The lateral recruitment process – what should you know?

08 May 2019

Lateral recruitment

Lateral recruiting processes in law firms are often more complex and take more time than the recruitment of junior lawyers. Many lateral candidates don’t realise that it can take up to 90 days for the interview process alone. If your goal is to change jobs this year, start looking today – ideally, a prospective candidate should allow a good six months to make their move. Many candidates don’t give themselves enough time, simply because they don’t know how the lateral process works with employers.

Candidate screening

Some employers thoroughly screen lateral candidates over the telephone prior to bringing them in for interviews. If your entry into a firm was through networking, anticipate that the firm will check you out at some point, perhaps even before bringing you in.

It’s too risky to parade a stream of lateral candidates through a firm without first making sure they are viable candidates. Confidential conversations could be overheard, clients might see that the firm is interviewing lateral candidates from the competition and may not like it, and there’s always the risk that the candidate’s firm will discover that he or she is out interviewing. All of these situations can create negative feelings and ultimately hurt business.


Lateral candidates, at all levels, usually interview with partners and with members of the practice group in which they would work if they joined the firm. Interviews are often thirty minutes in length, and a half-day interview schedule is common. It is common for a lateral candidate to return for a second round of interviews. In some cases, you may be asked to return for a third time if scheduling interviews with key team members in the firm proves difficult. Employers have their own requirements regarding which specific colleagues have to meet with lateral candidates before final hiring decisions are made.

If a firm goes to the time and expense of bringing you in for several rounds of interviews, then you should assume that they have a genuine interest in you as a viable lateral candidate. Too much time and money are at stake (especially if interviewing only with partners) to waste your time and their own lawyers’ time. You should always expect the unexpected, and never assume that you are going to get the job until you have an offer in hand.

What credentials are considered for lateral credentials?

Weighing lateral credentials is not an exact science. Law firms rank and view laterals’ credentials differently. Research performed by the USA’s National Association for Law Placement resulted in a ‘list’ of credentials that are deemed important by employers when recruiting lateral lawyers. While many of the items on this list are beyond your control to change, you can target employers that may find your credentials noteworthy. NALP’s list, which assumes that due diligence has been performed, includes the following factors:

  • Prior employers and history of mobility
  • Expected fit with firm culture
  • Quality of legal products
  • Experience, expertise in specific practice area
  • Personality, drive, recognition
  • Client following

At Route1, our Engagement Team are always available to discuss your career options and guide you towards employers that will look upon your skill set and credentials in a positive light. Allow our experienced team to help find you the perfect role today!

This post was originally published on Law Crossing.

Route1 is an award winning marketplace for legal talent. For any questions, please contact our Engagement Team or visit our Contact Us page for more information.


We have big ambitions to permanently change the way people hire and get hired, both in the legal and other white collar sectors, using GDPR compliant, content-rich, value-added recruitment techniques. We place transparency, charity, and candidate control at the heart of our model.

Route1 was founded in the UK in 2015 and is headquartered in London. Our founders and investors include experienced lawyers, digital entrepreneurs, recruitment consultants and HR professionals.

Route1 is an award winning marketplace for legal talent. For any questions, please contact our Engagement Team or visit our Contact Us page for more information.

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