Lawyer Monthly Magazine January 2018 Edition

28 My Legal Life LM93-18 www. lawyer-monthly .com We hear from John Hayes, who has offered thought-provoking insights to Lawyer Monthly before, on why partners move law firms and how they can improve their working lives. John Hayes An Interview With... John Hayes, Principal of Constantine Law of the LLP Agreement such that they were scared witless to proceed. One of the partners sat in their car, after that meeting, in tears. Another backed out of the proposed plan entirely. My advice is that smart advice, taken early, can result in a more practical way forward. 2. Main Reasons for leaving At Constantine Law, we frequently see partners leaving law firms. We are advocates of change, provided that a partner is leaving a firm which is not properly supporting their practice and moving to a firm which is better aligned to it. In our experience, here are the Top 5 reasons for wanting to leave a law firm. As an employment lawyer, I am fascinated by working culture and, in particular, why partners decide to move firms. More and more partners are deciding to change firms and I list below the main reasons for doing so. At Constantine Law, www. we advise both law firms and partners on the opportunities and risks involved in leaving law firms. We begin by considering the risks of leaving a current firm before describing how innovative law firms are creating new opportunities for partners. 1. Leaving isn’t easy It is no easy process for a partner to decide to leave their current firm: at the very least, it requires doing two jobs at once (the day- job and the search); explaining to clients the rationale for leaving; and negotiating one’s way out of the current firm, to the new firm. This involves consideration of restrictive covenants and, frequently, complicated pay variables such as repayment or retention of bonuses and delayed equity release. A wise partner once told me “everyone is their own worst counsel”, and I promptly engaged his services! This maxim is correct: we may be lawyers but even we are blinded by complicated notions of self- worth and self-interest. Further, (a) Pay Who is affected? Typically, high performing “fixed share” partners and well-established partners carrying underperforming practice areas. Partners should earn the majority of what they generate in billings. I have written previously that the traditional 1/3rd, 1/3rd, 1/3rd model is broken because, at the very least, the middle 1/3rd is accounted for in overheads which cannot be justified in the truly modern firm. Law firms need to take advantage of the current IT revolution, improved outsourced service providers and new management techniques, to drive down costs and improve pay. some situations are complex and require external advice: what do you do, for example, if your firm instructs you not to communicate to a client that you have resigned, but where (as in my client’s case) there was an important High Court deadline which indicated that it was in the client’s interests to be so informed? How is one to reconcile the potential conflict between the overriding duty of good faith to the firm against the professional obligation to act in the best interests of the client, at all times? The answer is to seek appropriate advice and we explain the benefits of this, including potentially a “privilege wrapper” below. My other strong view is this: frequently the worst does not happen. Partners do leave firms and every firm is, from time to time, both a poacher and a gamekeeper. Partners need to be mindful of their professional obligations, but they are rarely injuncted. I say this because frequently the best advice is tactical and strategic. I know of one potentially legitimate team move which was torpedoed because the partners concerned went straight to a leading QC, who gave them a very conservative interpretation

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