When Cathy Abelson started her career as a legal recruiter in the early 1980s, the phrase “lateral hire” was a foreign one to law firm managers.

“We had to explain what we meant when we said, `Do you want to hire a lateral,’” Abelson said. “Back then, people used to stay at a firm. … It was more paternalistic, as opposed to now, where it’s all about business.”

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