Regardless of how well a firm manages to create a distinctive culture, sustaining a culture is a tremendous challenge in an era in which there is frequent movement of lawyers among law firms. Firms attempt on an ongoing basis to attract partners in the lateral market who can enhance the firm's profitability, while providing sufficient rewards to their own profitable partners to persuade them to stay. The departure of partners can drain a firm of lawyers who understand its norms and culture, while the arrival of new ones may bring to the firm partners with very different expectations about behavior. Firms can try to address this challenge in various ways. One is to confine recruitment to laterals who can "expand the platform" of the firm by bringing opportunities for work for a wide range of the firm's practices. This is contrasted with "buying a revenue stream," which involves hiring laterals who simply add to the firm's profitability without generating much work for others. Devoting substantial time to vetting a potential lateral by a large number of partners in the firm also can provide some assurance that a new partner would be a good cultural fit for the firm.
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