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CHICAGO-Jenner & Block, a longtime Chicago firm, demonstrates well the fast-paced attorney comings and goings happening in the city this year. Since the beginning of the year, Jenner has lost a top bankruptcy attorney and his three-lawyer coterie to crosstown rival Winston & Strawn, waved goodbye to two private equity attorneys who left for Perkins Coie and given up a top litigator who is a past president of the National Association of Women Lawyers. During the same period, the 470-lawyer firm nabbed six lawyers from the dissolving antitrust boutique Freeman, Freeman & Salzman and hired a tax practice partner from Chicago’s Goldberg, Kohn, Bell, Black, Rosenbloom & Moritz. A higher pitch While there’s typically some lateral moves early in the year after attorneys get their year-end bonuses, the changes in Chicago this year are at a higher pitch, attorneys and recruiters said. They attribute the exceptional flow to openings of new firm offices in the city, industry merger mania, growth by some firms and the dissolution of smaller ones amid increased competition. “This year there’s a tremendous amount of movement,” said Jerry Biederman, the managing partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, which has added 16 lawyers so far in 2007 for a head count of 185. “It’s as if the whole market is in flux.” Many of the lawyers are leaving for firms with greater geographic reach, hoping their existing clients will get better U.S. and international service, and that they’ll more easily attract new customers. “Joining Winston puts us further ahead in terms of having a truly international law firm behind us,” said Jeff Marwil, the bankruptcy attorney who left partly because Winston has a larger New York office, in addition to offices on the West Coast and in Europe. Firms are repositioning themselves to be more competitive in certain practice areas and that’s leading some attorneys to decide to make a switch, said Anton Valukas, a partner at Jenner. Some firms, including Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, have pushed lawyers out of the door. The arrival in Chicago over the past several years of new firms, such as Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker; Perkins Coie; Bryan Cave; and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, is giving Chicago lawyers more options, recruiters said. Other firms, such as Reed Smith and Drinker Biddle & Reath, have merged their way into the market. “These are some of the best opportunities we’ve seen in this city in years,” said Credentia Inc. recruiter Kay Hoppe, who calls it the “hottest recruiting market” since she founded her business in 1981. Paul Hastings, DLA Piper, Perkins Coie and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal are growing at a fast clip, she said.

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