For the past week, a poll on this website asked readers about the “biggest change” the legal profession has faced in the past five years. The results paint a picture of an industry evolving on multiple fronts.

What’s surprising is how close the poll results were: Nearly a third of the 160 readers who voted said financial pressures were the biggest change. The increase in lateral activity and the competition from international firms each drew 23 percent of the votes. About 19 percent said sector experience has grown more important.

Less than four percent said emerging markets have grown more important.

Douglas Wood, managing partner of Reed Smith’s New York office, said the poll results make sense on some level. “The pressure on fees and the move toward fixed fees, has clearly been a focus of in-house counsel,” said Wood.

But he didn’t dismiss the uptick in lateral activity. “It’s definitely hotter right now,” said Wood. “We’re talking to 25 people and I think we have about six offers out right now [in New York].”

In March, Winston & Strawn picked up 15 partners from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and McDermott Will & Emery lost three litigation partners .

The uptick in lateral activity is not entirely unrelated to the increased pressure from international law firms. Wood said Reed Smith often hears from partners situated at a firm that lacks overseas offices. “They see that as a real disadvantage.”

The full breakdown of poll results below:

  • Financial Pressures (30.38%)


  • More Competition from International Firms (23.42%)


  • Uptick in lateral activity (23.42%)


  • Industry sector experience more important to clients (18.99%)


  • Emerging markets are more important (3.79%)