Report: Lateral Moves Reach Record Highs in ’09
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Lateral partner moves in biglaw reached an all-time high in 2009, according to The American Lawyer’s annual Lateral Report. In the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2,775 partners left or joined the biggest firms in the country, which is a 10.6 percent increase over the previous year.

“This was and will continue to be both a buyer’s and a seller’s market,” the report reads. “Firms with cash and daring continue to shop for new talent. Partners with business and a sense of unease put themselves in play. That’s the bright side.

“The sad side is that some of the partners with their resumes on the street are being pushed out by their current firms. And a whole swath of partners moved last year because their firms died.”


According to the report, the global recession likely contributed to the increase in the lateral market. Some firms tried to upgrade their talent pool in what they considered a buyer’s market, “while others used the crisis as an opportunity to clean house at the partner level.”

Litigation partners topped the list with 17 percent of all lateral moves. Banking and finance lawyers accounted for 15 percent of the moves, followed by corporate attorneys (10 percent) and intellectual property attorneys (nine percent).

K&L Gates had the most lateral hires for the second year in a row, while Sonnenschein posted the largest percentage of partner departures.

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