- State of the Market
Fall 2005: State of the Market Reports for U.S. and International Regions
Downtown Los Angeles
By Claudia Spielman, Esq.
The Los Angeles market is slower right now, which is not out of the ordinary for this time of year. Firms are busy with fall on-campus interviewing and callbacks, first-year associates have just started, and partners are either just coming back from vacation or currently on vacation. The hottest practice areas right now are labor and employment law (it seems as if everyone is looking for an employment litigator), corporate, real estate, tax, and litigation. Candidates with 2 to 5 years of experience in any of these practice areas continue to interview and get offers. I anticipate there will be an increase in activity in October/November, and then it will really pick up in January.
Labor and Employment
Towards the end of the summer, I have always found a peak in the need for employment attorneys. I have no idea why that is; and if you have any thoughts, please email them to me at email@example.com. Anyway, we continually get calls from our firm clients in desperate need for employment attorneys in the 2-to-6-year range. This is true for all of Southern California. In particular, there is a need for candidates with class-action and wage and hour experience. Candidates with solid academic credentials and/or solid employment law experience should have little problem finding positions in downtown Los Angeles.
There has been a steady need for solid junior and mid-level corporate attorneys, and I am finding candidates are getting many, many interviews and multiple offers. Particularly, candidates with capital markets, securities, mergers and acquisitions, and/or general corporate experience are in greatest demand. If you have toyed with the idea of investigating the market, you need to put together a deal sheet detailing every significant project you’ve worked on and your role in each. Candidates moving from New York tend to do quite well here. So for you New Yorkers tired of the weather—there’s always L.A.! Many firms have come to us in search of corporate partners with portable books of business. In fact, many law firms have indicated that these corporate partners represent a primary need, as it is a practice area that funnels a tremendous amount of work to supplementary practice areas like tax and litigation.
I wish I had the time to invent a machine to clone real estate attorneys. There are just not enough real estate attorneys out there; and as you can imagine, the real estate market in L.A. is “fierce” (for you America’s Next Top Model fans). Most firms in L.A. are on the lookout for candidates at all levels (even as junior as second-year associates). In particular, associates with broad experience in finance, leasing, and purchase and sale transactions are in demand. Firms will seriously consider almost any transactional attorney (corporate, tax, and sometimes bankruptcy) with strong credentials and a genuine desire to practice real estate law, even those without California licensure. Candidates seeking to transition into this practice area must have excellent academic and professional pedigrees. I should note firms are willing to transition associates from other transactional practices only if they have fewer than 3 years of experience. Furthermore, L.A. firms like candidates who are coming from the East Coast and have ties to L.A.
The demand for junior and mid-level general commercial litigators has dropped a bit since the springtime. Although we continue to get litigators interviews and offers, we haven’t been able to match the staggering pace of a couple months ago. But, again, that is totally normal for this time of year. Firms are always looking for candidates with books of business (or a history of generating a significant amount of business). Generally, candidates with 2 to 4 years of litigation experience who have top law firm experience and/or exceptional academic credentials are in demand.
As a result of the amount of development in Los Angeles and neighboring regions (such as Las Vegas), construction litigation is busy as well. Candidates having extensive experience in this area should have no problem finding positions here.
Another excellent litigation specialty is insurance coverage work. Insurance coverage is totally different from insurance defense. Attorneys with this experience at a well-regarded law firm should also have little trouble finding positions in Los Angeles. Many of the top firms have busy insurance coverage practices and are always looking for candidates dedicated to this practice area. The work is fairly sophisticated and quite lucrative.
Tax is definitely making a comeback, and I anticipate the need for tax attorneys will continue to grow steadily. The ideal candidate is someone with 2 to 4 years of solid tax experience. A candidate with an LL.M. in Tax from New York University or Georgetown University should not have too much difficulty finding a position.
In terms of stability, healthcare is probably the best practice area. There is always a steady need for healthcare lawyers (mostly transactional). Even during the economic downturn, healthcare remained solid. Attorneys having 2 to 4 years of hands-on healthcare experience (California Bar not required) will easily obtain positions in Los Angeles.
Intellectual property litigation remains a steady practice area and has picked up a bit since the spring. Historically, law firms have strong preferences for candidates with electrical engineering, computer science, and chemistry backgrounds (in that order). Candidates do not necessarily have to have stellar academic credentials as long as they have solid experience from respected law firms. Although it helps, candidates do not need to be members of the California Bar. Candidates with at least 2 years of solid intellectual property litigation experience are always in demand. There is also a very strong preference for patent litigators who are members of the Patent Bar. Candidates with soft IP litigation experience—such as trademark, copyright, and trade secret infringement—are not as marketable as patent litigators because the work is not as lucrative as the patent work and anyone can become a soft IP litigator, whereas patent litigators typically need to have scientific backgrounds.
Patent prosecution is not such a busy practice area, although all the major IP practices are always on the lookout for candidates coming from top law firms, those who have Ph.D.'s or M.S. degrees, or those who have excellent academic credentials. Candidates with backgrounds in electrical engineering, computer science, chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and chemistry should be able to get interviews. Candidates with backgrounds in biochemistry, biology, or mechanical engineering will have more difficulty finding positions unless they have advanced degrees.
The market for trademark and copyright prosecution is slow and steady. Candidates with 3-5 years of experience in trademark and copyright law at top law firms will certainly get offers. However, the market for trademark lawyers has not fully recovered, and candidates with significant experience or very little will not find it easy to secure positions in Los Angeles. Of course, if you are an experienced lawyer with a book of business, then firms will probably have a lot of interest in your candidacy because few lawyers in Los Angeles have books of business in this area.
Since the spring, we actually have placed bankruptcy lawyers, which is a good sign. The same bankruptcy practices continue to be very busy, while others are diminishing. The need for bankruptcy attorneys will increase in January.
The need for attorneys with environmental litigation and/or regulatory experience is steady. There are few openings in Los Angeles, but firms remain pretty picky. Top academic and professional credentials are necessary. Candidates must have at least 2 years of experience to even be considered. Candidates with at least 3 to 4 years of experience should have relatively little problem finding positions in Los Angeles.
The need for employee benefits/ERISA attorneys is slowly starting to rise. Only candidates with 3 to 5 years of experience at top law firms will be considered.
Trusts and Estates
More downtown firms appear to be looking for experienced trusts and estates attorneys than in the spring, particularly in the 5-to-7-year range. Candidates with LL.M.’s in Tax are greatly sought after.
West Los Angeles
By Claudia Spielman, Esq.
West L.A. remains a strong market for lateral attorneys, especially those with stellar academics and great work experience. The hot areas are corporate, real estate, litigation, and labor and employment.
The need for real estate attorneys on the Westside is just as strong as it is downtown. (I wish I had the time to create that cloning machine!) In fact, most of the real estate boutiques are on the Westside. Candidates at all levels are in high demand, and firms are willing to retool junior transactional attorneys and train them in real estate law, assuming the candidate demonstrates a lot of potential in the interview process. For real estate lawyers out there, although the demand is great and you are likely to receive multiple interviews, do not take any interview for granted. I have seen perfectly good real estate lawyers get interviews, but not offers. Mid-level attorneys with experience in sales and dispositions, leasing, development, and finance are highly mobile.
There are numerous opportunities for corporate associates in the 1-to-5-year range with experience in capital markets, M&A, and public and private securities offerings. We are finding candidates with strong credentials are getting offers very quickly.
The need for litigators is stronger downtown than on the Westside. Keep in mind that there are more firms downtown than on the Westside and whenever there is a litigation opening on the Westside, firms get a barrage of resumes. Candidates with strong academic credentials who are members of the California Bar and coming from highly regarded law firms should have no trouble getting interviews. But do not take the interview for granted, because there are a number of litigation candidates competing for the same jobs. Mid-level litigators with substantive experience in complex commercial litigation matters have many opportunities. This is especially true for a litigator who has a stable firm history and superior writing skills. Fewer firms have insurance coverage or construction litigation practices on the Westside.
