Partners: There has been an uptick in partner moves so far in 2023. The primary reason partners are considering a move is a lack of associate or junior partner support at their current firm (talent). Partners are in search of a better platform, broadly defined as geographic reach, bench support, business development opportunities and firm or practice group brand. Partners are moving from very good firms to firms they feel are, for a variety of reasons, better suited to grow their practice.
Associates: The associate lateral market remains quiet compared to 2021, but firms here are still looking to add associate talent. The difference is that whereas 18 months ago a strong candidate might have received 4-5 offers, they might only receive 1-2 offers today. In the corporate space, the demand for associate talent still exceeds supply.
RTO: The firms that began stressing “Return To Office” 2-3 years ago are happy with their decision and firm culture at these firms is flourishing. I am not aware of a single attorney who left their firm because they were asked to come into the office more often. But the RTO story continues to evolve… Now, other firms are playing catch-up and are trying to get their attorneys back in the office with more frequency—with mixed results. The most common lament I hear from these firms: Associates are back in the office, but partners (the “mentors”) are slower to come back. Here is where I think the RTO factor is going to settle at law firms: the number of a firm’s attorneys who are in the office regularly will become part of that firm’s “culture” that is evaluated when attorneys decide to leave or join a firm.
Minneapolis Market Economic Indicators: The number of national law firms interested in entering this market around a group of partners or via merger remains well below what we saw between 2016 and 2019. But interest remains, and we are aware of at least three firms that have an interest in this market. The reduction in corporate “deal flow” nationally (mainly on the coasts) has not hit corporate practices in Minneapolis nearly as hard. The associate layoffs and deferrals we read about on the coasts have not materialized in Minneapolis, suggesting (still) that any recession that may hit law firms might miss the middle market.