Highlights for the second quarter of 2020: several groups are weathering the storm better than others, including native Texas firms, middle market firms and the Dallas market; pent-up lateral hires in second half of 2020 could result in more moves than 2019
WHAT DOES THE REST OF 2020 HOLD?
Anyone claiming to know the answer to that question is selling something. But as we pass the halfway point this year, and some trends begin to emerge, we can perhaps narrow the unknown down to a couple of paths.
April and May, unsurprisingly, saw a sharp decline in partner moves, but the uptick in June provided some hope of a new trajectory. However, a resurgence in COVID-19 throughout the state now seems more likely to return us to March-like business conditions rather continue June’s projection. So, where do we go now?
Fortunately for many nimble firms, they have the advantage of already acclimating to this new way of doing business. They have functioning systems in place for remote work and have strengthened teams that are seeing increased demand, like Labor & Employment, Intellectual Property and Bankruptcy. We’ve seen how native Texas firms, which have long-established relationships and comfort dealing in this landscape, are weathering the storm. And we’ve seen how partners are viewing smaller firms with more appeal, passing on Am Law 100 firms with larger overhead and payroll expenses.
So it’s possible that, as many firms have acclimated, as they make strategic hires for both short and long term needs, as firms who were previously holding off on hires now feel more comfortable, we’ll begin to see lateral movement pick back up. The first quarter of this year was busy enough (97 moves) that even with the drop-off in Q2 (31 moves), a steady back half could actually put us on par with 2019 (209 moves).
Alternately, it’s possible this second round of stay-at-home orders drives skittish firms and businesses back into their proverbial shells, and hiring continues to follow April and May’s downward trend.
We’re inclined to think the first option is more likely, judging by the outstanding health of the market at the start of the year, and the willingness and ability firms showed in June to begin hiring again.
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LIST OF PARTNER MOVES: Q2 OF 2020