Partners are more likely to switch firms because they are attracted by a practice’s culture than its pay packets, a legal recruiter claims today.

A survey of law firm partners who have changed firms in the past five years finds that 62% of the 176 respondents said they were attracted by the culture while 15% said the pull factor was the compensation. 

The inaugural London Lateral Partner Survey, published by legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA), found that only 28% of all respondents felt that their cultural expectations had been met in their new position. 

Of those who selected culture as the strongest pull factor, two-thirds stated that diversity and inclusion played an important role in their decision. Women feel strongest about the issue, with 61% selecting this as a key driver, compared with only 21% of men.

’The legal market in London is still very much a male-dominated world,’ said Melinda Wallman, the author of the study.

'Recruiting female partners is much harder than attracting men ­ for a host of reasons ­ but our survey shows that female lateral partners have an easier time integrating into new firms. Many of the UK firms that set diversity targets over the last few years have done a good job of prioritising diversity and have begun to experience the benefits of a more inclusive culture.'

The survey also revealed that higher firm profitability does not always translate to higher personal compensation. 

Among the key findings of the research were:

  • Men and women agree that poor leadership and management are key drivers for leaving a firm;
  • Men are more swayed than women by a firm's international footprint, making up 87% of respondents seeking international opportunities;
  • Nearly 60% of lateral moves resulted in either increased originations or client referrals (from bringing existing books of business or securing new clients);
  • Of the 43% of respondents who moved to firms more profitable than their previous firms, only 66% increased their personal compensation; and
  • 62% of partners - predominantly women - felt they were very effectively integrated into their new firm.