While Am Law 100 firms register a massive presence in Delaware, the nation’s next 100 highest grossing firms operate far fewer offices in Wilmington, highlighting the challenging dynamics of a market weighted toward serving big corporate clients.
According to the latest ranking from Delaware Law Weekly affiliate The American Lawyer, only nine firms on the Am Law 200 staff offices in Wilmington.
With a relatively small and entrenched bar, the Delaware legal market is dominated by a combination of well-established homegrown firms and the out-of-town giants that have seized on the state’s pre-eminent corporate litigation scene and bustling IP and bankruptcy practices. That dynamic, she said, has made hiring and growing difficult.
“The need for the Delaware bar is imperative,” she said, “and there just aren’t that many people in the Delaware bar.”
Mannix added that her recruiting firm has received very few inquiries about placing bankruptcy attorneys, and IP has shown little lateral movement, as AstraZeneca has pulled out and DuPont continues to divvy up its business here.
With the most notable Delaware presence, Newark, New Jersey-based McCarter & English has a staff of 23 attorneys, making the 128th-ranked firm the No. 3 employer of Delaware attorneys out of the nation’s top 200 firms.
McCarter & English, which grossed $233 million in 2015, spreads its Delaware talent across a range of practice areas, including products liability, energy and environment, bankruptcy, IP, and corporate and business litigation.
“They may not be Am Law 50, but they are certainly of that caliber,” Mannix said, likening the firm’s model to that of national powerhouse Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.