Recruiting at firms in West Los Angeles remains exceptionally strong. While most firms put the breaks on lateral hiring at the end of the summer to make way for on-campus recruiting for their summer programs, there has been no slowdown so far this year for lateral hiring. The hottest practice areas in West L.A. are real estate, labor & employment, and corporate. There is also a strong demand for mid-level tax associates.
The hottest market in West L.A. is unquestionably real estate. If you have a sincere interest in real estate law and have some experience in the field, there are numerous opportunities for you at big firms and boutiques. In fact, we had one associate from a big New York firm with one year of real estate experience get four offers before he started turning away firms! Many firms are in such dire need of real estate associates that admission to the California Bar is not required. Partner candidates need not have large books of business. We have openings for real estate transactional and litigation positions. Attorneys with complex real estate finance experience are particularly desired.
Labor and employment is strong across the board. Large and small firms are looking for attorneys with labor and employment experience at the junior, mid, and senior levels. Firms prefer a balance between litigation and counseling experience, but will consider someone with solid experience in either.
One Westside firm has come to us to help them find superstar corporate candidates. Corporate associates and partners in the highest demand are those with experience inbanking and asset-backed lending. Although 2004 has been a banner year for corporate hiring, competition for the big-firm positions remains stiff. The two main reasons for this competitive market are that (1) there are a large number of highly qualified corporate attorneys who waited for the market to rebound and are now looking to make their moves; and (2) there is a substantial increase in the number of attorneys from big firms in New York wanting to relocate to California.
Downtown Los Angeles
by Lisa Orlandi, Esq.
The market in Los Angeles continues to be strong. We are happy to report that firms' hiring needs have remained steady throughout 2004. In particular, real estate is still one of the hottest areas of law. If you have a true interest in real estate law and have some experience in the field, there are opportunities in L.A. for you. The need is so great that firms will consider attorneys relocating to L.A. that are not yet admitted to practice in California. Current openings for real estate include both transactional and litigation jobs. Especially desirable are attorneys with sophisticated real estate finance experience. There are opportunities with large national firms and with boutique practices.
Firms are currently hiring corporate associates to fill their corporate needs. These jobs are typically with large national firms and seek junior- to mid-level associates with solid corporate experience and strong academics. The jobs are varied and require experience with securities, finance, banking, M&A, and debt offerings. Candidates with exemplary academic backgrounds and strong work experience will be seriously considered by these firms even if they aren't admitted in California.
Litigation remains one of the strongest areas in L.A. There are numerous opportunities for experienced litigators in the areas of complex commercial and business litigation. Jobs are available at all experience levels. The firms hiring litigators range from national firms to smaller, boutique firms.
Another hot area is labor and employment. Firms are hiring attorneys that have strong labor and employment skills. There are opportunities for stellar labor and employment attorneys of all year levels. If you are a member of the California bar and have strong labor and employment litigation experience, now is a great time to apply.
The IP field is not as hot in L.A. as in other areas. However, there are still many opportunities for experienced IP litigators and patent attorneys. This is especially true for attorneys with a technical background and an electrical engineering or computer science degree.
Other areas where there are current needs are bankruptcy, ERISA, environmental, health care, tax, reinsurance litigation, construction litigation, and trusts and estates.
by Eamonn Markham, Esq.
The recovery described in an earlier edition of this newsletter has continued in fits and starts. There is no doubt, however, that it is still in its early stages, with plenty more hiring to be done. It is certainly an opportune time to land a new job for any attorney seeking a lateral move.
The bloodletting was so severe during the downturn that a number of firms are still understaffed relative to the opportunity that lies ahead, and these firms are in danger of entering the recovery with anemic numbers of associates--and partners--in certain practice areas. The traditional August slowdown may have masked this deficit to some extent. Count on another crunch ahead in the fourth quarter, and for any would-be lateral candidates, that spells opportunity.
In addition to the rosier macroeconomic forecast, there are a number of positive microeconomic developments that augur well for anyone seeking another job at a large firm. The colonization of the Bay Area by a number of the nation's leading firms has continued.
