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Practicing in ... Washington, D.C.

published December 08, 2011

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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( 3 votes, average: 3 out of 5)
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The hottest places to live, work, drink, dine, and play in the nation's capital.

The city that Thomas Jefferson called "that Indian swamp in the wilderness" has risen above its sleepy southern roots, recovered from the awful riots of the 1960s, and now-bonus-has a mayor who doesn't smoke crack! Washington, D.C., has always been an "it" place to practice law, but today, to the surprise of many, the nation's capital has become an "it" city, period.

As a lawyer, you're in your element in D.C., which has more J.D.'s per capita among its half-million residents than any other U.S. metropolis. From large A-list law firms to small civil rights organizations, from liberal enterprises like the Sierra Club to the conservative Heritage Foundation, there's legal work for every appetite. Neighboring northern Virginia is one of the fastest-growing high-tech belts in the country, and then there's the hometown industry-the federal government. Some view the U.S. Justice Department as the country's largest law firm, and a new president means new jobs.

At its best, the District is intellectual, like New York (but more affordable); future-oriented, like Boston (but friendlier); and culturally rich, like any European capital (but without the tight black clothes). At its worst? John F. Kennedy once called the nation's capital "a city of southern efficiency and northern charm." But then, that was long ago.

Virtually every decent-sized law firm has a D.C. outpost. For megabucks salaries, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is the alpha firm. For influence, no shop is more "in" than the D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, home of Bush election savior Ted Olson.

It's tough to beat a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship when it comes to government jobs (plus, you have access to the legendary High Court hoops gym). The D.C. Public Defenders' Service is one of the finest offices of its kind (it's known for unusually good lawyers and small caseloads). Lawyers at CCIPS, the D.O.J.'s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, handle such cutting-edge legal issues as economic espionage, privacy violations and encryption battles.

Want to go high-tech? Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is widely regarded as one of the area's top firms for cyber lawyers. Got a green bent? Beveridge & Diamond is the nation's oldest and largest shop devoted exclusively to environmental law.

Adams-Morgan, about a mile north of the White House, is arguably the most popular place for young lawyers to live. Settle here, and you'll nest in a nice (if divvied-up) town house with such classy old touches as big, heavy doors, parquet floors and carved molding. You'll also be able to brag about easy access to some of the best restaurants, bars and clubs in town.

The U Street corridor is Washington's answer to New York's East Village. Here you'll find pierced-body types mixing with young professionals in an upwardly transitioning neighborhood that still has a whiff of "I might just get jumped."

Teatro Goldoni (1909 K Street NW) has appeared on more than one list of America's best restaurants. Asian/Venetian fusion food is served between walls covered with commedia dell'arte scenes. It's a quick walk from the K Street law offices, so attorneys can eat between brokering deals and lobbying (known locally as "educating") members of Congress.

Big-shot D.C. lawyers, congressional types and local sports figures have been regulars at Olive's (1600 K Street NW) since it opened in October 1999. The earth-toned dining room has a clear view of the open kitchen, where chef Steve Mannino prepares meals with a Mediterranean slant. Be sure to try the wood-grilled sea bass over horseradish mashed potatoes, with chilled lobster and fennel salad. If you're thirsty, you can choose from 350 wines.

Madam's Organ, in Adams-Morgan (2461 18th Street NW), is a simple, old-fashioned take on an all-American bar, with great music, from blues and country to Latin. Named one of America's best bars by both Playboy and The Washington Post, it must be doing something right.

The hottest dance club in the city is Republic Gardens (1355 U Street NW). The place is packed with people who can-get this-actually dance. Consider yourself warned.

The Washington Opera (at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW) has long been among D.C.'s most beloved high-culture draws, and that was before Plácido Domingo signed on as artistic director in 1996. Washington's sexiest and most daring theater company, The Woolly Mammoth, will be in residence at the Kennedy Center through 2003 while it awaits the renovation of a new space.

Locals head to the FBI Building (935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) for the coolest tour in town-a spin through FBI HQ. Highlights include a look at the forensics labs and a firearms demo by a bureau agent. The ghost of J. Edgar Hoover in drag may or may not appear.

In D.C., high fashion consists of anything other than a blue or gray suit. That said, the most fun, and elegant, place to shop is Georgetown. Among the hippest boutiques are Caché and Giotto for women's clothes and Niccolo for men's.

After you've made your first million, consider moving to G-town. Buy a mansion, settle down and wave to your neighbors, Katharine Graham, C. Boyden Gray and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then, over Sunday morning coffee in the breakfast nook, wax nostalgic with your lawyer-spouse about your "youthful indiscretions" on U Street.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

published December 08, 2011

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 3 votes, average: 3 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.