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  • Writer's pictureFrederick L Shelton

Before You Move! Do a Client Portability Assessment (CPA)

"Mr. Candidate, You Should Stay at Your Current Firm. That is What Would Truly Be in Your Best Interest. Here's Why..."

Shelton & Steele has always told more attorneys to stay put, than any other search firm. Why? Because when our CEO worked for a large, high-volume firm, he saw first-hand, the damage that a bad placement can do to an attorney's career. So if a partner tells one of our recruiters that his income is $700K and his portable book of business is $500K, we let them know that unless a firm is specifically looking for a service partner, they shouldn't move. Partners Almost Never Intentionally Exaggerate Their Books of Business

At his old firm, Mr. Shelton was actually trained to coach partners to estimate their portable books "based on the new firm's platform that will help grow it". Beware of recruiters who do this. Every recruiter at Shelton & Steele asks for the "Conservative Estimate" instead. But even then, we've had partners who thought they had seven figure books, move and see almost nothing show up. Partners almost never intentionally exaggerate their books of business. But if they haven't previously moved their client base, they can overestimate what will go with them. To that end, Shelton & Steele has introduced a groundbreaking tool in our arsenal: the Client Portability Assessment (CPA). This isn't just another add-on service; it's a career saver for the attorney and a cost saver for the firm. The CPA Determined His $1.5M Book was Closer to $300K. He Stayed Put.

The CPA is a meticulously crafted analysis, comprising 20 incisive questions for each client, that come from decades of debriefing successful, lateral partners. It is designed to gauge the likelihood of each client's likelihood to move with a partner to a new firm. This isn't a mere guesswork; it's an almost conclusive predictor (bearing in mind the universal truth that nothing is ever 100% certain). The power of the CPA lies in its ability to provide a realistic, unvarnished view of a partner's book of business.

Consider the impact this has already had. The last two partners who utilized the CPA with us came to a startling realization: their estimation of their books was significantly overblown. The most recent, thought he had a seven figure book of business but at the conclusion of the CPA, realized that figure was more likely to be in the $2 - $300K range. Like many other attorneys, he assumed that because he had done such high quality work for a client someone else had brought in, that the client would surely continue to send him work. Without the CPA, these moves could have led to career-damaging missteps.

At Shelton & Steele, we've always believed in putting People Over Profits. The CPA is a manifestation of this ethos. Yes, conducting such an in-depth assessment might mean foregoing a fee for us. But what's paramount is the protection it offers - not just to our candidates but also to the firms that might have otherwise made a costly hiring decision based on overestimated books.

In essence, the CPA is more than a tool; it's a commitment. A commitment to honesty, to the right fit, and to the long-term success of both our candidates and the firms we work with.


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