Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Here’s Why Partners Leave Their Firms

Do you know the number one reason partners leave their firms?

It’s not money, or benefits packages, or perks. The top reason for leaving – cited by 44.2 percent of lateral partners – is lack of confidence in firm leadership, according to the 2020 Lateral Partner Satisfaction Survey.

“I think the cliché is that lawyers only care about money,” said survey spokesman Jon Lindsey in this story. “I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, and I can count on the fingers of one or two hands partners who came to me and said, ‘Put me in the firm that pays me the most.’”

This is the fourth annual survey from the legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. Highlights from this year’s study:

  • Compensation ranked only sixth as a reason to seek a lateral move.
  • An increasing number of female partners are joining the lateral market.
  • Many partners are making life-changing decisions with very little due diligence.


Read the 2020 Lateral Partner Satisfaction Survey here.

Want to learn new strategies for developing leadership and cultivating positive change in your law firm? Register now for the 2020 NC Managing Partner Summit: Cultivating Change on March 17.

In the survey, lawyers who had moved from one firm to another ranked on a 1-to-5 scale the importance of factors that influenced their choice of a new firm. They could choose more than one factor.

“The top factor was practice area support, with a ranking of 4.41, followed by firm culture (4.30), personality of partners (4.16), good management (4.10), the firm’s financial health (4.10) and anticipated compensation (3.71),” according to this story in the ABA Journal.

Other reasons: lack of support to build their practice (35 percent), dissatisfaction with their firm’s culture (31 percent) and compensation (31 percent).

Interestingly, female and male partners viewed the importance of law firm culture differently. Nearly 39 percent of female partners said dissatisfaction with their prior firm’s culture influenced their move, as compared to only 28 percent of men.

Here are some other takeaways:

  • Even though compensation was not the top priority, more than two-thirds of departing partners got a pay hike at their new firm.
  • Overall satisfaction is high. Eighty-six percent of lateral partners said they were reporting that they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their current firm.
  • Financial due diligence is lacking. “Only 29 percent reviewed their new firm’s financial statements, leases or loan documents before joining, and only 55.4 percent reviewed the new firm’s partnership agreement,” reports the ABA Journal.

Register For the 2020 NC Managing Partner Summit

Obtain 5.5 CLE General Credit Hours while learning new strategies for developing leadership and cultivating positive change in your firm by attending the 2020 MPS. You’ll learn how to:

  • Create a Culture of Leadership
  • Build Client Loyalty
  • Develop an Exemplary Team
  • Make Your Practice Stand Out

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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