Loyalty to law firms eroded by increased lateral mobility of partners

“Across the country, firms have continued the aggressive pursuit of individual partners, groups of partners, and whole practice groups, sometimes offering substantial bonuses and other incentives to entice partners to relocate from competitive firms.” The Client Advisory, March 2007 of Hildebrandt and Citigroup Private Bank at 4, points out this turbulence and adds: “According to American Lawyer Media’s Lateral Report [Am. Lawyer, Feb. 2007 at 106], there were 2,153 lateral partner moves among AmLaw 200 firms during the one-year period of October 2, 2005 through September 30, 2006.” Worsening matters, “associate attrition is currently at record levels in US firms, with an annual turnover of about 20% a year…” (at 9).

The notion of partnering between a firm and a law department pales if the partners and associates don’t stay put. Too, a revolving door of partners may account for some of the “firings” of law firms (See my post of Feb. 19, 2007 on the sloppily used term.) and there will be less accretion of institutional knowledge of a client at firms that see partners come and go (See my post of March 15, 2006 questioning such knowledge’s applicability.).

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