Smaller firms eye disenchanted talent. Time to jump? Or not.

Updated: Jul 13, 2018

The path to equity Partnership and even salaried Partnership in many firms has now become much harder.  In a market where revenue and profit figures are challenged it is expected that fewer aspiring Partners in large firms will achieve the necessary benchmarks this year or next, despite best endeavours. For many senior lawyers, career paths are now far less clear. 

And this is what some smaller, mid-size and NewLaw firms are certainly hoping to capitalize upon.  At a time when several large law firms are quietly ramping up performance pressure, and exiting once profitable areas of practice the many smaller and mid-size firms who have been carving a growing niche are actively looking to add quality senior lawyers and Partners who are disenchanted.  These firms are finding an increasing number of top talent keen to make the jump from large firm to small(er) firm for the promise of career opportunity, which includes greater autonomy and control over its direction.

Nimble in size, strategy, decision making and remuneration model these highly profitable small to mid-size firms are looking to make strategic appointments at Partner level so to position their business for the inevitable up-swing. And what this presents is very financially attractive career opportunities for technically strong, relationship savvy senior lawyers who have portable client bases sufficient to cover TEC costs x 1.5 – 2 in the first year. Or, in some cases at the very least, a business plan showing strong relationships with good clients that might realistically lead to work with an appropriately supported and executed marketing plan.

As many Partners are now finding, the size and big name brand of a firm are not pre-requisites to peer (and client) recognition, nor personal financial rewards.  I have recently assisted two equity Partners from different major firms transition their significant practices to smaller/mid size firms where they will actually earn more money. There are many reasons for considering such a career move and it will not be money alone. So do the proper DD, because this jump is not the right career move for some Partners, or your clients.