Labor and Employment
The need for employment attorneys is not as strong on the Westside as it is downtown. There are a handful of firms on the Westside seeking labor and employment attorneys. Junior and mid-level employment attorneys with solid academics and work experience can generally expect to have several firms to consider. Firms typically seek California-barred attorneys with California law experience in traditional counseling and litigation focused on labor and employment clients.
Intellectual property litigation attorneys will have an equal number of firms to consider on the Westside as in downtown. IP litigation remains a steady practice area on the Westside, and law firms have the same preferences for candidates as downtown law firms do; namely, candidates with electrical engineering, computer science, and chemistry backgrounds. Candidates do not necessarily have to have stellar academic credentials as long as they have solid experience from respected law firms. Although it helps, candidates do not need to be members of the California Bar. Candidates with at least 2 years of solid intellectual property litigation experience are always in demand. There is also a very strong preference for patent litigators who are members of the Patent Bar. Candidates with soft IP litigation experience—such as trademark, copyright, and trade-secret infringement—are not as marketable as patent litigators because the work is not as lucrative as the patent work and anyone can become a soft IP litigator, whereas patent litigators typically need to have scientific backgrounds.
Patent prosecution is also a steady practice area, but there are fewer opportunities on the Westside than in downtown. Again, firms are on the lookout for candidates coming from top law firms or who have Ph.D.'s or M.S. degrees or excellent academic credentials. Candidates with backgrounds in electrical engineering, computer science, chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and chemistry should be able to get interviews. Candidates with backgrounds in biochemistry, biology, or mechanical engineering will have more difficulty finding positions unless they have advanced degrees.
Trademark and copyright prosecution is still slowly making a comeback on the Westside. We have placed some “soft” IP attorneys on the Westside this summer, and candidates with 3 to 5 years of experience in trademark and copyright at a top law firm will certainly get offers. However, the market for trademark lawyers has not fully recovered, and even candidates with significant experience will find it difficult to secure positions on the Westside. Of course, if you are an experienced lawyer with a book of business, then firms will probably have a lot of interest in your candidacy because few lawyers on the Westside have books of business in this area.
Trusts and Estates
Most of the trusts and estates work is done on the Westside. In fact, most of the trusts and estates boutiques are on the Westside. Trusts and estates practices are seeking experienced candidates with strong academic credentials, and they have preferences for candidates with LL.M.'s in Taxation. Candidates with fewer than 2 years of experience should stay put, get more experience, and attempt to lateral in 1 to 2 years. Because the competition is incredible and so many attorneys want to get into this area of law, candidates must be members of the California Bar.
The need for tax lawyers has picked up on the Westside since the spring, and the market will continue to get better for tax lawyers. Firms are looking for junior tax attorneys (1 to 3 years) and mid levels (3 to 5 years). A candidate with an LL.M. in Tax from New York University or Georgetown Universities should not have too much difficulty in finding a position.
The need for bankruptcy lawyers on the Westside is much less than it is downtown. Off the top of my head, I can think of maybe one opening. Unless a candidate is a true superstar—top-10 law school and working at an AmLaw 100 law firm—finding a position on the Westside will be tough. You are better off looking downtown. Of course, anyone with a book of business is an exception to this rule (although that's true with any practice area).
Like downtown, the need for healthcare attorneys is steady. Attorneys having 2 to 4 years of hands-on healthcare experience (California Bar not required) will easily obtain positions.
The need for attorneys with environmental litigation and/or regulatory experience is steady, but more pronounced in downtown. Candidates with strong academic and professional credentials will have better luck looking downtown than on the Westside.
The need for employee benefits/ERISA attorneys is slowly starting to rise, but the need for candidates in this practice is still stronger downtown than it is on the Westside.
By Gloria Noh Cannon
As is the case throughout the country, lateral recruiting has slowed down a bit because firms are focusing on the fall on-campus interviewing process. In addition, firms are looking to their incoming first-year associates to help alleviate the workload. However, the market in Orange County continues to be very strong. In particular, there are many opportunities for corporate, real estate, litigation, and labor/employment attorneys. In addition, firms are seeking well-qualified attorneys with experience in environmental law, intellectual property litigation, and bankruptcy. Partners with portable books of business—especially those practicing corporate, litigation, and intellectual property law—are also very popular.
Corporate associates at all levels continue to be in high demand, especially those with outstanding academic credentials and big-firm experience. Associates with strong backgrounds in M&A, securities, corporate finance, and corporate governance will find a wealth of opportunities. Several firms are also looking for partners with portables books of business in order to expand their practices.
Despite talk of a real estate bubble, the Southern California real estate market remains strong, as does the demand for real estate attorneys. Firms are desperately looking for real estate lawyers at all levels. Attorneys with top credentials and strong real estate experience should have no problem finding a job in this robust market.
The demand for litigators has decreased, but there are still firms—both large national firms as well as small litigation boutiques—looking for junior and mid-level associates with stellar academic credentials and substantive litigation skills. California Bar membership is a definite requirement.
Labor and Employment
There has been an increased demand for mid-level associates with two to six years of strong labor and employment and litigation experience, especially in the areas of wage/hour litigation and class actions. If you have strong academic credentials and California Bar membership, please contact us, as there are many firms that need labor/employment attorneys with strong backgrounds.
Many firms are currently looking for mid-level intellectual property litigators and patent attorneys with electrical engineering, chemistry, or computer science degrees and/or backgrounds. As always, membership in the Patent Bar is a definite plus.
By Gloria Noh Cannon
San Diego continues to be a very popular place for attorneys who wish to relocate, resulting in a very tough and competitive job market. Many firms have continued to increase their presence in San Diego, particularly in the intellectual property/patent practice areas. Thus, the market for experienced and talented attorneys continues to be strong. California Bar membership and strong ties to the area are definitely required. The highest demand is for intellectual property litigators, patent attorneys, corporate associates, and litigators. In addition, firms are seeking well-qualified attorneys in other areas, including real estate and labor and employment.
Mid-level intellectual property litigators with 2 to 4 years of experience are very sought after right now. In addition, junior and mid-level patent attorneys who are admitted to the patent bar continue to be extremely popular. Firms have a strong preference for candidates with backgrounds in electrical engineering, biotech, computer science, or chemistry.
There is a strong demand for corporate associates with 2 to 6 years of experience. In particular, associates with broad corporate experience in public and private companies, securities, venture financing, M&A, and public offerings are very popular right now.
This is an extremely strong market for litigators, as firms of all sizes are currently looking for mid-level litigation associates. Candidates who are admitted to the California Bar with strong academic credentials and/or large-firm experience should have no problem getting interviews. Particularly popular areas of expertise include complex commercial/business litigation, insurance litigation, and securities litigation.
By James Fant
The recovery of the San Francisco legal market has not made it a “bull market” yet, but it is showing that it has “legs” and is not merely a short-term blip. Moreover, there is every reason for confidence that this resurgence will continue, because it is not built on the sand of the “dot-bomb” economy. It is based on solid business growth and spending on legal services in all areas.
The law students who graduated into the recession—many of whom have lamented their bad luck ever since—are now—if they were able to stick with the law—third-, fourth-, and even fifth-year attorneys. These individuals are poised to take advantage of the incipient boom because there was a bottleneck during those years in which not enough associates were hired and trained for future (i.e., present) demand.
As a result, the demand for these laterals has multiplied greatly—there are not enough of them to go around—and that is unlikely to fade anytime soon. After years spent “stuck,” or with limited mobility, these individuals with big-firm resumes are suddenly finding themselves in the driver’s seat again. It is good to be wanted.
Big Firms, Small Firms—Everyone is Hiring
During the last several years, there were various “spikes” in hiring activity, usually at firms of a particular size. Either small firms drove the trend, or big firms did. There were also variances in who was doing the hiring—either more “local” types of firms or large international ones.
One of the most promising signs of the strength of the present recovery is that the hiring trend pervades all sizes and types of firms. There are many, many opportunities at present. This is a boon, but it can also be a burden because previously, a candidate may have had more limited options. He/She may have had a solitary offer to “choose” from. Now, the same individual will have much greater scope for decision making. With greater choice comes greater responsibility—the responsibility of determining the future course of your career. Working with BCG can help ensure you make the best choice.
