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The American Lawyer reports that more than 3,100 lateral partners moved between Am Law 200 firms in 2019, with corporate partners accounting for 25% of those moves, according to recent data released by ALM Intelligence. The total is 14.5% higher than last year’s lateral total of 2,754, largely as a result of an improved methodology used to collect this year’s data, which affects the year-over-year comparison. Over the past two decades, the number of lateral partner moves, tracked by The American Lawyer since 2000, has ranged from just above 2,000 to more than 3,000 a year, the article adds.

The article reported that at least 580 corporate partners joined the ranks of the Am Law 200, while 469 departed, which adds up to a net gain of 111 partners. Litigation partners accounted for another quarter of the past year’s laterals. Banking and Finance partners were the third-most-transient practice, comprising nearly 14% of all laterals. Interestingly enough, given the warnings of a recession, bankruptcy attorneys were the least transient, accounting for just a small fraction of the year’s lateral moves, at 2.4%, ALM Intelligence reports.

According to the report, Philadelphia-based Fox Rothschild saw the greatest percentage growth via lateral moves, as its partnership ranks grew by 60, or roughly 18%, on the back of 102 lateral hires, offsetting 42 departures. The firm has been growing steadily since it first cracked the Am Law 200 in 2015, the article notes. Additionally, the article noted that Winston & Strawn saw the greatest net defections among the Am Law 200, losing 52 partners and adding 17, for a net loss of 35, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

Nearly three-quarters of Am Law 200 firms have had a lateral partner leave within the past five years due to an issue with personality or law firm culture, according to data released by ALM Intelligence. A lawyer’s business is easier fixed than their character, notes Polsinelli’s CEO Chase Simmons. And while there’s no one lateral partner who can affect a law firm’s revenue numbers on their own, a toxic partner could ruin a firm’s culture, he adds. “Culture is more permanent. Everything derives from the culture,” Simmons says. “If you mess with that, the dollars aren’t going to follow.”

“Law firms are constantly on the hunt for top talent, and they have recently began building programs focused on lateral integration. The reasons for doing so are interconnected. For one thing, firms use their programs as a selling point in their recruitment efforts. They also lead to better retention rates. Nearly every law firm The American Lawyer spoke with for this story touted a higher five-year retention rate than the 60% average that ALM Intellection reported last year among Am Law 200 firms,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer released results from its annual Lateral Report, which tracked lateral movement strategies among the nation’s largest and most successful law firms. The report, conducted by ALM Intelligence, reported 2,895 lateral moves among Am Law 200 firms in 2017, decreasing 2.3% from 2016. According to the report, law firm leaders reported a variety of strategies aimed at improving lateral hiring such as geographic expansion, spending top dollar on superstar partners, hiring lateral groups, recruiting experts in other fields, and expanding lower cost-firms in larger markets.

Chicago-based Winston & Strawn hired the most lateral partners of any Am Law 200 firm, the report revealed. The firm brought on 73 partners, representing nearly 22 percent of its partner ranks. DLA Piper hired the second-most partners, 69—a mere 5.7 percent of its partnership. The next three firms to grow their partner ranks by more than 10 percent through lateral hiring included Cozen O’Connor, Fox Rothschild and Hogan Lovells opening new offices in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Seattle, respectively (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

Kansas City, Missouri-based Polsinelli is another firm to see recent growth in the lateral partner market. Much of the firm’s recent growth has been in Chicago, where it has grown from just six lawyers in 2006 to 99 as of last December. The firm has found success recruiting from some of the city’s legacy firms, many of which have pursued a more international, higher-profit model (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

Crain’s reported their annual list of Chicago’s largest law firms. The report, consisting of the top 25 firms in the city ranked by attorney headcount, is accurate as of June 30, 2016. The list includes the firms’ revenues, number of attorneys worldwide within each firm, and a breakdown of the number of attorneys in each practice. Two new firms joined the top 25 this year and two surpass the rest in terms of attorney headcount and revenue growth.

