Despite a small drop year-on-year, the Big Law lateral hiring market was still red hot in 2018, as today’s American Lawyer article notes. With more than 2,000 comings and goings, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Raw numbers tell us something about which firms are up or down, but don’t necessarily give the full context.

In this data snapshot, we examine some of the most active firms in the lateral market —whether losing or gaining — and plot that against overall percentage of the firm’s partnership. It helps illustrate the actual impact that lateral activity had on the firm overall. (Hover over or tap one of the data points to see more info about the corresponding firm.)

What this shows is that while DLA Piper may have taken on the most partner new hires, it wasn’t necessarily the firm where there was the biggest change in the makeup of the partnership. Firms like Akerman and Cozen O’Connor made comparatively fewer hires, but those hires moved the needle more.

Conversely, we see firms like Norton Rose Fulbright, which saw a whopping 88 partner departures — some 7 percent of the firm’s total partnership. But firms impacted more by departures were Jenner & Block, which lost 17 percent of its partners, and LeClairRyan, which hired 21 new partners last year but also saw the equivalent of 19 percent of its partners go out the door.

However you slice it, it’s a lot of partner churn. Which raises a question not answered in this data: Is this all good for the legal industry?


To follow a conversation on this subject between Nicholas Bruch, director of ALM Intelligence, and Ben Seal, executive editor of The American Lawyer, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5, register here:



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