State of the Market - 2008 Spring |

State of the Market - 2008 Spring


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State of the Market - 2008 spring
State of the Market: Los Angeles
By Gloria Noh Cannon, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Los Angeles

The new year is in full swing, and spring is a fantastic time for lateral associates who are looking to make a move for several reasons. The fall recruiting process that consumed law firms is done, and first-year associates are fairly well integrated into their firms. In addition, it will be several months before summertime and the new crop of summer associates arrive. Thus, firms are very focused on hiring lateral associates to fill any needs in their various practice groups.

Despite all of the talk about a recession, law firms located in both Downtown Los Angeles and the Westside continue to have a steady need for lateral associates who have two to five years of experience in their respective practice areas. Moreover, firms of all sizes continue to expand their Los Angeles offices and are seeking partners with portable books of business of at least $1 million.

However, firms appear to have learned a lesson from the Internet bubble in 2001 and are being more deliberate and selective in their hiring processes due to an abundance of caution since there is so much uncertainty as to what 2008 will bring. Thus, it is extremely important to make sure that your resume and cover letter are in the best shape possible because the competition is much stronger than in recent years. If you are thinking about making a lateral move at this time of year, please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential market assessment and analysis of your background and experience.

Currently, the strongest needs are for junior and mid-level associates in the following practice areas: corporate, bankruptcy, labor and employment, and litigation. There are also great opportunities for attorneys with at least two years of experience in real estate, intellectual property (patent prosecution and patent litigation), environmental, land use, tax, and healthcare matters.


Despite the slowdown in corporate deals in the fourth quarter of 2007, firms of all sizes continue to seek corporate associates with at least two years of solid experience in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, capital markets, securities, private equity, and/or venture capital matters. However, firms are being much more selective and are less willing to transition candidates from other transactional practices. In addition, firms are more demanding regarding the California bar but will make exceptions for candidates relocating from another large market, particularly New York, if they have solid corporate experience with a reputable firm.


With the implosion of the subprime mortgage market and increasing concerns about a recession, the need for bankruptcy associates is on the rise. There is a high demand for junior and mid-level bankruptcy/financial restructuring associates who have solid experience in Chapter 11 cases representing debtors, secured lenders, ad hoc creditors committees, and/or official creditors committees. Thus, if you have strong Chapter 11 experience at a well-respected bankruptcy practice and solid academic credentials, you should be able to get interviews and offers.

Labor and Employment

There has been an increased need for labor and employment associates with two to six years of experience in both litigation and counseling matters. In particular, firms are seeking associates with strong experience in wage and hour class action matters. Firms are also willing to consider litigation associates with outstanding academic credentials and solid hands-on experience who would like to transition to a labor and employment practice. However, keep in mind that some firms may require flexibility regarding class year in order to make that transition. California bar membership continues to be preferred but is not always required.


There is a steady demand for litigation associates with two to five years of solid law firm experience in complex commercial litigation as well as securities litigation matters. There is also a solid need for litigators who have experience in insurance coverage, toxic tort, and environmental litigation matters. The competition, however, remains very tough. Thus, outstanding academic credentials, major firm experience, and California bar membership are definite requirements for many firms.

Real Estate

As can be expected in this market, the demand for real estate attorneys has noticeably softened. However, several firms are seeking mid-level and senior associates with strong experience in complex real estate finance matters at firms with sophisticated real estate practices. The demand for associates with more traditional real estate experience in commercial leasing, purchase and sale, and development transactions remains steady.

Intellectual Property: Patent Prosecution and Litigation

The demand for patent prosecutors with technical/scientific backgrounds in electrical engineering and computer science remains strong, and candidates with these credentials should have no problems getting multiple interviews and offers. Firms are also interested in candidates with degrees/backgrounds in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Candidates with backgrounds in biochemistry, biology, or mechanical engineering will have more difficulty finding positions unless they have advanced degrees. To really stand out candidates should be registered with the USPTO; have experience at well-regarded law firms in patent prosecution, counseling, and/or opinion-related work; and have advanced technical degrees (either Ph.D.s or master's degrees).

