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In today’s legal marketplace, making a lateral move—whether to a new firm, an in-house role, a public interest group or into government—is increasingly commonplace. We would venture to guess that

the majority of young lawyers make at least one lateral move, if not more, in their first 10 years of practice. The American Lawyer has reported that over 2,000 partners at large law firms are switching firms every year. While this number pertains only to partners at major national firms, it’s clear that partners and associates alike are on the move. Whether and when to make a lateral move, however, can be a difficult decision, particularly for young lawyers.

Most often, young lawyers are motivated to make a lateral move because of personal or professional dissatisfaction in their current role, or some combination of both. In some cases, it is pretty clear that a lateral move is likely to resolve that dissatisfaction. If you want to switch from corporate work to litigation (or vice versa) and that opportunity is only available through a lateral move, then a lateral move is probably the right step for you. More often than not, however, it is much less clear whether a lateral move will resolve the personal or professional dissatisfaction a young lawyer is experiencing in their current role. The grass may not be greener on the other side.

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