Business of Law

The Dewey effect: Lateral hiring hits three-year high, DLA Piper tops hiring list

Lateral has hit a three-year high last year, as 2,691 partners left or joined the nation’s top 200 law firms in the year ending on Sept. 30.

The American Lawyer tallied the numbers, reporting that lateral hiring increased 9.7 percent over the prior year, and 33.6 percent compared to 2010.

Lawyers from the failed law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf helped boost the numbers. According to the story, 280 of its partners entered the lateral market, with most of them landing at the nation’s top 100 law firms.

The BigLaw firm that acquired the most lateral lawyers was DLA Piper, which added 97 partners and lost 34 for a net gain of 63. It has led lateral hiring for three years in a row. The firm with the biggest loss, besides Dewey, was SNR Denton, with a net loss of 35 partners. SNR Denton said the lower count was due to strategic reasons.

Altman Weil consultant Thomas Clay explained why lateral hiring is so popular. “Reasons number one, two and three are to buy business,” he told the American Lawyer. “Laterals with books of business are in demand, and it’s not going to go away.”

Related coverage: “Does the lateral churn produce higher partner profits? Not according to the statistics”

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