There are also several firms looking for junior to mid-level intellectual property attorneys with patent litigation experience and technical or scientific degrees/backgrounds. While solid firm experience will help overcome mediocre academics, it is imperative that you have a technical or scientific background. Candidates who are registered with the USPTO are also preferred by firms.

Environmental and Land Use

There is generally a steady need for land use attorneys with two to six years of solid land use experience in CEQA, entitlements, zoning, and permitting matters at both the federal and state levels, as well as environmental associates with at least two years of experience in environmental litigation and/or regulatory matters involving the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and/or RCRA. Firms continue to prefer candidates who are already members of the California bar and have strong hands-on litigation experience.


Tax attorneys with two to five years of solid tax transactional experience in a law firm environment are in demand at many top-notch downtown law firms. Specifically, firms are looking for associates with strong experience in broad transactional federal income tax, private equity, and/or partnership matters in a law firm context. In addition, having an LL.M. in Taxation from a reputable law school such as New York University or Georgetown University will give you a leg up on the competition.

Health Care

We have seen an increased need for junior to mid-level healthcare associates with solid experience in regulatory, compliance, and transactional matters and outstanding academic credentials.

State of the Market: Orange County
By Caroline Lee, Esq., Recruiter, BCG Newport Beach

In Orange County we are seeing a lot of activity both from the firms and from candidates seeking our recruiting assistance. In this state of the market report, I will be discussing the various current job trends in Orange County, including the growing practice areas, steady practice areas, and slower practice areas in this market.
Growing Practice Areas


Patent law continues to be a growing market in Orange County. Firms are primarily seeking patent prosecutors, but we have recently seen some growth in the demand for patent litigators as well. Since the competition is currently very fierce, many firms are seeking to hire candidates with graduate degrees in the relevant areas of science. A candidate with an undergraduate science degree will still be marketable for these positions but will not be as aggressively sought as an attorney with an advanced science degree.

Candidates with backgrounds in electrical engineering, computer science, and physics tend to do very well in this market. Attorneys with chemistry and biology degrees are also competitive but will have a smaller number of firms to choose from. Membership with the USPTO remains a priority for many firms in the candidates they are seeking. In addition, candidates must remember that firms will scrutinize academic performance at all stages, including the undergraduate level. Since it is often difficult to find ideal candidates in this area of law, firms tend to be flexible regarding the year level of the candidate or the size of the firm he or she is transferring from. Practical experience and scientific background, however, are not negotiable.


Although there are many jobs available for corporate attorneys looking to relocate to Orange County, we have seen firms become more stringent in their hiring criteria. Previously, firms were more inclined to not require that candidates be members of the California bar. Some firms are still flexible on this point, but many firms are now requiring that attorneys looking to make lateral moves do so as active members of the California bar.

The range of expertise firms are seeking is fairly broad and is generally in the two- to six-year range. Firms seem to remain fairly flexible regarding year level and will entertain candidates who are slightly more junior or senior than what is listed in individual job postings. The areas of expertise that are strongly recruited include mergers and acquisitions, securities, and private equity. Strong interpersonal skills are a must for these positions as firms are looking for candidates who will interface well with their high-profile clients.


Litigation remains a very healthy practice area in Orange County. Lately, many of the firms have been requesting that candidates have at least three years of experience. Attorneys with four to six years of experience are in very high demand, as are associates with relevant trial experience. A lot of our law firm clients want attorneys who can work with minimal to no supervision. Complex general business litigation dominates our job boards currently, but we have seen a growing demand for those attorneys with expertise in specialty areas like securities litigation and insurance coverage litigation.

