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Institutional knowledge at law firms, yet much mobility of partners

From a survey, Maguire Consulting reports in Legal Mgt., Vol. 26, Jan./Feb. 2007 at 8, that “30.4 percent of the respondents have been partners at two law firms, 5.9 percent have been partners at three law firms, and 2.9 percent have attained that status at four or more firms.” Hence, almost four out of ten partners have been a partner at more than one law firm.

If law departments depend on partners to be the repositories of knowledge about their company’s business and ways of practicing law, this level of mobility throws a spanner in the works. Associate turnover is even higher, so the net effect is a depleting level of institutional knowledge (See my post of March 15, 2006 on institutional knowledge as a valuable asset.). The second consequence is that law departments may frequently have to choose between sticking with a peripatetic partner or the law firm left behind (See my posts of Aug. 14, 2005 and July 21, 2006 about transitioning matters; and June 13, 2006 on the decision to hire the firm or the partner.).