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In the first quarter of 2018, 275 lateral attorney moves have been made in Chicago (147 associates, 90 partners, and 38 counsels). 2018 first quarter data indicates that lateral hiring is continuing in an upward trend. Over the past five years, we have seen a steady increase in year-over-year lateral attorney hiring with the respective annual number of Chicago attorney hires being: 742 lateral attorney hires in 2017, 710 in 2016, 699 in 2015, 665 in 2014, and 575 in 2013. Of course, hiring can certainly vary from quarter to quarter and we tend to see more lateral moves during certain times of year, with the first and third quarters typically being the busiest. The practice areas with the most hiring in 2017 were corporate and finance, litigation, IP, and real estate; and the same has held true for 2018 thus far. Some of the very best Vault and Am Law-ranked corporate practice groups reside in Chicago. In particular, Kirkland, Sidley, Latham, and Skadden lead the way on headline corporate and private equity transactions on an international scale. In 2017, corporate and finance had 165 new attorney hires in Chicago and 59 new hires in the first quarter of 2018. Within these practice areas, corporate hiring has been primarily concentrated in M&A and, especially, in the private equity space. Consistent with the structure of most Chicago finance practice groups, debt-finance including syndicated and leveraged lending was the busiest finance hiring area. Other exceedingly active corporate practice areas are fund formation and investment management. There are numerous global investment fund practice groups handling formation and fund management for a spectrum of fund offerings centered mainly in private equity funds, including: large and middle-market buyout, growth equity, debt, secondary, venture, technology, and real estate funds. Hedge funds and registered investment company practice groups have also consistently hired attorneys in 2018. Chicago funds practice groups are very receptive to and regularly hire attorneys from top New-York based Am Law 100 funds and investment management groups. Litigation also saw a significant demand for lateral hiring in 2017 with 215 attorney hires. Litigation continues to remain very busy in 2018, with 105 attorneys hires thus far. Chicago is a nerve center for big-ticket commercial, securities, and white-collar litigation with revered institutions such as Kirkland, Sidley, Jenner & Block, Winston & Strawn, and Mayer Brown. Notably, this year we saw the opening of powerhouse King & Spalding’s Chicago office with leading attorneys in investigations and related commercial litigation. IP also showed considerable lateral attorney hiring gains in 2017 with 104 new hires, and 21 new hires in 2018. Chicago hosts many top IP teams at both large Am Law-ranked general practice firms and IP specialty firms with major presences in the technology, pharmaceutical, and life sciences industry sectors. Earning the nickname Silicon Prairie, Chicago attorneys have the opportunity to handle cutting-edge IP litigation and patent prosecution matters for an array of top blue-chip and startup technology companies. We have also seen a consistent demand for technology and IP transactions attorneys with a focus on outsourcing, software development, software, data, trademark, patent and technology licensing, telecommunications, international franchising, commercial agreements, and strategic alliances. Real estate is another continually prospering Chicago practice area netting 59 lateral attorney hires in 2017 and 18 hires in 2018. Real estate attorneys in Chicago have the opportunity to work with industry leading partners on sophisticated transactions for a full range of parties, including major REITs, lenders, and private equity investment funds. The diversity of Chicago real estate practice groups affords attorneys the opportunity to be part of large-scale acquisitions and dispositions, joint ventures, financing, and portfolio-based deals involving all property types, including hotel and resort developments, commercial offices, retail, and national multifamily and mixed-use portfolios. Other notable staple Chicago practice areas where we saw concerted attorney hiring in 2017 are healthcare, in both the corporate and regulatory space (23 hires), restructuring (17 hires), trusts & estates (31 hires), and tax (21 hires). We’ve continued to see movement in these practice areas in the first quarter of this year. Tax in particular has been busy, with 18 hires in 2018 thus far, likely due to the recent changes in tax law. Given the increased demand for lateral associates and partners in the preceding five years and thus far in 2018, we anticipate continued steady lateral attorney hiring in the aforementioned core practice areas for the remainder of this year. As you consider lateral opportunities, selecting a recruiter who is knowledgeable and regularly places attorneys in the specific locale is critical to a successful search. With a recruiter who is a market expert, you will have the advantage of knowing about unposted positions and have a more efficient interview process given their strong firm relationships. At Lateral Link, our recruiters are dedicated to specific regions and cities with years of experience working with the best firms and practice groups. We greatly look forward to assisting our attorney candidates in the search process as we continue through 2018. Lateral Link is one of the top-rated international legal recruiting firms.
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