I’ve been confused and disappointed by how popular legal media outlets have covered the recent changes in the economy.
Many law firms I’ve spoken with feel the same way too.
When the economy started to slow down from the madness of 2021, the speculation started. Nothing happened, just speculation. This created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It went something like this:
“As Economy Turns, Will Layoffs Be on the Horizon?”
*2 months later*
“If Layoffs Are on the Horizon, Will Firms Turn to Stealth Layoffs?”
*2 months later*
“As Rumors of Layoffs Circulate, Law Firms May Be Rethinking Hiring”
(Hmm.. I wonder where those rumors came from?)
*1 month later*
“If Your Firm is Planning Layoffs, Here is How to Do It In a Humane Way”
(Maybe let’s cross that bridge when we get there.)
A couple of specific examples are worth highlighting:
– In one popular legal news source, there was an article about BigLaw hiring, which mentioned “…and layoffs have already begun!”, with a link. Turns out, the layoffs were at an e-discovery boutique. Good firm, but completely misleading statement in an article about BigLaw.
– Another popular outlet had an article with a headline about “Hiring Freezes in the AmLaw 50.” Turns out, the article mentioned only two firms, one with a specific business issue and the other who denied it (and had 40 job openings on its website). Not quite a hiring freeze.
I don’t know why this story was presented as the “AmLaw 50” generally.
Why is this important? Misleading stories about layoffs or hiring freezes framed as general trends that aren’t actually there have created an alternative reality.
This creates confusion for the industry and uneasiness among hard-working associates. (Just look at the BigLaw sub-Reddits.)
Not a healthy approach in an already stressful industry.
In my role at Lateral Hub, I’ve been speaking with law firms almost every day about recruiting for the past several months. Based on those conversations, here are some thoughts:
– The legal hiring market is not the same as it was in 2021, and it would be silly/negligent to purport that it is. However, there are many firms actively hiring in addition to welcoming a new class of associates. 2021 was an anomaly.
– Lateral Hub has grown to 28 member firms and 150+ job postings, many of which are in the AmLaw 100. We also continue to receive requests from firms interested to join. No mention of a hiring freeze.
– I recently had a nice conversation with an AmLaw 25 recruiting team member. She told me how impressed she is by Lateral Hub’s model, that it’s the future of legal recruiting, and that she is interested in working together. No mention of a hiring freeze, even with their new incoming associate class.
– What changed since 2021? Firms have “lateral hiring fee hangover” and are less willing to pay recruiting fees. This is why firms are attracted to Lateral Hub and why lateral candidates often have an advantage by applying directly through the site.