Lateral hiring dropped last year, fueled by decline in associate market, NALP report says

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Lateral hiring decreased by 11.5% in 2022 as a result of cooling in the market for lateral associates, according to a report by the National Association for Law Placement.

Hiring of lateral associates decreased nearly 20% last year compared to 2021, when hiring of lateral associates skyrocketed 149% year over year, according to a March 22 press release.

The findings appeared in the April NALP Bulletin.

Lateral hiring of partners in 2022 increased 5.5%, while lateral hiring of other lawyers increased 9.5%.

The lackluster market for lateral associates was a boon for law firms of 250 or fewer lawyers.

“These smaller firms appeared to have capitalized on the lack of positions at larger firms to acquire new talent,” said Nikia L. Gray, executive director of the NALP, in the press release. “Associate hiring was up nearly 12%, and partner hiring up 56% for firms of 250 or fewer lawyers, significantly outpacing larger firms and the reverse of what we saw last year.”

The NALP analysis was based on 8,100 lateral hires from 511 law offices and firms.

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