Lateral Trend Is ‘Rise of the Lone Wolves’

There is a trend emerging in last year’s record number of lateral partner moves: the rise of the lone wolves.

According to the American Lawyer, 2,775 partners left or joined the largest 200 firms in the country last year. Of that number, 114 left to form their own firms. Some were flying solo, and some left with small groups.

The year before, only 70 partners left to start their own firms, the American Lawyer reports in a related story. Among the firms that saw partners leave to start their own firms are Keker & Van Nest; Shearman & Sterling; Baker Botts; Irell & Manella; Clifford Chance; Foley & Lardner; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; DLA Piper; McKee Nelson; Alston & Bird; and McGuireWoods.

The timing may be right, according to the articles. Clients want lower legal bills, and the new smaller firms may be able to handle some of the work that once would have gone to bigger firms.

“If you have wondered about the call of ownership, or why you have a partner you’ve never met in Bratislava, or whether small is really beautiful, there may never be a better moment to break away,” the American Lawyer says.

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