As law firms have grown and increasingly run their affairs in more “business-oriented” ways, a curious paradox has arisen: Every firm wants partners with great employment stability, but it is (by definition) impossible to hire anyone who is not willing to leave his/her firm. There is a growing pool of lateral partners with incredible pedigrees who are changing jobs every couple of years now, much as investment bankers and other highly paid professionals do. Ironically, it is the partners who refuse to leave their firms or look at new opportunities that are increasing the market value of those that do. The loyalty of “lifers” creates a shortage in the labor pool, inflating prices for those willing to leave.
In no practice area is this truer than in corporate law. There are many reasons why there is a shortage of corporate partners with sizable books, but the important fact to remember is that demand is totally out of whack with supply. Simply stated, a corporate partner with more than $1 million in portable business has unprecedented lateral opportunities. Even corporate partners with $600,000 or so in portables are highly marketable at a number of firms.
Working with a recruiter to carefully and discreetly assess these opportunities has never been more important.
The rules of the game are changing, and while there will always be a prejudice against excessively “nomadic” attorneys, the reality is that the legal job market is mirroring the changes in the job market in general. Another way of stating this is that attorneys who would not have dreamed of evaluating their opportunities on a frequent basis when they started their careers are doing so now. Even former chairmen of firms are moving to new firms comparatively late in their careers and being richly rewarded in compensation and job satisfaction for doing so.
While it would be premature (and exaggerated) to say that the market for lateral corporate associates is as strong as it was five years ago, the fact remains that it is hot and becoming increasingly hotter. Driving this trend is a double whammy: the extreme scarcity of corporate associates with “big law”-type resumes from the 2001, 2002, and 2003 class years and the increasing volume of deals as the economy heats up. In fact, for the first time since 2000, “special situations” laterals, who may have left the law for a short time or gone in-house, are once again marketable with the right law school and firm credentials. During the recession, firms could afford to be extremely picky, and dismissive, because of the large supply of candidates with which they were presented. That situation is gradually reversing itself, to the delight of corporate candidates everywhere.
I have noticed that candidates frequently think in terms of the legal job market “this year,” when in fact the market can change on a monthly (even weekly) basis; the situation now is very different from what it was in, say, March. A firm that may not have been willing to interview you in February might be willing to hire you now. Call BCG today to discuss your options.
Trademark is back from the dead. Associates are once again sought at a number of leading firms.
Real Estate remains an extremely hot practice area at both the partner and associate levels. Demand is strong, and supply is limited—the perfect equation for anyone considering a lateral move. As noted with corporate associates above, “allowances” can be made (in terms of relaxing GPA standards, in-house experience, and so forth) for the right candidate because law firms are so desperate.
Patent litigation is also a field where the supply of candidates is massively outpaced by the demand for them. There is no end in sight for the voracity of this demand. I am representing candidates who are landing interviews at virtually every firm we approach—a remarkable batting average and evidence of the current overheated state of the lateral market.
Litigation jobs abound. Numerically speaking, there are at least as many openings for litigators as there are for corporate associates. Interestingly, the heating up of the economy has not slowed the pace of this trend. There is enough litigation going on to keep America’s brightest legal minds busy for years to come.
Securities litigators remain in high demand.
Bankruptcy and environmental litigation remain relative laggards.
By Deborah J. Acker, Esq.
BCG Attorney Search opened the Palo Alto office in mid August of this year. Since then, things have been hopping! The Silicon Valley market was already active and continues to heat up. Even with a significant number of openings, law firms remain selective. Recruiting coordinators are looking for top-tier schools, impressive class rank, big-firm experience, and longevity at a firm. Those candidates with that background and 2 to 5 years of experience will likely get interviews.
Senior attorneys are in demand; but without a book of business, they can be a tough sell.
Litigators in intellectual property, especially patent litigators, are hot commodities. Laterals with significant IP litigation experience in a big firm are almost guaranteed interviews. The firms with the big players handling the big cases are looking for associates. A background in electrical engineering, computer science, or physics is a plus. Even without a technical background, if you can demonstrate strong litigation skills, experience in IP, and the ability to get up to speed on the technology at issue, you are sought after.
A steady demand continues for patent prosecutors as well. Associates with a physics, EE, or computer science background and 1 to 7 years of experience have a number of opportunities. Other desired backgrounds include biotechnology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering, and medical devices. Those in bio fields are usually expected to have a Ph.D.
A few opportunities exist for those who practice mostly transactional IP. Most firms want significant licensing experience and some expertise in a specific technology—often computers, software, or electronics.
Given the flux in the major firms and a few new offices being opened on the peninsula, creative opportunities exist for the migration of practice groups or the addition of more senior IP people. In addition, Asian language skills are always preferred in IP.
As the Silicon Valley economy continues to stabilize, the demand for corporate lawyers increases. A steady demand exists for those with experience in securities, public finance, mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital. California Bar admission is a common requirement, but not an absolute. Most positions require 2 to 5 years of experience.
Litigation Litigators continue to be in demand. Large national and international firms are looking for litigators with 2 to 6 years of experience, often requiring top pedigrees and big law firm experience or a judicial clerkship. In the Silicon Valley, many firms value IP litigation experience, even if that is not the primary focus of the practice group. Experience with unfair competition, trademarks, and copyrights will add value to the resume of any potential Silicon Valley litigator, no matter what his/her specialty. Many openings exist in securities, antitrust, complex class actions, and product liability litigation. A few firms are recruiting for appellate practices, with the requirement of absolutely top-notch credentials. Litigation firms look for associates whose experience is appropriate for their individual level. If you want to be a top-flight litigator, your professional development and increasing independence is critical for success. A few top firms emphasize trial work and are actively recruiting. Top schools, law review, and experience in court are required for these positions.
The Bay Area has a number of openings for all levels of real estate attorneys, but most of these positions are in San Francisco. A few Silicon Valley firms are seeking junior associates, mid-level associates, and senior real estate attorneys. Ten to twelve years of experience and portables of $1.5 million are desired for senior candidates. Specific expertise in the areas of general transactional work, acquisitions, construction, and commercial leasing is sought after.
Although the majority of openings for employment attorneys in the Bay Area are in San Francisco, Silicon Valley does have more than a few opening for labor and/or employment attorneys at major firms. Many of these positions require a combination of transactional and litigation work. International experience is a plus. Most specify 2 to 5 years of experience.
Similarly, the market in Silicon Valley continues to offer opportunities for ERISA/employee benefits attorneys. Mid-level associates with 2-5 years of experience are sought. Additional experience in tax and/or securities is a plus.
The Southwest Region
By Gloria Noh Cannon
Despite the slowdown in lateral hiring, the job market in Las Vegas continues to be healthy, especially in the areas of real estate, litigation, and construction-related work. While attorneys who are admitted to the Nevada Bar are preferred, bar admission is not always required for stellar candidates, particularly in transactional practice areas such as real estate.
The demand for real estate attorneys remains very strong. Mid-level and more seasoned senior associates are particularly in high demand because several firms are looking to grow their practices as the real estate market continues its escalation. Of particular interest are attorneys experienced in handling leasing matters, as well as purchase and sale transactions, for commercial real estate developers.
Litigation continues to be a very hot practice area. The demand for litigation attorneys at all levels is very strong. In particular, mid-level litigators who have strong backgrounds in construction defect, products liability, toxic tort, insurance defense, or general and complex commercial litigation are very much in demand. As can be expected, membership in the Nevada Bar generally is required. However, a few firms will make exceptions for those truly exceptional attorneys.
There has been an increase in the demand for intellectual property attorneys, particularly those with solid experience in both litigation and prosecution. Attorneys with technical degrees and solid experience in patent prosecution or patent litigation may find a receptive market. The most highly coveted degrees here are in electrical engineering and computer science. Admission to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a definite plus.
The Mountain Region
By Melanie Francis
The demand has remained steady for junior and mid-level corporate attorneys in Denver. The number of lateral corporate positions we have received in 2005 has remained the same since 2004.