Moreover, there are many national firms with only two to three dozen attorneys locally that are looking to grow attorney headcounts to a hundred-plus over the next few years--or even sooner. Since law firms are by and large very careful organizations which only move after great deliberation, the likelihood is that you can bank on these intra-firm growth spurts happening. A rising hiring tide lifts all lateral boats.
Corporate law has completed its phoenix-like rebirth from the ashes. After the fiery meltdown, there was a consolidation phase, in which a number of partners and indeed even entire practice groups switched firms. That process continues, and is likely to go on for quite some time as a result of the above-mentioned factors, but at least some of the dust has settled.
Now that these lateral partners have landed at new firms and their practices are starting to pick up again, many of them are seeking new associates to bring on board. That could include you. If you managed to avoid the fate of many hapless corporate attorneys during the downturn and held onto your job at a large firm without changing practice areas, that adds value to your candidacy--sort of like teak planking on a yacht.
But even if you fell victim to the purges and have the right academic credentials, now is a good time to get your corporate career back on track. The next several years will be a wonderful time to move up the ranks and eventually get your own clients, which will preclude your ever being caught out by factors beyond your control again.
New litigation opportunities arise on an almost-daily basis. In sheer numbers, there are more litigation jobs than any other type. It is also impossible to generalize about the types of firms where these openings lie: they run the gamut from the largest to the smallest, and there are current openings in a variety of different practice areas, from general commercial to securities to employment and others.
To find the lit fit that's right for you, get in touch with our office today.
Special Note: IP Litigation
While new commercial litigators are being trained all the time, IP litigators who have been through the fire of actual trials and who have Big Law-type experience are not so easily replaced. Like talented corporate associates, these attorneys were hard-hit by the recent recession. There is currently a dire shortage of IP litigators throughout the Bay Area.
Real estate continues to be a hot practice area locally. It shows no signs of slowing. This is true both at the partner and the associate level. There are a bevy of both general real estate and real estate finance jobs available. Call today to plot the next move in your real estate career.
There was a spate of openings for patent prosecutors over the last several months--chiefly in the electrical engineering and biotech arts. Although there are still plentiful opportunities in this field, the recovery has been a little uneven after that initial hiring spree.
Long-term, there should be no doubt that patent prosecution will go from strength to strength. A number of firms that are new entrants to the local market will eventually start West Coast prosecution practices. These firms are concentrating on building out their patent litigation practices first.
by Eamonn Markham, Esq.
The recession in Seattle was even worse than the rogue wave that hit the Bay Area. Like San Francisco, Seattle has had a renaissance of sorts, though it is in an earlier phase of the recovery cycle.
However, there are opportunities to discuss there in most practice areas, so please get in touch to find out more.
The cautious optimism espoused by BCG Attorney Search in early 2004 relative to the Boston legal market has turned into something less than euphoria but slightly more than optimism. Slowly but surely, the market is gaining momentum, and these are the areas hitting their strides:
Patent prosecution: This practice area remains hot for prosecutors as well as litigators. Those with science or medical backgrounds have an obvious advantage, especially those with electrical engineering degrees. Candidates coming from firms with life sciences practices are also becoming a much-sought-after group.
Corporate: Corporate practices are experiencing a surge in work this season and are once again beginning to seek stellar corporate candidates as well as partner-level individuals with a book of business. Currently, securities candidates and those with finance or investment fund management experience are desired. M&A candidates might want to stay where they are for the moment; however, if Boston is anything like New York, the market for M&A associates should be picking up shortly.
Litigation: Litigation candidates at every level remain hot commodities.
Employment and Real Estate: Some interest exists for candidates in these areas, most of which, however, involves mid-level associates, namely 3-5 years.
Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy remains a busy area, especially where a candidate has corporate reorganization, restructuring, and complex financing experience.
by Robert Gibbs
In Connecticut, a number of the major players in areas like Stamford, Hartford, and New Haven are hiring, and there is a fair amount of diversity of opportunity. The lateral market has made a slight shift in the favor of corporate attorneys. Most of the top Connecticut firms and national satellite offices in the state are looking to bring on junior associates with two to four years' experience. M&A, finance, and private equity appear to be the hot practice areas, especially in the Stamford area. A number of firms appear to have needs for litigators. Most of the available positions are for junior associates with strong commercial litigation experience. There is also a demand for junior real estate and land-use associates throughout the state. Tax and trust and estates are also active downstate. An LL.M is always a plus. Insurance is still showing signs of life in Hartford.
by Robert Gibbs
The New Jersey market continues to grow and diversify in practice areas as well as geographically. Litigation still constitutes the lion's share of the opportunities, but other disciplines are not very far behind.
