By most measures, 2009 was a dismal year for the legal industry. One notable exception to the drumbeat of record layoffs and bankruptcy actions: By our count, there were also a record number of lateral partner moves in The Am Law 200. In the 12 months ending September 30, 2009, 2,775 partners left or joined the biggest firms in the country–a 10.6 percent increase in mobility over last year. Many firms were “opportunistic” about adding outsiders, and some of the same firms pushed partners out. Fortunately, partners who didn’t want to spend their afternoons playing Minesweeper on their BlackBerrys had time to check out the competition.


THE CHARTS

Top-Gaining Firms-Lateral Partner Hires

Firms With the Biggest Losses

Practice Areas

THE STORIES

Buyer’s Market
The Great Recession led to an 11 percent spike in lateral partner moves.

Economy Model
Why are lawyers like Daralyn Durie jumping ship? They’re betting they can do the same high-quality work for less and enjoy it more.

  • Web Extra Video: Steven Molo, of MoloLamken, and Charles Scibetta, of Chaffetz Lindsey, discuss leaving an Am Law 200 firm to launch their own firms. Click here.

Company Town
When The Am Law 200 shed 15 percent of its Charlotte lawyers, it wasn’t just business, it was personal.

Star Laterals
Our picks for the most important lateral partner moves in 2009.


OUR METHODOLOGY

The Lateral Report covers partner moves in and out of The Am Law 200 between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009. We tracked 2,775 moves during this period. We count firm-to-firm moves if a lawyer was a partner in the former firm and is a partner at the new firm. We also count moves if a partner left for a position in business, government, or education, or joined a firm as a partner from one of those fields. Lateral moves are counted when one firm acquired another, but not when two firms merged and combined names. Practice areas have been refined and consolidated. Litigators are assigned to a practice area if the specialty is known.