There’s little doubt that competition for legal talent at Am Law 200 firms is fierce, with more lateral partner moves in 2016 than any year since 2009. Firms are now less likely to hire for books of business and more likely to hire partners based on their reputation.
ALM Intelligence (ALI) 2015/16 survey into position movement, found that 2,915 partners made a move, almost 1% more than in the year prior.
In an era when seizing new revenue is becoming more competitive, firms are now hiring for reputation over transferable business, and are taking a bet on the prestige that these new hires will bring to core practice areas.
What is even more surprising is the calibre of partners making lateral moves, with a number of elite Wall Street Firms losing leading partners to their immediate competitors in recent years.
Losing prestigious partners might not be a law firm leaders’ biggest concern. After all, lawyers aren’t the only valuable resource. In the post recessional US legal market, associates and administrative executives are becoming important hires.
Paul Weiss chairman, Brad Karp, summarises the trend; "One of the more noteworthy market trends in recent years is the increased mobility of both star lawyers and marquee clients and the related phenomenon that clients increasingly hire star lawyers as opposed to law firms for their most important matters.”
This increasingly competitive market will also no doubt have an impact on partner pay, as elite firms increase remuneration for their high – profile partners in order to protect them from being lured into identical roles with their immediate competitors.
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