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You have so much, I love you so much

The maturity of the legal sector in Spain, backed by high competition in all segments and a real fee war between firms, means that the inorganic growth path is the most used by operators.

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You have so much, I love you so much

The maturity of the legal sector in Spain, backed by high competition in all segments and a real fee war between firms, means that the inorganic growth path is the most used by operators.

This type of growth consists of incorporating a partner (individual or team) who, through the contribution of their own client portfolio, contributes profitability to their area of ​​specialization and makes it grow, in addition to generating cross-selling with the rest of the firm's areas. of destiny.

As a headhunter accustomed to representing law firm partners from all segments, I can confirm that these are not easy processes for any of the parties involved.

From the point of view of the firm interested in incorporating, the problem is often conceptual. Growth is sought as the first objective without taking into account on many occasions the practice that the professional is going to assume, its cultural fit or his personal view. This means that the firm does not know how to transfer a specific value proposition to the possible candidate, but rather that recruitment focuses on analyzing its client portfolio, setting, in addition to starting, minimum figures that it must reach in its first year. Logically, this type of approach dissuades many of the potential Partners as they feel the sword of Damocles at their neck before starting. In this sense, the rule of thirds of billing (1/3 of the billing destined to cover the costs of the office, 1/3 of the billing destined to the benefit of the Partner and his team, and 1/3 profitability to the coffers of the office), imperative through the uses and customs of the sector, discourages a Partner who does not realize what profit will be obtained beyond the obvious initial loss.

I believe, and some experiences prove it, that first of all, firms should think strategically about what areas of practice they want to promote in order to offer a better and more complete service to their clients, and then define a personal and technical profile together with their human resources department. and a specialized headhunter. Once this exercise has been completed, the urgency for immediate profitability should not cloud the selection process. Rushing is never good, they say, and in a Partner selection process, even less so. For this reason, and without losing sight of the economic figures that the firm hopes the Partner will achieve, a proposal must be prepared for three years to come. In this way, we will convey confidence to the potential Partner that we have him regardless of what happens financially in the short term.

As far as the candidate is concerned, and continuing with the topic of clients, the main problem is the lack of an exhaustive analysis of his portfolio.

In around 40% of the selection processes that we carry out, there is a gap of 35% between the billing that the partner assumes and what he actually bills at the end of the first year. Is it perhaps a malicious act of the Partner, in bad faith, who lies in order to sign? The answer is usually no. Rather, as I noted, the due diligence of his portfolio lacks a clear analysis of the degree of interrelationship of his clients with other areas of his firm, so the surprise comes when some of the companies we were counting on land in the firm of destination, they do not follow us because they feel captive as they are being advised by Partners from other practices that may or may not be dealing with sensitive issues of vital importance to them or more ordinary but recurring.

However, at the end of the first year, the relationship is clouded by the feeling that the initially assumed commitments have not been met.

Headhunters, in all this, are catalysts for both parties and a large part of the success of the operation lies with us. First and as I have warned before, helping the interested firm to define the profile well and to structure a value proposal thinking of projects three years ahead.

Secondly, and once the potential Partner has been identified who fits on a personal and cultural level with the interested firm, it is convenient to help him in the analysis of his own portfolio, carrying out the due diligence that provides the most reliable image possible on the background of business that you really own and will be able to transfer.

However, some changes in the social paradigm (personal/work life balance) together with other specific changes in the legal sector in particular (appearance of alternative legal service firms, flexible models of community expenses), are going to cause a relaxation of the demands in terms of immediate profitability for those firms that want to continue growing, albeit slowly, thinking about the medium term.


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