Firms are seeking to hire associates with solid academic pedigrees for their litigation positions. Strong academic performance seems to currently outweigh the rank of a candidate's law school from the firm's perspective in terms of importance. An excellent academic record, coupled with good experience from a large or medium-sized firm, should get some attention from the local Orange County offices and firms.
Steady Practice Areas


Labor and employment law remains a steady practice area in this market. Different firms are looking at varied experience levels ranging from two to six years out of law school. Many of the job openings have a litigation focus. Some firms are willing to consider applicants who have strictly litigation experience with no prior labor and employment law experience for junior-level associate openings. Candidates seeking to transfer into a labor and employment group with no specific experience in this practice area should have exceptional credentials (so that the firm feels comfortable investing time to train these types of candidates).

Attorneys with counseling experience will also be marketable, but it will be very helpful if they have litigation experience as well. A good number of Orange County firms are looking for associates with around four years of solid experience, where the candidates can comfortably and efficiently handle some of their own cases.

Real Estate

Orange County firms are still seeking well-qualified real estate associates. The vast majority of our job listings are for transactional attorneys who have about four years of experience. There are some job openings that are more flexible in terms of experience level, with some firms seeking junior-level attorneys with just one year of experience and some firms accepting resumes from attorneys with more than nine years of experience.

Commercial leasing experience seems to be very coveted by a lot of the firms. Please note, though, that additional experience in related areas of law like financing is also considered highly marketable and attractive to firms. For candidates coming from large firms with outstanding academic pedigrees, membership in the California bar will not usually be a mandatory requirement.
Slower Practice Areas

Orange County is experiencing a decline in available job listings in certain areas of law, such as bankruptcy and construction law. In addition, in recent months we have seen very little to no activity in the following practice areas: ERISA, energy, healthcare, trusts and estates, and tax law. Most firms and satellite offices located in Orange County remain focused on building their corporate, general litigation, and intellectual property practices.

Of course, for truly stellar candidates there are usually some opportunities at the larger firms even if the firms are not actively looking for candidates. Lawyers who have large firm experience and have top-notch academic pedigrees should still be able to get a good number of interviews in a tougher legal job market, regardless of their specific practice areas of expertise.

State of the Market: San Diego
By Caroline Lee, Esq., Recruiter, BCG Newport Beach

San Diego remains a popular relocation destination for many attorneys seeking to move from other California markets and also neighboring states. Firms will often try to attract high-quality candidates to this region by marketing a good work/life balance to potential associates. In this state of the market report, I will be discussing the various current job trends in San Diego, including the growing practice areas, steady practice areas, and slower practice areas in this market.

Growing Practice Areas


Corporate attorneys are still in demand in San Diego. Most firms are looking for mid-level candidates with around three to five years of experience, although many firms will likely look at more junior-level candidates as well. Attorneys with backgrounds in areas like mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and securities will be strong contenders for the prime positions.

Another trend we are seeing in this market is a desire for attorneys with technology transaction and licensing experience. There have been some recruiting efforts to integrate these types of candidates into larger corporate practice groups.


Patent law is a growing market in San Diego. Firms continue to actively recruit patent prosecutors and, to a lesser extent, patent litigators. Junior-level candidates will have more choices as the majority of firms are looking for attorneys at the one- to four-year experience level.

Attorneys with biotechnology backgrounds will do well in San Diego as recruiting efforts are strong for those associates with backgrounds in chemistry, biology, genetics, and other related fields. In addition, attorneys with scientific knowledge of electrical engineering, physics, and computer science will receive interviews in this market. Since San Diego remains a popular and competitive market, candidates who have Ph.D.s will also get larger numbers of interviews.

Real Estate

San Diego is a solid market for well-credentialed real estate associates in the two- to five-year range. Firms are looking for transactional associates who have relevant drafting and due diligence experience. Candidates with finance, leasing, and purchase and sale experience are also very attractive to law firms.

One hiring trend we have noticed in this practice area is that some firms are currently recruiting associates who can split their time between a busy real estate practice and a growing environmental law group. Thus, attorneys with environmental experience may also apply for certain real estate openings.
Steady Practice Areas

Labor and Employment

Firms in San Diego are currently seeking labor and employment candidates at all levels. The demand for these types of attorneys has remained fairly steady and has not declined or grown a great amount.

