Experience can help result in an easier transition; employees that have experience can hit the ground running. This is the thought at least.
The reality, however, is that many of the experienced employees who apply may have worked for a competitor law firm. For whatever reason, that employment relationship didn’t work out. Now, they want to apply to work for your law firm.
For many law firms, they are tempted to make the hire. Again, the argument for it is these employees have experience. They have worked at another law firm in same area of law. This experience can be viewed as a plus.
The questions you have to ask them and yourself is: if they didn’t work at another law firm in the same area of law, why will they work for you? What is different about them now? What is different about your law firm versus the competitor?
In some cases, maybe you or the applicant can make an argument about why this employment relationship will work? In probably more cases than not, the reality is that this employment relationship might not work for the same reasons it didn’t work for the competitor.
The reality is that many law firms in similar fields are setup remarkably similar. Within different law firms in the same area of law, there can often by the same or similar stresses from a legal and business perspective. With the same type of law, for example, you are dealing with the same types of clients. You are also likely dealing with the same business aspects of the practice of law.
So, if you are thinking of hiring somebody who had previously worked for a competitor, you want to make certain that you feel confident that this experience will be different for you and the applicant. Do not fool yourself into thinking that this will necessarily be the case. A change of scenery doesn’t always make things different.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.