Square Mile

It's a seller's market again in property. Homeowners everywhere are going round with that faintly "cat-that-got-the-cream" look after seeing the value of their pile of bricks and mortar rise, and suddenly it's: "Here I am, an investment whizz."

Unfortunately, the same appears to be true of the legal recruitment market, where lateral hires are now the name of the game.

In certain cases, some quite devastatingly mediocre lawyers, who previously would have been lucky to be exposed to anyone other than those clients the firm was desperate to drop, are being tempted by the siren song of head-hunters and elevated in their own eyes to media megastars or Premier League footballers.

The whole thing is becoming a bit of a game.

The head of an independent Manchester-based recruitment agency with which we work understandably laments that we, as a profession, are merely reaping what we sow. Too much attention is given to chasing fee income and this, fuelled by personal greed, is perhaps breeding an element within the more junior members of our profession, who lack any real notion of loyalty and certainly have an overdeveloped sense of their own worth.

As my friend goes on to point out, if firms actually had appropriate recognition and rewards for their existing staff, much of the lateral hire market would collapse overnight. Also, there is a tendency among law firm management to see the lateral hire as a quick fix to problems and a means of achieving rapid growth while disregarding some of the downsides in terms of unsettling existing staff and introducing frigidity to a firm's culture.

While there is obviously a place for intelligent recruitment, maybe a proportion of those substantial recruitment fees would be better employed in funding an in-house psychologist or counsellor.

It's all a bit of a joke really – especially in a market the size of Manchester where nothing stays secret for long. It is inevitably the genuine transfers of those people truly worth hiring which are the last to be heard about. In contrast, the terminally insecure members of the profession seem to be the first to shout about what they are offered and by whom.

So come on, listen to your own people and let them know they are appreciated and don't demotivate them by bringing in lateral hires with substantially better rates of pay.

Don't let them learn the hard way that the grass isn't always greener and that all the tempting green stuff was actually just a load of old moss.

In the meantime, I am considering offering a new service line for fellow wallflowers as an alternative to the kissogram. For a modest fee I will ring you "with no strings attached, purely for a coffee and a chat" and let you know just what a major acquisition you could be.