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Law Firms Pursue Growth by Poaching in Tough Climate

Wall Street Journal (02/01/12)

As law firms cut back on entry-level hires, they have increased their efforts to acquire partners from other practices. Partner defections increased in 2011, and legal industry observers predict the trend will continue in 2012 as firms compete for business amid sluggish demand for legal services.

Lateral hires remained by far the most popular option for growth last year, according to an Altman Weil survey of 240 law firms. More than 91% of partners who responded said they planned to pursue more lateral hires. A report to be published today by American Lawyer finds that 2,460 partners exited or joined top law firms in the first nine months of 2011.