31 January 2013

Ex-Dewey partners flood lateral hiring market

Former partners of defunct New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf dominated the US lateral hiring market last year, boosting partner moves to their highest level in three years.

By James Barnes

Lateral movement: Ex-Dewey partners fall on their feet

According to the American Lawyer’s lateral survey, in the 12 months, ending 30 September 2012, there were 2,691 partners either leaving or joining Am Law 200 firms. The 9.7 per cent increase on the previous year’s figures can mainly be attributed to the 280 Dewey partners seeking new roles.

Hiring spree

The hiring spree is the largest since the 12 months leading to September 2009, when a record 2,775 partners changed firms following the failure of four major practices: Thacher Proffitt & Wood, Heller Ehrman, Thelen, and WolfBlock.
The survey also revealed positive developments for many of the Dewey refugees, as the majority found work at top-100 firms, with only 12 of the 280 going to second-100 players and 18 going to firms outside the top 200.
The largest flock of Dewey partners went to Chicago-headquartered Winston & Strawn, which took in 23 partners in May. Anglo-American global giant DLA Piper also bagged 21 partners, while Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis & Bockius picked up 20.

Books of business

Thomas Clay, a consultant at US legal profession watchers Altman Weil, said the increased hiring demonstrates how law firms rely on new blood to fuel revenue growth, build practice areas and broaden their geographic range. ‘Everyone is doing it, and reasons number one, two, and three are to buy business,’ commented Mr Clay. ‘Laterals with books of business are in demand, and it's not going to go away.’

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