Calculating your following and building a business case

Calculating your following and building a business case


Calculating your following is not easy. You need to walk a fine line between over promising and excessive caution. Too much and you could have questions to answer six months in, too little and you might not even get to meet them. However, difficult as it may be, it is essential.

Opportunities for Partners who declare a zero following are more limited nowadays (if this is you, take a look at our post Partnership Moves – Building a business case without a big following) so if you are looking to move and you have the potential to bring business, you need to get this right

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras id felis rhoncus, ultricies purus at, commodo lorem. Suspendisse pulvinar mi ut diam rutrum fringilla. Sed sem ipsum, molestie in imperdiet non, elementum quis sem. Praesent id tempus est. Donec orci elit, pellentesque sed tortor auctor, molestie sagittis enim. Fusce non erat tellus. Maecenas neque est, luctus eu commodo bibendum, bibendum ut leo. In cursus dolor sed lobortis pharetra. Proin feugiat in massa eu cursus. Etiam suscipit odio erat, quis sagittis justo feugiat sed. Mauris blandit nibh eu sapien efficitur, at elementum arcu mattis. Duis vel urna ac felis accumsan hendrerit. Pellentesque a imperdiet dolor. In varius est justo, id dictum neque elementum sit amet.

Maecenas iaculis erat ac vehicula faucibus. Maecenas porta hendrerit purus vitae vehicula. Donec venenatis mauris arcu, ac ultricies massa sagittis sed. Suspendisse risus ante, dictum vel sapien sed, tempus aliquet sem. Donec iaculis augue quis leo dictum, sed tincidunt orci ullamcorper. Aenean bibendum odio felis, sit amet rhoncus nibh euismod sed. Aliquam sodales iaculis turpis, a ultrices tellus sodales pulvinar. In erat nisl, sagittis a ante at, pharetra luctus mi. Curabitur auctor porta dictum. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Praesent ac nibh vel elit commodo feugiat. Mauris aliquam sit amet erat ultrices vehicula. Donec facilisis sed dui non ultrices. Cras nibh lacus, tempor a consequat nec, vestibulum at lorem.

Here we look at some basic methods and tips to help simplify the process.

  1. Address this question early in the process as it will shape which firms a recruitment consultant can suggest and which firms will want to meet you. You don’t need to give exact figures at this stage but the strategy for someone moving with a following of £1m is very different to the strategy for someone with £500k and it pays to get it right from the start.
  2. Start by looking at your historical figures. Accurate figures for the previous three full financial years are essential, as is a year to date figure. Break it down by Partner billings, Client billings or whatever is relevant to your current firm. List every client (you need not name them at this stage) with any significant spend over that period and determine whether they are instructing you because of your firm, or your firm because of you.
  3. Categorise the likelihood of these clients moving with you – hot/warm/cool, A/B/C, Definite/Probable/Possible – whatever works best for you. Based on previous track record and what you know of their forthcoming plans, estimate their potential relevant legal spend in future year one and year two.
  4. Identify and account for any outlying factors – previous billings might be a useful guide but are you likely to lose some of the business even if the client continues instructing you elsewhere? Equally, consider whether you could dramatically increase those billings given the platform of the firm you hope to join.
  5. Time to determine some figures. You will probably settle somewhere around the middle ground. Not all of the ‘possibles’ will move with you but equally don’t under-estimate your value to your clients. Ask yourself if your current firm has a credible alternative that your client is likely to prefer and if the answer is no, back yourself. A range of say £200k is reasonable but beware, firms are cynical as all have had failed lateral hires and if you say £600k-£800k, some will only take into account the lower figure.
  6. Be prepared to justify this figure. Demonstrating how you came up with it is a key way of ensuring that it is taken seriously. Support your case with examples of client wins, cases where you have significantly increased billings with existing firm clients, opportunities which you have not been able to pursue because of the restraints of your current firm. Are there clients who you can introduce to other practice areas or at least open the door to pitch for work?
  7. Remember that any initial abstract figure on following need only ever be a ballpark figure. Further on in the process you would ideally account for your prospective firm’s platform and potential cross-sells in your figures.
  8. . Beware the temptation to reduce your stated following on the basis of ‘playing it safe’ – not only will it rule you out of some firms but others will have their own discounting policy and may themselves deduct a further chunk off a figure that you have already reduced.
  9. Once you have reached a conclusion, be confident in asserting this figure as too many caveats will have people wondering if you are covering your back. Remember, it can only ever be an educated guess and any firm used to hiring lateral partners will know this.
  10. Avoid complacence. A big book of business is a compelling part of a strong business case and it goes a long way, but it won’t always be enough. You should still aim to demonstrate your enthusiasm, your commercial nous, and perhaps most important of all, your ability to fit in as a functioning part of your prospective new team.

And tip number 11? Talk to a good recruitment specialist. They should be able to advise you on how the process works, the range of options available to someone with your level of following, and how best to begin a search. They may also gently challenge you on the nature of your following, a good test for questions that will inevitably arise later in the proceedings


For a more detailed appraisal of your own practice and how to approach this subject (or if you have any tips of your own), please contact Jason Horobin, Head of International at Origin Legal on +44 (0)1206 233 514 or by email at [email protected]

Resources you may like

Summarise your experience and show how it fits the role with our CV Template

Summarise your experience and show how it fits the role with our NQ CV Template

When it comes to international recruitment, the option to interview over Skype, BlueJeans, or one of the many other online videoconference platforms.