While firms in many other cities are laying off lawyers, large law firms in Chicago are facing a talent shortage.
From The National Law Journal:
“National law firms have rushed into Chicago during the past decade, especially in the past three years, but many are finding now that their collective arrival is fueling intense competition to fill those offices with lawyers.”
Since the 1980s about 75 national firms have opened offices in Chicago, all looking for lawyers with $1 million plus in portable business. Thirty to fifty lawyers are considered necessary to justify the cost of the office and most firms aim for offices of at least 100 lawyers.
Firms that have been in Chicago for years are still eager to grab up experienced lawyers and new firms with their own hiring needs keep moving in.
“Leaders at many of the firms that have been in the city for years say they are still eager to snap up experienced lawyers or groups of attorneys to build the Chicago offices to their optimal size. Meanwhile, more firms keep flowing in, including the arrival earlier this year of Boston’s Ropes & Gray, New York’s Proskauer Rose and Indianapolis’ Baker & Daniels.”
Dewey & LeBoeuf opened its Chicago office in 2005 with five attorneys and is now at about 25. Paul Hastings’ Chicago office, opened in November 2006 with two partners, is at about 38 lawyers now. Steptoe opened its Chicago office in January 2007 with nine lawyers and now has 13. Nixon Peabody, which entered the Chicago market in March 2007, now has 19 lawyers.