Top-5: Law firms with the lowest attrition rates in 2017, nationwide and by city

Attrition is a fact of life at America’s largest law firms. The average associate attrition at an AmLaw 100 firm is 16% per year. Take a look at any number of top law firms and you’ll see incoming classes of 100 or so lawyers whittled down to 10 or 20 lawyers a decade later. After 13 years, in fact, less than a quarter of any given class will still be practicing at any Am Law 100 firm.

Yet some large law firms manage to retain associates at significantly higher rates than others. Low attrition rates can be seen as a vote of confidence in a firm from associates (though they can also result from a firm's associates having more trouble finding new jobs). An attrition rate significantly higher than average can sometimes be a sign of internal issues or of a difficult path to promotion.

Below, using data from Laterally's Move Tracker, we compiled a list of law firm offices with the lowest attrition rates in 2017 and compared it to offices with the highest attrition rates this year.

Congrats to all the firms that hung on to their associates in 2017!

"We'll never leave"

"We'll never leave"

Nationwide*

  1. Davis Wright Tremaine (5% attrition)
  2. Steptoe & Johnson (6% attrition)
  3. Blank Rome (6% attrition)
  4. BakerHostetler (8% attrition)
  5. Bryan Cave (8% attrition) 
  6. View All

New York

  1. Winston & Strawn (5% attrition)
  2. BakerHostetler (6% attrition)
  3. White & Case (6% attrition)
  4. Akin Gump (8% attrition)
  5. Morgan Lewis (9% attrition)
  6. View All

Washington D.C.

  1. Crowell & Moring (6% attrition)
  2. Covington & Burling (6% attrition)
  3. Arent Fox (7% attrition)
  4. Steptoe & Johnson (7% attrition)
  5. Mayer Brown (7% attrition)
  6. View All
  • The highest attrition rate by a firm in Washington D.C.: 40% (sign up to view)

Chicago

  1. Chapman and Cutler (6% attrition)
  2. Baker & McKenzie (6% attrition)
  3. Morgan Lewis (7% attrition)
  4. McDermott Will & Emery (7% attrition)
  5. Katten Muchin Rosenman (10% attrition)
  6. View All

San Francisco

    1. Munger Tolles & Olson (3% attrition)
    2. Cooley (4% attrition)
    3. Littler Mendelson (5% attrition)
    4. Squire Patton Boggs (7% attrition)
    5. Perkins Coie (7% attrition)
    6. View All
    • The highest attrition rate by a firm in San Francisco: 30% (sign up to view)

    Silicon Valley

      1. Morgan Lewis (3% attrition)
      2. Wilson Sonsini (10% attrition)
      3. Goodwin (11% attrition)
      4. Fenwick & West (12% attrition)
      5. WilmerHale (12% attrition)
      6. View All
      • The highest attrition rate by a firm in Silicon Valley: 37% (sign up to view)

      Los Angeles

        1. Davis Wright Tremaine (3% attrition)
        2. Pillsbury (3% attrition)
        3. DLA Piper (5% attrition)
        4. Morgan Lewis (5% attrition)
        5. White & Case (6% attrition)
        6. View All

        The highest attrition rate by a firm in Silicon Valley: 24% (sign up to view)

        View All Locations

        So what should we draw from this data? At the very least an appreciation of the significant gap in attrition among firms. While it's not advised to draw conclusions about a firm from a single metric in a single year, attrition rate is one of many useful data points when considering a potential lateral destination.

        As we've discussed before, the recruiting industry is notorious for not being transparent with candidates, so we turned it on its head by collecting and sharing objective data on law firms with every lawyer on our site. When conducting a search with Laterally, we provide candidates with research on every potential destination firm, including its personnel, structure, and client base, statistics on hiring, retention, and promotion, and then combine that with personal insights from lawyers in our network. Sign up or email consulting@laterally.com if you would like to see more research on law firms.


        *To qualify for the rankings in their respective locations, firms needed to have a minimum number of associates in those locations in 2017: 100 associates nationwide, 100 associates in New York, 50 associates in Washington D.C., and 30 associates in other cities. Note that nationwide number only include associates in the following locations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orange County, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Washington D.C.

        Are you the type of lawyer who likes to dig deep into the data and pick apart methodologies? Get access to Move Tracker and employment data going back to 2010.