There has been a slight but positive shift in mergers and acquisitions, largely a result of the good economic climate, low interest rates, and a rising stock market. Experts predict that we may see increased mergers and acquisitions activity in a variety of sectors, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and life sciences.
As such, we see a high demand for junior to mid-level corporate finance and banking associates and associates with anywhere from 2 to 5 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions and securities transactions.
There is a real shortage of qualified real estate attorneys in Denver, which has largely been a result of the cyclical nature of the real estate market. The number of lateral real estate positions we have received in 2005 has more than doubled since 2004. This surge is a result of a variety of factors. There has been an increase in real estate development in Colorado, including hospitality and resort development. The commercial real estate leasing environment demonstrates an upward trend. Because there has been a higher number of real estate transactions in Denver, there has been a corresponding need for legal services in the real estate area.
A wide variety of firms' real estate practices are extremely busy and seek real estate attorneys, particularly associates with 2 to 7 years of experience in commercial real estate transactions. Attorneys with exposure to leasing, lending, construction, acquisitions, and dispositions—along with those who have finance exposure—are in demand as well.
As clients lean more and more toward mediation and arbitration, the need in Denver for strong litigation associates has declined. The few firms seeking litigation associates require clerkship experience, as well as excellent litigation skills, including deposition, extensive motion practice and first/second chair trial experience. Excellent research, writing, and analytical skills, as well as top notch academics, are absolutely necessary.
Intellectual Property: Biotech, EE, CS, Ph.D.
IP practices in Denver continue to be busy. Patent prosecution attorneys with anywhere from 1 to 8 years of experience are in demand at both general practice firms as well as IP boutiques for associates with technical degrees in EE, CS, and biotech. As always, attorneys with Ph.D.’s are the most highly sought after.
By Melanie Francis
Utah is generally a difficult market for lateral attorneys. There are various reasons for this, including (1) the legal market is relatively small, (2) firms have a large pool of applicants from law schools in the area, (3) the market is less transitory than in other parts of the country and attrition rates are low, and (4) firms tend to demand strong ties and commitment to the area, such as family and admission to the Utah Bar. In addition, the economy has not recovered as quickly in Utah as it has in other parts of the country.
Attorneys seeking positions in Utah are most likely to be successful if they can demonstrate that they have strong reasons for being in the area and are likely to stay for the long haul. While the market currently is tough even for those attorneys who meet such criteria, opportunities may exist in areas such as commercial litigation, corporate and securities, energy, telecommunications, real estate, tax, and patent prosecution.
The Midwest Region
By Jamie Bailey
With continued economic expansion and business investment in Chicago, as well as the anticipation of more U.S. law firms’ opening offices in this vibrant legal market, we have high expectations for increased lateral hiring during the upcoming fourth quarter of 2005. Corporate departments are booming, and we are experiencing the highest flow of M&A activity since 2000. International firms are continuing their global expansion, and many top-tier firms based in Chicago have opened offices in Asia, Russia, and London this past quarter.
Real Estate: Still Strong
Similar to last quarter, the need for highly qualified commercial real estate associates has continued to be the most common request we are receiving on a daily basis here in Chicago. Candidates with exposure to real estate finance transactions are in strong demand, as well as leasing, acquisitions and dispositions, and mortgage transactions. Firms are interested in seeing candidates at all levels of experience. Interestingly, because of the lack of availability of qualified real estate candidates, firms have been very open to speaking to candidates who may be interested in reduced-hour schedules or staff attorney (non-partnership-track) positions.
Continued Increase in Corporate Finance, Securities, M&A, and Private Equity Deals
Mirroring New York and New Jersey firms’ increased M&A and private equity deals, Chicago’s law firms are gearing up to service a surge of deals in corporate finance, securities, M&A, and private equity. Firms are looking at transactional associates with a combination of legal skills and exposure in these areas and anywhere from 1 to 5 years of experience.
Litigation: Slight Slowdown
Because of the slight decrease we have seen in the need for litigators in Chicago, firms are being very selective, and only those candidates with top academic credentials and large law firm experience or specific experience in particular areas of specialization are being given consideration. We hope that this lull is indicative of the overall slowdown we generally see in hiring during the summer months and that we will see an increase in the upcoming fall months. Despite the slowdown, we still have the top national and international firms seeking strong litigators with anywhere from 2 to 7 years of experience.
Intellectual Property: Patent and Prosecution Strong with Significant Needs in EE, ME, CS, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Ph.D.’s
Similar to our report last quarter, we continue to receive calls from firms seeking to supplement their IP departments with strong patent prosecutors and litigators. In litigation, our openings are generally for associates with 2 to 6 years of experience and backgrounds in EE, ME, or chemical engineering. We would like to hear from strong patent prosecutors with anywhere from 1 to 6 years of experience and backgrounds in EE, ME, CS, chemistry, or chemical engineering. Advanced degrees are looked upon highly, and admittance to the USPTO is in most cases required. We have also received requests for associates with trademark and copyright experience with 3 to 6 years of experience.
Information Technology: Software Licensing and E-Business
Although not an area where we are seeing significant activity, we do have a few positions for associates with experience in information technology, outsourcing and e-business matters, as well as experience with software licensing, development and consulting agreements.
Bankruptcy: Expect a Rebound in Late 2005 into Early 2006
Firms have been well subscribed in the bankruptcy area and as a result have hired conservatively in their bankruptcy departments over the past few months. However, experts predict that it is likely that the new and controversial Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which will technically take effect on October 17, may bring about another surge in bankruptcy filings. Thus, we expect that the last quarter of 2005/first quarter 2006 will bring new opportunities for bankruptcy attorneys at all levels, and particularly for those with strong litigation skills. At present, we have needs at the large, prestigious law firms handling the most sophisticated bankruptcy cases for associates with between 1-7 years of bankruptcy experience. These firms naturally require excellent academic credentials and prefer large law firm experience.
Tax associates with anywhere from 2 to 5 years of exposure to federal tax matters should contact us, as well as those with particular experience working with tax-exempt organizations. Large law firm training and superior academics are required. Those with LL.M.’s in Tax will be given top consideration. We would also be interested in talking with associates with 2 to 3 years of experience in employee benefits.
Trusts and Estates
Although this is not an area where we have seen high demand over the past few months, firms that do have a need to supplement their trusts and estates practices are looking at junior to mid-level associates (2 to 4 years of experience).
Partners with Business
As always, some of the most prestigious law firms in Chicago continue to contact us regarding supplementing their practices with partners with portable business. In particular, firms are expanding dramatically in the transactional areas (including corporate and real estate), bankruptcy, antitrust, general commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, labor and employment, and healthcare. If you are a partner in the early stages of your search and investigating your options, please call our Chicago office at 312/321-9411 to discuss our approach to the partner-placement process, your goals for the growth of your practice, and how we can assist you to strategically transition your practice to a new firm.
By Jamie Bailey
As we reported last quarter, intellectual property departments in Minnesota continue to expand, and we are receiving requests for patent litigation and patent prosecution experience. Patent prosecutors with 2 to 6 years of experience and technical backgrounds in the areas of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and biotech should contact us. USPTO admittance is required. We are also happy to speak with candidates with advanced degrees in any of these technical fields.
IP litigators with anywhere from 2 to 10 years of experience in trademark, copyright, and unfair competition matters should contact our Chicago office. Of particular interest are candidates who have substantial litigation experience and a technical degree in chemistry, biochemistry, or chemical engineering.
Corporate, M&A, Finance, Securities
We are pleased to report an overall increase in the transactional activity in Minnesota law firms. With needs at the 2- to 8-year level, Minnesota firms would be interested in candidates that bring to the table particular expertise in M&A, corporate finance, and securities matters.
Similar to other legal markets across the U.S., Minnesota law firms are experiencing an upsurge in real estate transactional work. Real estate associates with 1 to 5 years of experience in leasing, acquisition, and financing transactions should contact our Chicago office.
Partners with Business
Firms in Minneapolis seeking to expand strategically in key practice areas are interested in speaking with partners with portable business in key practice areas. If you are a partner with a portable book seeking to transition to a Minneapolis firm, please contact our Chicago office at 312/321-9411. We will be happy to speak with you regarding BCG’s partner-level services and assist you in transitioning your practice to a new firm.
