The 10 Law Firms That Hired The Most Lateral Associates in 2018

2018 marked another banner year in lateral hiring. Even with December moves still to be counted, 2018 lateral hiring was already 9% higher than last year, with 3,877 law-firm-to-law-firm moves among the 155 top firms we track in major markets (vs. 3,542 moves last year). 

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking back at 2018 lateral hiring trends. Today, we're looking at the firms that were most active in associate lateral hiring last year: 

Top-10 firms with the most associate lateral hiring overall

Kirkland & Ellis’ NY offices

Kirkland & Ellis’ NY offices

The following firms were the biggest movers in the U.S. associate lateral market in 2018, hiring the most lateral associates overall:

  1. Kirkland & Ellis – 180 hires

  2. Morgan Lewis – 102 hires

  3. Goodwin - 94 hires

  4. DLA Piper – 93 hires

  5. Greenberg Traurig – 89 hires

  6. King & Spalding – 86 hires

  7. Perkins Coie – 75 hires

  8. Sidley Austin – 74 hires

  9. Reed Smith – 72 hires

  10. Venable – 65 hires (tie)

  11. Wilson Sonsini – 65 hires (tie)

Kirkland & Ellis led the pack in associate lateral hiring by a wide margin once again this year, though by a smaller margin than it did in 2017. You have to go back to 2015 to find a year in which it was not the leader in lateral hiring. Morgan Lewis, DLA Piper Greenberg Traurig, and Sidley Austin also remained in the top-10 this year. Perkins Coie and Reed Smith increased lateral hiring of associates by 50%-70% to place 7th and 9th, respectively. Goodwin and Venable doubled their lateral hiring, the latter through their pick-up of Fitzpatrick Cella associates, to leap into the top 10. And King & Spalding tripled its lateral hiring in 2018 to place 6th. 

Of the firms to make the list, Goodwin, King & Spalding, and Venable did the most lateral hiring relative to their size. Lateral hires in 2018 represent 13% of all current Goodwin associates, 15% of all King & Spalding associates, and 17% of all Venable associates.

Top-10 firms winning the battle for lateral associates

Some firms do a lot of associate lateral hiring, but merely to maintain their current size. Other firms are growing through lateral hiring, attracting a significant number of associates while keeping their own associates from leaving for other firms. Here are the firms with the largest net gains of lateral associates in 2018: 

  1. Kirkland & Ellis: +71 (180 hires, 109 departures)

  2. Morgan Lewis: +61 (102 hires, 41 departures)

  3. Goodwin: +58 (94 hires, 36 departures) (tie)

  4. King & Spalding: +58 (86 hires, 28 departures) (tie)

  5. Perkins Coie: +57 (75 hires, 18 departures)

  6. Holland & Knight +38 (57 hires, 19 departures)

  7. Venable: +37 (65 hires, 28 departures)

  8. Wilson Sonsini +36 (65 hires, 29 departures)

  9. Littler Mendelson: +33 (55 hires, 22 departures) (tie)

  10. Sheppard Mullin: +33 (54 hires, 21 departures) (tie)

  11. Loeb & Loeb: +33 (55 hires, 22 departures) (tie)

 

Firms with the most associate lateral hires in major cities

The following firms were most active in major markets this year:

  • Atlanta: King & Spalding - 11 hires

  • Boston: Goodwin – 29 hires

  • Chicago: Kirkland & Ellis – 31 hires

  • Dallas: Kirkland & Ellis – 18 hires

  • Denver: Perkins Coie and Greenberg Traurig – 8 hires

  • Houston: Kirkland & Ellis – 36 hires

  • Los Angeles: Kirkland & Ellis and Loeb & Loeb – 15 hires

  • Miami: Holland & Knight – 8 hires

  • New York: Kirkland & Ellis – 46 hires

  • Orange County: Morgan Lewis – 10 hires

  • Philadelphia: Morgan Lewis – 14 hires

  • San Diego: Sheppard Mullin – 6 hires

  • San Francisco: Wilson Sonsini – 16 hires

  • Seattle: Perkins Coie – 13 hires

  • Silicon Valley: Wilson Sonsini – 16 hires

  • Washington D.C.: Paul Hastings and Wilson Sonsini – 15 hires

Congratulations to all the firms that grew their teams this year and to the young lawyers who took the next step in their careers!

If you'd like to see lateral move data on all firms, you can sign up on Laterally to get access to Move Tracker. Attorneys find this useful when considering a job move or when deciding between offers from multiple firms.

Laterally is the leading recruiting platform for the nation’s top lawyers. We combine the best of traditional recruiting (including help with resumes and interviewing, plus connections to recruiters and lawyers inside firms) with a data-centric approach to advising candidates. Our consultants can help answer questions you have about the lateral market as well as particular firms. Get started by signing up on Laterally or emailing us at consulting@laterally.com.