Potential lateral partners take heart: Firms are still on the hunt for a few good men and women — as long as they come with a hefty book of business that will goose the bottom line.

Hiring managers and legal recruiters agree that firms have become pickier than ever about lateral partners — a byproduct of the economic downturn and the large number of would-be laterals looking to make a move. The bar for lateral partners has risen in several areas, including the ever-important book of business as well as a potential hire’s ability to tap into and grow the firm’s existing practices, they said.

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