The Lateral Partner Questionnaire, LPQ for short, seems to be the most dreaded part of the hiring process for partners. No one wants to fill it out, almost every candidate pushes back on the request, and the turnaround time for completion is astonishing. It begs the simple question: Why?
The LPQ is a standard part of lateral partner hiring. It is how firms demonstrate their due diligence while verifying potential new assets. The LPQ usually follows the interview process, once it has been determined that the candidate would be a good fit and there is interest from both parties to move forward with the process.
To be clear…the questionnaire is not meant to be simple. It is time consuming and in-depth. It requires 3-5 years of fiscal records, billable hours, and a breakdown of portable business. It explores potential red flags like ethics and malpractice complaints.
It is long.
There is some part of this step that is meant to weed out applicants who are not wholly invested in making a career move, but if you are invested, is it really more arduous a task than staying in a job where you are unhappy? Recruiters work hard and put time and energy into finding these opportunities for partners. They arrange interviews and writing samples, only to reach the LPQ stage and be ghosted.
So let’s clear up a bit of history surrounding the LPQ. Before firms began implementing a questionnaire for partner candidates, they could not verify any of the information that is vital to making a lateral move at the partner level, like billing hours, origination, revenue, and portable business. They had to take what a candidate told them at face value. At a certain point, firms got tired of candidates inflating their numbers, increasing the liability of taking on an unknown entity. Firms got burned by attorneys who weren’t really bringing in the business they said they were, and portable books that turned out to be not so portable.
There needed to be a way to hold candidates accountable for the numbers they were throwing out. Acquiring a lateral partner is a strategic move; it is an investment. Before the LPQ there was not much to assist firms in any kind of due diligence when looking to acquire high level attorneys. So, if you’re an attorney trying to move firms at the partner level, fill out your LPQ and prove why you’re worth it.