Market for lateral hires still running hot

February 10, 2014 The market for lateral hires at corporate law firms is still running hot, with 2,522 lateral hires in the 12 months to 30 September 2013, down slightly from the 2,691 lateral hires in the previous 12 month period.

The figures, compiled for American Lawyer Magazine by William Henderson of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and Christopher Zorn of Pennsylvania State University, show that corporate lawyers represented 17 per cent of the total partner moves, up from 8 percent the year before. Baker & McKenzie hired the most laterals, picking up 68 partners from other firms, followed by Jones Day, which hired 65, Husch Blackwell with 52, K&L Gates with 48 and Reed Smith with 40.

The report found, however, that while firms often hire laterals in an attempt to increase their client list and revenue, lateral acquisition often dilutes rather than grows the profit pool.

From the report:
“As a statistical matter, lateral partner hiring does not reliably improve a law firm’s relative profitability . . . . By managing partners’ own admissions, lateral partner hiring has not been a particularly reliable method for growing their firms . . . . Yet, against this background of logic and experience, 96% of law firms included more lateral partner hiring in their strategic plans.”

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