Ten Ways to Boost Lateral Partner Integration

Katie Rutter, Lawmarketing PortalOver the past few months, we have seen law firms merging as well as lawyers leaving firms to join other firms. This trend is predicted to continue as the economic downturn plays out. As these lawyers integrate into new firms, there are a myriad of communications, operational, marketing and cultural issues to consider, oftentimes with everyone involved in reaction mode.

According to marketer Katie Rutter of Needham, MA, to make the transition as seamless as possible, for both the new lawyers and incumbent firm, it is key to have an “integration plan" in place with time frames as well as template documents that may be customized quickly.

Also key to a successful integration is assigning a point person or “team” of point people from various firm departments (i.e., marketing, recruiting and IT) to ensure the tasks within the plan are accomplished and to serve as liaisons for the new lawyers. Many firms have a professional dedicated to lateral hiring and integration and this person typically serves as the initial contact for the new lawyers and works in tandem with representatives from other departments. Outlined below are 10 best practices and notable components of such an integration plan.

1. Integrate laterals into your culture.

Each law firm has a distinctive culture with its own nuances such as a preferred method of communication (email vs. phone), marketing and client development processes, and compensation and billing structures. An important task of the integration team is to make the new lawyers aware of these nuances while learning about the lawyers’ past experiences and preferences. It is also important for the team to find out what types of resources and support the new lawyers are seeking to grow their practice and career. Also take care to learn from the laterals whether they served in leadership roles on internal committees, such as the marketing or technology committee, at their former firm. Adding a fresh perspective and knowledge to your committees will assist in keeping the firm dynamic. This exchange of information is a first step in fostering a collegial environment where everyone is working toward the common goal of advancing the firm.

To read Katie Rutter's 9 additional tips, please visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com.

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