The lateral job market is consistently at its best for associates with 3 to 5 years of experience, as these attorneys generally have adequate enough training and experience to be able to hit the ground running at a new firm. More junior level associates – with one to two years of experience – tend to be in demand on a less consistent basis, with demand increasing during economic boom years. So, for the foreseeable future, the market continues to favor associates at the mid-level.
Attorneys with more senior level experience consistently have a more difficult time making a lateral move, unless they have a portable book of business or very specific and in-demand practice area expertise. While in past years, law firms were interested in bringing on senior level attorneys, with top experience and credentials, to “service” other partners or firm practice areas, the trend has changed. We are not likely to see increased demand for senior level attorneys until the economy picks back up. It always pays to try, but senior level candidates need to be patient and recognize that, at their level, it could take significantly more time to make a lateral move.
For those who have not yet reached the senior associate level, now is the time to look to make a lateral move. You will be at your most marketable between your third and fifth years and, therefore, will have more available options. Peak hiring season tends to start just after the start of a new year, which makes now the optimum time to begin your job search.
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