BlogsLateral Move Interview Tips

November 5, 2020

As we enter the tail end of 2020, attorneys are thinking about their career trajectory and whether they should consider a move. If you are thinking about a lateral move, now is the time to dust off your resume (see resume tips here) and polish your interview skills. Your interview process typically depends on your current place in the firm hierarchy. 

Junior Associate: 

There are numerous reasons that junior associates move firms early in their careers. With so many of these lawyers in the job market, junior associates must “run the gauntlet” during the hiring process:

Screening interviews

During this phase, the hiring partner or recruiting committee is gathering general information about each candidate. Make a positive impression to move forward. 

Interview with Associate or Junior Partner

Associates and younger partners are more interested in your personality than your credentials. Don’t go overboard telling them about your competitive nature and ability to work 23 hours a day. Focus on showing them that you are a team player and will fit the office culture.

Interview with Partner

Older and mid-level partners want to know that it went well with the younger partners and associates. However, they are most concerned with your grades, qualifications, and ability to work. Here, you can tell the firm how competitive you are and how hard you work. 

Senior Associate: 

The lateral path for senior associates is far narrower. Hiring firms typically have a particular need for an experienced attorney. Partners will spend a considerable amount of time arguing the pros and cons of such a hire. Despite these obstacles, if you do land an interview, here are things to keep in mind:

Sell your skills

Your time is expensive now, so you must prove your value. You also need to sell your management skills – client/casework management and staff management. Show the partners that you are ready to “hit the ground running” when hired. 

Culture Fit

As a latecomer to the firm, it’s critically important that you fit in. Conduct extensive research about the firm’s core values and culture, and determine if it’s a compatible match. A professional recruiter should be able to tell you more about the firm culture.

Pointed questions

Prepare questions that go beyond the basics of casework and responsibilities. As a senior associate, your questions should focus on how your specific practice area operates within the firm, how to integrate with the firm’s culture, what your partner track looks like, and addressing any tensions around the existing staff. 

Partner Candidate: 

If you are a partner, you probably already know the people who are interviewing you, and they will have one primary concern: 

Book of business

How much business can you bring with you? Prepare to give an accurate estimate of the number of clients that will make a move with you. Be careful not to oversell your portable book of business – some clients are happy where they are; others may get lost in the shuffle. If your estimate is much higher than the reality, you may find yourself quickly pointed toward the exit. 

Full-Service Legal Staffing You Can Depend On

Collier Legal Search is a full-service legal staffing company.  We specialize in placing well-credentialed partners, associates, and legal professionals at every level in law firms and corporations. Our experience, connections, and unique approach to building our candidate database deliver consistent results that clients can depend. We are committed to the success of our clients and our candidates.  Let us help you with a lateral move. Contact us at 832-239-5253.

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