NEW YORK (January 30, 2009) – The February issue of Incisive Media’s The American Lawyer reports on the rising numbers of so-called “laterals” or law firm partners switching firms. More than 2,500 Am Law 200 partners moved in or out of the nation’s largest law firms last year, a new record. This trend contradicts the conventional wisdom that in uncertain economic times, partners hunker down and law firms become less willing to take on the cost of newcomers. The magazine profiles the rising and established stars who opted to switch firms last year and also explores the new phenomenon of “accidental laterals,” an unfortunate set comprised of those sent packing and those whose firms died before they did. And, as President Obama begins the process of closing Guantánamo Bay, The American Lawyer chronicles the growing debate among constitutional law experts on what to do with the detainees. For these and other stories, visit www.americanlawyer.com.
According to Am Law data, lateral moves increased by 4 percent over 2007, but these figures do not include about 400 additional partners forced to find new jobs after law firms Heller Ehrman, Thelen and Thacher Profitt closed late in 2008. Corporate and intellectual property practices remain the biggest sources of movement.
Big names appearing in this issue’s “Star Laterals of The Year” report include former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement; John Carroll, head of the global white-collar practice group at Clifford Chance; Alice Fisher, assistant U.S. attorney general; white collar litigator Michael Madigan; and James Sprayregen who left Goldman Sachs to return to legal practice.
In “The Accidental Laterals,” writer Ross Todd tracks the tales of the growing number of partners forced into lateral job searches, often after spending 15 or more years in settled roles at their old firms. Courtships and searches that took months before are now crammed into weeks, with those candidates controlling $1 million or more in portable business at the top of the pile. While some partners have been able to find new homes quickly and even ramp up their practices without missing a beat, others have seized this opportunity to opt out of big-firm life altogether.
Finally, in “Escape From Gitmo,” writer Michael Goldhaber shows why closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay is the easy part. Constitutional lawyers are bitterly divided and where they stand depends on whether they think U.S. courts are capable of trying terror suspects.
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