It is critically important that law firms engage the right legal search firm to assist them in opening a new office.
Equally important to the selection of the right search firm are the terms of engagement with that search firm. The terms should further your firm’s interests and goals. Be wary of inappropriate terms that might further the interest and goals of the search firm while frustrating the law firm’s interest in establishing and sustaining a successful office. On the one hand, an exclusive, retained search structure lends itself to a more deliberate, selective, and discreet search where “who” takes priority over “when.” At the other extreme, a non-exclusive, pure contingency structure tends to create a greater sense of urgency whereby “when” takes priority over “who.” Under such a structure, it can become more difficult to coordinate the recruiting efforts of multiple search firms such that they are synchronized to systematically cull the best from the rest. Such a structure also makes it more difficult to keep your intentions known to only a chosen few. More often than not, the most appropriate structure for a de novo office opening will balance elements of both exclusive, retained and non-exclusive, contingency search agreements.
Regardless of the structure or method, it is essential that the search be carefully managed and coordinated to avoid prematurely committing to the less desirable and, in turn, warding off the more desirable candidates. Regardless of the structure of the search, the initial hires will set the tone for the subsequent hires. Just as success begets success, the converse is true as well. Having worked with one of the largest law firms in the world on a de novo office opening, the Trense Group understands the importance of early success as well as the high costs associated with strategic missteps.