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Hiring of Associate Attorneys on the Rise

Take Advantage of Robust Recruitment & Placement

One industry expert called the current hiring boom of associate attorneys “a perfect storm.” Another expert defined it as “a white-hot market.” This is surely good news for the wide demographic of associate attorneys—those who are already employed but looking to move their career to a new firm as well as good news for recent law school graduates now entering the job market.


Why the Boom?

First and foremost, the demand for legal services remains robust throughout the industry. Industry advisors and consultants like Deloitte are reporting that the various markets for legal services are moving and growing fast, fueling the need for additional and talented associates to handle increased workloads at both law firms and in-house legal departments.


As the pandemic unfolded in 2020, the industry experienced cautious business and hiring practices across the board. This restrained reality then created a boomerang effect throughout 2021 as the nation’s economy shifted into overdrive, producing record levels of legal work in all fields, thereby creating significant employment opportunities.


Firms Reacting to the Boom

Law firms witnessed the influx of new clients and experienced billables growing at rates they simply couldn’t handle without the foundational assistance and aid of associate attorneys. In fact, the need for an immediate hiring response helped to generate hiring packages that include strong signing bonuses, flexible work agreements, as well as quick employment offers from hiring managers.


Studies in 2021 also reported that lateral moves, once the bailiwick of law firm partners, has become a trend among experienced and talented associate attorneys. This real-time need further bolsters employment opportunities. Many firms continue to aggressively recruit talent as the competition increases—once again, good news for associates.


Retention is a Major Factor

More proof of a robust associate market can be seen when it comes to the fierce competitive strategies employed by firms with regard to the retention of talented and experienced associates. Forbes reports that “Retaining talented attorneys is a top priority for virtually all law firms, and it is also one of many of law firms’ biggest struggles.” Forbes suggests that the “choices are endless” for a qualified attorney.


Law.com reports that “Young attorneys are churning through jobs at a much faster pace compared with previous generations, in part because they are dissatisfied with the work-life balance at their firms.” Studies have also found that younger attorneys have different career needs and desires than their predecessors—more time off, less billable hours, remote working, as well as more opportunities for training and pro bono work. “The shift,” Law.com continues, “is driving firms to respond or risk missing out on the talent that will define their future.”


This “churning through jobs” by younger associates is a reality that firms must counterbalance when hiring new associates. An associate attorney with Crowell & Moring (an international firm with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco) points out the consequences of job churning, “With demand for legal services at a high, it is extremely disruptive when people leave their firm.” Clearly, firms want to avoid this constant turnover by attracting talented candidates from the recruitment pool. This means meeting more of the workplace needs sought by younger attorneys. “As a result,” Law.com states, “firms are starting to pour more resources into training and mentorship programs in the hope of providing greater value to their youngest lawyers.”


With firms now aggressively acting on these real directives, there’s never been a better time for associates to position themselves for long-term success. In fact, all of these shifts in the employment marketplace point to a seller’s market—and that’s always good news for the job seeker.


Now is the Time

The bottom-line is clear: now is the time to take advantage of a vigorous legal employment marketplace, especially one that’s intensely focused on the hiring of talented associate attorneys. Current circumstances offer the candidate (the seller) a unique opportunity to land “a perfect fit.”


At Superior Executive and Legal Recruitment (SELR) we provide world-class recruiting and placement services to all of our clients and candidates. We’re not a legal job posting site—we’re a strategic, data-driven recruitment partner for our talented candidates looking to change career direction in meaningful ways. Our law firm clients and companies trust us implicitly based on our experience and our ability to deliver the right candidates for the right position.


Fueled by this extraordinary job market, we can make it happen for you.

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