By Jamie Bailey
In Detroit, firms are requesting that we send them highly qualified candidates with anywhere from 1 to 5 years of experience in a variety of areas, including corporate transactional, tax and ERISA, finance, labor and employment, and real estate. Similarly, firms in the outlying markets—including Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Birmingham—are seeking associates with 2 to 6 years of experience in corporate transactional, real estate, finance, litigation, and bankruptcy matters.
Partners with Business
A number of Michigan firms have contacted us for assistance in expanding strategically in key practice areas, including corporate finance, insurance, trusts and estates, labor and employment, real estate, and environmental. If you are a partner with portable business; practicing in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, or Ann Arbor; and seeking to transition to a new firm, please contact our Chicago office at 312/321-9411. We will be happy to speak with you regarding BCG’s partner-level services and assist you in transitioning your practice to a new firm.
By Morgan Brazil, Esq.
In general, the greatest need in Ohio is for corporate associates at the 2- to 7-year level, specializing in areas such as securities regulation, public and private finance, mergers and acquisitions, and general business. Also, while litigation seems to have slowed a bit in other areas of the country, most markets in Ohio—including Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus—are still actively seeking to add to their litigation practices.
As for specific markets within Ohio, Cincinnati firms are currently looking to add associates with anywhere from 1 to 6 years’ experience in a variety of practice areas, including corporate, litigation, bankruptcy, immigration, labor and employment, environmental, and estate planning. Cleveland-area firms are seeking to add associates in their corporate, litigation, bankruptcy, labor and employment, trusts and estates, intellectual property, and real estate practice groups. Smaller markets—including Columbus, Toledo, and Dayton—are, as previously mentioned, all currently seeking corporate associates, as well as associates with 1 to 7 years’ experience in tax, trusts and estates, litigation, real estate, healthcare, bankruptcy, and labor and employment.
By Morgan Brazil, Esq.
In general, many great opportunities exist in a variety of practice areas in Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular. Specifically, as with many other markets, Wisconsin-area firms are actively and aggressively seeking real estate associates at all levels to handle a variety of or real estate matters, including financing, acquisitions and dispositions, land use, and zoning. Competition for qualified real estate associates is somewhat fierce at the moment; and while firms prefer candidates that have previous law firm experience, a few will consider those with previous title company or in-house work.
Milwaukee area firms also seek to add associates with 2 to 6 years’ experience in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, general business, litigation, estate planning, and tax. In addition, firms are looking for all levels of experience in intellectual property litigation, patent prosecution, and trademark matters. The patent prosecution positions, however, all require a computer science, mechanical/electrical engineering, or chemistry degree; and graduate degrees are highly desirable.
Madison, while a much smaller market, still presents a number of opportunities in real estate, corporate, estate planning, healthcare, and labor and employment. Firms in the capital city generally seek associates with a bit more experience, ranging from 3 to 7 years.
Partners with business
Partners with portable business will find a number of opportunities in Milwaukee, as quality firms are seeking to grow their tax, land use, estate planning, and litigation practices. Generally, national and regional firms require portables ranging from $250,000 to $500,000, depending on the practice area.
The Northeast Region
By Carey Bertolet
Not surprisingly, some of the best opportunities in New York are corporate opportunities. More than almost any other city, New York is simply the best market for cutting-edge and sophisticated work. While there is always a need for the generalist corporate attorney, specialized attorneys have homes in New York firms. Private equity opportunities are in abundance, including at the more senior of counsel level, which is somewhat unusual. Banking attorneys are in very high demand; so a mid-level attorney with the requisite experience has several very attractive options among the more marquee firms. Mergers and acquisitions attorneys also have several options, including among the more lifestyle-sensitive mid-sized firms. As always, solid securities backgrounds among more junior associates can yield good upward positions. We continue to see demand for securitization and other niche finance specialties.
Real estate attorneys are, from a sheer volume standpoint, those who probably have the most options these days. While even the hottest corporate groups generally still have not relaxed their credentialing requirements, real estate lawyers, even those with something less-than-stellar academic pedigrees, are able to pursue opportunities at vibrant real estate practices, including at the junior level. Real estate finance is most commonly in demand, but the less finance-oriented “dirt” lawyer will still have opportunities in the marketplace—including at some very profitable and growing firms. There is one dynamic of which real estate lawyers should be aware: Many real estate departments lack personnel at the mid-to-senior level. This may create excellent partnership opportunities for lawyers down the road.
Litigation is still going strong, with several very interesting opportunities for the commercial litigation attorney, including with firms who are dedicated to giving their associates responsibility at hearings and depositions. Securities litigators are very much in demand, particularly with broker-dealer defense experience. White-collar opportunities exist, although they are rarely available without some commercial element. Products liability attorneys, particularly those accustomed to sophisticated pharmaceutical experience, are still quite marketable, and we expect this marketability to only increase in light of ongoing litigation trends across the country.
Antitrust is the dark horse, with some of our most interesting opportunities at great firms in the city. Several “boutique” antitrust practices have opened up with fantastic firms, and the result is a ground-floor opportunity with all of the advantages of big-firm life. Again, partnership opportunities may be much more likely in this area, as are several opportunities to do high-level international work. Although a general antitrust background is desirable, experience in mergers and acquisitions and corporate investigations is particularly desirable.
Labor and employment demand has remained fairly constant, although generally less so than we would have expected. The opportunities here are a nice mix of both general practice firms and firms that specialize in or are particularly known for their labor and employment practices.
We are just now starting to see more interest in tax practitioners. A tax practitioner with a particular specialty will do very well in the market, whether that specialty is in mergers and acquisitions, securitization, or the sub-specialty of ERISA. We expect that ERISA, in particular, will be increasingly hot in the coming months. Likewise, although trusts and estates is a relatively small community of lawyers, there has been fairly brisk movement, and we expect that hiring trend to stay positive.
Intellectual property is all about electrical engineers and computer science majors, who are desperately needed by firms for patent prosecution, and at the more senior level, litigation, transactional work, and counseling. There are several interesting opportunities for organic chemists and those with biological science backgrounds, although that particular area of patent practice is not as strong as it was several years ago. While patent prosecution opportunities exist in abundance, there are a myriad of other directions for the intellectual property lawyer, including patent litigation, technology transactional work, trademark, and copyright. Generally speaking, a scientific or technical background is not always required for these practice areas, although some firms only staff their intellectual property litigation departments with scientists and engineers. Because technology transactional work declined so sharply during the recession, a lawyer with experience in that practice who has consistently remained busy will be particularly marketable.
All in all, we are really excited about the opportunities that are available in New York. We are working with firms that we really believe give lateral opportunities to lawyers looking for new and different environments, more sophisticated work, and promotion opportunities. If you have any questions with respect to these practice areas or any others, please pick up the phone and speak to any of the recruiters in the New York office. We are always happy to speak to you.
By Carey Bertolet
New Jersey has some unique opportunities for lawyers moving laterally from both within the New Jersey market and other marketplaces, with an interest in moving to New Jersey on a permanent basis. While New Jersey admission is generally preferred for candidates making lateral moves to New Jersey, it is not always necessary to apply for certain positions, especially in more transactional practices.
The New Jersey corporate market is very good, and salaries for corporate lawyers are increasingly competitive. While many of the practices are generalized corporate practices, specialties in mergers and acquisitions and finance (including public finance) are rising in popularity. In southern New Jersey, several corporate practices focusing on life sciences are particularly vibrant.
Litigation practices are looking for good associates, and there are some fantastic opportunities in northern and southern New Jersey. Both commercial and products liability practices need lawyers, and some opportunities will give a lawyer the chance to dabble in both. The advantage of the New Jersey-based litigation practice, generally speaking, is that the practice for any one particular associate is likely to be more diverse and interesting than a very small niche practice in a mega-firm.
Real estate is booming in many of the top New Jersey firms. From land use to real estate commercial leasing to real estate finance, there is a variety of fantastic opportunities. We see real estate as a great practice area in which to specialize. Lawyers with varied transactional experience (including real estate) will likely have opportunities to devote their practices exclusively to this vibrant practice area.
