Notice And Comment: Biglaw In 2022?
What does the new year hold for the world of large law firms?
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As an observer of the legal profession, I’ve made numerous predictions over the years When it comes to the courts, which revolves around predictability, many of my prognostications have been correct;2 when it comes to the world of large law firms… not so much.
In August 2020 I predicted that year-end associate bonuses would go down in 2020 compared to 2019; instead, they went up. There’s a dynamism to the world of business that makes forecasting unusually challenging, with numerous factors affecting even the most mundane development.
In the latest episode of Movers, Shakers, and Rainmakers, the Biglaw-centric podcast that I co-host with Zach Sandberg of Lateral Link, we made a few predictions of our own. Zach is more optimistic than I am about the robust market for transactional work continuing into 2022. We both believe lateral movement will remain high, although for different reasons (which we explore on the podcast). I predict that new office openings will cool down, while Zach doesn’t think so. We agree that law firm merger activity will heat up.
But as mentioned, I’m not great at making predictions about Biglaw. So let me turn over the floor to you, dear readers, in this latest installment of Notice and Comment, and toss out topics for you to opine about in the comments of this post:3
The overall market for legal services. Will deal activity continue at record-setting levels? Will the pandemic subside, allowing courts to reopen and litigation to pick up—or will Omicron and future variants put the kibosh on that?
Lateral hiring of both associates and partners. Will it remain high, or will it finally start to subside?
The Great Resignation. Now that many lawyers have collected their year-end bonuses—and are feeling burned out after almost two years of working non-stop through the pandemic—will we start to see more attorney attrition?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion. Biglaw has been very focused on DEI for the past two years. Will this continue, or was it just a passing fad?
These are just a few possible issues worth discussing. I welcome your predictions about them and any other topics of interest to you, which I ask you to share in the comments to this post (rather than emailing to me; the whole point of Notice and Comment is to get readers to post comments).4 Thanks!
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As is often the case when it comes to famous quotations, whether Berra deserves the credit for originating this quip is a subject of debate.
Judicial nominations are a good area for me. For example, I predicted in March that Justice Beth Robinson of Vermont would be nominated to the Second Circuit, which happened in August. I identified then-Judge Neil Gorsuch as a possible SCOTUS nominee—in 2006, more than a decade before his nomination.
Disclosure: I have an ulterior motive for writing this post. I’ve been asked by an industry publication to make predictions about the coming year in Biglaw, and I’m at a bit of a loss. I’m hoping you can help me—and if you have particularly interesting insights, I hope you won’t object if I put them in my own words and pass them off as my own. ;-)
In the event that you do email me instead of posting in the comments, please be warned that I might repost the contents of your email in the comments on your behalf (keeping you anonymous, unless you request a shoutout).