80% of associates on Laterally are interested in in-house jobs, but only 24% of associates leaving major law firms since 2010 have gone in-house, according to Laterally's data on big law moves. In 2017, the competition has been even more intense, with the number of in-house hires from big law on pace to decline ~20% this year, from 1340 hires last year.*
For young lawyers and law students planning their careers, it is important to note the primary factor in your likelihood of landing an in-house job as an associate: your practice area.
Ranked below are the practice areas with the highest percentage of associates leaving their firms to go in-house in 2017.†
- Emerging Companies/Venture Capital (6.8%)
- Licensing & Tech Transactions (5.8%)
- Mergers & Acquisitions (5.2%)
- Securities & Capital Markets (4.6%)
- Finance – Regulatory (4.4%)
- General Corporate (4.3%)
- Privacy & Data Security (3.8%)
- Investment Management (3.7%)
- Finance (3.6%)
- Bankruptcy & Restructuring (3.2%)
- Structured Finance (2.9%)
- Real Estate (2.7%)
- Patent Prosecution (2.6%)
- Patent Litigation (2.6%)
- Tax (2.4%)
- Antitrust & Competition (2.3%)
- Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits (2.3%)
- Labor & Employment (2.0%)
- Litigation (2.0%)
Corporate and transactional lawyers went in-house at the highest rates, with emerging company lawyers leading the pack. Litigators finished dead last, with only 2% of all litigation associates making an in-house move this year. While some of this could be self-selection (litigators may be more keen to practice in a law firm environment than corporate attorneys), as recruiters we notice that companies are much more often seeking lawyers with corporate rather than litigation skill sets.
In subsequent blog posts over the next few weeks, we will take a look at some of the other factors that matter when going in-house: including geography, level of experience, extent of client contact, and the particular firm at which you work.
To take a deeper dive into big law-to-in-house moves since 2010, check out our Move Tracker (sign up required). You'll also get access to the nation's largest in-house jobs database.
*Based on public data collection and research involving associates at Vault 100 firms and 50 other prominent law firms in the United States.
†The number of associates at Vault 100 and 50 other firms in the United States in the listed practice areas who went in-house in 2017 (as of Oct 1), divided by the number of associates employed in these practice areas at these firms. Associates may practice in multiple areas.