Although they are not as abundant in number as corporate, litigation, and real estate, there are some exciting opportunities in tax, intellectual property prosecution and litigation, and insurance. BCG does a tremendous amount of work in both northern and southern New Jersey, as well as all areas in between, and we are happy to discuss these with you. Just call our New York office.
By Kara A. Oboler
No signs of slumber here: Lateral recruiting and hiring activity at Connecticut-based firms show no signs of slowing down as the fall season approaches. The timing is perfect for candidates looking to land new opportunities in the Northeast market. The high level of lateral hires in Connecticut is by no means a surprise. Because the majority of Manhattan firms are busy with on-campus law school recruiting for their summer associate positions and orienting their newly hired associates, a lull in Manhattan lateral market activity through at least the end of October is expected. As a result, Connecticut firms may ramp up their lateral searches. As encouraging proof of this possible trend: 34 positions—16 in Hartford alone—have opened up in one recent week. Thus, if candidates express interest in Connecticut firms, now may be a particularly fruitful time to push that market.
Connecticut is commonly divided into two legal geographic areas: Hartford and "Everywhere Else," which includes Stamford, Greenwich, and New Haven. As such, our market observations are arranged accordingly.
Litigation: The demand for general litigators, especially mid-level attorneys, remains strong in the Hartford area. Environmental practitioners also continue to be in high demand, and at least one firm is looking for someone with appellate experience.
IP: Experienced patent litigators and patent prosecution/transactional candidates with strong technical backgrounds and advanced degrees in computer science and electrical/mechanical/chemical engineering backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.
Corporate: As in Manhattan, Hartford’s corporate practices are booming this season and are expanding their ranks with stellar corporate candidates. Demand is especially high for candidates with corporate securities, lending, and finance experience, as well as partner-level candidates with portable books of business. Transactional technology associates with significant transactional and outsourcing experience, as well as Internet/e-commerce and new media law experience, are also sought.
Health: A few transactional healthcare positions have opened.
Surprise Contenders: Real estate is the hot ticket in town, with positions open for junior and mid-level associates.
Litigation: Similar to Hartford, litigation is active, especially in the toxic torts and med mal arenas. Trial prep on complex commercial litigation experience also is sought.
Employment/Healthcare: A few employment positions have opened up, including one seeking a mid-level healthcare associate.
Trusts and Estates: Trusts and estates positions remain active.
Intellectual Property: As in Hartford, candidates with patent experience, especially those with technology and electrical/mechanical/chemical engineering backgrounds, are strongly encouraged to apply.
Corporate: Lateral corporate hiring activity continues to exceed that of litigation for all levels of associates. Transactional real estate, healthcare, general corporate, and secured lending practitioners are all in demand.
Life Sciences: Life sciences candidates continue to be the surprise hit with Connecticut-area firms. Corporate practitioners with life sciences or information technology backgrounds remain in high demand.
By Stephen E. Seckler
The demand for lateral hires continues to be strong in Boston. Partners in search of better platforms are finding the marketplace to be very receptive. We have had numerous inquiries from firms that are looking to grow in the Boston market. Many are branch offices of national or regional firms, but local Massachusetts firms are also seeking to grow. Corporate partners with more than $600,000 in portable billings are in particular demand, but there are many opportunities for partners in other practice areas and some willingness to speak with partners with smaller practices (i.e., where there is good evidence of marketing potential.)
Corporate and intellectual property are the two most active areas for lateral associate hiring. Many firms are looking for associates with experience in private equity, fund formation, mergers and acquisitions, and ‘40 Act. Firms are also interested in associates with public company experience. Corporate departments all over the city are reporting busy corporate practices and a shortage of experienced associates to do the work. This is a natural consequence of the dramatic slowdown in corporate activity in 2001.
Many firms are also looking for patent attorneys. Lawyers with backgrounds in electrical engineering are particularly in demand, but there are also opportunities for lawyers with backgrounds in the life sciences. Software and biotechnology continue to play important roles in the Massachusetts economy, and this is generating significant work for IP boutiques as well as general practice firms that have expanded into patent work.
Firms with good real estate practices are finding it very difficult to hire mid-level real estate associates who have strong deal experience. While the overall number of opportunities for real estate associates is smaller than the opportunities in corporate, this is a good time to be looking if you have 3 to 5 years of experience in real estate finance.
Other areas of practice are not as busy (at least when it comes to lateral hiring.) While litigation is still a strong practice area at many firms, firms have remained well staffed in their litigation departments. But stellar candidates with specialized expertise in securities, patent, and insurance coverage litigation are in the best positions to make lateral moves in this marketplace. Top candidates with experience in tax and ERISA are also needed at a few of the top Boston firms.
By Deirdre Sullivan, Esq.
Philadelphia is one of the oldest legal markets in the country, with a mix of old, established firms and newer firms. While many Philadelphia firms have branched out to New Jersey and Delaware, the trend in recent years has been for Philadelphia firms to open offices in New York as part of growth plans that will transform them into national and international players in the legal market. Many of these firms have begun to lose their “Philadelphia” tags; and like the California firms before them, the various offices will lose the feeling of being “local branches doing local work” and soon feel like satellites of one national firm.
While this transition is taking place, the Philadelphia market continues to need attorneys to do local work for local clients. These practices are concentrated in the traditional areas.
Corporate: The corporate practice continues to be steady and strong. Firms are looking for candidates with experience in structured finance, banking, securities, and general corporate transactions.
Litigation: General litigation continues to be strong and steady. Insurance work continues to dominate this practice area.
Public Finance/Municipal: Philadelphia is the center for this specialized practice area. This is very much a local practice that is expected to remain strong. Firms will typically not consider attorneys from other cities, such as New York or Boston, for this practice area because it is so specialized.
Labor and Employment: Labor and employment also continues to be a strong and steady local practice. Skills gained in this practice area in other cities are transferable to the Philadelphia market. Attorneys with experience practicing before the NLRB—including management-side and employee-side work (as well as union work)—are in demand.
Real Estate: Local real estate practitioners continue to be in high demand, and attorneys at all levels are needed. Real estate experience in finance, acquisition and sale, leasing, development, and land use are all in demand.
Environmental: Attorneys with environmental, land use, planning and zoning experience continue to be in demand (with those with local experience most highly prized) although these positions tend to fill very quickly.
Trusts and Estates/Tax: Trust and estates is a mainstay at Philadelphia firms, although the preference is generally for trusts and estates associates who have LL.M.’s in Taxation. Tax also continues to be strong. Both tax and trust and estates positions are filled quickly. Philadelphia firms love to see New York associates with large-firm experience for these positions.
Several “newer” practice areas stand out from the more traditional practice areas as being areas in which the Philadelphia firms would like to set the standard and be major players in the market:
Healthcare: Transactional experience in the healthcare field is in high demand. Firms are looking for attorneys with experience relating to nursing homes, long-term-care facilities, hospitals, clinics, and pharmaceutical companies. This practice area is expected to grow and become a “national” practice.
Health Effects Litigation: Health effects litigation is a term firms are now using to cover the full gamut of litigation, from mass tort to products liability to insurance liability. Some firms include medical malpractice in this category. Professional liability defense is another subcategory of this practice area. Anything related to health and the medical profession continues to grow, and these cases are often national in scope.
Technology/Outsourcing: The technology/outsourcing practice area continues to gain prominence throughout the country. This is an area where candidates from mid-sized to large firms in other cities can get great work.
Intellectual Property: Intellectual property, both transactional and litigation, continues to be in high demand throughout the country, and Philadelphia firms are making a strong effort to be one of the major players in this area. Specialized academic backgrounds are still very important, with electrical engineering and computer science/software leading the way. Philadelphia firms are continuing to grow their market share of trademark and copyright work as well.
Philadelphia firms continue to be very receptive to attorneys with mid-sized to large-firm experience in New York, Boston, and New Jersey. Top academic and work credentials continue to be required. While Philadelphia firms were once a lifestyle choice for those associates looking to leave large-firm life, these same firms are now moving into the national market. These firms will continue to retain some of their local and smaller feel for a time, but associates may see an increase in hours to match their New York counterparts in the future.