Litigation positions appear to be in abundance throughout the state. Commercial litigators are in the highest demand, with insurance, mass tort and environmental not lagging too far behind. The number of employment/workers' compensation openings is also increasing. Traditionally Newark has been the hotbed for these positions. However, litigation opportunities can now be found throughout the Garden State, with a strong concentration in the North Central region in areas like Morristown and Roseland.
There are also a fairly significant number of corporate opportunities for mid-level associates throughout the state. Once again these positions are mostly concentrated in Northern New Jersey, most likely due to the proximity to New York. That is not to say that a corporate attorney is without prospects in the more suburban parts of the state. Corporate departments appear to be growing in every region, from Newark to Somerville to Princeton. Most of these opportunities are best suited for the corporate generalist.
There is also movement in real estate (particularly relating to land use and zoning), trust and estates and tax, while intellectual property positions are few and far between.
While the larger New Jersey firms and satellite offices of big national firms seem to get most of the press, the midsize suburban firms appear to be flourishing. A number of firms ranging from 50 to 100 attorneys seems to be enjoying a significant amount of growth in the more "family-oriented" regions of the state. New Jersey is quickly becoming an attractive alternative for mid-level New York associates. This is convenient because the bulk of the lateral positions available are reserved for associates with experience from large New York firms.
The New York market is one in transition, and by all appearances, it's a transition for the better. There are certain types of associates who are more in demand than they have been in years. And, generally speaking, the market overall is becoming more and more robust.
It is certainly still true that the New York market is marked by the diversity in opportunities. Unlike 2002 and 2003, there is not one particular practice area that dominates the market. Firms, depending on their practice, clientele, and areas of expertise, have needs that run from litigation to traditional corporate to tax. At some firms, they may need lawyers in all three areas. The breakthrough practice areas in this quarter, however, are:
M&A and/or Private Equity
Some firms are looking for associates in mergers and acquisitions or private equity. Firms are more commonly seeking experience in both. However, associates who have extensive private equity experience, even in the absence of other corporate experience, are likely to do quite well. The magic class year is currently 2001. Although this is a positive sign for those in the class of 2001 (who heretofore have seen only stagnant hiring economies), firms are complaining that it is difficult to find a 2001 associate who has a good deal of relevant experience. While this is certainly a Catch-22 (it was difficult for 2001 graduates to get corporate experience in their first two years without a vibrant transaction-oriented economy), it does allow associates who took every opportunity to jump on the work that came through the door to show potential employers their stuff.
Structured finance practices do not exist in every firm. Often, a particular firm that does structured finance handles it in earnest, often specializing in one or more particular niche within the structured finance field. As a result, young associates can often get a great deal of responsibility on particular transactions and build great relationships with clients. The other important dynamic is that because a discrete number of firms handle structured finance at the top level, associates who are currently in well-known practices have a great deal of mobility.
Here, recruitment is often an issue of client development. How so? High-profile patent litigation (take the Viagra patent litigation, for example) is marquis work. Handling these types of cases is highly desirable, and firms are often in stiff competition to get the client's business. Therefore, having associates who not only excel in the litigation realm, but have a complete understanding of the scientific issues (because they have a biochemistry background, for example) can make the difference in attracting clients. Therefore, our patent litigators, in particular, are often able to choose a new firm based on what type of underlying scientific issue interests them. They have that freedom because lawyers with their scientific background are a rare commodity.
We have a myriad of real estate positions currently available in the New York market. The opportunities that exist, however, are more significant than just the wide range of choices. Many real estate associates are not born and bred to be such. To the contrary, they come to the real estate practice having started in other practice areas. When the work was not available, many associates shifted over to real estate and found that they quite liked it. They may not, however, love the group itself. Thus, the abundance of real estate opportunities gives the real estate associate an opportunity to find the right people to work with in the practice that they've come to love.
