For the past decade, Denver has been among the fastest growing cities in the U.S. Since 2007, Denver’s metro population has grown by approximately 25 percent. In an effort to capture work from this expanding client base, the legal market has responded. Of the 44 AmLaw 200 firms with offices in Denver, 22 have opened since 2007. As of the National Law Journal’s most recent reporting, an additional 20 firms in Denver — or 64 total — are among the NLJ 500. That is a fairly staggering number of AmLaw 200 and NLJ 500 firms for a market of Denver’s size.
Increased competition in a legal market leads to heightened demand for talent and accelerated movement between firms. During the five years from 2013 to 2017, there were 331 reported lateral partner moves within the Denver legal market. In 2013, there were 49 reported moves by lateral partners, but by 2017 that number had increased to a whopping 87 — nearly 80 percent more than just five years earlier.
Many of these moves were made by partners who were recruited by a friend or acquaintance to a new firm. Yet we’ve seen that many of these decisions were made by partners who did not fully considering all their options. This explains, in part, the number of “serial moves” seen recently in the Denver market as partners jump from one firm to another. Partners regularly fail to consider the full range of options available to them when they change firms.
While Denver law firm partners might believe they have a pretty good sense of the reputation, culture, strengths, and weaknesses of the legacy Denver law firms —such as Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Davis Graham & Stubbs, Hall & Evans, Holland & Hart, Sherman & Howard and Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell — it is impossible for a practicing law firm partner to keep astride of the constantly shifting legal landscape.
Read more of this article in Law Week Colorado
Bruce Lithgow is a Managing Director in our Midwest Partner Practice Group. He focuses on representing individual partners and partner groups in the lateral marketplace as well as law firms engaging in mergers, group acquisitions, and office openings. Bruce's 17 years of combined experience practicing law in Chicago at a boutique firm, a full-service regional firm and a major global law firm provides him with unique market and practical insights that inform the expert advice he provides to law firm partners navigating the lateral partner market and law firms exploring potential mergers and acquisitions. He leverages these insights to connect with law firm partners facing obstacles at their current firm, pinpoint the most significant impediments to success and security, and identify alternative platforms where they can better build their practice, service their clients, and achieve personal and professional satisfaction.
Brian McMahon is a Managing Director in our Minneapolis office. He represents associate attorneys, individual partners and partner groups in the lateral marketplace and executes focused searches for law firm clients. He helps the attorneys with whom he works find professional happiness by either confirming they are currently at the best place for them or counseling and guiding them into positions that better fit their personal needs and professional goals. He also works with attorneys from other markets who want to explore the entire legal market for opportunities in the Twin Cities. Brian also helps Major, Lindsey & Africa's Midwest In-house Practice Team source clients and candidates for in-house searches in the Twin Cities.