Partners/Counsel: Attorneys with books of business starting at $400,000 are also in high demand, particularly in the currently emphasized practice areas of healthcare transactions and litigation, intellectual property, and technology/outsourcing. Strong litigators and corporate attorneys with contacts in the financial markets continue to be in demand at the partner level as well.
The Mid-Atlantic Region
By Dan Binstock, Esq.
The Washington, DC, market has continued to thrive based on the strong economy. The fall is an interesting time for lateral movement. There is a certain segment of attorneys who want to make lateral moves, but are more inclined to wait until they receive their end-of-the-year bonuses. As a consequence, two things happen. First, the firms do not experience as much attrition as usual from these bonus-expectant attorneys; therefore, there are not as many positions to fill. Second, regarding practices that are hiring due to growth (as opposed to replacement)—they are not receiving the usual candidate flow. As a result, the fall presents an opportunity to get a “foot in the door” if you are not expecting a large bonus or are very anxious to move. Firms are aware of the bonus predicament that attorneys face, and rather than leave money on the table due to a lack of qualified attorneys to handle the pressing workload, many firms provide more generous signing bonuses in the fall. Some firms even try to make an attorney “whole” by providing a partial signing bonus at the outset and an additional bonus after the new year begins, which can total the amount of the bonus the attorney would have received at his/her old firm.
In terms of the market, the most opportunities remain in corporate and litigation. In terms of corporate, there is still a demand for attorneys with '40 Act/Registered Funds experience, but we have seen this need taper off a bit. As we mentioned in our previous report, even if you only have '33 or '34 Act experience, but are interested in transitioning into '40 Act work, numerous firms will still talk to you. We also have seen a growing need for attorneys with ‘33/’34 Act experience, M&A experience, as well as experience or exposure to hedge fund/private equity matters. If you have securitization experience or banking/banking regulatory experience, there are a few firms actively looking as well. For all of the corporate positions, if you are moving to D.C. from a New York corporate practice, your chances of landing a good position will increase substantially.
Over the past few months, we have seen a rise in activity for tax attorneys, particularly those with an interest in cross-border matters. Interestingly, while the project finance arena has been very slow over the past few years, we have received several searches in this area recently, with a particular interest in Spanish-speaking attorneys who can help with Latin America projects. We have also seen a substantial increase in international trade opportunities, particularly for attorneys with at least 3 years of experience.
Real estate remains a hot area, particularly if you have lending-related experience.
In terms of litigation, there is a wide range of opportunities. There is still a strong need right now for attorneys with securities enforcement and/or NASD experience, but this demand has cooled a bit. That being said, if you have enforcement experience with the SEC or the Department of Justice, you will likely be in high demand at a number of firms. We also have a number of ongoing white-collar searches, antitrust, and healthcare (Medicare/Medicade fraud, HIPAA), and labor/employment litigation searches. Insurance coverage opportunities remain active for people with experience, and even if you have general commercial litigation experience only, firms will likely speak to you if you can demonstrate an interest in this area and have strong credentials. ERISA/employee benefits attorneys are still very much in demand given the specialized skill set, and firms are eager to interview people with relevant experience.
IP deserves a special section, especially because all of our recruiters in the D.C. office are former IP attorneys from large firms and have built very strong relationships in this area. There are numerous opportunities for IP/patent litigators, especially those with backgrounds in electrical engineering or computer science. IP litigators with mechanical and bio/chem backgrounds are also in demand, but to a lesser extent. As for IP/patent prosecutors, we have many opportunities for attorneys with EE or computer science backgrounds. If you have this type of background, you have probably had a tough time working due to all the calls you must be receiving from headhunters. Firms are still looking for biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, mechanical, and chemical attorneys, although to a lesser degree. Numerous firms are also looking for patent agents with prior law firm and/or PTO experience. If you are in the trademark/copyright field, we are seeing steady opportunities, and the PTO is hiring trademark examiners again. We are also working with some national firms to find partners to start their IP practices in Washington, DC.
Lastly, as always, partners with significant books of business are very much in demand. Partners with at least $1,000,000 in business will find the firms of their choice. In fact, for some practice areas that are currently experiencing difficulty attracting work, the required book of business is quite modest, sometimes around the $300,000 to $600,000 level.
In sum, we are pleased that the D.C. market has continued to remain active and are optimistic that it will continue this fall.
By Dan Binstock, Esq.
We are encouraged to see the ongoing increase in the number of opportunities for attorneys in the Northern Virginia market, especially for associates in the junior to mid-level range.
If you are a litigator with solid credentials, and barred in Virginia, there are a number of Northern Virginia offices of national firms that will be interested in you.
For corporate, we are seeing an ongoing need for corporate associates with experience in mergers and acquisitions and securities matters, as well as for technology transactions attorneys. In addition, patent prosecutors and litigators with EE or computer science degrees remain in very high demand.
The ongoing strengthening of the real estate market and overall economic climate in Northern Virginia has also resulted in an increased need for junior to mid-level associates in the commercial real estate and land use and zoning practice areas.
Similarly, Richmond firms are actively recruiting. In particular, there are some excellent Richmond firms that are seeking to recruit Washington, DC, and New York corporate lawyers who want to work on sophisticated corporate matters, but may want to spend more of their weekends on the golf course as opposed to in the office. The other active areas besides corporate are commercial real estate and IP/patent.
By John Davis Powell, Esq.
Although the Texas market has been outpaced this year by major legal markets on the East and West Coasts, we anticipate a steady increase in lateral hiring as the economy continues to improve across Texas.
At the associate level, firms remain highly selective. Most Texas law firms prefer candidates with excellent academic credentials and large law firm training who have passed the Texas bar. At the partner level, there are several law firms across Texas looking for lateral partners to supplement their practices. However, almost all of these firms require a minimum of $500,000 in portable business.
Houston continues to be a relatively strong market for well-credentialed lateral candidates at the associate and partner levels.
We are seeing a strong demand for energy associates, as well as energy partners with a minimum of $500,000 in portable business. We have also seen an increase in the number of corporate associate positions that firms are seeking to fill in Houston. Several firms continue to seek patent associates with backgrounds in electrical or mechanical engineering. Additionally, there has been a small increase in the number of firms seeking real estate associates.
The Dallas market has shown signs of improvement in several areas, but a marked slowdown in other areas.
We have seen a definite increase in the number of firms seeking to fill junior to mid-level corporate associate positions. There is also a demand for mid-level real estate associates with strong deal experience. Additionally, there are a number of firms looking for intellectual property litigation candidates with technical degrees. While the demand for litigation associates has noticeably declined over the last several months, there are several law firms that are seeking litigation partners with a minimum of $500,000 in portable business.
The legal markets in Austin and San Antonio remain very competitive. Austin and San Antonio are both “quality of life” cities with relatively small legal markets. There is little lateral movement, and firms tend to be most interested in candidates with some kind of direct connection to these cities.
The most sought-after attorneys in Austin are intellectual property attorneys with technical degrees. There is currently a demand for well-credentialed candidates with electrical engineering or computer science degrees with backgrounds in patent prosecution and litigation. We have also recently heard from several law firms that are seeking junior to mid-level “superstar” candidates with backgrounds in corporate, energy, and real estate law.
In San Antonio, there is currently a need for lateral partners with significant books of business in the areas of real estate law and corporate securities law. Additionally, there is limited demand for well-credentialed, junior energy associates.
By John Davis Powell, Esq.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans legal market is in a state of utter disarray. New Orleans is home to approximately a third of Louisiana’s attorneys, almost all of Louisiana’s major law firms, and the Louisiana Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Due to the flooding in New Orleans, the Louisiana Supreme Court has relocated to Baton Rouge, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has moved its headquarters to Houston, TX. Likewise, several of New Orleans’ largest law firms have set up temporary offices in Baton Rouge; Lafayette; Houston, TX; and Jackson, MS. Unfortunately, many other New Orleans law firms have simply had to wait to assess the damage caused by the storm. In the end, it may be weeks, months, or even years before the storm’s ultimate effect on the New Orleans legal market is known. Our hearts go out to all those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The Southeast Region
By Raffaele Murdocca
Corporate M&A is still very strong. We have a number of openings for which firms are seeking associates with 2 to 5 years of corporate M&A experience. We believe that this practice will continue to be busy. Corporate securities, capital markets, and private placement work are busy as well.
