2017 State of the American Lateral Law Firm Market Report Released by BCG Attorney Search, Reveals Latest Trends in the Legal Market

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This State of the Legal Market Report released by BCG Attorney Search covers the major trends in legal placements for 2016 and 2017, and why 2017 will likely be the year of the specialist.

BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search

We saw more interviews and placements in the last three months of the year than we have in the last three months of any year since 2006.

BCG Attorney Search's 2017 State of the Market Report, by BCG Attorney Search founder Harrison Barnes, explores the performance of various areas within the legal field over the past year. Additionally, the report analyzes the legal job market’s future through 2017 and explains what attorneys should know to remain relevant in the changing legal world.

You can view the full BCG Attorney Search 2017 State of the American Lateral Law Firm Legal Market Report here:


According to Harrison Barnes, this past year was “one of the oddest” that he can recall in his nearly 20 year career. The 2016 calendar year was marked by stagnating corporate activity, growing litigation, and the expansion of niche practice areas. As a result, the 2017 job market will be promising for specialists—attorneys who occupy niche practice areas.

Corporate law activity, a signal of overall economic strength, stagnated between May and December of 2016. BCG Attorney Search’s placement of attorneys in the corporate world declined by about 40 percent in 2016 when compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, litigation, which experienced an extremely slow start, grew by 36 percent and ended the year as the hottest practice area. Although litigation grew, BCG Attorney Search’s placement of litigators depended on the rising demand of small law firms outside of major cities. The hiring of litigators slowed substantially in large firms in cities, and this trend will likely continue during 2017.

Another trend in the legal job market was the rise of niche practice areas, which took off in the second half of the year. This is a trend that will continue into the future, as Barnes notes, “Across the board, law firms are demanding that their lateral attorneys be in niche practice areas, with niche skills.” Areas including antitrust, healthcare, and executive compensation, among others, require attorneys who are highly specialized and have dedicated the time to learn how to practice them. Firms in niche practice areas are currently experiencing the steady, recurring work that is necessary to the success of an attorney.

While growth in niche practice areas will be strong in 2017, Barnes warns attorneys of the potential oversaturation of these areas over the next few years. Overall, however, Barnes is optimistic about the legal job market in 2017. According to him, BCG Attorney Search “saw more interviews and placements in the last three months of the year than we have in the last three months of any year since 2006.” This trend will likely continue as lawyers position themselves to perform more specialized work in law firms throughout the United States.

View the full 2017 State of the American Lateral Law Firm Market Report here (in PDF format).

About BCG Attorney Search:

BCG Attorney Search is a premier recruiting firm for experienced attorneys in the United States. Since the year 2000, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys with employers who were the best fit for individual candidates, and helped law firms and companies with their recruitment efforts. The website of BCG Attorney Search is located at http://www.bcgsearch.com.

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