

  1. Close shop or 2. Start over again.

In Case Study 1 & 2, the senior partners ignore the signs. Instead of creating an internal or external succession plan, they ignored the subject entirely. In both cases, the associates did not know where he/she stood within the firm. Much less understand that they were the Senior Attorneys the retirement plan.

Case Study 3

Two, Senior Attorneys (Personal Injury) both with 55 plus years of combined experience seize the day and opt for an early exit plan and double their net worth overnight.

Two successful attorneys, Senior Associate and staff opt to join forces by merging their practices. As a result, both double their net worth overnight and strengthen their firm that will ensure an early retirement down the road. The Senior Associate decided to relocate. Good thing.

These attorneys did not put all faith in the Senior Associate taking over their practice. One Senior Attorney is now retired, enjoying his passion for fly fishing while his portfolio produces continued profits. The other is still working and can take advantage of retirement when he is ready.

F.E.A.R. is an illusion. Something we fabricate in our own minds and pretend is real. It’s a fairy tale we tell ourselves that keeps us from doing what we really want.

False evidence appearing real.

Hiding your head in the sand, and not making a decision is still a decision. Make the decision to plan for your retirement. Don’t leave money on the table.

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About On Balance Search Consultants

On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence. Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises experienced attorneys at every stage of their career to take them to the next level. From making the lateral partner move to succession planning.

Shari takes a proactive approach to advising law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm. On Balance Search identifies opportunities that exist today, not down the road.

Contact us today. Call 516-731-3400 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader. Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.


Ms. Davidson, a highly skilled human resources executive with over 20 years’ experience that specializes in finding top talent in the legal community. Shari has placed lateral partner attorneys, as well as group acquisitions & law firm mergers and has assisted several prominent clients in recruiting lateral associates, paralegals and internal professional administrative positions.