Geoffrey A. Kahn, partner in charge of personnel at Ballard Spahr, said the quality of lateral associate candidates interviewed by the firm has been higher than expected. Mr. Kahn said most of the candidates work at other Philadelphia firms or are looking to relocate from other cities because they have ties to Philadelphia.

"We have not seen many lawyers who were laid off, but we wouldn't hold it against them," Mr. Kahn said. "They could have been laid off because their firm didn’t have enough work for them and not because they weren’t good lawyers."