Associates with labor and employment litigation experience are the main recruiting focus in San Diego, although many firms will also consider someone who has both litigation and counseling experience. Furthermore, many firms seem somewhat flexible with respect to the specific type of labor and employment experience required of candidates, as long as viable candidates have some litigation experience in their backgrounds.


Candidates who practice general litigation will have fewer options in San Diego in comparison to a lot of the larger California markets. That being said, there are some firms that are still recruiting general commercial litigators.

Many firms are seeking attorneys who can work with very little supervision in the four- to five-year range. Other firms are seeking more junior-level candidates with at least two years of experience. Experience in complex business litigation matters and class actions is generally what firms are currently seeking in candidates right now. Litigation candidates must bring outstanding credentials to the table to break into a more difficult litigation market in San Diego.

Intellectual Property Litigation

Although intellectual property litigators are not as strongly recruited as their patent prosecution counterparts, there is still a stable market for these types of attorneys in San Diego. Generally, attorneys with scientific backgrounds will fare better than those attorneys who do not have these types of degrees.

As with patent prosecutors, firms are generally seeking intellectual property litigators with backgrounds in the following areas: electrical engineering, computer science, pharmaceuticals, the life sciences, and the biomedical field. USPTO membership does not seem to be a mandatory requirement for some firms, but for a few firms it is required. In addition, more firms are looking for candidates who are already members of the California bar. If associates have advanced degrees and/or outstanding academic pedigrees, however, some firms may be flexible regarding their California bar membership requirements.
Slower Practice Areas

In San Diego candidates who specialize in bankruptcy, healthcare, and business immigration law will have a harder time finding job openings as there is little growth in these areas of law. Well-qualified candidates should still be able to get interviews fairly easily but will have fewer options to choose from.

There has been very little to no growth in the areas of ERISA, tax, and trusts and estates law. Candidates hoping to break into the San Diego market right now with these types of backgrounds must be exceptional candidates. Advanced degrees in the respective and relevant areas of law will also provide large advantages for candidates.

State of the Market: Silicon Valley
By Deborah J. Acker, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Palo Alto

The Silicon Valley continues to be a vibrant economy despite the obvious recession worries. In terms of numbers, listings for lateral positions may be down 5-10% from a year ago. Nevertheless, large national firms are moving into the Valley and setting up regional offices with hopes of getting a piece of the action underlying the dynamic emerging technology sector.

Firms continue to seek top attorneys with the right corporate, intellectual property, and intellectual property transactional experience. Firms also continue to seek intellectual property and commercial litigators. However, competition is fierce, and invitations for interviews and follow-up offers appear to be moving more slowly.

To be competitive the successful candidate will usually come from a top-tier school, have good grades, and have some longevity (two years) with a big-name firm. Firms looking for intellectual property litigators or prosecutors with strong tech backgrounds will often consider those with just one year of experience at a big firm and/or junior status. Multilingual capabilities, especially within the Asian languages, are a definite plus. More than a few major firms are looking for senior attorneys, but almost all require a significant book of business. Any of these requirements may be flexible if you have unique strengths in a particular technology, unique litigation experience, or a history of significant longevity with a good firm.

If your credentials are not quite up to these standards, strong local and regional firms continue to seek candidates and will work with "softer" credentials. Attorneys with strong "niche" experience can be matched with unique opportunities. The recruiters at BCG enjoy placing candidates with stellar traditional pedigrees, but we also enjoy those candidates who may be considered "nontraditional" recruiter candidates. Don't hesitate to inquire about smaller firms or less vibrant geographical markets. The perfect match may be out there.

In the current competitive environment, your best strategy is to have a strong ongoing relationship with your recruiter, who will be poised to move quickly when an opportunity appears. If you wait to see an opening listed, by the time you organize your materials and make the submission, it may be too late.


