Do you, as a potential senior hire, have a client following?

Published On: November 1, 2017

01603 516261   |    07960 743650   |    info@olsenrecruitment.com

01603 516261      07960 743650      info@olsenrecruitment.com

A following or loyal client base can be highly beneficial if you are considering a move to another law firm. It is particularly attractive to firms considering senior “new hires”.  Having one is also likely to mean your overall job security is very good. 

Most solicitors below the level of equity partner, in my experience, do not have a following.  Or at least, if a solicitor does have a following, it is not big enough to convince the partners at a new firm to make an offer of employment at senior level/bring in a new partner.

The financial value of a following (to justify a senior lateral hire) should be about equivalent to the billing by the law firm’s existing staff or partners.   As a guide, in East Anglia, this will usually be in the region of around 700-1500 billable hours per annum at whatever charge out rate applies.  In some cases, some partners at some law firms will look at a minimum value less than this because they already, as a firm, have work they can give to a senior lateral hire.

A simple way to quantify whether or not you have a client following is to write down:

  • Each regular or loyal client or work referrer
  • The type of work provided by each client/work referrer
  • The typical annual value of that work
  • The reasons that client/work referrer is likely to follow you to a new law firm

It should be noted that a following does not include clients that have been assigned by senior solicitors or partners unless the clients have become essentially permanently passed over to you and a long-term relationship has been established with you.

Three examples of how to quantify a following are set out below for a corporate lawyer; a wills, trusts & probate lawyer and an employment lawyer.

For the purposes of this article, I have deliberately not included other matters arising in a senior lateral hire scenario where a following is required in areas such as what potential courses of action might occur when you resign from your current firm, any restrictive covenants you have and client conflicts.

Example: Corporate lawyer

Client or work referrer

Head of Legal at [insert name of company OR specify company/organisation is confidential]

Type of work

Company acquisitions; company sales; company secretarial work

Annual value of work

£100-£115K per annum. Over the last five years money billed and received by this client has been:

  • 2016/2017: £115,284
  • 2015/2016: £102,879
  • 2014/2015: £96,103
  • 2013/2014: £104,832
  • 2012/2013: £87,967

The billing year runs from [insert]. The charge out rate is £ [insert].

Reasons why work will follow me

  • I have built up a strong relationship with the directors and head of legal at the company over many years.
  • The relationship is with me as an individual; not my law firm.
  • I regularly take the company directors/head of legal out for dinner/to other events.
  • Recently I was invited and attended the wedding of one of the company directors.
  • I twice yearly run internal seminars at their premises which are well-attended.
  • I am regularly invited to attend their company events.
  • Even if the company changed its head of legal, my relationships with other directors are very strong.

 Example: Wills, trusts and probate lawyer

Client or work referrer

Financial services company (work referrer)

Type of work

The setting up of Wills. The setting up of lasting powers of attorney (LPAs). Sometimes the setting up of trust funds.

Annual value of work

£12-£23K per annum. Over the last five years money billed and received by this client has been:

  • 2016/2017: £23,874
  • 2015/2016: £21,879
  • 2014/2015: £13,681
  • 2013/2014: £12,132
  • 2012/2013: £12,394

The billing year runs from [insert]. The charge out rate is £[insert].

In addition to the above value of work for wills, trusts and probate, these clients sometimes get cross-referred to other teams within the firm.  The values above reflect only wills, trusts and probate work.

Reasons why work will follow me

I have built up a relationship with a number of the staff at this company and as a result they consistently refer good clients to me.  Staff at the company are likely to continue to send work to me if I moved to another law firm.

 Example: Employment lawyer

Client or work referrer

HR Director and HR Officer at (company confidential).

Type of work

Routine enquiries, charged by the hour.  The work arises sporadically as a result of the company’s changing business needs. I have been instructed on matters including:

  • Employee contracts
  • Maternity/paternity
  • Managing sickness processes
  • Settlement agreements
  • Employee terminations
  • Tribunals (if arising).  This type of work is now rare from this client, as a result of being instructed on work early on.
Annual value of work

£18-35K per annum. Over the last five years money billed and received by this client has been:

  • 2016/2017: £33,840
  • 2015/2016: £24,838
  • 2014/2015: £32,176
  • 2013/2014: £28,175
  • 2012/2013: £930

The billing year runs from [insert]. The charge out rate is £[insert].

I also cross-refer work not included in the above figures.  For example, in the last 12 months the company’s directors recently reviewed their shareholder agreement and purchased new commercial premises; my firm was instructed on both of these matters.

Reasons why work will follow me

  • I am the only person in my firm to carry out employment work; as such, if I left, work is likely to follow me to a new firm (subject to the charge out rate being the same or less).
  • I have built a strong relationship with the HR team and some of the directors at the company over many years and have become familiar with the firm’s HR practices.

Whether or not you are considering a move, it is a good idea to draw up a chart such as above simply to review your career position. In the event you are considering a move, Olsen Recruitment can help you to make that important move to another firm.

Olsen Recruitment can be contacted on 01603 516261 or 07960 743650 anytime, including outside of working hours.

 

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