As always, litigation positions of all kinds are flourishing. From general commercial to white-collar to insurance coverage, litigation positions abound. Other practice areas that remain constant are corporate tax, ERISA, employment, and patent prosecution. In smaller doses, trusts and estates and trademark searches also pop up for the appropriately qualified lawyer.
Law firm's priorities in recruitment of partner-level candidates have not changed much, although there certainly are differences from firm to firm. Certainly, many full-service firms project to grow their partnership ranks with principally transactional lawyers, so whether it's a corporate, finance, or any transactional practice, it reigns supreme. Although this does not operate to the exclusion of rainmakers with promising litigation, bankruptcy, or intellectual property practices, an entrepreneurial lawyer with a solid corporate practice is likely to see the largest range of options. Many different types of firms are in the process of ramping up their New York practices. Depending on the firm, this may be an initiative in a specific practice area or more generally as a specific plan for growth. Firms are increasingly trying to find new synergies among practices and clients and are generally more open to the less mainstream business plans.
What is particularly interesting is that a lawyer with a self-sustaining book of business has an opportunity in this climate to really understand the range of opportunities. What are your compensation expectations? Is it more important to you to have your annual success measured by productivity or be set more predictably? Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or an integral part of the big pond? Now is the best time in some time to answer those questions.
In The City of Brotherly Love, we see the legal market steadily rising with increasingly more opportunities as the economy continues to pick up. Right now, the hottest areas are corporate and intellectual property (mostly patent prosecution, and to a much lesser extent, IP litigation). These areas are very active right now. If you are a litigator or have real estate experience, you will find numerous opportunities as well. Lastly, if your specialty is trusts and estates/tax, there are some top firms looking for attorneys with this type of experience as well. And if you're a partner with portable business, you will find many firms are interested in speaking with you to help grow existing practice areas.
We are continuing to see an upswing and in the Washington, DC, legal market in numerous practice areas, and many firms seem to be moving from the "cautious-optimism" phase to the "we-are-overloaded-and-need-to-hire-more-people-quickly" phase. This, of course, translates into a wider range of immediate opportunities as firms are looking to quickly fill the vacant offices from the drought over the past several years.
Corporate lawyers are finally becoming excited again. For those happy where they are, they seem to be happy because the work is at a steady flow; and for those looking for greener pastures, there seems to be a healthy level of opportunity in a wide range of corporate fields. In particular, given the numerous mutual fund issues going on, attorneys with 1940 Act experience are in high demand due to the highly specialized nature of the work. If you have 1940 Act experience and are open to hearing about other opportunities, don't walk, run to the phone and call us to hear about numerous positions we are working on.
We are also helping firms find attorneys with experience in a wide range of other corporate practices, such as financial services, banking/banking regulatory, securities (securities enforcement/NASD work, IPOs, and securities regulation), structured finance and lending/loans, and mergers and acquisitions, among others.
We are seeing considerable action in numerous other fields where there is a high demand for attorneys. First, intellectual property is still chugging along, and those with patent prosecution experience and strong science backgrounds (master's or Ph.D. degrees or backgrounds in electrical engineering) are in the highest demand. We are also seeing a demand for patent litigators with science backgrounds as well. Soft-IP attorneys will be pleased to see that the previously dormant trademark/copyright market seems to be picking up once again, and we are working on a number of searches for trademark/copyright associates.
Other fields that have a healthy number of job opportunities are real estate, ERISA/employee benefits, health care, antitrust, tax, labor and employment, insurance coverage, international trade, energy, and telecommunications.
The common thread that runs through many fields is the need for experienced litigators, so if you have solid litigation experience, you'll be able to find numerous attractive opportunities in a range of practice areas.
Lastly, partners with significant books of business are always in demand. Partners with at least $1,000,000 in business will find a firm of their choice. In fact, for some practice areas that are currently experiencing difficulty attracting work, the required book of business is quite modest. Because the trend in the law firm marketplace is consolidation, we would suggest that now is the right time for those partners inclined to move to do so.
In sum, the region's legal market has continued to improve from last year, and if you have been waiting for the right time to consider opportunities, now may be an ideal time to strike while the iron's still hot. We would be happy to speak with you about your short- and long-term career goals in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland markets and see if any of our many opportunities match what you've been looking for.
