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older male lawyerThis year’s new partner classes are advancing at a watershed moment in U.S. history: In 2019, U.S. Census data predict, Millennials will replace Baby Boomers as the biggest segment of the country’s population. In raw numbers, among big firm attorneys, Millennials now outnumber Boomers by almost 2-to-1 (47,000 to 24,000 according to 2017 data from 400 firms analyzed by ALM Intelligence). However, younger attorneys, born after 1984 account for just 5 percent of partners. By contrast, the same analysis found that 40 percent of the firms’ partners ranged in age from 53 to 71.

In our experience as legal recruiters, especially in the New York and tri-state markets, a growing number of Big Law firm partners are choosing to continue working well into their 60s and beyond—even if doing so requires a lateral move. And while a popular old tale holds that investing in senior laterals is an overly risky and expensive growth strategy, we beg to differ. Recent lateral moves that have made headlines support our argument, and illustrate how some law firm managers are creating fresh opportunities for older partners:

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