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US Law firm market report: Midwest is the place to be!

Posted by: Laurence Simons 01/09/14

In the United States, the market for lateral hiring of associates and partners continues to become more robust, though the progress is more tortoise than hare.

Mirroring the overall economic growth in the United States, the market for law firm hiring is better all the time, though never by leaps and bounds; a report by research company IBIS World identified that the annual growth, between 2009 and 2014, was 1.1%. This incremental progress in growth is reflected in the confidence levels among lawyers as our 2014 global legal and compliance salary survey shows that 41% of legal professionals are optimistic about economic growth.

In addition, the playing field continues to change.  Law firm mergers of significant size (most recently, Squire Patton Boggs) remain the topic of conversation, and are changing the landscape of the industry’s biggest players.  These large scale mergers are often preceded by lateral movement among some senior level leadership, and often continue as partners decide whether a new, larger firm is the best platform for their clients. 

We’ve seen renewed interest among several firms in growing or establishing offices, particularly on the Coasts.  The Midwest markets remain great destinations for associates and partners looking to change and adjust their careers.  In terms of practice, we are seeing interest in lawyers with tech backgrounds for patent and transactional work, life sciences regulatory expertise, corporate finance and private equity experience.  In pockets, internal investigations, labor & employment and antitrust are practice areas with a need for experts in the field.

With increasingly large summer classes to send back to school, our clients are telling us that they expect a busy fall season for hiring, both with respect to lateral partners and associates.