Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Do you have a following without realising it?

Do followings actually exist? Difficult question... Yes, on some planets followings do exist. On others, including Earth, 9 times out of 10 they do not exist.

A 'following' is an interesting concept. For example, we often get called up by firms requesting a conveyancing solicitor with a following for a particular position. Think about it - how exactly does a conveyancing solicitor get a following? Most people tend to only move houses a maximum of once every five years, if that. Developers tend to go with a firm rather than a particular solicitor, and estate agents now want money to refer customers through to solicitors assuming they do not have their own call centre paralegal run conveyancing operation going on.

Another one is for a family solicitor to have a following - again - most people tend to only get divorced once or twice in a lifetime, so how on earth does a family solicitor pick up a following?

Commercial litigation, debt recovery, crime and company commercial solicitors can pick one up, but usually restrictive covenants potentially inhibit the solicitor's opportunity to take their clients from one firm to the next. If you do not think you have a following, have a careful think through who your clients are and whether any would come with you.

To a certain extent you can ignore restrictive covenants. The easiest way of getting round them is to simply make sure you have spoken to all your clients before you leave to advise them that you are leaving, and to give them the name of your new firm in case they have any queries. You may be pleasantly surprised how many indicate that they want to follow you to the new practice. There is nothing to stop them doing this as far as I am aware - you have not touted for business, and neither have you done anything to encourage them to go with you.

Do you have family members or friends who occasionally send you business or refer on contacts to you? This is part of your following...

If you have a following, also consider why you are joining a new firm and not setting up on your own or pressing for partnership. After all, if you have sufficient fee generation from a number of clients, why not keep most of this yourself rather than give it to someone else?

Jonathan Fagan is MD of - Legal Recruitment Consultants in the UK - you can contact him via the website or email

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