Published online by The Law Society Gazette.

Poor due diligence by law firms and search consultancies is claimed to be the reason for the high failure rate of lateral hires (14 October). Dan Watts criticises law firms for their reluctance to call clients to establish the strength of their loyalty to a candidate. Presumably he expects clients to be asked whether they would wish to continue instructing a particular individual if he were to move to a specific law firm.

Every week we see tensions between the desire of a law firm to verify the business case put forward by a potential senior lateral hire on the one hand, and the duties of confidentiality and good faith owed by that candidate to his existing firm, whether a traditional partnership or an LLP, on the other. The fact is that a candidate who reveals the names of his clients and amounts billed to them would almost certainly be in breach of duties he owes to his existing firm. Moreover the hiring firm pressing for those details of a candidate’s following exposes itself to the risk of a claim for inducing breach.

There are ways of dealing with this issue but the answer is not as simple as Mr Watts suggests.

Ronnie Fox, Principal, Fox, London EC3