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Lateral Attorneys at Varnum

When you join Varnum, you join a firm committed to your success

Varnum is a firm with a longstanding reputation for excellence. By joining Varnum, you have the same opportunity for ultimate success as an attorney who has been with the firm since the beginning of their legal career. 

  • Nearly half of our partners are lateral attorneys
  • Two of our eight Policy Committee members are lateral hires
  • Three of our six Executive Committee members are lateral hires
  • Eleven of our 16 Practice Team Leaders are lateral attorneys

Supporting Your Success

When you join Varnum, a LANDing (Lateral Attorney Networking and Development) team of three attorneys who are well connected within the firm works with you to ensure your successful professional, social and cultural integration. You also will work with a Practice Management Leader who will provide high-level support and guidance throughout your career with the firm.

That kind of teamwork is an important tenet of our culture. Teams form around practices, clients, industries and community endeavors to generate success for our clients and for our firm.

We allocate resources to ensure that opportunities are realized, such as:

  • Client development, Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and membership dues budgets for each attorney
  • Financial contributions to the organizations where attorneys volunteer their time and to events that support and promote diversity in the communities where we live and work
  • Strong support departments, including legal support services (LSS), central services, human resources, attorney recruiting and professional development, information technology, marketing and accounting

Support Departments

Recruiting and Professional Development

Once your plans to join the firm are finalized, the Recruiting and Professional Development team, with assistance from the Human Resources team, will lay the groundwork to ensure your smooth landing at Varnum. A Recruiting and Professional Development team member will work with you to determine your start date and learn about your specific needs including hardware, software, and administrative support. They will also ensure that your office space and furnishings are ready upon your arrival, and schedule a thorough, two-day orientation of the firm.

Information Technology

Varnum’s Technology team ensures your firm computer, peripheral devices and software are available for you on your first day at the office. During your first week at the firm, you will receive basic training in our software applications with follow-up training scheduled as needed. Help desk support is available 24x7x365 to respond to your technology questions. VPN software provides our users with remote access to the office systems from any location.

Marketing and Business Development

Our Marketing and Business Development team works quickly to create your professional profile and webpage to ensure your presence is fully established when you begin working at Varnum. Varnum provides a budget for your client development activities such as lunches, dinners, industry-specific events and other entertainment with clients, and a fully-staffed marketing department to provide you with business development coaching, RFP responses, pitches and custom marketing materials. Marketing also promotes the firm through professional advertising campaigns, directory participation and media relations, and provides support and structure for Varnum events.

Legal Support Services

Varnum’s Legal Support Services (LSS) department works weekdays after regular business hours and on Saturdays, providing support for projects and tasks that couldn’t be completed during regular business hours. Briefs, mailings, large copy projects, and large document management projects (such as for trials) are all in a day’s (or evening’s) work for our LSS team. Made up of experienced legal assistants in all practice areas, the LSS team also regularly provides support with electronic filings, electronic discovery, time entry, and transcription.

Central Services

Our Central Services department provides a variety of services to meet the needs of both our attorneys and legal assistants. Attorneys new to the firm who bring client files can be assured that our file room staff will expertly incorporate these records into Varnum’s document management system for ease of billing, storage and retrieval. Our service center staff also provides copying, scanning and binding services using state of the art technology, as well as specialized litigation support, including e-discovery through web-based document review and management software.

What Sets Us Apart


Our culture is mutually supportive and focused on teamwork as a means to achieve success. At every level of the firm, we are committed to creating a spirit of community as we provide the best possible service for our clients and an enjoyable working environment for our attorneys and staff.

Diversity Council

To enhance efforts in recruiting, retention and understanding, our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, comprised of diverse business and community leaders, offers counsel and perspective to achieve strategic goals.


Our offices are located in several areas of the most exciting and noteworthy growth in the country. Our attorneys have short commutes, a variety of attractive housing options, and access to top-notch arts and entertainment scenes.

Financial Stability

No one client represents more than five percent of our total revenue in a given year. We fund operations through cash flow and have never taken on long-term debt.

Relationship Building

We constantly promote relationship building between attorneys, practice teams and offices through impromptu and recurring social events such as:

  • Practice group exchange events, featuring a progressive dinner with new tablemates for each course
  • A yearly firm retreat emphasizing camaraderie and strategic planning
  • The Black Blazer dinner celebrating new partners
  • Annual firm-wide social events including a summer picnic, ski event, impromptu gatherings, Halloween party and holiday party

An example of our entrepreneurial spirit is the MiSpringboard program which provides free legal services to entrepreneurs and growing businesses. Since 2011, we have assisted more than 500 clients in industries including software-as-a-service, connectivity-based technology and advanced manufacturing through grants of more than $2.5 million in legal services.


In recruiting experienced attorneys to join our ranks, our goal is to provide competitive options that are attractive to you as a candidate, recognize your career trajectory and set you up for success as a member of the Varnum team.

Lateral hires with more than eight years of practice experience typically fall into two categories: counsel or income partner. In addition to the compensation described below, we also offer a generous and comprehensive benefits package.

Counsel compensation consists of the following components:

  • An initial base salary, determined by billing rate and annual target for personal productivity. This target addresses the possibility for collection delay in the lateral transition.
  • Bonuses recognizing efforts in two categories:
    • A personal production component, reflecting receipts in excess of the target
    • A business development component, reflecting work performed for clients for which you are the billing attorney

Income partner consists of the following components:

  • A flat salary/monthly draw determined by billing rate with a personal fee receipt expectation
  • Bonuses recognizing efforts in two categories:
    • A bonus based on specific criteria set forth annually
    • A discretionary bonus dependent on personal production and business development

Key Contact

Current Openings

If you’re interested in attorney opportunities at Varnum but don’t see a position listed above that aligns with your interest, please fill out our general application.

Laterals In Their Own Words

Matthew W. Bower
Matthew W. Bower joined Varnum in 2013

“Coming from a small firm, I had the idea that we could service anybody; we were just like the big guys, we could take care of any client. But, since joining Varnum, and having these resources at my fingertips, I can tell you a small firm is just not the same. My practice has almost doubled in the three years that I’ve been with Varnum. And more importantly, I’m better able to take care of my clients. I joined Varnum because I was looking for resources. I wanted a platform where I could grow my business, and Varnum has provided that platform.”

Julia A. Perkins
Julia A. Perkins joined Varnum in 2016

“When people ask me why I wanted to come to Varnum after practicing family law in this area for almost 20 years, I told them Varnum wanted to grow this practice, and that was attractive to me. They understand it can be a profitable practice, and they give me as much room as I want in order to do it. If you want to grow a practice, if you want to grow, if you want to do something a little bit different that’s not necessarily what a typical law firm would do, Varnum will consider it and give you the opportunity.”

Richard T. Hewlett
Richard T. Hewlett joined Varnum in 2010

“What I found most amazing about my transition to this firm was that even in my early years here, my client business was on a significant upward trend. I really attribute that to the teamwork, the unselfish environment here, the partners that want to help other partners. As I look back on my five and a half years here now, that’s really indicative of the kind of culture that this firm has, an overall environment that supports not only the people in the firm but also supports and provides exceptional work to the clients of the firm.”

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