Last week, we wrote about how the associate lateral market in 2017 was either hot or cold depending on your practice. The same goes for your city.
Although U.S. lateral hiring looks likely to dip slightly from last year, the lateral market looked very different depending on where you were located. In some cities, you were more than twice as likely to get hired as a lateral than in others.
To measure the hottest and coldest cities in 2017, we looked at which cities had the most lateral associate hires relative to the number of practicing associates. Our data, from our Move Tracker, covers 156 major firms in 15 cities nationwide. Here are the results:
2017's Hottest Markets
- 148 lateral hires out of 1222 associates (12.1%)
- 31 current openings
How was a city battered by natural disaster the hottest market in 2017? You guessed it. An oil market recovery started in 2016, which led firms to expand their corporate and energy practices. This is now the second year in a row with robust lateral hiring. Kirkland & Ellis continued its massive hiring in Houston after opening their office there in 2014, bringing on 23 lateral associates this year; Vinson & Elkins also hired 16 new lateral associates after a quiet 2016. Firms were poaching associates from local rivals, but also drawing in associates from New York, Chicago and Washington D.C.
- 46 lateral hires out of 422 associates (10.9%)
- 34 current openings
Rapidly emerging as an outlet for startups facing high costs of living in California, Seattle is also an outlet for lateral associates from firms around the country. More than 50% of lateral hires this year were from outside the state. Also of note was that in this relatively small market, just three firms were responsible for 57% of all lateral hiring: Perkins Coie, Davis Wright Tremaine, and Wilson Sonsini.
- 103 lateral hires out of 946 associates (10.9%)
- 27 current openings
Dallas' high rank was heavily determined by firms opening new offices and mass moves taking place. Dorsey & Whitney sucked up 6 associates from Schiff Hardin, as Dorsey launched its Dallas office and Schiff shuttered its own. Drinker Biddle brought over 12 Sedgwick associates when they opened their Dallas office in February. And Winston & Strawn hired 18 associates from a range of firms when they opened their office there in February. A more insular market than Seattle or Houston, only a handful of lateral hires came form outside of Texas.
And here are the remaining hot markets:
- 41 lateral hires out of 378 associates (10.9%)
- 18 current openings
- 30 lateral hires out of 294 associates (10.2%)
- 28 current openings
6) San Francisco
- 188 lateral hires out of 2119 associates (8.9%)
- 102 current openings
7) Los Angeles
- 219 lateral hires out of 2933 associates (7.5%)
- 92 current openings
8) Silicon Valley
- 103 lateral hires out of 1543 associates (6.7%)
- 107 current openings
2017's Coldest Markets
- 49 lateral hires out of 923 associates (5.3%)
- 37 current openings
Atlanta's economy is growing and firm revenues are up, but, counterintuitively, firms made just 49 lateral hires this year. The slow 2017 comes on the heels of 107 hires in 2015 amid some mass moves, and 67 hires in 2016. The difference between this year and last? Roughly the amount that one Atlanta heavyweight firm reduced their associate lateral hiring this year. After all the hiring from previous years, Atlanta may have just needed a breather. With 37 openings in the market right now, many of them new, 2018 may be very different.
2) Washington D.C.
- 322 lateral hires out of 5959 associates (5.4%)
- 154 current openings
Washington D.C. has never been a leader in lateral hiring, since firms in DC also grow their ranks by pulling in attorneys from government. Still, hiring is down from previous years. Did something suck the excitement out of our nation's capital?
3) San Diego
- 32 lateral hires out of 552 associates (5.8%)
- 36 current openings
4) New York
- 802 lateral hires out of 13379 associates (6.0%)
- 212 current openings
- 181 lateral hires out of 2957 associates (6.1%)
- 98 current openings
- 53 lateral hires out of 848 associates (6.3%)
- 28 current openings
- 107 lateral hires out of 1652 associates (6.5%)
- 93 current openings
Laterally is the legal industry's leading hiring platform. We place attorneys at law firms worldwide and our website lets attorneys track the lateral market without the cold calls and opacity of the traditional recruiting process. In our 2017 Year in Review, we share insights on the market using data available in real-time to Laterally users.