Commercial Real Estate - Firms in Atlanta are still looking for associates with 2 to 6 years of experience in this practice area. Firms are seeking candidates with experience in acquisition and disposition of property, leasing, or lending work.
Litigation - We continue to see some activity in the areas of complex commercial, construction, and securities litigation. Most of the firms are interested in candidates who have 2 to 5 years of experience.
Finance - We have several positions for associates with at least 2 years of finance experience. The experience can be in real estate or banking. We believe this to be a strong growth area in Atlanta because many of the firms are looking to continue to add partners in this specific practice area.
By Raffaele Murdocca
Banking, Lending, Structured Finance, and Capital Markets all continue to be the busiest practice areas. In most cases, associate pay and bonuses are much higher here than in all other markets in the Southeast, while the cost of living is still less. We have a number of positions in all of these areas of practice with top firms. At some firms, the pay is on par with large New York firms.
Commercial Real Estate - Firms are looking for junior associates with 1 to 3 years of experience in the acquisition and disposition of property and lending work.
Corporate M&A - We continue to see an uptick in the demand for corporate M&A associates with at least 2 years of experience.
By Raffaele Murdocca
Partners - There are several firms looking to grow their Raleigh offices. If you are a partner with some portable business, you should contact us. We have many opportunities that would offer you more offices/reach for your existing client base.
Miami and South Florida
By Raffaele Murdocca
Real Estate continues to be the busiest practice area in the city. Firms are looking for candidates with experience in acquisition and disposition of property, leasing, and lending work. We have several firms that are also looking for associates with condo/homeowner experience. There continues to be a lot of development going on throughout South Florida—hotels, office buildings, and luxury condos. Our clients are looking for associates with at least 2 years of experience.
Corporate M&A and Securities - We expect this area to continue its pace, and it is just the beginning, with many more positions hitting the market soon.
Litigation - There is a great need for commercial litigation and securities litigation associates throughout South Florida. Most firms are looking for associates with 2 to 6 years of experience.
Trusts and Estates - We are seeing a few needs for trusts and estates attorneys with at least 3 years of experience. We expect this trend to continue, especially with so many baby boomers moving to Florida.
Orlando and Tampa
By Raffaele Murdocca
Top practice areas in these two regions include corporate; real estate, including land use and zoning; tax; and commercial litigation.
International - Europe
By Danice M. Kowalczyk
London is, and will likely always be, a legal hotbed. Like New York, it has that cosmopolitan flash that entices weary lawyers to its shores. That said, not everybody is qualified for London. The majority of law firms hiring lateral lawyers are seeking either U.K.-qualified lawyers or U.K.-qualified and U.S.-licensed lawyers (i.e., dual-qualified). A much smaller number of openings is open to U.S. (only) practitioners. How can you tell? If you see “PQE,” then that usually means U.K.-qualified.
Corporate continues to be the key practice area for London (along with most of Europe). Over the summer, capital markets and/or securities practitioners have been very highly sought after. General corporate practitioners fall second on the list, with “general corporate” meaning broadly based practitioners with capital markets/securities, mergers and acquisitions, joint venture, and/or licensing experience. As for mergers and acquisitions practitioners, the most marketable practitioners are those with private company experience. All in all, the best candidates hail from Wall Street and/or Magic Circle firms, as London absolutely loves these candidates.
Several U.S. firms are also developing strong practice areas in both antitrust (or competition, as it’s called overseas) and private equity. Lawyers in these areas with long-term aspirations in London should look forward to seeing opportunities in these practice areas.
By Deirdre Sullivan, Esq.
The continental Europe market covers the area from France to Russia. Locally qualified attorneys fill the majority of positions because in most areas, the practices are locally focused. However, there are several cities with a strong interest in U.K.- and U.S.-qualified attorneys: Paris, Brussels, Munich, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Moscow. Each of these cities is a corporate and financial center with an international focus. The practices in these cities are often largely composed of cross-border transactions. Many of the large New York and London firms have satellite offices in these cities to service both their New York- and London-based clients that are active in international financial markets. These clients expect to receive the same type of service and “deal savvy” from a firm’s attorneys in Paris or Munich as they do from their New York or London counterparts. The New York and London firms, therefore, often employ U.K-and U.S-qualified attorneys with 2-5 years’ experience in New York or London for these local markets.
For a U.K.-or U.S.-qualified attorney, fluency in the language of the country he/she wishes to relocate to is crucial. A personal connection to the city or region is also an important factor for the hiring firm. While firms appreciate an adventurous spirit in a candidate’s desire to live abroad, the realities of life in a foreign city can be challenging; and firms want candidates who are fully committed to living and working in a particular region for several years. Firms are skeptical of candidates who appear to be job hopping as a means to “see the world” rather than having a serious interest in advancing their careers by expanding their work experience. Candidates should be prepared to explain their decisions to seek to work abroad. As always, firms will consider only candidates with top academic and work credentials.
Capital Markets: Attorneys with capital markets experience are in high demand throughout continental Europe. Firms with offices in Paris, Brussels, Munich, and Moscow are particularly focused on capital markets work, with a cross-border emphasis. Firms are looking for attorneys with mergers and acquisitions, private equity, venture capital, and corporate restructuring experience, or more traditional structured finance and banking experience. Securitization, while still an active practice area, is less in demand than in the past.
Energy/Project Finance: Attorneys with energy and project finance experience continue to be sought after in continental Europe. This work is concentrated primarily in Düsseldorf and Moscow.
Tax: Attorneys with tax experience are in high demand in all three German markets: Munich, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf. Local and E.U. experience is generally preferred in this practice area, although U.K. and U.S. tax experience can be relevant depending on the client and the nature of the transactions.
Real Estate: There is a current demand for real estate attorneys in Frankfurt. Local and E.U. experience is generally preferred in this practice area.
Competition and Regulatory: Brussels continues to be the center of this market. Demand for attorneys in this practice area has tapered off in recent months, but is expected to remain constant.
International - Asia
By Danice M. Kowalczyk
Hong Kong remains the golden child in Asia. Not surprisingly, corporate practitioners (mostly, experienced laterals) are always in high demand in such city—with capital markets/securities, project finance, private equity, and mergers and acquisitions being the popular practice areas. In fact, lately, it is project finance that is getting the most play.
That said, this is a sophisticated market; hence, if you are looking at Hong Kong, be prepared to work hard. Again, mid-level candidates from top New York or China firms fare best—if they come from a top law school, possess stellar academics, and have extensive language skills (English; Mandarin; and, very often, Cantonese).
Again, if you do not have top credentials, your chances of success are slim to none. Similar to London, candidates from Wall Street or Magic Circle firms are largely desired. Possessing Chinese law experience is an added bonus—along with English/Mandarin language skills. Those candidates who have project finance, capital markets/securities, and/or mergers and acquisitions fare best. International firms are increasingly serving clients that are entering the Chinese market; and as such, Beijing offices of U.S. and U.K. firms are staffing up.
This past summer (as always), Shanghai has been somewhat quiet compared to Hong Kong and Beijing. Shanghai, however, will think outside the box a bit in that openings for general corporate practitioners are very common (although language skills usually include English; Mandarin; and, occasionally, Putonghua). It may be possible that Shanghai firms are attempting to lure lawyers to their region by opening up their requirements a bit—and that’s okay. Shanghai is gaining a reputation as a more “gentle” place to practice in that offices in this region very often support or handle deal overflow from Hong Kong or Beijing practices. Expect to see new branch offices of international firms opening in Shanghai.
Tokyo is continually seeking mergers and acquisitions, project finance, securities, and finance practitioners with Japanese/English language skills. A long-term interest in relocating to Japan must be demonstrated for consideration.
All in all, Asia rules the roost as the region with the biggest desire for project finance and/or general finance practitioners. If your interest lies therein, Asia is calling.