General counsel who are inclined to transfer matters and service arrangements handled by a partner who moves to another firm should think twice. That would be the advice of Boris Groysberg, Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance (Princeton Univ. 2010) at 8. Based on an exhaustive study of stellar equity-research analysts, Groysberg concludes that “exceptional performance is far less portable than is widely believed.”
The knowledge- and relationship-intensive role of a law firm partner who gives good advice and produces excellent legal services may be assumed to reside mostly in that persons head and personality. Not so, according to Groysberg, since “the exceptional performance of stars at their prior employer appears to have been more firm-specific – more dependent on the firm’s resources and capabilities – than is generally appreciated.” Groysberg would give more weight to the contribution of the law firm as a whole than to the partner as an individual.