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March 31, 2011 7:55 PM

Report: Lateral Associate Hiring Rose 61 Percent in 2010

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

A recent lateral hiring report from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) shows an increase in lateral hiring in 2010, driven mostly by mobility in the associate ranks.

According to NALP's 2010 "Survey of Legal Employers on Fall Recruiting and Associate Deferrals," 2,273 lawyers moved to new firms last year, a 38.4 percent increase from 2009. Of those moves, two-thirds were associates. Lateral associate hiring rose 61 percent from 2009 to 2010; partner hiring increased 8.4 percent in that period, the survey shows. (The report is based on responses from 284 law firms, ranging in size from "100 or fewer" lawyers to "501+", who reported at least one lateral attorney hire in 2009 and 2010.)

"As it has in the past, the volume of lateral associate hiring outstrips that of lateral partner hiring," the report says.

In February The American Lawyer's "Lateral Report 2011" showed a 27 percent decrease in lateral partner moves for Am Law 200 firms over the 12-month period ending September 30, 2010. The drop came after a record year for partner moves in 2009, when partners from defunct firms including Heller Ehrman, Thacher Proffitt & Wood, and Thelen landed at new firms.

NALP's numbers represent a turnaround after two straight years of declines in lawyer moves. Still, 25 percent of survey respondents reported a decrease of 10 percent or more in lateral hiring. Fourteen percent of respondents told NALP that lateral hiring volume at their firms changed by less than 10 percent from 2009 and 2010.

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