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Chicago Big Law: In a Cold Market, Some Shrinkage is to be Expected
Big law has some some slight shrinkage in head count this last year, with Chicago’s 25 biggest firms contracting by 2.5 percent in the year ending June 30. Such firms are doing what most businesses have done through this recession: hire less, expect more of those you retain.
As David Mendelssohn, managing partner of DLA Piper’s Chicago office, and as reported by Chicagobusiness.com, said that headcount was les relevant than attorney output. In other words, they may hire less attorneys, but they expect more out of them.
“I think we have had considerable success on all fronts,” he said. “We’ve definitely seen a downsizing in recruiting younger lawyers out of law school, and I think the trend pervades the industry.”
As we know well by now, it’s a tough market for fresh JD’s. The industries are gleaning talent from data and analysis, and as legal recruiter Kay Hoppe, president of Credientia Inc. in Chicago said, “true talent is being identified – and paid for. At the ends of the day, profitability will be strengthened by it.”
In other words, if their system doesn’t discover you to be “true talent,” you are SOL.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s biggest law offices continue to decline, with the number one office, Kirkland and Ellis, and number six Jenner and Block, reporting slightly smaller numbers. Kirkland makes the most of it, though, garnishing twice the revenue per lawyer than Mayer Brown, and all the others.