BigLaw Desperately Seeking Experienced Associates

Source: Law360

By Aebra Coe

The legal industry is facing a shortage of highly qualified mid-level associates, according to experts who blame the deficiency on a dearth of associate hiring after the 2008 financial crisis, and finds itself having to adjust to make up for the deficit.

As demand for legal services dried up after the economic collapse eight years ago, law firms reacted by hiring fewer associates. That means lawyers who began their careers during those sluggish economic years found themselves members of a smaller, leaner peer group.

Today, as those compact associate classes mature in their careers, the economy has picked up — and along with it demand for the work they are now qualified to do. The only problem, according to Michelle Fivel, a partner at Major Lindsey & Africa, is that there now aren’t nearly enough highly qualified associates, in the right practice areas, to meet law firms’ demands.

“The lateral market for associates is definitely very active right now,” Fivel said. “There is quite a bit of competition among firms for the top talent, particularly among this midlevel group” of attorneys three to five years out from the start of their legal careers.

Read more of this feature at Law360.

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