The Southeast Atlanta
by Raffaele Murdocca
Commercial Real Estate is by far still the busiest area of lateral hiring throughout the city. From small to very large, it seems that every law firm in Atlanta needs one commercial real estate associate. Firms in Atlanta are looking for associates to have anywhere between 2 to 6 years of experience in this practice area. Firms are looking for experience with acquisition & disposition of property, leasing, lending or affordable housing work.
Corporate M&A and Securities are pretty busy. There are a number of openings for candidates with 33' & 34' Act securities experience. We also have positions for general corporate M&A and finance associates.
Tax is starting to pick up. There is a need for younger tax associates with an LL.M. in tax who have done exceptionally well in law school. We have both litigation and transactional tax positions.
Litigation is still seeing tremendous activity. The areas of complex commercial, product liability, construction, and securities litigation are all areas where lateral placements are being made every day. Most of the firms are interested in candidates that have 2 to 5 years of experience.
IP Litigation attorneys are in demand. Specifically, we have a need for a number of attorneys with patent litigation experience. We believe that this is going to continue to be a very robust area.
The Southwest Arizona
by Jennifer McKee, Esq.
The Arizona market has been picking up lately, but it is not yet booming. Generally, opportunities are most plentiful for attorneys with two to five years of solid experience at a top law firm. Interestingly, however, there also are positions available for more senior attorneys with backgrounds in areas such as real estate and tax; a book of business is not an absolute prerequisite. Real estate and intellectual property are particularly hot practice areas overall. While the vast majority of opportunities in Arizona are located in Phoenix, positions do occasionally open up in Scottsdale and Tucson.
While stellar, midlevel litigators are always in demand, we have not seen a lot of movement in this practice area lately. But construction litigators who are admitted to the Arizona Bar are needed, as are patent litigators with technical degrees. The labor-and-employment market has improved recently as well.
There is a lot of demand in Arizona for highly qualified real estate transactional attorneys. Candidates should have experience with sophisticated transactions in areas including purchase and sale, leasing, development, and finance. The firms that are hiring in this area demand outstanding academic credentials and a large-firm background. The need for outstanding real estate transactional attorneys is so strong here that more senior attorneys, who traditionally face a relatively tough market when making a lateral move, have more opportunities open to them than usual.
The corporate market has not yet made a comeback in Arizona, but it is picking up gradually. Candidates who have two to four years of experience in mergers, acquisitions, and securities are likeliest to find employment in this market. We anticipate that the corporate market will improve steadily over the next six months.
The tax market remains slow in Arizona. Opportunities do arise occasionally for highly qualified tax attorneys, however; for example, one well-regarded firm is seeking an of-counsel/partner-level tax attorney with an LL.M. We expect to see more growth in this practice area after the corporate market improves.
The bankruptcy market remains slow in Arizona, but opportunities arise occasionally for attorneys with strong experience in workouts and other sophisticated bankruptcy matters.
Attorneys who have technical degrees and solid experience with patent prosecution or patent litigation are in demand in Arizona. The most highly coveted degree here, as in most markets, is an Electrical Engineering degree. Candidates with degrees in mechanical engineering or computer science also have opportunities. Admission to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a definite plus.
Las Vegas is a booming economy offering prospective candidates a number of opportunities. The city is developing at an exponential rate, which in turn is generating a lot of real estate transactional work and litigation. Most firms prefer candidates with the Nevada Bar, but it is not a requirement.
The hottest practice areas are:
Real Estate transaction--particularly those with experience in handling leasing and purchase and sales for commercial real estate developers.
Litigation--general commercial litigators with 2-5 years of experience are in demand.
Construction--litigators with construction defect and various other construction-related issues are sough after. Attorneys with 2-6 years of experience in this area are sought after.
To a lesser extent tax, intellectual property, as well as medical malpractice lawyers are in demand.
by Lisa Orlandi, Esq.
