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Snooze and you lose – why an efficient process matters

June 2023

The battle for talent is never going to go away. What never seems to be discussed is how having an efficient process  affects the result greatly. It’s a bit like the tedious quote you hear from every single football player who makes a transfer, and they turn around to camera and say…“the club showed they really wanted me.”

How does that relate to the talent in law you ask? A firm that moves quickly when in a competitive situation is way, way more likely to be chosen over another, and that also relates to when the financial compensation on offer might not be as great.

There are probably numerous examples we could offer as evidence but take the example below and tell us which firm you would choose:

We have worked with two firms (one US and one UK) who were looking to add to their lateral ranks in a very specialised and highly competitive area.

The process with the UK firm had dragged on for some 8 months. When the US firm showed serious interest, they told us that they aimed to have the entire process wrapped up in eight weeks from the time of the first interview to having an offer on the table for the candidate. In exceptional circumstances they can commit to getting things done in four weeks.

Over the last several years, we have become accustomed to US firms hiring high performing partners from the UK’s leading firms, whereas the UK firms have largely focused on promoting their internal cohorts. With UK firms increasingly more often tapping into the lateral market, however, the effectiveness of their process becomes far more relevant. If UK firms are to replenish their ranks, they will need to become nimbler and streamline their hiring process.

This is particularly relevant in the present market as more and more firms, US, and UK, have made the strategic decision to focus on funds clients, as opposed to large banks or corporates. A number of our clients have identified sophisticated private capital (private equity and credit in all their iterations) as a priority for the next several years. Given that most multi-asset managers have traditionally been headquartered in the US, if UK firms are to win more work from these clients, they will invariably need to penetrate the US market, both by investing in their offices in the US and by cementing their relationship with US-headquartered fund clients throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.  

If this strategy is to be executed successfully, UK firms will need to hire high performing partners from the firms that have traditionally had strong relationships with US funds. Whilst stretching the traditional lockstep model is a step in the right direction, an efficient hiring process that conveys a given firm’s interest in a particular candidate is also of paramount importance.

Several years ago, the Managing Partner of the London office of a leading US firm, who had been a UK Partner for decades, used a simple sailing analogy to describe the difference between the UK and its US competitors. US firms are nimble, agile, and particularly adept at responding to changing market conditions, not dissimilarly to fast motorboats. The UK firms, on the contrary, are more akin to large and much harder-to-steer? cruise ships, with the effect of any changes made occasionally requiring months or years to manifest themselves. If UK firms are to transform themselves into faster and more responsive vessels, they should begin by overhauling their hiring process.

To discuss this article or chat about your next career move please contact Filippo Falchi at

BBC News