Lateral associate moves increased 51% compared to prior four years, new data shows
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The rapid movement of associates to new law firms continued through the third quarter of last year, according to new data from legal data company Decipher, which provides firms with due diligence on lateral hires.
There were 13,987 associates who moved to new firms through Sept. 30, a 51% increase over the previous four-year average for that time period, Decipher reports.
The two most active practice areas for lateral associate moves were data privacy, which saw a 116% increase, and corporate, which experienced a 91% increase over the four-year average. Insurance also saw a 66% increase in lateral associate moves.
Decipher reports that all the major markets saw at least double-digit increases in associates moves compared to the previous four-year average. The markets leading the way were Miami (64% increase), Chicago (62% increase) and New York (56% increase).
“Our pre-hire due diligence gives us a comprehensive outlook on both the partner and associate markets, and we expect this elevated level of associate movement to continue unabated,” wrote Michael Ellenhorn, the founder and CEO of Decipher, in an email. “The nature of associate work and their connection to their firms has fundamentally changed, and the market is reflecting this new reality.”
As for partners, Decipher reports that there 3,912 lateral moves through the third quarter of 2021, an 8% increase over the previous four-year average for that time period.
Data privacy was also the most active practice area for partner moves, with a 58% increase compared to the previous four-year average. Additionally, the energy sector saw a 48% increase in lateral partner moves.
Leading the way among practice areas that saw decreases in lateral partner moves were bankruptcy (-26%) and environmental law (-15%).
Orange County, California, saw the largest increase in lateral partner moves, experiencing a 75% increase compared to the previous four-year average for the first three quarters of the year. The District of Columbia (33%) and Denver (31%) were the other two major markets to see more than 30% increases.
Decipher reports that Philadelphia, Dallas and Houston were the three major markets that saw a decrease in lateral moves through Sept. 30 compared to the average for the previous four years.
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