For attorneys looking to enter the Utah market, it is imperative that the attorney have a tie to the area. The primary geographical location for the legal market in Utah is Salt Lake City. Typically, the law firms in Salt Lake City hire their attorneys from law schools in the area. A candidate who is relocating to Salt Lake City typically has family in the area or was raised in that area. Firms in this area want to hire associates that will be there for the long haul. Accordingly, the firms look for signs that the associate is committed to practicing in Salt Lake City. One important consideration is that the associate be admitted to the Utah bar.
The market in Utah is not as active as it is in other parts of the country. Correspondingly, the firms in Utah are currently hiring experienced attorneys. In particular, there is a need for attorneys with experience in commercial litigation and IP litigation. Furthermore, firms are looking for qualified senior corporate attorneys, especially attorneys with experience in corporate securities and M&A. Firms are also looking for associates with experience in products liability, tax, real estate, energy, and telecommunications matters.
With several recent acquisitions, many firms in Chicago have successfully expanded in key practice areas this past quarter. Notable acquisitions include Gardner Carton's significant addition of 13 health care attorneys from Akin Gump and the five-lawyer Stickler & Nelson labor and employment boutique and Jenner and Block's acquisition of Roper & Quigg, a recognized IP boutique of approximately 18 attorneys. Expansion continues to be the major component of many firms' strategic plans, with the ultimate goal for some firms being to merge with another player to achieve the necessary growth to survive, such as Wildman, which recently announced in a major Chicago newspaper its interest in merging with another firm. The continued growth of firms through mergers and acquisitions in Chicago, coupled with the encouraging AmLaw100-reported growth nationally in 2003 in areas including average revenue per lawyer, average compensation, and average profits per partner, leads us to believe that the last quarter of this year and beyond will bring promising prospects for laterals seeking to transition to alternative positions.
Partners with Business
We continue to receive requests from firms of all sizes for partners with business. This past quarter, we have seen an increased need for partners with business in IP litigation, health care, commercial litigation, and corporate finance. We would also be very interested in speaking with partners with business who have expertise in traditional labor and employment as well as employment litigation matters.
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.
Corporate/ Finance and Lending Very Strong
Middle-market mergers and acquisitions deals have significantly increased this past quarter in Chicago. As a result of this increased activity, we have seen a growing need at a wide variety of firms in Chicago for associates with anywhere from 1-6 years of exposure to corporate finance, banking, and lending matters. A few large firms are also seeking to hire associates with expertise in more specialized areas, including fund formation, private equity transactions, investment services, derivatives, and hedge fund representation. Of course, we also continue to move corporate partners with portable books at all levels.
High Demand for Outstanding Litigators
Strong litigation associates are highly sought out by most of the most prestigious international and national firms in Chicago. Associates with anywhere from 2-7 years of experience and excellent litigation skills, including deposition, motion practice, and first/second chair trial experience should contact our office. Evidence of excellent research, writing, and analytical skills is absolutely necessary.
Real Estate Remains Strong
Highly qualified real estate attorneys continue to be in high demand in Chicago. Exposure to sophisticated commercial real estate transactions involving lending, leasing, acquisitions, and dispositions is preferred. Many of these prestigious law firms, as well as smaller firms and real estate boutiques we work with on a regular basis, are anxious to hire associates with anywhere from 2-5 years of experience. Although most firms are requiring stellar academics and large law firm experience, some firms are willing to consider candidates who have received excellent training and have been given a high level of responsibility at smaller, highly regarded firms. Senior associate level candidates will also be given serious consideration.
Intellectual Property and Biotech -- Electrical Engineers, Ph.D.s, Chemists
There has been a marked increase in the need for biotech attorneys. Patent prosecution attorneys with anywhere from 1-7 years of experience are in high demand, and associates with technical degrees in electrical engineering and chemistry should apply immediately. Similar to our last report, we continue to see a need for associates with backgrounds in chemistry, organic synthesis, chemical engineering, biochemistry, and biology.
Patent litigators with 1-7 years of experience and backgrounds in computer science, electrical engineering, and chemistry should call us for immediate consideration. Admission to the Patent Bar and excellent technical and law school academics are required.
