Law Firms and Lateral Hiring… How to make the right choices

Law Firms and Lateral Hiring… How to make the right choices

Barbara Sternlight McCarthy, BA, RDMS

Time to Read: 1 minute

In the last few years, the process of lateral hiring has been seen as the right way to invite talented individuals into a law firm. However, it has been shown that often, expectations of the hiring firm are not met. In a recent article in the “The American Lawyer”, it was noted that “Legal industry and hiring consultants say a large percentage of lateral hires flop for more ordinary reasons, such as lackluster business prospects, poor people skills or a missing cultural fit.” "Fifty percent of all laterals will fail within five years. And that pretty much shows up across the board in every study that's been done,” said Michael Ellenhorn, co-founder and general counsel of Decipher, a human resources and market intelligence business.

Without careful thought put into the hiring process, the result can be unwanted turnover, dissatisfied clients, confusion among colleagues, and, undoubtedly, financial losses. Fortunately, reliable tools are available that allow a firm to match and integrate lawyers successfully into an existing culture. Using information from these tools, new colleagues can be aligned to the objectives of the firm and ensure that good communication will be maintained with partners and clients.

One assessment that stands out as a cost effective and well respected hiring tool is MAPP™ (Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential) – an appraisal that identifies a new hire’s positive motivations (as well as identified aversions). With the resulting scientific data in hand, firms can determine whether someone will be a good “fit”. In addition, a unique component of MAPP™ is an educational analysis, which explains how an individual learns most effectively. Knowing this can shorten orientation or training periods necessary to bring new talent on board and up to speed. Talent awareness and development typically translates to increased profitability and client satisfaction.

Successful law firms understand their colleagues’ motivational makeup. Each individual has unique preferences that impact his or her behaviors. Given a particular set of expectations, motivation informs performance. When looking at adding lateral hires, firms can use MAPP™ in a number of ways:

  • Current members of the firm can create a desirable “profile” of the ideal candidate, which can then be matched to a prospective candidate’s MAPP™ results.
  • A carefully crafted job description can be used to match someone’s appraisal results to a position that has been designed to support the firm’s needs and objectives.
  • Once a new hire is brought in, communication programs can be implemented to help colleagues share their motivations and aversions with one another. Knowing what makes each other work best leads to more successful collaboration and outcomes.

# # #

Wolf Management Consultants can guide law firms during their lateral hiring process. In person or virtually, we can help you set realistic goals and objectives that ensure success for a lateral hire as well as for your firm.

Contact us today at 858-638-8260 or email



Leadership insights in your inbox.

Nationally acclaimed speaker

International bestselling author Jeff Wolf is now available for your next meeting, conference or convention to provide a high-energy presentation filled with strategies and techniques attendees can immediately apply to improve their skills.