Generals are often accused of "fighting the last war" — that is, employing the tactics that worked before and trying to avoid the mistakes they made last time. Wars don't tend to repeat themselves, but we nonetheless tend to repeat our strategies and responses when fighting each new conflict.
This phenomenon is relevant to what has been referred to as the "talent war" in law. Talk of this war has faded during the financial crisis and throughout the recession, but these battles are still being fought. The going price for first-year lawyers is back to $160,000 and will probably go higher still, while lateral acquisitions and law firm mergers (the traditional shortcuts for obtaining desired talent) continue to pick up steam.
It might well be, however, that law firm leaders pursuing these strategies are applying the lessons from previous talent wars, when it was critical to recruit your fair share of the "best and brightest" new graduates from "top" law schools, or to land that coveted partner with the fat book of business. Those look increasingly like incomplete battle plans, if not the wrong ones altogether.
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