Market Restructuring and Lateral Partner-hiring

The first page of David Maister’s authoritative book, Managing the Professional Service Firm, states that one of the most interesting discoveries of his consulting work is that “regardless of size, specific profession, or country of operation,” the mission statements of virtually all professional services firms boil down to some variant of the following:

To deliver outstanding client service; to provide fulfilling careers and professional satisfaction for our people; and to achieve financial success so that we can reward ourselves and grow.

The commonality of the mission, Maister continues, “does not detract from its value. Simply put, every professional firm must satisfy these three goals of ‘service, satisfaction, and success.’”

These three goals are depicted in the following diagram, which is adapted from Maister’s classic book. In essence, a firm’s financial success is a byproduct of how skillfully it operates in the markets for clients and talent. I harken back to Maister’s fundamental principles because lateral partner-hiring is the one area of law firm strategy that simultaneously bears on both markets. If we hire the right lateral partners, then we can access valuable new client relationships.

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