The cloud of doom and gloom has dissipated over Chicago’s legal market. With the economy picking up and law firms needing fresh bodies to replace the thousands laid off last year, 2010 has witnessed an increase in associate hiring. Lateral partners are being plucked from bigger firms.

Frankly, the law firms with their bare-boned staffs didn’t have much choice, according to legal recruiter Gary D’Alessio, president of Chicago Legal Search. “I’ve been recruiting now for nearly 25 years and I can assure you, it was the worst,” said D’Alessio, who witnessed thousands of layoffs during 2009. “So many firms cut to the bone … and when you have gutted an entire class, your hand is forced.”

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