I am running out of words to describe how utterly bonkers the Biglaw lateral market is. I mean, yes, fire is still accurate or red hot if you prefer and yeah, it’s going to keep on going. And law firms are emptying their arsenals: raises, special bonuses, signing bonuses, retention bonuses, and even non-comp-related perks in the fight to compete for the best and brightest associates (or at least ones that are available).
And now there are some hard data points to put with the Great Lateralization. The legal data company Decipher, which provides firms with due diligence on lateral hires, as reported by ABA Journal, has quantified the lateral moves. And, the high-level numbers are eye-popping: through September 30th, 13,987 associates moved to new firms, a 51 percent increase over the previous four-year average for that time period.
They’ve also broken down where and in which practice areas most of the moves are coming from:
The two most active practice areas for lateral associate moves were data privacy, which saw a 116% increase, and corporate, which experienced a 91% increase over the four-year average. Insurance also saw a 66% increase in lateral associate moves.
Decipher reports that all the major markets saw at least double-digit increases in associates moves compared to the previous four-year average. The markets leading the way were Miami (64% increase), Chicago (62% increase) and New York (56% increase).
Lateral partner moves were also up over the four-year average, but only by 8 percent. Here’s how those moves shook out:
Data privacy was also the most active practice area for partner moves, with a 58% increase compared to the previous four-year average. Additionally, the energy sector saw a 48% increase in lateral partner moves.
Leading the way among practice areas that saw decreases in lateral partner moves were bankruptcy (-26%) and environmental law (-15%).
Orange County, California, saw the largest increase in lateral partner moves, experiencing a 75% increase compared to the previous four-year average for the first three quarters of the year. The District of Columbia (33%) and Denver (31%) were the other two major markets to see more than 30% increases.
So, there you have it. It’s still a great time to explore your options in Biglaw.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).
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