If the oxymoronic notion of partner recruitment didn’t exist who would invent it? On one level, of course, its emergence in the legal profession was inevitable given wider changes in careers and attitudes to work. Without some form of partner mobility law firms would become inflexibly segmented and partners effectively bound to a single employer.
But, as has been noted with increasing frequency in recent years, the returns on partner recruitment can be wildly uneven and often deliver only moderate or poor benefits. The emergence over the last 15 years of a sideways recruitment market for so-so partners moving between similar law firms – as opposed to a start-up or better platform – is also a challenge for law firms in retaining their own partners. No wonder one prominent legal consultant recently wrote of the lateral ‘arms race’ – denoting a contest fraught with difficulty and danger that parties still feel they have no choice but to enter.