The strong and the weak will become evident. For the last several years, weaker firms were able to hide behind the rising tide of a strong economy. Those weaknesses will now become clearer and force some firms to drastically slash compensation and staff, while the stronger firms will have the cushion to take more measured steps to preserve the future of their firms.
You will be deluged with calls from headhunters. No doubt the calls have already started. Many partners will make the mistake of putting their professional lives in the hands of people whom they know nothing about. Some will come to regret that decision when they realize they jumped onto the first passing ship rather than work with an experienced and accomplished advisor to find the right fit for their practice and career.
There will be a flight to quality and stability. The best lawyers will move to firms that present the best and safest long-term opportunities for them. Those with substantial practices will be the lucky ones—they will get to choose their next home and have the pull to bring their favorite partners, counsel and associates with them. For others, the path will be more difficult, but no less important.
THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
Don’t panic. A crisis is no time to lose focus, take bad advice or make a rash decision. It is an opportunity to evaluate your firm and your practice. Be the same calm, deliberative counsel for yourself that you are for your clients.
Assess your situation. Now is the time to have an honest conversation with yourself:
Do you have faith in your firm’s management to navigate this crisis successfully?
Do you feel comfortable with the state of your practice and how it is being supported?
Can you align yourself with others in your practice group or firm to ride this out and execute on new opportunities?
If you are comfortable with what that world looks like for you at your current firm, the right option may be to stay put, focus your efforts and execute on that plan. If, after your review, you are not entirely convinced, ...
Talk to an experienced and accomplished advisor. Now more than ever, you need career advice from trusted professionals who represent you, not from strangers pitching random opportunities. Have a thoughtful and comprehensive discussion with Major, Lindsey & Africa. Our recruiters are former law firm partners, practice leaders and firm leaders, and we are perennially named the “Best National Legal Recruiter” by The National Law Journal. Our Lateral Partner Satisfaction Survey and our Partner Compensation Survey should give you an idea of the level at which we play and the tools we bring to bear. But there are also a number of other reputable recruiters around the country. Choose wisely.
Stay calm; stay safe. We will get through this, together. Please stay calm and stay safe. We’re here if you need us.
Jeffrey Lowe is Global Practice Leader, Law Firm Practice and Managing Partner of legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. Based in Washington, D.C., Jeffrey helps partners, partner groups and law firms navigate the delicate process of lateral hiring.