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Inflationary Maelstrom: Make the Lateral Partner Move Now

The 2023 Legal Landscape: Recruitment, Resignation, and Retirement

With a recession looming and inflationary pressures not seen for decades, the legal landscape has experienced unprecedented changes since the pandemic. The legal workplace has been impacted this year by political, economic, and judicial implications of overturning landmark legislation.

As 2022 comes to a close, the U.S. economy is beginning to slow-down. Nobody thinks 2023 will be anything like the 2008 lay-offs. Counterintuitively, making a move in an economic downturn is actually a smart move.

Now is the time to make that lateral move. If a firm is hiring in this marketplace, that is a strong indicator of the firm’s future success.


Although it is still unclear the extent of the economic slowdown, there are practice areas that are very much needed. Litigation, privacy, data security, intellectual property, employee benefits, and tax law will still be in demand. Highly specialized practice areas in labor and employment, employee benefits, and antitrust are struggling to find qualified candidates.

Over half of attorneys (58%) are likely planning on leaving their firm in the new year (Wolters Kluwer Research, 2022). Partners with portable books who didn’t make a move this year are in high demand. Firms are offering more work-life balance options to keep these rainmakers from defecting to another firm.

At the height of the pandemic in 2021, law firms desperate to meet the demand for council offered flexible work options, pay raises, and six figure signing bonuses to second-year associates to keep staff from jumping ship.

Lawyers who got those generous pandemic bonuses are now faced with either making it rain or face being let go.


The “great resignation” is still impacting the legal landscape as law firms continue to face unprecedented retention and recruiting challenges. Most law practices aren’t delivering on the expectations of their workforce.

Lawyers want stability and peace of mind when deciding on who they want to work for. Alarmingly, only a third (34%) of attorneys think their firms do a good job delivering work-life-balance (Wolters Kluwer). As we continue into the new year, staffing churn is likely to persist.


When it comes to law firm succession planning, firms need to ensure continuity of client service. Succession planning isn’t just about retiring partners, appointing new leadership is critical to maintaining stability at the firm.

It’s important to consider all the key stakeholders that will be impacted. Succession plans must consider the partner’s departure, the clients’ needs and the future success of the firm.


Forward-looking firms evaluate their success using metrics beyond profits. Smart firms understand how important the need to remain transparent and accountable to maintain the highest level of integrity and trust with their client base.

Securing favorable outcomes is no longer enough to retain their clients. Clients favor firms who deliver outstanding service. Nearly half (46%) of clients are likely to change counsel in the coming year citing the firm’s failure to demonstrate efficiency and productivity (Wolters Kluwer).

Law firms understand that their livelihood needs to seek proactive solutions to deliver more value, to stave off client defections. Nearly sixty percent (57%) of law firms are investing in new technology to be more responsive to client needs (Wolters Kluwer).

Lots of opportunities going on in the legal industry right now. Don’t make a move without assessing your worth in the marketplace.

Inflationary Maelstrom: Make the Lateral Partner Move Now


Talent troubles in the legal industry – “great resignation” and readiness to leave (Wolters Kluwer Research)

About On Balance Search Consultants

On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence.  Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm.

Contact us today.  Call 516.731.3400 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader.  Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.


Ms. Davidson, a highly skilled human resources executive with over 20 years’ experience that specializes in finding top talent in the legal community. Shari has placed lateral partner attorneys, as well as group acquisitions & law firm mergers and has assisted several prominent clients in recruiting lateral associates, paralegals and internal professional administrative positions.