London train station

The collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf caused a surge in partners looking for new positions in the London market, but did that phenomenon disguise a weakness in the lateral partner market in the second quarter of 2012?

My latest findings are that Q2 2012 may have been the worst quarter for partner lateral hiring (in terms of numbers of hires announced) for almost five years if one takes into account the ‘Dewey 20’, partners from the stricken firm forced to move rapidly to new homes as the US titan sank beneath the waves of its own hubristic expansion (see graph).

The Dewey effect bolsters a flat lateral market (Dewey hires in dark grey in the final column)
The Dewey effect bolsters a flat lateral market (Dewey hires in dark grey in the final column)
Supporting evidence for continued fragility in the market comes from looking at who is being hired. Roughly a third of hires were in litigation – traditionally regarded as a ‘crisis’ discipline – while corporate remained flat and finance hires fell to their lowest level in five years, accounting for just 7% of hires in the quarter (5% if you take out Dewey lawyers).

Sage recruiters point out to me that some firms’ lateral recruitment activity might have been put on hold while they put all their energies into having to settle Dewey hires quickly, and this is certainly plausible. It will be interesting to see how Q3 hires come out, and whether this flattening is a trend or just a blip.

The second and latest issue of my London Lateral Hires Bulletin will be available shortly from the Downloads page but please email me at mark.brandon@motivelegal.com if you would like the free pdf.

 

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