REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Law firms tout bumper crops of new partners amid talent war

(Reuters) – It’s a very good yr to be arising for accomplice at a big regulation agency.

Because of document profitability mixed with cutthroat battles for legal professional talent at main firms, not less than 5 firms are selling their largest teams of new partners on document. And it’s nonetheless early within the season.

With firms straining to carry on to senior and midlevel associates, the promotions are each a reward for these promoted and a sign to others that the brass ring is in attain in the event that they stick round, in response to authorized trade consultants monitoring the firms’ strikes.

“A lot of firms are thinking, ‘Look, we’ve got to loosen up on getting more equity partners—at least for a little while here—so that we create an incentive for people to stay,’” stated James Jones, senior fellow on the Heart for the Examine of the Authorized Occupation on the Georgetown College Law Heart, whereas acknowledging that not all of this yr’s new partners will take pleasure in fairness standing.

Kirkland & Ellis promoted a document 151 partners, up from 145 the earlier yr and 97 5 years in the past. Latham & Watkins this yr elected 44 new partners, up from 33 in 2020.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s 25-member new accomplice class can be its largest ever. McDermott Will & Emery elevated 41 new partners, in comparison with 37 and 28 in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher promoted seven extra attorneys than final yr, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld promoted its largest new accomplice class in practically 20 years at 18.

White & Case elevated a document 59 associates—practically 48% bigger than 2020’s class. “We are investing in our people for the long term,” stated chair Hugh Verrier in saying the promotions final month.

Law firms aren’t letting associates soar the road for partnership, stated Lisa Smith, a regulation agency marketing consultant with Fairfax Associates. However they’re selling a bigger quantity of associates already on the entrance of the road.

“Where they might have pushed somebody off for a year or two in previous years, that’s not happening as much,” Smith stated.

Firms are determined to carry onto their talent: Authorized information intelligence supplier Leopard Options stated this week that lateral motion at what it described as the highest 200 regulation firms between August and October 2021 nearly doubled from the identical interval over the earlier three years.

It stays to be seen whether or not this new accomplice growth will final past 2021. Firms already face ballooning affiliate compensation prices, and the trade’s enterprise mannequin assumes a excessive associate-to-partner ratio. An particularly massive blow to accomplice earnings could possibly be coming if demand cools off.

“When the economic cycle turns, will firms have too many people and not enough work to go around?” said law firm consultant Kent Zimmermann, with the Zeughauser Group. “Probably. It’s just a question of when.”

Learn extra:

Kirkland & Ellis accomplice class hits highs after profitable yr

Law firms had one other massive quarter, however affiliate pay is taking a toll

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