More than 270 associates have left New York’s 10 most profitable law firms this year; where did they go?

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The majority of associates who left New York’s 10 most profitable firms this year stayed in BigLaw, often jumping to firms in the tech sector, according to an analysis by Reuters.

More than 270 associates left the top 10 firms this year, Reuters reports, citing data from LinkedIn and lateral due diligence provider Decipher Investigative Intelligence.

Among those making the move, 216 went to another law firm that was not among the top 10 in New York, 20 went to one of the 10 highest-profiting New York law firms, 19 went in-house, 10 went into government or judicial roles, and six moved to nonattorney roles.

While many stayed in BigLaw, the dynamic is changing, the article reports.

Many associates landed at Silicon Valley-based law firms Cooley; Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian; and Fenwick & West, the article reports. Two other firms that advised on Slack Technologies Inc.’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange—Latham & Watkins and Goodwin Procter—also picked up associates, as did “behemoth” Kirkland & Ellis, according to Reuters.

While some departing associates are seeking technology clients, others are seeking practices in more affordable cities and work-life balance. Recruiters told Reuters that some associates are turning down signing bonuses as high as $300,000 in favor of firms with the culture that they seek or location that they want.

The top 10 firms studied by Reuters were Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Sullivan & Cromwell; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Debevoise & Plimpton; Cahill Gordon & Reindel; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Milbank.

Even as those firms lost some associates, they gained others, picking up associates from others in the top 10 and other BigLaw firms.

And BigLaw hiring is up. Recruiters told Bloomberg Law that some BigLaw firms are hiring from regional law firms and firms outside the top 100. Especially in demand are associates from corporate transactional groups, such as capital markets, financing and mergers and acquisitions.

As of the last week of May, the nation’s top 100 grossing law firms have hired 724 corporate associates, compared to an average of 471 in the same period from 2017 to 2020, according to Decipher data cited by Reuters and Bloomberg Law. The total number of associate hired by the top 100 so far this year is 2,277.

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