Just Do Your Damn LPQ — The Dreaded Lateral Partner Questionnaire

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Is it really too much to ask? Too much work to fill out a form that will take one hour of your time so you can leave a firm you’re not happy with?

In the mid 1990s, the great former New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson was frustrated with his lack of touches, knowing full well he was the star of the team. So one day he unloaded to the media and declared, “Just Give Me the Damn Ball.” He knew that his lack of touches was the bottleneck in the whole operation. If they could just get him the ball and let him do the rest, the team would dominate.

In lateral partner recruiting, I feel that way about the LPQ — the lateral partner questionnaire. It’s the proverbial ball we need filled out by the partner candidates because we cannot win without it.

We all know the scenario: You’re interviewing with multiple firms and you’ve narrowed it down to a few, or maybe you already decided on the one. After months of the dance, you know who can pay and who was just window shopping. You know whose bill rates will never be low enough for your clients and which firms grind their partners into mulch. You know which firm’s practice will legitimately help you cross-sell and which ones are more siloed than Trump’s tax returns. You’re excited and on the verge of getting an offer from your dream firm. You feel a big number coming. But wait… they want you to fill out an LPQ?!

For the uninitiated: what is an LPQ? After preliminary meetings to establish that you might actually fit in with the target firm both culturally and from a business standpoint, most law firms will ask you to complete a lateral partner questionnaire (LPQ) to facilitate that process. Due diligence is an essential part of the lateral partner hiring decision. Law firms must verify your book of business, avoid client conflicts, and manage risks as much as possible. Factors taken into account include your reputation, revenue, originations, client relationships, and business portability. The data included is biographical and economic — a three- to five-year year history of originations, collections, billings, client date, realization rates, and projections for your future, etc. Yes, we concede it’s a bit annoying.

So your inner voice takes over: “Why? We were getting along so well! They need to actually verify my business is what I say it is? Isn’t my word good enough to close a potentially seven-figure deal between lawyers? Shockingly, it isn’t? Oh God, just forget it. Just forget the whole thing. It’s too much work.” Step back and ask yourself: is this me?

Look, we get it. Maybe some of you are just lookie loos, and that’s okay, now is the time to gracefully bow out/ghost us completely. But a lot of you have expressed a deep unhappiness and a strong desire to move to a better platform, and we believe you want to do something about it. So ask yourself: does it really make sense to put up such a stink over the LPQ?

Is it really too much to ask? Too much work? Too much work to fill out a form that will take one hour of your time versus the last 10 or 20 thousand hours you’ve burned at a firm you’re not happy with. You already have all the information. You literally just have to type it into a short document. Sort of like what you do every day. Except you get paid much less for that. Literally typing your information into an LPQ may be the most valuable time you ever spend in your career. That one hour that you keep pushing off is an hour some other partner just spent drinking your milkshake and taking that dream job from you. I’ve seen it happen so many times, but during the pandemic it’s especially egregious to delude yourself into thinking you just don’t have the time.

No more BS. You have the time. S**t or get off the pot. We recruiters work hard to try to put our partner candidates in a position to improve their prospects. We cannot do that if you stubbornly refuse to do the most important part. So I implore you, on behalf of all recruiters, and on behalf of all the firms that really want to hire you and welcome you to a better life: In the words of the great Keyshan Johnson, “Just Do your Damn LPQ.”

Or if your football references are all from Jerry Maguire, then let me just scream, “Help ME help YOU!”