"It makes a whole lot of sense, if growing in a material way, to be looking outside of this region if you are a Pennsylvania-based firm," Nourian said.
Regardless of where firms are looking, confidence in the lateral market has incrementally improved each year that the industry is further out from the recession, Nourian said.
Some attorneys have a little more optimism about the market and perhaps some pent-up feelings of dissatisfaction with their current firm that may cause them to be more willing to entertain a move in this climate, he said.
There has also been the dynamic during the recession that, in an effort to hold onto revenue, firms were holding onto partners or groups who didn't necessarily fit into their long-term strategic model, but were financially supporting themselves and adding revenue to the firm. Firms would talk those partners into staying if they looked to leave, Nourian said.
"I think they will be less inclined to put the full-court press on to keep somebody when they think things are going in the right direction firmwide from a revenue standpoint," Nourian said of law firm attitudes in the current market.
That won't dramatically increase lateral movement, but it may give a slight boost, he said.
The same desire to increase revenue has been driving firms to have a hefty appetite for lateral hires with portable books of business. But at the same time, those firms aren't willing to take risks on laterals that they were willing to take before the recession, Nourian said.
"I don't think we're at the point where firms are lowering their standards in terms of incoming portable practice yet," Nourian said. "I think there would need to be quite a bit more revenue strength and profit strength for them to consider making the types of investments in people they did pre-recession."
Frank D'Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts said he expects 2013 to be similar to the last two years when it comes to lateral movement. Firms will continue to aggressively look for laterals in an effort to boost revenue, but D'Amore said he doesn't expect any "meteoric rise" in lateral movement to occur.
For the biggest firms in the state, the focus will most likely be outside of Pennsylvania, D'Amore said, given the mature market in the state. It has become easier for firms to grow beyond Pennsylvania's borders because they are gaining name recognition across the country, he said.