Goodwin Procter averaged gain or loss of 1 lateral associate each day since 2020
Lateral associate movement at Goodwin Procter flowed both ways, as the law firm boosted productivity and head count during a period of rising deal work.
Since 2020, Goodwin Procter hired 646 lateral associates and lost 392 lateral associates for a net gain of 254 lateral associates, Law.com reports. The gain or loss averaged about one lateral associate move per day.
The firm also hired more than 280 first-year associates in the past two years, according to the article, which relies on hiring data from Law.com Legal Compass.
The hiring spree paid off in 2021, when Goodwin Procter had a banner year, the article reports. Profits per equity partner averaged $3.69 million that year, total hours worked were up 27%, and total head count increased 10.7%.
But there was a downside. At its height in 2021, the associate attrition rate was more than 20% on a rolling annual basis, the article reports. And more than 80% of the lateral hires were in transaction practices that were affected by a decreased in demand during the second half of 2022.
In January, the firm announced lawyer and staff layoffs affecting 5% of its timekeepers and nonlawyer professionals.
Some of those laid off may not be included in the Law.com Legal Compass data, which relies on profiles that may have remained online for many months.
Law.com spoke with experts who speculated on the reason for the high turnover in lateral associates.
Firm management consultant Joe Altonji, founding principal of LawVision, suggested that some associates joined Goodwin Procter without an intention of staying in the long term.
“For some people jumping from an 1,800-hour firm to a 2,800-hour firm, it was always going to be a short-term proposition,” Altonji told Law.com. “Folks were willing to endure it for a period of time.”
Firm management consultant Mark Santiago of SB2 Consultants told Law.com that the attrition rate may have reflected working conditions at a time of heavy deal work.
“If what they were paying wasn’t enough to overcome the desire to get the heck out of Dodge because the conditions are so bad, … it feeds the narrative that associates are nothing but cannon fodder,” Santiago told Law.com.