Transatlantic firms fare best at retention, research shows

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  • Difficult to know what to make of this, particularly in view of the review period which saw substantial lay-offs because of the GFC. A couple of thoughts, though:
    a) only surprised that the figure for in-house movers is not higher - they often come from cozy jobs with external firms snuggling up to them and find it a shock in private practice when they have to justify their existence and are no longer treated as people to be courted;
    b) the old, old problem of lateral hires - 1 in 3 failure rate is an expensive one in terms of time, money and disruption.

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  • Fascinating stuff, with so much to mull over. A few thoughts spring immediately to mind:
    I have seen law firms recruit at Partner level and there may be 5, 6 , 7 or more interviews with literally dozens of interviewers involved, but when that process is analysed it was probably a case that the same interview is simply repeated 5,6 or 7 times and there was little variety or robustness to the process. The decision to hire was made by the key stake holders in the first two interviews and thereafter it was a case of the potential recruit simply avoiding doing anything wrong to ensure consensus was gained. In short, firms may benefit from designing more robust and varied selection processes.
    It's impossible to tell from the data, but it would be interesting to know if there are differences in the success of lateral hires made on a proactive basis (i.e. law firm advertises or conducts a search for a lateral) and those made on a reactive basis (i.e. firm is approached by a Partner who is looking for a move). In the former instance the firm's desperation may be higher and so risks are taken; in the latter the candidate might just be one of those people who moves every two to four years, sometimes because they are just not that good.
    I'd be interested to see how these success rates compare to similar fields such as accountancy or investment banking. In comparison the story might be "Two thirds of lateral hires work!" (though I doubt that would be the case!). Similarly, perhaps firms accept - albeit grudgingly - that 1 in 3 fail and account for that.
    These figures have to be set against the biggest economic meltdown since 1929. These are not ordinary times.
    Perhaps recruiters need to share more of the risk and move to a fee system which sees more of the fee being paid in line with the recruit's performance and tenure.

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  • Very interesting thoughts. I entirely agree on the lack of rigour - extending sometimes to basic information-sharing between the groups of interviewing partners - in the hiring process. Firms also need to sharpen up the business planning process; there is far too much 'wing and a prayer' going on still.
    Your point on search vs approached is very well-taken. My suspicion, backed up by some experience, is that search exercises often lead to a 'hire anyone' approach, where money and time have been spent and no-one wants to simply abort, instead remodelling the opportunity to suit the available candidate(s) rather than the true business need. I do think where partners have approached the firms themselves, the business plan is often scrutinised more rigorously, but these hires are usually opportunistic to some degree, so strategy ends up being shaped, again, by the available resource rather than client need and market opportunity.

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