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Law firms get more work from a law department when a lawyer joins that department

“When lawyers left [a law firm] to join a prospective client, the likelihood that their former employer would receive new business from that company increased.” This finding comes from a study reported in the MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 49, Summer 2008 at 32, on the movement of patent attorneys into and out of leading US patent law firms over a period of six years.

The study calculates the amount of patent work the law firms in the study received from Fortune 500 corporations after they gained or lost lawyers. For in-house lawyers recently arrived from a firm to turn to that firm, where they know the strengths and weaknesses of the lawyers, makes sense (See my post of March 7, 2006: how fares the former firm.).

The study also found that “when a firm hired attorneys away from a competing law firm, it typically received additional business from that competitor’s clients.” This finding demonstrates that loyalty typically attaches to a partner more than to a firm (See my post of Aug. 4, 2008: enduring relationships with 6 references.).