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How to Avoid 5 Huge Hazards When Making a Lateral Partner Move

The pandemic exposed law firms whose leadership was weak, resulting in many partners making the lateral move to firms with stronger business models and leadership. 

There is a plethora of pitfalls that you should avoid when making a lateral move. Be sure not to make these common mistakes.

  1. Carefully review your partnership agreement before moving on to a new firm. Understand your compensation and how it will be affected when you make a move. As a partner, what are your obligations to the existing firm (i.e., how much notice do you need to give them; what are your responsibility going forward etc.)?
  2. Don’t oversell or undersell your book of business. Align expectations with reality. If you undersell, your compensation may not be what you expect. If you oversell your billings, you may be creating bigger problems.
  3. Does the new firm give you the credibility you need? Will you be perceived as a trusted advisor to your clients (i.e., practice areas for cross-selling)?
  4. Does the new firm’s corporate culture line up with your personal values? If it’s not a good fit, don’t make the move. Take time to find the right firm that has a culture that is consistent with how you practice law. 
  5. Work with a legal recruiter to navigate the process. On Balance Search knows what firms are susceptible to being acquired by another firm and some that are in danger of folding. Do your due diligence to ensure that the new firm is financially sound and has a solid strategic plan for the future. 

Why are you looking to make the lateral partner move? 

Before making a move there are many considerations. You don’t want to burn bridges. Making this decision is important part of your journey. 

Questions to consider:

  • Is there any chance of reconciling differences? Take the time to see if you can work things out with the existing firm before leaping. 
  • Do you have a succession plan in place and how does making the lateral move affect it? 
  • Will you be leaving money on the table? 

Making the lateral partner move is a risk. 

Before having major surgery, most folks will get a second opinion. Get counsel before you make a move. Know the risks, work with a legal headhunter to create a lateral integration plan to make the transition smooth and successful. Reliable advisors know the marketplace and can place you in the right firm that is a good fit for you!

Carefully review your partnership agreement before moving on to a new firm.

About On Balance Search Consultants

On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence.  Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm.

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.