For over a decade, Kirkland & Ellis has remained number one with 574 local attorneys and firm wide revenue growth of 7.2 percent. Sidley Austin and Mayer Brown also managed to hold their respective positions on the list, coming in at number two and three. Jenner & Block had the highest percentage change on the top 25 this year, a 14 percent increase in both number of attorneys and revenue growth. Jenner, coming in at No. 4, now has 307 local attorneys. Winston & Strawn LLP ranked as the fifth largest firm, despite a 1.4 percent decrease in number of attorneys from last year. New to the list this year were Swanson Martin & Bell and SmithAmundsen in spots 22 and 23.

Similar to last year, almost half of the firms on the list experienced a decrease in the number of local attorneys. Schiff Hardin faced the biggest loss, an 18.8 percent drop from last year. Another was Locke Lord, which concurrently had the largest increase in revenue, a 40 percent rise to $597.2 million.

See the full article and rankings on Crain’s Chicago Business.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer released this year’s national and regional midlevel firm rankings, based on a satisfaction survey of associate responses. The survey analyzes key workplace elements such as: compensation and benefits package, training and support, relations with partners and associates, satisfaction level of the work, billable hours’ policy, and management’s openness about strategies and partnership opportunities. The participating firms were ranked on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score possible.

On the national scale, Paul Hastings earned first place again. From a survey of 51 respondents, the firm received the highest satisfaction score, a 4.763 out of 5. In numerical order, the succeeding firms in the top 5 are: Los Angeles’-based O’Melveny & Myer, Cozen O’Connor based in Philadelphia, internationally-operated Clifford Chance, and nationally-based Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher.

From a local perspective, the American Lawyer provides an overview of the top firms organized by major city. Of the top 18 markets, the scores are reflective of respondents only in that firm’s office in the designed city, not the firm as a whole. It comes as no surprise that national leader, Paul Hastings, is ranked No. 1 in multiple major cities, such as: Chicago, New York, Orange County, and Washington D.C. The same is true for nationally ranked No. 2 firm, O’Melveny, which is No. 1 in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. In the Texas market, Dallas’ top firm is Gibson Dunn, and in Houston, the leading firm is Orrick. In California, Chicago-based Winston & Strawn landed No. 1 in the Los Angeles market, and San Diego’s leading firm is Sheppard Mullin. No. 3 nationally ranked, Cozen O’Connor, leads the Philadelphia market.

See more of the highlights from the AmLaw National and Regional Midlevel Firm Rankings on the American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer released the 14th annual A-List: an analysis and ranking of the 20 top Big Law firms. The firms that made the AmLaw A-List cut are the best-of-the-best and are rated according to performance in four key areas: financial success, pro bono commitment, diversity and associate satisfaction.

AmLaw Second Hundred firm, Irell & Manella, reigns in at Number 1 this year, proving that size isn’t everything, with only 126 lawyers. The Los Angeles-based firm made an impressive leap from the bottom of the list (No. 18 in 2015), due to a significant increase in associate satisfaction and pro bono scores. Kirkland & Ellis landed spot No. 8, slipping from fifth place last year, due to a decrease in the diversity category. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom took 16th place, thanks to the double-weighted revenue per lawyer category. Skadden moved up one spot, despite low associate satisfaction and decreasing diversity scores.

New firms added to the AmLaw A-List this year are: Chicago-based Jenner & Block, Covington & Burling out of Washington, D.C., and New York-based Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Those three firms forced out the following: Hughes Hubbard & Reed, Williams & Connolly, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Additionally, the American Lawyer announced a list of the next 20 A-List firms (No. 21-40), the Ones to Watch. A few firms on the list made last year’s Top 20 but faced shortcomings in vital areas, forcing them out in 2016. Hughes Hubbard & Reed, previously a Top 20 A-List firm, faced a hit in the associate satisfaction category, knocking them down to Number 21. Chicago-based Winston & Strawn performed well, up from 57th to 34th place this year, thanks to a substantial increase in associate satisfaction.

Please contact Bill Sugarman for more information.