Two Golden Rules for the Lateral Dating Game

January 7, 2021

Listen for a moment.  That strange noise you hear is revolving doors.  Unfettered loyalty to maintain ones lifelong career at a single law firm has diminished. With so many different options, the most skilled lawyers can play the field in order to find the working environment best suited to develop their careers and optimize their earning power.

Law firms seeking to court that special someone face greater challenges to capturing their attention.  Accounting firms and other alternative legal service providers are all courting the same chosen ones .  All too often, these suitors are dismayed to discover that candidates might spurn their initial affections, or worse, engage in a short term romance, only to leave for a more promising opportunity once the honeymoon is over.

Pivot to the strategic matchmaker. Legal recruiters provide a unique perspective to the hiring process, offering insights gleaned from ongoing candidate interviews and a long history of successful relationships with a wide range of employers of legal talent.

To attract top candidates and avoid the frustration of Associate attrition, employers of the brightest legal talent should consider two golden rules to attract and retain high performing associates:

Know Thyself.  Objectively look in the mirror.

How well do you really know your firm’s strengths and weaknesses? What is the firm’s true market reputation? Prospective Associates are highly attuned to the word on the street. While your firm may perceive itself as an employer of choice, its management decisions may paint a different picture to prospective candidates.

To prevent this disconnect and ensure that your firm is desirable for candidates who will drive future success, take time to thoroughly assess your firm’s employment practices. Identify your firm’s approach to employee recognition, performance, promotion, motivation, accountability, retention, and succession planning is a critical first step to ensure the firm’s image is an accurate reflection of its culture, values, and goals.

Leading firms enlist the aid of legal recruiters and talent management strategists specializing in the legal sector like The Counsel Network in order to present a consistent message and maintain a positive presence in the marketplace.

Clearly define the talent you’re looking for.

How well do you know your firm’s immediate and future needs? What sort of candidate will thrive in your workplace?   Before searching for an elusive puzzle piece, you must have a solid idea of its particular shape and how it will fit into the bigger picture.

Before searching for any ideal candidate, be sure to have established the goals for the next five or more years of the firm’s business, and define the relative role that your candidate will be expected to play in achieving those goals. Selecting the wrong piece for the puzzle, or hiring the wrong candidate for your firm’s business needs, will waste valuable time and resources.

Not every candidate will be a perfect fit, even if he or she possesses an ideal skill set. The firm’s culture, work style, mentorship, clientele, workflow systems, technology infrastructure and training process are all factors which can significantly affect the candidate’s compatibility with your day-to-day working environment and team.

For decades, The Counsel Network has sustained its highly reputed position as an engaged legal recruiter and high-value contributor.  Plan your recruiting strategy with these two golden rules in mind; don’t waste time and effort on candidates whose experience will not deliver your business objectives and underlying character traits that are unlikely to fit the unique dimensions of your culture.


Dal Bhathal is a Managing Partner at The Counsel Network, a Canadian legal recruitment firm specializing in legal talent management strategies covering all levels of lawyers and practices for both corporate legal departments and law firms. To discuss talent management strategies that drive attraction of top legal talent, contact Dal at or 416.364.6654/604.643.1708. 


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