Legal Career Resources

2018 State of the Legal Market Report
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Summary: The BCG Attorney Search Annual Report summarizes the trends seen throughout the year as their legal recruiters worked with attorneys looking for new jobs within law firms.

Every year BCG Attorney Search puts together a report summarizing their placements, recruitment, and job search numbers and trends from working with thousands of attorneys throughout the year in the U.S. Through their work they are able to spot trends in the legal market of which practice areas experienced the greatest demand during the year and which practice areas are slow with very few positions available.


View the full 2018 State of the American Lateral Law Firm Legal Market here.

Overall, the year 2017 went out with a bang for the legal market. BCG Attorney Search made 30 percent more attorney placements during the year compared to 2016. The placement of partners was strong, but the associate market was the strongest it has been in a generation. Assuming things continue into 2018 without any market crashes, 2018 should be an even stronger year than 2017.

Attorneys practicing in a “niche” area saw a lot of success in 2017. They had an easier time getting hired at top law firms than ever before. This was especially true for niche attorneys that were flexible in their geographical location. Large law firms have been finding very few talented attorneys in the niche practice areas, so when a talented attorney becomes available, they hire them without hesitation.

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Not surprisingly, trademark was another practice area that saw substantial growth. Trademark law seems to do well when the economy overall is doing very well. Businesses are being started all over, increasing the need for trademark attorneys to help those companies get started. However, many of the larger law firms are using staff attorneys to do trademark work.

Employment is a practice area that many of the larger law firms have moved away from. The large firms that have kept the practice have often moved to hiring staff attorneys to fill the need. However, smaller law firms that only handle employment matters were able to do a lot of hiring in 2017, seeking out the most talented candidates.

Smaller to midsized law firms saw an active litigation practice, whereas large law firms saw a slow litigation practice. Many of the large law firms turned to staff attorneys for litigators instead of hiring associates due to the decline in demand in the practice area. Senior level litigators are facing an ever-increasingly difficult time getting positions. The practice area is considered a dangerous one with barely any opportunities for advancement.

Corporate was another slower market than in previous years, except in corporate finance. Despite being a slower market than usual, it was still easy for attorneys to find jobs in if they were willing to join a small or midsized law firm. Finding a corporate position with the largest law firms was extremely difficult.

Many of the other practice areas were steady yet slow during 2017. Real estate saw barely any activity throughout the entire year, staying at a slow pace with very few openings for these attorneys.

Large law firms are seeing the younger generation of workers, the Millennials, up and quitting so they can work at smaller law firms with a better work-life balance. Money is no longer the greatest motivating factor for those deciding to stick it out with the workloads of large law firms. Large law firms have also had to focus on increasing the diversity in their firms, a topic that has grown to be very important in the industry.

Read the full report here:

The BCG Attorney Search 2018 State of the American Lateral Law Firm Legal Market Report

To learn more about previous market reports, read these articles:



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