Anyone made a lateral move that failed?


I wanted to know whether what I'm experiencing at the moment is common when making a lateral move.

Is it normal for partners / other associates at a firm to which you have moved laterally to hoard work / fail to integrate lateral associates / unfairly allocate work and prioritise people who trained there?  Brief synopsis is that I moved to another firm at 3PQE.  Having major issues with getting work because the team is so huge and whilst I made every effort to network on joining, a lot of partners seem to have dedicated associates and so don't bother to hand out work more broadly.  

There seems to be a more general resistance to laterals / newcomers and people haven't been especially welcoming. I know that there are no issues with my performance / technical skill - it just seems a cultural issue which is too big for me to change which is really frustrating.   I wondered if this is a normal experience when moving laterally and when is 'too soon' after joining to move on somewhere else.  Most advice seems to be 'give it a year' but I don't see much changing. 

I left the firm at which I trained and stayed on qualification because I couldn't stand working for a psychopathic bully anymore, but with the issues I'm facing at my new firm I'm starting to reconsider whether law is really for me and feeling very rubbish and despondent.  New firm still feels very alien 8 months down the line. 


For once I will be sensible: - 


1) Is it normal for partners / other associates at a firm to which you have moved laterally to hoard work  - no not really. 


2) unfairly allocate work and prioritise people who trained there? Yes favoratism and nepoitm to mates is common. 

3) Having major issues with getting work  - you need to talk to your boss and raise this. 


4)  I wondered if this is a normal experience when moving laterally  - No not normal. 


5) when is 'too soon' after joining to move on somewhere else.   - if its shitty do it asap. 


All firms are different so can’t speak for what is normal.  

I have spoken to a couple of ‘new arrivals’ about this sort of thing, sometimes you may be trying to integrate yourself into relationships that have formed over a great many years and you may need to be patient.  

Reality check - why did they hire you if not to have you billing as much as possible?  It makes no sense so whilst making yourself available and checking with partners if they have anything you can do, it is definitely important to have a chat with the person who took you on, presumably your boss, and get some idea on expectations.

If it turns out that the fit just isn’t right, pull the plaster off sooner rather than later IMO.

If you've been there 8 months you e presumably passed your probation. So you're being paid to do not very much work. 

What is wrong exactly?

Thanks for the replies.

A couple of the people who hired me have retired / moved on.

I don't want to sit idle as it's demoralising. 

I suppose I'm conscious about moving after having done less than a year for CV purposes. 

I know that there are no issues with my performance / technical skill - it just seems a cultural issue which is too big for me to change which is really frustrating.

This makes you sound like a bit of a khunt. Regardless, if you've not been getting work nobody has any idea about your performance  / technical skill - which is all a bit vicious cycle-y, but such is life.

As they said you need to speak to someone, ideally senior but also are there any other laterals you could talk to?  Any good senior associates you can go and speak to as an in?

8 months feels like quite a long time to be honest.

Look for a new role - say the move seemed like a good idea but the people who hired you have moved on and you don't think its an ideal fit.... no one will bat an eyelid. 

Is there someone who provides you with work that you're relatively close to that you can have a chat with?  If not, is there a head of department you can have a chat with?  Don't make a big issue of it but just point out that you're under utilised and are there any big jobs coming up that people are going to need help with that you might get involved with.

What is wrong exactly?

My first room mate when I moved to a US firm was an Aussie girl who'd come over more or less as an NQ.  She did about 120 hours billable work in the 18 months she spent at the firm and got absolutely shredded in the gym.  She was also not at all surprised when she got canned in the redundancy round.

when you say that you made a lateral move, was it from a firm in the same tier, so to speak?

Those partners that recruited you that have moved on, ask them for a coffee, find out if they need some help at their new places.

Thanks for all the replies, it's much appreciated. 

Just above the iron cross firms but just below the copper plate firms.

cursedchild the bronze medallion firms etc references are a RoF in-joke, categorising firms lower-rung than Magic Circle firms.

It's not he norm, but I know of a firm in my city which does this. Two good people have moved on a result. Getting paid to do nothing is horrible for those who want a career rather than just to kill time, and if you're not billing you'll be called up on that eventually. So best to speak to your immediate boss now about how to have more work allocated to you.

If there's no plan or nothing changes in the next couple of months, walk away. Find somewhere else - the question mark poster who suggested having a chat to the partners who hired you and moved on talks sense.

Good luck.


“cursedchild the bronze medallion firms etc references are a RoF in-joke, categorising firms lower-rung than Magic Circle firms.”

Says a lot, this.

Start looking for another job.  Things are explainable if they are geniune.  You’ve given it 8 months and from what you say the firm isnt delivering for you.  Life’s too short to be unhappy at work.  

Good luck.  

A slightly different take on it. I was BD Director at a large law firm, now the third biggest in world, at the age of 35.

Nowhere else to move upwards, I'm not a lawyer, couldn't be managing or senior partner. The money was good so I stayed for six years or so. But I got into my 40s and it was just the same old, year after year.

So I left and moved laterally to the Cayman Islands. A lifestyle change plus insane amounts of tax-free money. My kids were young so they enjoyed the outdoors stuff.

Now I'm back here and doing something different.

Don't get stuck in a rut is what I'm saying, or a golden cage.

