By Josh Blandi of UniCourt.
Legal recruiting is an important business development tool for law firms looking to expand their client roster, build up their practice areas, and open offices in new locations.
Firms of all sizes, from BigLaw to small law firms, can take advantage of the growing availability of litigation data to gain insights on which laterals to hire, which law practices to purchase and, more importantly, which to avoid.
In the first article of this three-part series, “How Attorneys Can Use Legal Data for Business Development and Intelligence,” we covered how attorneys who want to start using legal data for business development should begin with what they know best: their clients.
With litigation data, law firms can easily look at their clients’ overall litigation to determine their market share with key clients and uncover business opportunities. And once they’ve exhausted potential opportunities with existing clients, firms can also use litigation data to gather competitive intelligence on who their top competitors’ clients are — and whether there might be hidden opportunities with those clients that align with the firm’s core practice areas.
In this second article, let’s discuss how firms can use litigation data to make their legal recruiting a more successful and profitable endeavor.
The Legal Recruiting and Business Development Connection
By bringing on new partners or senior associates as lateral hires who have strong books of business and great experience, law firms can instantly improve profitability and bring in big named clients along the way.
When firms see certain practice areas dwindling or booming, legal recruiting can also be a great way to pivot and open up new practice groups as others fall off, or to lock down good talent when the market demand is growing in their hottest practice areas.
In addition to building their client roster and pivoting from or doubling down in certain practice areas, building or buying practices in nearby markets is another option for increasing revenue when firms grow past the peak of their local market. Successful legal recruiting is key to establishing a solid presence — especially when a firm seeks to establish a new foothold across state lines. With litigation data, for example, firms can target respected lawyers who have real courtroom experience in key areas and have appeared before critical judges.
Many of the largest firms in the AmLaw 200 are constantly hunting for talent and fending off attempts to poach their rainmakers so they can expand market share and protect their revenues. The recent associate salary wars within BigLaw are only a small window into the ongoing competition to recruit and retain the best and brightest laterals.
Now, with the rising availability and affordability of litigation data due to demonstrable growth in the legal tech ecosystem, law firms of any size can use data to add legal recruiting to their toolkit as a way to find new business opportunities.
Developing a Data-Driven Approach to Legal Recruiting
Litigation data lets firms conduct targeted legal recruiting.
Litigation data allows firms to easily find potential lateral hires by looking at lawyers’ litigation experience and client rosters.
Similar to the example we discussed in the first article in this series, law firms interested in using litigation data for recruiting purposes need to start by gathering a couple of years’ worth of data on all the matters the attorney they are interested in has handled.
Here are some of the questions to ask when looking at a prospect’s litigation data:
- What is their average caseload year over year? Have they had any decreases or increases in their case volumes producing noticeable trends?
- Who are their top clients? Are those clients you’re interested in bringing on and do you have any outstanding conflicts that would prevent working with them?
- Have they moved from one law firm to another very frequently? If so, have their top clients followed them from one firm to the next? How likely is it that those clients will follow them to your firm?
- Do they have specialties or specific areas of expertise that stand out? Do they handle run-of-the-mill cases or complex litigation? Are they a fit for your firm’s practice groups?
- What judges have they appeared in front of? Do they have experience going up against formidable opposing counsel, and do they consistently hit the litigation milestones exhibiting a profitable practice?
Leveraging litigation data to conduct legal recruiting is somewhat analogous to looking at an attorney’s LinkedIn profile with private mode on.
You can conduct your due diligence and ask and answer questions about an attorney’s litigation history without having to engage them to suss out their experience and get a hold of their Rolodex.
This saves an immeasurable amount of time and energy that would otherwise go into the dance of legal recruiting. It also gives you a data-driven method for avoiding attorneys whose litigation data tells a much less flattering story than a padded LinkedIn profile or a polished resume.
With litigation data, you can get down to brass tacks much more quickly by focusing on the facts and turning your legal recruiting efforts into a successful business development tool to grow your client base, invigorate your litigation practice groups, and expand your presence geographically.