So you got the job – congratulations! What was likely months of searching, interviewing and weighing your options has culminated in a new position. Now for the hard part – the first day. You’re the new kid on the block and integrating into a new legal group can come with many challenges. While there seem to be many articles that give advice to firms and companies on how to successfully onboard lateral hires, as the lateral, it is important to take some time to consider the ways in which you can contribute to a successful onboarding. From the little things (like learning a new document management system), to the big ones (like understanding the political structure of your new firm), laterals have to take some initiative in order to make the move a success.

Being a successful lateral means you have to:

  • Build your reputation again: While your references may have given your new firm some information about you, you are starting with a relatively blank slate and need to make the most of the opportunity to make a good first impression (again). You can’t hide in your office and wait for the work to show up; you need to get out there and demonstrate that you are ready to contribute to the group by producing reliable, high-quality work.
  • Find new alliances and mentors: As we mentioned in a previous blog, having a sponsor that will support your career advancement is key to success in a law firm environment. Depending on what stage you are at in your career, it may be that partnership is looming and you need to focus on developing these alliances quickly. Make your career goals known and take steps early on to achieve them.
  • Establish your practice and workflow again: If you moved over as an associate this will mean re-establishing the relationships that result in a steady flow of work so that you are meeting your targets and building your expertise. If you moved over as a partner, this will involve integrating clients you have brought over to the firm, introducing them to a new team and establishing connections within the firm in order to market your expertise and build an internal referral network.


It is a mistake to think that the hard work is done once you have signed your offer letter: this is actually just the beginning of the process of joining your new firm. Becoming a passive participant in the process after signing the offer letter can create problems and feelings of disappointment on both sides. You may feel there is a lack of direction in your career development at your new firm and the firm may feel as though they aren’t getting the work product they signed up for when they hired you.

Make sure you show up on your first day having researched your new group and the work they are doing. You should be up to date on the deals they have recently closed, articles published and any other note-worthy work that is currently going on. Finally, above all else, be enthusiastic! There is no substitute for genuine enthusiasm when you are part of a new team. You worked hard to get your new role, so make the most of the opportunity.

Jennifer is a Recruitment and Communications Consultant with The Heller Group. She is actively involved in the recruitment and placement of lawyers into law firms and corporations and is also responsible for the corporate communications related to The Heller Group. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys travelling, curling and spending time with friends and family.

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