Here’s some practical advice for senior associates, of all practice areas, looking to make a lateral move: start thinking about your business development prospects and what you can do to market yourself to potential clients once you make your lateral transition. While this advice is of particular importance when considering lateraling from a large national or international law firm to a smaller national or regional law firm (as these firms almost uniformly ask about a candidates business development plans prior to or during the interview process), it also holds true for senior associates looking to transition to larger firms as well.
Consider putting together an informal business development and marketing plan that explains to law firms what you have done in the past to network and establish your presence in the market, as well as what you plan to do in the future. For example, be prepared to discuss your prior and future publishing activities, including articles, client alerts, blog postings, and white papers. You will also want to discuss any conferences you have attended and/or presented at, as well as online networking activities (again, blogging comes to mind). You should also consider prospective client contacts, both among existing firm clients, law school classmates, personal contacts and other possible sources of referral business.
You should offer to provide this information to potential employers even prior to being asked for such information. Presenting this information to prospective employers in a thoughtful and concise written format will often make the difference between receiving and not receiving an offer. Although law firms don’t necessarily expect senior associates to come in with a book of business, they do want the assurance, particularly at smaller or more regional law firms, that prospective hires are business-minded and are thinking about their potential long-term contributions to the firm.