Over the last few months I’ve been reviewing lateral hire Business Cases for people who want to join a Big 4 firm or large firm as a lateral hire at director or partner. Any Big 4, or large international accounting or law firm will want to have a lateral hire Business Case before they hire in a lateral director or partner. In this blog post I share what I have learnt in the process.
Your Business Case as a lateral hire only needs to do 2 things.
When you boil it down, your presentation of your lateral hire Business Case only needs to do 2 things. These are:
- Demonstrate there is enough of a marketplace or opportunity for you to grow a partner-sized practice.
- Give your future firm’s partners the confidence that you are the right person to be able to realise this opportunity.
It really is that simple.
However, you can expect that your Business Case will be scrutinised carefully. The partners from your potential new firm tend to be more pessimistic than you are about your ability to bring a following with you. They have done this a few times! What they have learnt through bitter experience is:
- Many lateral hires overstate their ability to win work once they join a new firm.
- Any firm will fight like mad to keep clients at risk of following a fee earner who is leaving the firm.
- A restrictive covenant for 6 months plus gardening leave gives a firm time to cement their hold over a client to limit the client’s chance of following the fee earner.
- Many fee earners used to win work due to the goodwill they had built up in their previous firm. Strip away the team and brand around them; they may not be good at winning work.
- Potential new hires can often be optimistic about the value of the portfolio they are bringing with them or the value of their referral relationships.
You may be given a template for your Business Case. Or you may be expected to create your own format for your Business Case. The nearest you will find to a Business Case template for partnership is our Free Sample Business Case Template (click on the link to download).
How to demonstrate the marketplace opportunity.
Many lateral hires at partner or director level are being brought in for a firm to grow a new practice, or plug a ‘skills’ gap in order to allow the firm to access more of a client’s spend. This means that your Business Case needs to clearly demonstrate where work can be won. This can be done in many ways, e.g.
- What is the size of the market both now and in the future?
- What are the triggers or drivers for the growing market? This is often technology or legal/regulation change driven.
- What type of work can be sold to which type of client? And what would be the typical size of an engagement?
- What evidence do you have personally that there is this work out there to be won?
- How the new firm’s current client list or strengths will complement what you bring to the firm?
If this is the first time you have put together a Business Case for partnership, you may feel very daunted. After all being a good lawyer, accountant, or consultant doesn’t prepare you for leading a business or putting together a business plan or Business Case. This is why one of the most sought-after courses in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner is “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”. This on-demand course takes you through a step-by-step process to create your Business Case. If you take this course, you will:
- Know the right questions to ask your future firm to understand the size of the opportunity or what they think you are bringing over as your Business Case
- Communicate the promise of your Business Case succinctly
- Be confident that you can create and deliver on your Business Case at your new firm.
We think Progress to Partner is a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. There is also a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you navigate the Partner Track process – even at a different firm to your own. Check it out!
How to give your future firm’s partners the confidence that you are the right person to realise the opportunity.
It is not enough to demonstrate that there is a marketplace which will sustain a partner-sized client portfolio. You must also demonstrate that YOU are the right person to deliver this opportunity. This evidence can take many forms, e.g.
- A list of which clients will follow you, their potential value, and any restrictive covenants you may have with these
- A list of potential prospects and your key contacts at these prospects
- A list of your key introducers and historical level of referrals from them – both value and number
- Key roles you have had to date (and why these are valuable)
- Your authority in the marketplace, e.g. where you have been asked to speak or any articles you have had in the trade or national press
But it’s not just about what you have done in the past. Your future partners will want to know what you are actually going to do in the next 12 months to realise the opportunity. This means outlining your marketing plan for the next 12 months. E.g
- Key prospects or introducers which you will target
- What do you plan to sell, and to whom
- Any pipeline opportunities that you can take with you
- What profile-building activities will you do
What to ditch from your lateral hire Business Case.
When you have poured hours into your Business Case, detaching yourself from the detail can be very hard. This is where a pair of external eyes can really pay dividends. Typically the challenge is not what to put in but what to take out. My recommendation is to go back to your Business Case and ask the two questions:
- Does this evidence the market opportunity?
- Does this evidence my credibility and ability to build a partner-sized client portfolio?
If it doesn’t do either of these, then it probably needs to be deleted from your Business Case. For example:
- Your family or marital situation is rarely relevant
- The size of your LinkedIn network and average views on something you put on LinkedIn is normally not good enough evidence of your ability to grow a business. Remember, it’s quality over quantity…
- A ‘mission’ statement. Your future firm is more interested in the top-line and bottom-lin growth of your practice over time.
One of our most sought-after courses in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner is called “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”. We think it’s a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. There is also a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the system. Check it out!
What’s in Progress To Partner which will help you with your Business Case for partner?
Progress to Partner is our membership site that will give your the knowledge AND confidence to fly through this final step up to partner.
It’s like a Netflix for your career in the professions. Find what you need to watch or read at the time you need it. Within the site you’ll find over 150+ courses, videos, checklists, templates and plans to help you progress your career to partner. Amongst the many curated resources (no more unnecessary scrolling or searching) you’ll find:
- On-demand courses on how to create and articulate your business case, including our most downloaded course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”
- A section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process with your sanity intact.
- Recordings and checklists on how to ace your partner panel interview
- On-demand courses on how to win the right sort of clients
- Proven advice on how to still do the day job and find the time to get through the Partner Track process