Associate hiring hasn’t exactly made a roaring comeback, but sources across the industry say there has been a small uptick in the market for associates lately, which means recruiters and firms once again are getting together to place non-partners.

But one thing appears to have changed: At least a half-dozen law firms are pushing back against standard commission rates that pay recruiters a placement fee between 25 percent and 30 percent of the associate’s starting salary in major markets. Major firms are demanding or requesting lower fees, with one firm, Herrick, Feinstein, pushing a 12.5 percent fee specifically for the placement of laid-off associates at Herrick, according to sources familiar with the matter. Recruiters across the U.S. caution that the push-back from firms is not yet widespread, and that most are still paying the 2007-era standard rates in major markets. “It is isolated and somewhat reactionary,” says T.J. Duane, a founder and principal of the recruiting firm Lateral Link. “It is not an industrywide thing.”

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