Lateral Moves Increased In 2009

In case you haven’t already heard, biglaw had a brutal year with layoffs, salary freezes, and associate deferrments.

All of which made 2009 a boom year for lateral moves.

According to The American Lawyer‘s 2010 Lateral Report, 2,775 partners went through the biglaw revolving doors in the year ended Sept. 30, 2009. That is a 10.6% increase from the same report last year that recorded 2,509 partner entrances and exits.

This should not be all that surprising. In the last month, big lateral moves were announced at White & Case, Paul Hastings and WilmerHale, among several others. Partners searching for more security have found solace in jumping ship to another firm.

The most mobile category were litigators, who comprised 17% of all partner lateral moves, followed by finance lawyers at 15%, corporate lawyers at 10% and IP lawyers at 9%.

Am Law Daily:¬†While litigation typically heats up during economic hard times, what’s surprising in our data is that banking/finance partners rebounded with such strength (for the 2008 reporting period, banking/finance made up only 10 per cent of all lateral partner moves). Also striking is that bankruptcy partners barely made a dent on the lateral market (they accounted for just 4 per cent of the hires).

Calling the downturn a silver lining for firms looking to expand certain practice areas and poach experienced partners may be too rosy of an outlook, but the label “buyer’s market” that has been thrown around is apt.

Said Greenberg Traurig’s CEO Richard Rosenbaum, “It’s been a time of opportunity…The general pool of talent is at a level we’ve never seen before.”

Read more of the results at The American Lawyer.

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