If the answer to your query isn’t covered here, please feel free to contact BCL directly.
"I am considering a lateral move. What are my prospects of success in the current market place?"
In both buoyant and challenging markets, talented partners who can enhance and develop business, and offer services which compliment a firm's existing offering, are always in demand.
"Do I need to use a recruiter? If so, how do I choose which one?"
A specialist legal recruiter will know the market inside out, as well as having unrivalled access to a stellar client base.
BCL Legal is trusted by an exceptional client base - many of whom are on speed dial.
We pride ourselves on professionalism, discretion and honesty. You can rely on BCL Legal for measured, pragmatic and incisive advice.
"Do I need to prepare a CV and a business plan?"
Yes - to both.
Your CV will tell a prospective firm about your successes to date. See our CV preparation advice and also our partner CV template.
Your business plan will tell the firm what you can offer them - your future potential, so to speak.
"How should I approach my business plan?"
The business case to recruit at partner level for any firm has to withstand scrutiny. Hence your business plan must be robust and well thought-out enough to do the same.
- your current business
- your clients
- your team
- your market
- your billing track record
- your history of cross-selling
- your charge rate
- your relationships and their resilience
These are just a few of the matters that must be tackled in a strong business plan. See BCL Legal's advice on preparing a business plan.
It is important that you demonstrate commercial awareness and client development skills through the content of your business plan.
"Is it possible to move without a client following?"
Whilst this would undoubtedly limit the options available to you, BCL Legal is occasionally instructed on roles at partner level where no following is necessary.
This might be the case where succession planning is the key driver behind the appointment. For example, panel relationships may guarantee a source of work.
If you are a partner without your own client following, then this is something you should endeavour to address.
"How do I decide which firms to approach?"
Following your first contact with BCL Legal, your specialist consultant will arrange to meet with you, so that you can jointly draw up a targeted plan. Which firms you decide to target will depend upon your own search criteria, together with your consultant's knowledge of the market. The plan will take into account:
- Where you hope to be based geographically
- What type of firm culture are you looking for
- What level of remuneration you aspire to
- What sort of synergy do you require for compatibility with your existing client base (taking into account conflicts, for instance)
- What level of resource does the target firm presently have
These considerations will enable you to target those firms who are equipped to facilitate you in achieving your career objectives.
"I am anxious to avoid jeopardising my existing position. Will this matter be dealt with confidentially?"
Yes. We understand that confidentially is imperative - as do our clients. Firms would never be able to attract and recruit if there wasn't complete trust and confidence in the process.
An initial meeting might take place outside office hours, or even off-site if required.
However, as you progress towards the final stages of the process, be prepared for references being required from clients who you are indicating will follow you.
"How long will the process take?"
There is no definitive timeframe. Sometimes the process can be concluded in a matter of weeks. Usually, if you are considering a number of options, the process can take a number of months.
"Does a lengthy notice period render me a less attractive candidate?"
No. Senior candidates are often on 6 month or sometimes even 12 month notice periods. This will not come as a surprise to the firm you are joining, and will be taken into account.
Do consider and address any period of restrictive covenant when completing your business plan.
"Am I likely to be bound by any restrictive covenants?"
Potentially. You will need to check your contract of employment carefully, and you may need to take advice about enforceability.
If there are any issues, it is important that they are flagged up at the earliest possible opportunity so that they can be managed.
"What else should I consider?"
See our advice on moving as partner.
"How is Associate-performance assessed?"
Because the role of Associate is often seen as the route to partnership, chargeable hours, billing and business development are all likely to be measured. That said, a firm's expectations of its Associates can vary greatly depending upon the size, structure and market position of the firm.
"Will I be expected to win work?"
Whilst there will not usually be an immediate requirement to bring in work, business development is likely to be viewed as a key part of the Associate role in most commercial firms. The ability to win work is a key indicator of the potential to succeed at Partner level.
Consequently, key introductions and work won will be taken into account by firms when the opportunity to promote arises.
"Will my business development and marketing initiatives be given support?"
Whilst the support and investment that will be allocated to Associates varies from firm to firm, any firm committed to the development of its Associates will provide as much support as is practicable. After all, the firm has a vested interest in developing future talent, and enabling Associates to deliver against their business plans.
If you are being interviewed for an Associate position, this is something that you may wish to discuss when the opportunity arises.
"How will I be supported in my personal development and ambitions of partnership?"
This is something worth raising at interview. Most firms measure Associates against key performance indicators such as chargeable hours, recovery, billing, work winning and so on. You will be keen to understand how and when the firm reviews progress, and what their partnership recruitment process looks like.
Most commercial firms will have a formal, structured process in place for partnership applications.
"Do Associates have managerial or non-feeing earning responsibilities?"
Most firms expect Associates to be ambassadors for the firm. In practice, this can involve contributing to corporate social responsibility initiatives and promoting the profile of the firm in the market place.
Enthusiasm for these non-fee earning activities will assist in your career progression.
Associates are also likely to be tasked with supervising more junior members of staff working within their team.
"What if I don't want to be a Partner? Are there any alternatives open to me?"
Today, many commercial firms recognise that there should be an alternative path for career progression tailored to outstanding lawyers who do not aspire to partnership - and all that comes with it.
Many appoint such lawyers to Legal Director roles, which are usually associated with a lesser business development requirement and without the time, administrative and financial commitment that comes with partnership.
"Will I have management responsibility?"
Yes - it's likely that you will. The nature and extent of this will depend upon the size and style of the firm, together with the markets in which it operates.
You will almost certainly have some supervisory responsibility, particularly for Trainee Solicitors.
Whilst the extent of your management responsibility may depend upon your previous experience, you may wish to consider asking the firm about what support you will be given to help you develop as a manager.
"What should my salary expectations be?"
For more junior fee earning roles, salaries are usually determined by set 'bands'. By contrast, Associate salaries are often negotiable.
When joining a firm, your ability to negotiate will depend on your level of experience and whether you have a client following, or can offer anything else which is over and above your peers.
In the future, delivery against key performance indicators and your wider contribution to the firm will all be taken into account upon review of your salary.
"What is the present outlook for aspiring Associates?"
The downturn in the economy has meant that it has become increasingly difficult for both firms and recruiters to predict, with any certainty, what roles and work will be available in the long term.
However, it remains important for a prospective Associate to ask the right questions - to ensure that any position taken up is perceived as long term by the recruiting firm.
You will be keen to know about the firm's business objectives and priorities in the coming year and beyond. For instance, any plan to introduce additional Partners into the team may negatively affect your own career progression. Alternatively, the intention to 'bolt-on' teams of different disciplines may bring exposure to a new client base and positively raise the profile of the firm.
Our recruitment consultants have expert knowledge of the markets in which they operate together with access to an enviable client base. Give them a call today to discuss your aspirations and receive advice tailored to you.