Carrie Heller of The Heller Group says lawyers should think about a lateral move when they’re no longer excited by the job.

“As a colleague of mine said, it’s when you wake up every day and say, ‘Do I want to fight this battle again today?’ It’s just as simple as that. You wake up and you’re not excited to go to work or you’re anxious about going to work or you start not winning certain pitches.”

Lawyers might also be wise to think about a lateral change of scenery if the work environment doesn’t feel right or their practice is stagnant, says Heller.


“I can’t claim that every lateral move will be the right lateral move,” says Heller. “Some can be very positive and others don’t turn out to be what you expected.”

Partners who make a lateral move could end up losing clients, she says, as those clients may want to stay, and lawyers will also have to prove themselves again if they move.

“You’ll have a new group of colleagues and you’ll no longer have the goodwill that you may have had in the other firm. It’s a new landscape so you’ll have to figure out the new environment and how you maneuver within it, how you get things done, and who’s important.”

Heller says that when lawyers do decide to leave a firm they should refrain from advertising their plans.

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