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While many firms focus their recruiting efforts on their summer program, incoming laterals and clerks are also crucial parts of building a well-rounded team. They can leverage their unique experiences and perspectives to bolster and grow a firm's practices as they work together with homegrown attorneys. But the key to successful lateral recruiting isn't merely attracting top talent; it's effectively onboarding the lawyers as well.
Laterals come in at virtually every level, and making them feel welcome and fully integrated into their teams helps them to produce their best work and, ideally, encourages them to stay with their new firm as they grow in their careers. It’s important that firms extend the effort to make laterals feel at home, whether it be through mentorships, events, or encouraging them to go meet their peers in other offices. Some firms handle this integration process better than others, though. Below are associate quotes from the top 10 firms in Vault’s 2019 Best Law Firms for Integration of Laterals/Clerks.
#1 Patterson Belknap: "There are so many opportunities for mentoring and for interacting with other associates (class lunches, firm 'teas'), that I felt it was very easy to meet people."
#2 Thompson & Knight: "[The firm] aims to hire former law clerks, provides law clerks with first-year training, and reduces hours for the first year at the firm."
#3 O’Melveny: "I was adopted by the class I started with. There were numerous happy hours to get to know my fellow attorneys, and the 'take a partner/counsel to lunch' [program] was a great way to meet people."
#4 Latham: "The firm was very good about ensuring that laterals felt integrated. We had a very extensive induction—meeting a cross section of people in the firm—and dedicated social events."
#5 Munger Tolles: "Clerk integration was very smooth. I feel like an equal member of my class, despite not having been a prior summer associate. I have received appropriate early work experience and have support I can call on if I need it. Many, if not most, incoming class members are former clerks, so that helps with the integration process as well."
#6 (tie) Wachtell Lipton: "Many associates clerk before starting at the firm. I felt totally integrated with my class."
#6 (tie) Williams & Connolly LLP: "Because most everyone clerks, the integration of associates into firm life after a clerkship is seamless."
#8 Gibbons: “Our firm is designed to take in law clerks and then train them."
#9 Ropes & Gray: "I was staffed on and given substantive responsibilities early on, and within the first month was introduced to the practice group as a whole across all offices. Partners and the staffing folks are proactive [in] making sure the transition is smooth and that new associates are not left twiddling thumbs."
#10 Jenner: "Good training. Personal attention from partners and associates."
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