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More Lawyers Making Lateral Moves to New Firms

Attorneys’ desire to serve their clients and build their books of business often leads them to look for opportunities outside their law firms. But while such a job move was usually sweetened with a promotion in years’ past, more lawyers are making a move without necessarily climbing up the corporate ladder.

“Anecdotally, we are seeing an increase in attorneys at all levels looking to make lateral moves,” said Randi Lewis, managing director of the law firm practice group at Major, Lindsey and Africa. “Law firms in Baltimore are making a lot of lateral hires and that includes mid-level to senior associates and partners with books of business.”

Rate pressure is another reason attorneys, partners in particular, may want to move to another firm. Some large firms’ billing rates alienate clients, while on the other hand, sometimes partners may want to move to a firm that will let them increase their rates, Lewis said.

In other cases, it can be a natural progression of a partner’s relationship with a firm.

“Sometimes people leave because the firm has outgrown the partner and perhaps the partner has been told directly, or infers, that that partner’s clients just aren’t right for the firm anymore,” Lewis said.

Similar opportunities may come up for Maryland attorneys in the future, Lewis said, especially in the Baltimore area

But those movements shouldn’t alarm regional firms, Lewis added.

“If attorneys are going to leave, they’re going to leave anyway,” she said. They’re going somewhere. But then other lawyers will be interested in going to that firm” to fill those open positions.

“This is not the end of the regional firm in any way,” she said.

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