Making a partner is considered to be a huge accomplishment among attorneys. Thus, many focus on building their career within one firm in hopes of reaching that coveted position someday. However, apart from “doing face time”, there is another way to partnership.
Legal firms will often recruit attorneys from other practices to become partners in theirs as they expand into new areas. Such ‘laterals’ are valued because they bring experience and talent with them. Of course, being poached is certainly flattering. But you can also market yourself as an excellent choice as a lateral hire. However, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the job. You’ll have to impress the hiring committee. To start that process, be prepared with a great cover letter.
You can begin by checking out the tips below. Then, take a look at our sample lateral attorney cover letter.
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Start With an Acknowledgment
In most cases, you are in the running for this position because somebody reached out to you. They either did so directly, through a common connection or via headhunter. In any case, it’s an honor to be considered for a partnership position. So it’s best to lead off your cover letter with a quick sentence or two of thanks. Personalize that thanks if you know who expressed interest in you. Remember, connections are everything. Here’s a quick example:
“I’d like to begin by thanking my former colleague Steve Shipman, as well as the Davis Law Group Partnership committee for reaching out to me. I’m honored to be considered for this position.”
Show You Operate a Strong Practice
A law partner often operates as a “law firm within a law firm”. Many partners have their client base, do their billing, and otherwise operate rather independently. They likely have a legal secretary, clerk, or paralegal working with them as well. Ideally, you are also familiar with the people and procedures at your local courthouse.
Put more succinctly, your letter should demonstrate that you are a more than a capable attorney. It should illustrate how you can begin your first day as a productive and profitable attorney who brings something of value to the firm.
Understand Why They Are Recruiting You
The standard advice is to only include the most relevant points in your cover letter, rather than rehash your entire resume. Here, the best approach is to identify why the law firm has reached out to you. Doing so may be as simple as having a frank discussion with your recruiter. You may also reach out to the person who referred you.
Once you’re sure, you can customize your cover letter. Pick two or three of the company’s most important needs. Then, use your cover letter to show how you will be able to meet those requirements.
Quantify The Points You Make
Now that you’ve lined up your ‘talking points’, work on making them a bit less generic. For example, “I have plenty of corporate law experience.” is true, but sounds pretty vague. On the other hand, “I have 5 years of experience in corporate litigation. The majority of that has been representing pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.” gives the reader some extra valuable context.
Here are a few other detailed statements:
- I have taken more than 200 cases to trial.
- My experience includes 3 years of experience as a prosecuting attorney.
- In 2019, I negotiated a 1.5 million dollar settlement with a major railcar manufacturer.
Also, check cover letter examples for other legal professions to get an even better sense of how you should frame your accomplishments.
Lateral Attorney Cover Letter Example in .docx Format
Here’s a sample letter from an attorney who has been directly recruited by an area law firm. Feel free to use it as a guide.
Lateral Attorney Cover Letter Sample – Text Format
Dear Therese Miller,
Thank you for reaching out to me regarding the position of junior partner at Miller and Pike. I’m honored that you thought of me when you decided to expand into the area of criminal defense law. I believe I would be an excellent fit for this position. Thus, I am eagerly submitting my application.
I’ve been in private practice as a criminal defense attorney for three years. Prior to that, I worked in the Minneapolis, Public Defenders office. I specialize in jury trials, and cases involving civil rights violations. In 2018, I successfully argued the dismissal of charges in The State V. Laramie case on the grounds that evidence was gathered illegally. Also, I have an 80% success rate at trial and have achieved positive results in more than 95% of the cases I have settled.
I currently work with a paralegal and legal secretary. Both are talented professionals who are committed to following me into any new position. Further, I have more than 75 clients on retainer. I also average more than 40 new client inquiries each month.
If you are interested in bringing in an experienced criminal defense attorney with an established client base, I’d love to meet with you. Please expect me to reach out again late next week. Perhaps we can meet for dinner.
Stewart Ninja, ESQ.
Final Tip: Be Proactive
Don’t make the mistake of submitting your application packet, then waiting for a response. Instead, show some initiative by planning out your next steps and a future interview. Legal partners are expected to be assertive!