DETROIT AND GRAND RAPIDS
The most prestigious firms in Detroit are seeking experienced litigators with anywhere from 2-5 and 6-10 years of experience. Junior-level bankruptcy associates should also contact us. Detroit and Grand Rapids firms consistently call us to assist them with partner acquisitions. In high demand are partners with significant business in key areas, including corporate transactional/finance, real estate, environmental, and labor and employment. If you are a partner who is practicing in Detroit or Grand Rapids 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 Joanna Joplin
Ah, Europe. Who hasn't dreamt of living in the Old World? The cuisine of Paris, the history and romance of Rome, the pub culture of London - these romantic notions (some true, some false) of European culture continue to draw attorneys from all over the world to this continent. Not to mention the travel opportunities you have while living in or near Europe. For these reasons and more, Europe continues to draw the best and brightest attorneys from all over the world who are looking broaden their professional and personal experiences.
However, not every candidate is perfectly suited in terms of European marketability. While great grades from a top law school or university and solid work experience from a well-known firm are essential, there are other factors that firms in Europe consider before making the decision to extend an offer, or even an interview, including the local state of the market, visa/work permit issues and other expenses, and the candidate's long-term potential at the firm.
Although BCG's London office works with candidates qualified in all parts of the world, we are frequently approached by candidates who are qualified to practice outside of the E.U. (whether in the U.S. or elsewhere) who want to move to Europe. The business of placing foreign attorneys in law firms in Europe poses unique challenges that are not present when placing local attorneys. Therefore, this article attempts to address a few of the unique recruiting issues that arise in placing those candidates in law firms in Europe, while advising potential candidates on how to assess their own marketability for a successful job search.
Considering the Market -- Should You Start Your Job Search Now?
Market economics is the first thing to consider when embarking on a job search in any region, especially in Europe. Whether or not firms are willing (and able) to hire associates - and what type of associates they will hire - obviously dictates whether your job search is fruitful or a waste of time. While our colleagues Stateside have embraced the recent - albeit slow moving - recovery in the legal recruiting market, the ripple effect hasn't quite reached those of us working across the pond. Despite the continued growth of the European Union and the upswing in the number of firms looking to grow their local practice groups, firms in London and on the Continent remain very conservative in their hiring practices. The key to predicting the legal market in Europe is to watch New York. London and the rest of Europe are usually a ripple (or two) behind. When things really start to heat up in New York, you can bet that the opportunities for good attorneys in Europe will increase.
If you are thinking of starting your search now, the following is a brief analysis of the current state of the market, so you can assess your individual marketability.
1The London Market
London remains the most favored destination for internationally minded attorneys from all over the world. With respect to U.S.-qualified associates, the London market continues to offer the vast majority of opportunities in the corporate arena, for attorneys with solid transactional experience. Many American attorneys are attracted to London, as they can gain significant international experience doing cross-border transactions with clients and attorneys in other European and Asian countries while living day-to-day in a city where life is similar to that of any large American city.
However, in terms of even the most highly qualified New York associate, one must bear in mind that most U.S.-based firms satisfy their need for U.S.-qualified associates through secondment programs, which bring attorneys over to London from the firm's stateside offices. Even U.K.-based firms that have had entire U.S.-qualified practice groups are holding off on making new U.S.-qualified hires (or are actually downsizing those groups) until the market achieves more stability. Until the market picks up to the level that firms have an immediate need for U.S.-qualified associates (and their New York offices can't spare any through secondment), firms are simply not willing to incur the expense of immigration issues, moving expenses, and other costs of hiring expatriates. They would rather wait and try to find a local candidate with the same U.S. qualifications and credentials, who does not incur the extra expenses expatriate candidates require.
Other non-U.K.-qualified candidates can sometimes be more marketable in London, even during an economic downswing. Because London firms are focusing their growth on local practice areas, such as real estate, construction law and projects, candidates with commonwealth qualifications can sometimes market themselves well for positions normally open to only U.K.-qualified candidates. Many top-tier firms are willing to consider applicants with experience and qualifications from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, provided the candidate has top-notch credentials and academics from his or her home country. These candidates also find it easier to secure working visas, as they come from a former (or current) commonwealth. Moreover, candidates with German or Belgian qualifications can be in demand, as London firms do a high level of business with companies and other firms in those countries, and as E.U. citizens, those candidates relieve the firm of any immigration headaches that arise with other expatriate associates.
