Hiring a Senior Attorney

by Michael Lord

One of the most underrated tactics in lateral recruitment is hiring senior level attorneys who have 10-30 years of experience, but very little or no business. Why should your law firm consider hiring such attorneys?

  • Expertise and Experience: Attorneys who have practiced for many years will have a track record of success, which they should be able to detail in their resume and/or an accompanying case list. Too often, hiring is done based on “class years,” instead of good old-fashioned accomplishments. These mature attorneys need little or no training, and are truly “plug-and-play” hires.
  • Compensation: While some firms may shy away from hiring more senior attorneys on the belief that they will be more expensive, that is not necessarily the case. Because they typically have fewer options, senior attorneys are often more flexible regarding salary expectations than their more junior counterparts, which can actually create an opportunity to bring aboard a more experienced/skilled attorney at a relatively bargain price.
  • Exit Options: Seasoned attorneys have fewer exit options available, which usually has two direct results. First, senior attorneys can often be more invested in the position and less demanding/lower maintenance. Second, a law firm will have a better chance to keep such attorneys at the firm longer, which will of course provide continuity to clients. Junior attorneys, by nature, are often more curious about “what’s out there” and more apt to leave. They also tend to have much greater ability to move because firms almost invariably seek to hire the coveted second to fifth/sixth year associate.
  • Bringing in Business: With large contact lists and more time in practice, a seasoned lawyer might be more apt to bring in business than would a junior lawyer. Although one might expect an attorney to start making rain earlier in his or her career, there are attorneys who take longer to build a practice. If a senior attorney presents a convincing business plan during an interview, it just might be the right time to hire him or her.