The Lateral Report 2012

After declining sharply in 2010, lateral activity is back to prerecession levels.

The American Lawyer

If 2010 was a year for staying put, 2011 was the year that partners jumped back into the lateral market with full force. In the 12 months ending September 30, 2011, 2,454 partners left or joined Am Law 200 firms. That was a 22 percent increase from 2010, when only 2,014 changed jobs—the lowest number of partner moves since 2000. This year's figure was consistent with the annual average of 2,458 partner moves from 2005 to 2009 and was higher than the number of lateral moves in 2007, when 2,423 partners moved. Even without the 208 partners that the March dissolution of Howrey added to the 2011 total, there was still a 16 percent increase in partner moves over the previous 12-month period. This year's uptick in lateral churn does not mean the boom years are back. Both transactions and litigation lagged in 2011, consultants note. So what accounts for the increase in lateral hiring? In many cases, it's cherry picking, as firms try to counter a stagnant economy by poaching top performers from rivals.



Previous The Lateral Report coverage :: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

THE FEATURES

This Time It's Personal After staying away in 2010, firms have returned to the lateral market at boom-time levels. But this hiring binge is driven by desperation, not a thriving economy.
Locally Sourced Simpson Thacher snapped up practice heads from Freshfields and Linklaters for its Hong Kong law debut.
Starshine Our picks for the most important lateral moves in 2011.
New Horizons Kasowitz nearly doubles its size and adds new practice groups.
Boom Town A flourishing gas and oil industry is fueling new law firm openings in Houston, including six Am Law 200 firms.
Help Wanted During the recession they were a dime a dozen, but now midlevels are in demand, firms and recruiters say.


THE CHARTS



OUR METHODOLOGY

The Lateral Report covers partner moves in and out of Am Law 200 firms between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011. We tracked 2,454 moves during this period. We count firm-to-firm moves if a lawyer was a partner in the former firm and is a partner at the new firm. We also count moves if a partner left for a position in business, government, or education, or joined a firm as a partner from one of those fields. Lateral moves are counted when one firm acquires another, but not when two firms merge and combine names.