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Now that the lazy days of summer are over, attorneys are on the move. Law school students are busy securing top-paying jobs at local firms, recruiting directors are hunting for new associates and experienced practitioners are surveying their options. In hopes of attracting the best and the brightest from the crop of law students who will graduate in 2005, numerous Delaware firms have announced that they will offer new grads $115,000, or even $125,000, per year to start. And announcing new hires earlier this month, firm officials at Buchanan Ingersoll and McCarter & English said they are growing their Delaware offices and will continue adding lawyers to their folds. Partner Mark Gundersen and associate John Taylor III have joined McCarter & English’s corporate department, while partner William Sullivan has brought his bankruptcy and commercial litigation experience to Buchanan Ingersoll. To allow for expansion, Buchanan Ingersoll also recently signed a seven-year lease for space in downtown Wilmington’s Nemours Building, partner David Wilks said. Wilks, who heads the firm’s Delaware office, said that Buchanan Ingersoll will hire not only additional bankruptcy practitioners, but also general litigation, transactional and real estate attorneys to increase its Delaware presence. Seven lawyers currently practice in Buchanan Ingersoll’s Delaware office, according to the firm’s Web site. After a relatively slow summer, Delaware firms are concentrating on increasing their ranks during the remainder of 2004 and into 2005, Brenda Thompson of legal recruiting firm Thompson Search Consultants said. Thompson told the Delaware Law Weekly that firms have been seeking not just seasoned lawyers, but also associates with one to three years of practice experience. Judging from new entry-level salaries, it seems that some of Delaware’s heavy hitters should have no trouble attracting new talent. FIRST-YEAR SALARIES This summer, Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell announced that it would raise first-year salaries from $110,000 to $125,000 per year. Potter Anderson & Corroon and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor have followed suit, according to officials at the two firms. The National Association for Law Placement lists Richards Layton & Finger as another Delaware powerhouse that pays first-years $125,000. And Morris James Hitchens & Williams managing partner David Williams said that effective Sept. 1, his firm upped its starting salary to $115,000 per year. Hiring partners Kevin Shannon of Potter Anderson and Scott Holt of Young Conaway both said that their firms moved up to $125,000 in order to keep pace with their competitors. Morris Nichols officials made similar statements in July, noting that the $125,000 mark matches what Dechert and Morgan Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia pay their first-year associates. Recently, several Philadelphia firms announced that they will also raise first-year salaries. Effective Jan. 1, Pepper Hamilton, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, Reed Smith and Duane Morris will offer first-year associates $115,000, firm leaders said. John Reed, who heads Duane Morris’ Wilmington office, said that the increase will not apply in Delaware because that office already pays $115,000 to start. The increases at Pepper Hamilton, Reed Smith and Ballard Spahr will take effect in Wilmington as well as Philadelphia, firm officials said. Pepper Hamilton executive partner Robert Heideck said his firm decided to move from $107,000 to $115,000 per year due to an anticipated market shift. “We wanted to be proactive and make a change to $115,000,” Heideck said. “Law firms are cyclical,” Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling managing partner William Schorling said. “They under-hire when they think things are slow, and over-hire when they think things are good.” Klett Rooney is a Pittsburgh-based firm with offices in Philadelphia and Wilmington. Last year, the firm raised its starting salary for Wilmington first-years to $110,000. Schorling said that in light of the recent spate of salary increases in Delaware and Philadelphia, his firm will have to discuss first-year salaries this fall. “We’ve always been competitive,” Schorling stated. For many firms, the past three or four years have been slow in the corporate and transactional areas, Schorling noted. He speculated that firms that failed to do significant hiring in recent years are perhaps feeling a pinch in “person power,” especially when it comes to relatively inexperienced associates. Morris James is actively seeking additional attorneys, according to its managing partner. The firm needs lawyers who can hit the ground running in several growing practice areas, including its corporate and commercial practice group. LATERAL HIRES Morris James recently added a transactional attorney and two bankruptcy associates to its ranks, Williams said. It seems growth helps attract experienced talent. Gundersen, who boasts nearly 25 years of experience in biotechnology and corporate law, said he decided to join McCarter & English because the firm has been expanding throughout the Northeast corridor and looks as though it will continue to do so. Gundersen served as senior counsel at E.I. du Pont de Nemours for 15 years before becoming the vice president and general counsel of a biotechnology company, DCV Inc., a joint venture of DuPont and ConAgra. He later joined Klett Rooney, where he remained for three years. Gundersen enjoyed working at Klett Rooney, but said that he found McCarter & English’s larger size and expanding presence enticing. Firmwide, McCarter & English is approximately three times the size of Klett Rooney, Gundersen said. William Manning, who heads Klett Rooney’s Wilmington office, could not be reached for comment prior to press time. Michael Kelly, the managing partner of McCarter & English’s Wilmington office, said the firm is tickled to have Gundersen on board. “He’s a top-notch commercial attorney [and] he’s a wonderful guy,” Kelly said. Including Gundersen and Taylor, McCarter & English has three corporate lawyers in its Delaware office, with about 50 corporate lawyers firmwide, Kelly said. The firm will add an information technology attorney sometime next month, he said. “We’re not seeking growth — it’s just happening,” Kelly said. Jeff Blumenthal of ALM contributed to this report.

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