The Legal Market in New York

How has Recruitment Changed in the New York Legal Market Since the Pandemic?

New York is home to over 175,000 Attorneys and the legal market generates over $430B on an annual basis. However, over the past two years the legal market in New York has seen a dramatic shift. The extensive working hours, intense office culture and lack of flexibility had Associates and Partners alike working their fingers to the bone to hit deadlines and achieve bonus targets, with what appeared to be no end in sight.

While the pandemic brought uncertainty in both professional and personal aspects of day-to-day life, it seems to have sown the seeds of the future landscape of a legal office. While many law firms were forced to close offices, cancel client meetings and transition to remote working during the pandemic, a shift in the power that Associates hold was seen across legal markets all around the world.

Remote Working

Something that was frowned upon pre-Covid was a flexible working arrangement. Office hours and minimum face-time target hours saw many Associates working upwards of 12 daily hours in the office, receiving little balance between their work and their home-life. However, Covid brought one of the most significant changes to the working landscape in the last 10 years: the working from home arrangement.

Unsurprisingly, in the most intense legal market in the world, fully remote working was received with open arms, with many individuals searching for new positions holding it incredibly high on their priority list for new opportunities. With New York being host to the offices of over 230 NLJ 500 firms, many firms had no choice but to adopt flexible arrangements to retain and attract talent, allowing Associates to maintain fluidity surrounding their office hours.

Salary Wars

Another factor of the change in the New York legal market has been wage increases. The constant push over the last year and half to offer Associates the best possible compensation package on the market was taken incredibly seriously and its domino effect across all law firms in New York is continuing to be seen. From Milbank upping the scale most recently, to the Cravath Scale bonus increase, another large factor in the retention and onboarding of Associates across the city (and global legal market as a whole) has depended on salary and bonus increases. Almost every law firm on the market has begun to understand the importance in compensation and begun to truly appreciate the value of their employee’s work, but is it enough to stop them from jumping ship?

Increased Demand for Attorneys

Finally, despite the general slowdown in economic growth across the globe, the legal market continues to expand. With practice areas such as mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and insolvencies and employment continuing to show promise over the last year, Big Law’s demand for Attorneys across a number of groups has increased dramatically. The need for such high-level Attorneys has created an environment in which Attorneys are realising their worth and looking towards the next step up in their careers. Unfortunately, the ability for said Attorneys to secure placements has continued to be just as fierce. The standards still remain incredibly high while the appeal of moving in-house is dragging more top performers away from private practice.

With all the changes and mitigating factors across the sector it appears that Covid-19 has provided New York with an environment for both law firms and Lawyers to grow. With continuing office launches and expansions across the city (including the launch of Interlink’s New York location), it appears that Covid has had the opposite effect on operations than many other industries. Recruitment and promotions are on the rise and show no sign of slowing down, leaving many wondering if this is the right time to start contemplating a change of scenery and a new challenge. With everything that’s happened over the last two years, have you considered what life could be like in another firm?


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If you are an Attorney in New York looking for a new challenge to progress your career, or a law firm seeking to hire the best Attorneys in the city, contact our New York specialist Joshua Raju at

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