David J. Parnell

Legal Search & Placement, Author, Columnist

What My Service Is:

In layman’s terms, I am a “legal recruiter,” but with a very important difference: I represent the interests of the lateral attorney or group rather than the interests of the prospective law firms. Most laterals aren’t aware that this difference exists.

My appropriate title is “lateral-side advocate,” which means that I find firms of interest for laterally-active attorneys, rather than find attorneys for a law firm’s open positions. I don’t represent a particular firm, therefore allowing me to represent you to any or all of the available firms, thus removing any conflict of interest between us. Analogically speaking, I am a sports agent for attorneys. And no, you aren’t charged a fee – the law firms still pay that.

Should you want more of an explanation, please contact me directly; I can further explain.


What Differentiates Me:

  1. My Business Model – In representing, solely, the interests of the lateral attorney (you) rather than those of a law firm (or firms), I remove any conflict of interest between us. I don’t (personally) know of another recruiter, or agency, that works solely in this capacity.
  2. My Experience – I have almost 20 years in the search and placement industry. I am not a lawyer; this was, and is, my chosen profession.
  3. My Books – I’ve written 6 manuscripts, and published 2 books (ABA Publishing) – see my Books page. Three of them regard strategic interpersonal communication and presentation; one regards the psychology of the Millennial cohort; and two of them directly regard the legal industry. In particular, my most recent book, The Failing Law Firm, dissects law firm infrastructure into its more basic components so that my readers might evaluate and determine the stability of their current, or a potential, law firm.
  4. My Network – I’ve made it my business to connect with the true decision makers in the AmLaw 200 and the top internationally-headquartered law firms. See my Forbes column for a sampling of my network.
  5. My Industry Knowledge – Between my work, my books, and my columns, I am constantly interacting with the market, keeping abreast of the most recent trends and industry shifts.


What My Value Is To My Lateral Clients:

  1. Due to the structure of my business model, our interests are fully aligned, ensuring that we – you and I – are rowing in the same direction. This means that I won’t be trying to sell you into something that isn’t 100% in your best interest. This means the right partnership in your representation.
  2. My researcher has 10 years in the industry, and I have incredibly deep insight into the various firms, thereby giving you the most comprehensive, effective, and efficient research process available, today. This means that you are looking at the right prospects, not just the “right-now” prospects.
  3. You will be able to truly assess the value of prospective law firms – both objectively and subjectively – rather than simply by chemistry. There is, perhaps, no one better suited in the  market to take a law firm apart and assess it than me. This means the right decisions, not just the “best feeling” decisions.
  4. With my preparation and presentation of your materials, your best foot will be put forward. This means that you will maximizing your potential for meetings, and set yourself on the best platform for future negotiations.
  5. You will be presented directly to the decision makers – not human resources, or a “partner contact” – ensuring that you and your information actually get evaluated, rather than stuck on someone’s desk in the firm.
  6. You will be guided through the process by one of the most well-informed and networked veterans in the business, ensuring that the process is as quick and efficient as possible. This means less time, less anxiety, and better performance during the process.
  7. I have a deep and broad understanding of lawyer compensation – the various models and attributes/actions that are compensated, general compensation trends and packages across firms, etc. – ensuring that you will maximize your compensation potential. This means the best compensation-to-performance-expectation ratio that you can achieve.
  8. I handle all aspects of the process that don’t directly require your attention. This means less work for you.


How My Process Works:

  1. Goals – Unraveling and linearizing motivations, needs, and wants, as they surround your move, so that we can create a 20,000 ft. plan.
  2. Research – A comprehensive research initiative to vet the entire market – i.e., ALL firms that may be of potential interest; not just a few firms that a traditional recruiter might be selling – and gaining consensus on what firms, at least on paper, fulfill our criteria.
  3. Strategy – We work together to assess our market of interest, and create a realistic, hierarchical, and effective approach strategy.
  4. Marketing Materials – I develop a dossier and business and integration plan for you, as they surround your experience, skillset, and book of business, and your eventual integration into a prospective firm. These will be the marketing materials that I use in my approaches.
  5. The Approach – Of vital importance to you, as a default, I approach the chair or managing partner of the firms we decide to pursue, first, unless it makes sense to go after another contact point. This is a mutual decision we – you and I – would make in our strategy development process.
  6. Discussions – I prepare you for, and facilitate, ongoing discussions between you and the firm. Many-if-not-most laterals don’t know what to expect, what to address, how to address it, etc. Further, when running multi-firm searches – which most of my laterals do – time management is a challenge. I handle all of this.
  7. Vetting the Players – I am fully involved in vetting the active field as the process unfolds. When you factor in my experience, books, and columns, there is, perhaps, no one better qualified to help you assess law firms than I.
  8. Negotiations – Once we’ve arrived at a point of decision, I negotiate the finer details of your compensation and contract.
  9. Ultimate Decision and Transition – I work with you on making the final decision, constructing and executing your resignation, and I stick with you right through your transition to ensure that you’ve arrived in one piece, and that the new firm is living up to their proposed integration plan.
  10. Follow up – Integration is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Often enough, this may need a little bit of massaging after the fact. I continue to follow up at 1, 3, 6 and 12 month points to ensure that things are going as smoothly as they should. In the event that they don’t, I get involved to (ideally) fix any challenges.