Q. What’s your book?

A. I’m sorry?

Q. What’s your book of business?

A. Oh right, yes… well……………

Experience shows that the “business case” to bring in a lateral often puts too much emphasis on the portable “book”.  Over ten years ago I read an article in the FT analysing lateral moves. The message was clear – on average it takes a lateral two years to get his/her practice back to where it was at the previous firm.  This has been echoed time and time again by the experience of firms across the city. Yet the dreaded lateral partner questionnaire/interview process often focusses on the “book of business”

Very few firms have a joint business plan setting out the firm’s strategy, target areas of work, client needs and how the new partner feeds into that. In my experience those that take the time to work up a joint business case have a far better chance of knitting the lateral into the “fabric” of the firm and in turn making the hire a true success. Interestingly the Magic Circle and Top Tier US firms seem to focus on strategic fit and client demand rather than the “book” and they do rather well!

The key to all of this is to properly integrate the lateral - it’s good to see firms waking up to this.