MIDWEST REPORT

Our survey of market conditions finds plenty of green shoots.

The National Law Journal

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CHICAGO
Maybe not the center of the universe, but close
The cloud of doom and gloom has dissipated over Chicago's legal market. With the economy picking up and law firms needing fresh bodies to replace the thousands laid off last year, 2010 has witnessed an increase in associate hiring. Lateral partners are being plucked from bigger firms.

OHIO
Recession-weary Ohio moves on with life
Ohio's roughly 35,000 attorneys and the firms that employ them have adjusted to the recession in ways that literally might be described as all over the map — expanding into markets such as Kentucky, Florida, California or elsewhere in the Midwest.

KANSAS CITY
In K.C., consolidation is the watchword
With about 2 million people and a steady economy based on agriculture and manufacturing, the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area hardly rivals New York, Chicago or Los Angeles when it comes to demand for legal services. Yet the city is home to quite a few sizable law firms — four of the NLJ 250 firms are based there, with an additional three firms headquartered elsewhere but maintaining a significant presence.

DETROIT
Overseas investors keep the motor humming
Despite the automotive industry's woes, a sour real estate market and the overall dismal economy, Motor City law firms are scrambling to stay on top of a burgeoning practice: foreign companies looking for a bargain in Detroit.

MILWAUKEE
Milwaukee firms look elsewhere for growth
The economy is slowly brightening in Milwaukee, and law firms in Brew City are encouraged by the prospects. With its manufacturing and mechanical industry base hit hard by the recession, Milwaukee is not experiencing a speedy rebound. But things are happening, and area law firms are noting the beginnings of a shift away from crisis-focused representation.

INDIANAPOLIS
The Big Three are thrown on the defensive
Indianapolis has long been dominated by three homegrown law firms: Baker & Daniels, Barnes & Thornburg and Ice Miller. Now newcomers to the city are making plays to knock them from the podium.

MINNEAPOLIS / ST.PAUL 
Twin Cities floating along on an even keel
With some of the country's largest corporations based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., there is plenty of work to keep lawyers busy. The area is home to Fortune 500 companies including Target Corp., U.S. Bancorp, Xcel Energy Inc., Ameriprise Financial Inc. and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Other major corporations maintain sizeable offices in the Twin Cities.
 
ST. LOUIS
Survival mode is turning into recovery mode
The recession is releasing its stranglehold on the St. Louis legal market. At least that's what the hiring practices at Armstrong Teasdale suggest. The firm of nearly 250 lawyers is moving at supersonic speed this year to lure the latest law school graduates.

Further reading:
West Coast Report 
A look at the state of the legal market in five major regions on the Pacific coast.

 

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