Heh chambo, that wasn’t anywhere near relevant to the OP enquiry and I think was just an opportunity to blather on about how successful you have been.

Im not knocking your career or achievements at all, just saying that you don’t need to tell everyone all the time about them.  

Read the last line Tecco. Don't get stuck in a rut doing the same old things, wherever that may be.

It's not normal.  I've experienced it once.  It was pretty shitty, tbh.  It turned out that the firm was about to merge and I think there was a lot of infighting among the partners and hoarding of work/making sure their favoured associates were well fed.  You've stuck it out longer than I did, and on reflection I should have moved sooner.  So I say get moving and say why without actually slagging off your current firm.  The moving partners gives you a good reason for the work not being there.

Thanks again for the replies.

I’ve thought about potentially pursuing a part time masters next year as I’m kind of despondent about law and this might be the opportunity to move somewhere where I can work part-time.

Not really sure if a part-time role at 4PQE (ie 3-4 days a week) is even that common in the City and whether study on the side is feasible - any advice or experience welcome! 

I’d stick to full time work rather than pursue further academia.  At this stage in your career it would be better to get into a halfway decent shop and build some goodwill there.  If you skip out to uni without having solid and tangible experience then you’re in danger of looking like a bit of a flake.

Moving to a new job is decisive action and taking control of your career.  Running away to do a masters is just running away from the problem.

I've done a masters and it's been helpful but it can be quite hard then making the step from study to a new career.  In hindsight after I did mine I possibly should have then used it to retrain as a surveyor.

There are part-time gigs out there but in my experience the old fashioned interim legal recruiters like the team at Taylor Root are better than their modern equivalents like Lawyers On Demand.  You may end up like me and find a temp job at a firm you like and end up staying at.

Oh sorry I should have made it clearer - it wouldn’t be running away to do a masters. I’ve wanted to pursue this for the last four years or so. Ideally I’d like to be able to just reduce to 3/4 days a week practising my current specialism but at, as someone said, a half decent firm.  That said, I doubt it would go down well at interview to say the reason why I’m looking for a part time fee earning role is because I’m studying part time as a lot of City firms are traditional, but you never know - a lot of firms seem to be innovating and becoming more flexible with the new generation of lawyers I’ve seen coming along who seem to demand that! 

Yeah on the outside they say they’re fluffy and innovative but once you cross the threshold the doors slam shut, you are led to a cell and thrown work which you must complete before being allowed to leave.


If they know from the outset it's generally fine.  When I was contracting I was regularly asked why I wanted to work full time and explained that I had outside interests that I wanted to dedicate time to and places accepted that.  My current shop is fantastically old fashioned and traditional in many ways but is also full of people working all kinds of part-time arrangements.

Think long and hard about what you want to get out of your career long term (yes I know easier said than done). It sounds like where you are is a dead end and you will have to leave if you haven't been given the chance to integrate - it is just a matter of time, and sooner is better. With notice periods and time to find something else, the chances are you will have been there about a year anyway by the time you leave. At 3PQE you are very employable (i.e. clearly competent beyond NQ, and no need to make unrealistic promises of partnership track etc.)

If you want to be a guns blazing private practice transactional partner, then yes its a blip on your CV, but move on (upwards if possible) to somewhere with better recognition for your area and hope it turns out better. It's easier to forge a career in PP if at some stage you have the option of a trade down in firm status for promotion.

It seems however more like you might not be that into that sort of career path, given your tendency towards academic interest and so perhaps something like PSL (which almost certainly would offer lifestyle benefit for pursuing a masters) could be more suitable.

Alternatively (slightly cliche advice) but change out of PP and consider inhouse (but not necessarily for a company or bank, but perhaps regulatory body or government) which would again allow for academic time.

The only thing about a masters is that I wouldn't do it to further your career as a lawyer - do it for interest only. Don't get railroaded into thinking private practice is the only thing you can do.

God speed.

I did a lateral once, did not work out. It just wasn't the right fit for me at all.


I was so desperate to leave that I applied for jobs away my experience as they were all that were coming up and luckily I got one and have never looked back


also I note that you weren't happy at the firm you trained as well.  It might well be that you are simply not suited to a law firm.

If you want to have a chat and bounce any ideas off me, I'm happy to do so.

I was a lawyer, stayed for almost a decade then switched into recruitment, but I made a number of moves during the legal career. Only one of them really worked for me, but then I may well have been destined to ditch the law anyway.

What is your current specialism (if you don't mind saying)? And is the masters you would like to do in any way related to it?

OP should take up beermonster on that, he’s a good and well trusted egg.  


Despite being a slavetrader.

I do different things now, but its not recruitment. I hear Beermonster is pretty good at that, as is Trombs.

Give either of them a call.

Hi - thanks again for the replies. I actually hadn’t posted on here for many years and have been pleasantly surprised by the supportive tone of most of the messages. It used to be more brutal on here.

The masters is not related to my specialism in any way. It is tech related (I do bits of web development on the side and I’m thinking of making a transition into development full time), so perhaps useful on the firm management side but not to my day job as an associate at all. I’ve been thinking how I could automate some processes in my specialism, however. That said, another option would be just to go to one of these coding bootcamps and not necessarily have to quit the day job entirely / reduce hours. 

Thanks for the views on going part time - I guess it would be an unusual move at 3PQE for someone who isn’t on maternity leave but hopefully not impossible.