Chuck Birenbaum, managing partner of Winston & Strawn’s San Francisco office, was quoted in the February 24, 2012 Recorder article titled “In Valley's Hot Lateral Market, Some Lawyers Really Get Around.” The article reports that it is not uncommon for partners in Silicon Valley to switch law firms several times in their career. Due to the area’s competitive legal market, switching firms frequently is almost considered lucrative. However, even in Silicon Valley, too much change can be a problem.
The article describes three types of movers: those with a transferable book of business who are looking for a larger paycheck and platform; those who have had trouble building a client roster; and people that are simply difficult. Recruiting partners need to learn to differentiate between the three, as well as understand the risks involved.
According to Mr. Birenbaum, if a firm hires too many partners who don't stick around after their compensation guarantees are up, it damages credibility and other prospects lose interest. However, as long as there are good reasons behind the moves, simply having a history of moving around isn’t always an immediate disqualifier. Mr. Birenbaum believes that the best vetting tools are a firm’s own partners. During the interview process at Winston & Strawn, candidates meet with several partners, and partners are quick to pick up on inconsistencies in candidates’ answers. It’s a huge red flag when a candidate is more concerned with compensation than the firm's strategies and practices. "Most firms aren't looking for a candidate solely interested in compensation," said Mr. Birenbaum. "You want someone who really believes in the firm's business model and strategies."
Mr. Birenbaum is an experienced labor and employment attorney and a member of the firm’s executive committee, partner compensation committee, and operations committee.