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Lateral Hire TrackingGenerations of lawyers went through law school with the goal of snatching the proverbial golden ring—a position with a BigLaw firm. Securing a coveted associate position with an AmLaw100 law firm seemed like a sure way to make the most of a legal career, at least according to thinking that prevailed in decades past. That thinking valued two metrics over all others in the job-search process: money and prestige. But that thinking now feels dated, if not utterly out of touch. Today’s law students, associates, and partners take a far less myopic approach to their recruitment—one that allows them to see, and appreciate, the attractiveness of midsize law firms.

This is a sea change, and for those running midsize law firms, a welcome one. It is the result of generational and business forces that have been at play for years, but have accelerated markedly with the onset of the Great Recession. The mass layoffs that took place, the deteriorating bonds of loyalty between large law firms and institutional clients, the increasing distance of the gold ring from the grasp of the BigLaw associate and the decreasing likelihood of attaining equity partnership have all combined to take some of the shine off working in the traditional BigLaw model, particularly for younger lawyers. Many of those lawyers are finding that midsize firms offer a work experience and potential for promotion that better aligns with their short- and long-term interests.

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