2The Continental European Market
Leaving London is much like leaving New York City and moving into the more regional markets in America's South or Midwest. The quality of work the firms do is just as sophisticated, but there is a lesser need for foreign-qualified attorneys. Law firms on the Continent, particularly those in Italy, France, Spain, and Greece, are less likely to have a need for U.S.- or foreign-qualified associates, as their practices remain largely regional. Some exceptions to this general rule include Frankfurt, which still draws a number of U.S.- and U.K.-qualified attorneys with experience in banking and capital markets, as it is home to the European Central Bank. Brussels continues to be the focal point for antitrust and E.U. regulatory practices, and Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia, also offer terrific opportunities for attorneys interested in energy and projects. However, at present, law firms in these locations are honing in on building their local capabilities, rather than expanding their U.S.- or U.K.-focused practice groups. Moreover, one should bear in mind that law firms in these countries are far more willing to consider a candidate fluent in the local language (and often in a third language, in addition to English) and also frequently require some experience or connection to the region.
Assessing Your Personal Marketability - Are You Ready to Make the Move?
Okay. Let's assume that the European market is picking up for attorneys in your area of practice. Before you launch into a job search in Europe, you should consider some of the factors firms will be considering while they ponder your CV. Here is a list of qualities or skills you should have which will make you more marketable and your job search more rewarding:
Your level of seniority is within the range most firms are seeking (this is usually between two and five years of experience).
Your practice area is in demand in the region in which you are interested. While you may be the best litigator in your white-shoe firm in New York City, that doesn't mean London firms will be clamoring after you.
You have solid work experience from a highly regarded firm in a top market. Having experience in a major financial center - i.e., New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, etc. - makes you far more marketable than if your experience has been gained in a more regional practice.
You have strong academic qualifications. Firms in Europe often look for candidates coming from well-known scholastic institutions - i.e., Ivy League schools, top-tier law schools - and expect that you will have graduated at the top of your class. Anything less than the top quarter - even if you've been out of school for a few years - makes it far more difficult to find the perfect job.
Even if you satisfy all of the aforementioned criteria, there are a few other things to consider. Think about what it is that you can bring this firm that they can't get from any other candidate. That could be a particular expertise in a certain area, or local/regional political or business connections, or citizenship in an E.U. country (thus eliminating the need for immigration assistance). Whatever it is that you have, you should market it to the best of your ability to that firm and convince them that you are worth the financial cost of bringing you over to their firm.
Finally, one of the most important considerations, and one that many candidates fail to adequately evaluate, is your commitment to remaining and working in Europe. Many candidates call us to seek out jobs in Europe, and when asked why they want to move, they respond with something along the lines of, "I've always wanted to live in Europe." Just because you spent a summer in Italy in college and decided it was your spiritual home doesn't mean you will actually like living and working there. Talk to friends who have worked for or interned at law firms in the country you are interested in. If you are with a large international firm, talk to colleagues in European offices to get their take on what it's like to work there. Consider the differences in law firm culture, pay scale, and quality of life in the cities you are interested in. You would be surprised at how much they can differ from what you are used to. If you take the time to consider these issues before embarking on your job search, you will be better prepared to tackle the competition and secure the job you've always wanted.
by Joanna Joplin
The Asian job market is an exciting one to watch. With the booming Chinese economy, and the loosening of restrictions in the legal market there, opportunities for locally as well as foreign-qualified attorneys with Chinese language skills are abundant. Indeed, China has recently unveiled a second phase of reforms that will allow Hong Kong firms to advise on mainland legal matters at the request of a mainland law firm. Thus, lawyers with Chinese language skills, particularly those with both U.S./U.K. and Chinese qualifications, will be in high demand in Hong Kong.
For U.S.- and U.K.-qualified attorneys, Hong Kong and Tokyo remain the most promising locations, particularly in the areas of securities, M&A and project finance. Local language skills are, however, highly favored if not essential. Beijing is an emerging market for locally qualified corporate talent, particularly those with U.S. legal training. Shanghai, Singapore, and Thailand offer fewer opportunities, but any candidates with strong corporate experience, language skills, and a connection to the region could find themselves highly marketable in these areas. In sum, Asia is a region to watch and is sure to be a booming market for corporate attorneys in the near future.
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