The corporate practices in the Silicon Valley continue to seek top junior and mid-level attorneys. A variety of corporate skills are sought after for both the public and emerging growth sectors. International experience in mergers and acquisitions is a major asset. Securities work as well as venture capital, private equity, and fund experience all will get you in the door.

Most positions require two to five years of experience. For some firms just one year of experience and out-of-state bar membership is sufficient. Even candidates with minimal big firm experience but significant in-house experience are receiving interviews. More than a few major national firms setting up new offices here continue to look for lateral partners. Asian language skills are particularly valued in this sector.

Smaller firms are also looking for associates with broad experience in corporate governance and business transactions. Solid experience with good longevity will open doors even without sterling grades and Top 20 schools. California bar admission is a common requirement but not an absolute.

Intellectual Property

Junior and mid-level intellectual property litigators remain some of the most sought-after commodities in the Silicon Valley. Laterals with intellectual property litigation experience in a big firm, appropriate for their level, and backgrounds in electronics, computer science, or physics, are nearly always guaranteed interviews.

Even without a technical background, if you can demonstrate strong litigation skills, experience in intellectual property, and the ability to get up to speed on the technology at issue, you are a viable candidate. Specific experience in patent litigation is a must for some firms. Firms are also looking for litigators with experience in "soft IP," trade secrets, trademark law, copyright law, media law, etc.

The demand for patent prosecutors has remained steady. Associates with physics, electrical engineering, or computer science backgrounds and one to seven years of experience have a number of opportunities. Other desired backgrounds include mechanical engineering, biotechnology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering, and medical devices. Those in the bio fields are usually expected to have a Ph.D. or master's degree at the minimum.

Registration with the USPTO is nearly always a must. A steady demand for patent agents and technical specialists, primarily in the electrical and computer arts, also exists, but they should have some big firm experience with patent law.

Most of the major national firms in the Silicon Valley would like to speak with senior intellectual property attorneys with portable business in any intellectual property practice area.


The need for litigators is steady. National and international firms are looking for litigators with two to six years of experience, often requiring top pedigrees and big law firm experience or a judicial clerkship. The greatest need is in the two- to four-year range. In the Silicon Valley many firms value intellectual property litigation experience, even if that is not the primary focus of the practice group.

Experience with unfair competition, trademarks, and copyright law will add value to the resume of any potential Silicon Valley litigator, no matter what his or her specialty. Securities and white-collar litigation have cooled. In general, commercial, antitrust, complex class actions, and product liability litigation remain stable.

Litigation practices look for associates whose experience is appropriate for their level. If you want to be a top-notch litigator, appropriate professional development for your level and increasing independence are critical for success. A few top firms that emphasize trial work are actively recruiting. Top schools, law review experience, and hands-on experience are musts for these "big firm" positions.

Smaller regional and local firms are also looking for litigators. These positions require "in the trenches" experience and some familiarity with the local legal landscape. Smaller firms are more willing to "think outside of the box" when considering schools and academic records. They also will value a resume with mixed litigation practices in more than one area.

Real Estate

The market for real estate attorneys in the Silicon Valley is cool. The major real estate practices are in San Francisco, and occasionally unique opportunities in real estate arise in the Valley. A few firms seek transactional attorneys who can hit the ground running. Specifically, expertise in the areas of general transactional work, acquisitions, construction, funding, and commercial leasing is sought.


The demand for labor and/or employment attorneys at major firms in the Silicon Valley has slowed but still exists. Many of these positions require a combination of transactional and litigation work. International experience is a plus. Most positions require two to five years of experience specifically related to employment matters.

The smaller firms also have a need for employment attorneys, but this practice area is often packaged with business transactions expertise or commercial litigation expertise. In the last two months, additional listings requiring experience with ERISA and executive compensation have appeared.


A few large international firms and large firms serving the technology sector continue to post needs for junior and mid-level tax associates. Senior tax associates are also sought by a few top-notch firms. Most firms appreciate (or require) an LL.M. in Taxation; international experience; big firm experience or time at a major accounting firm; a background in accounting, economics, or finance; and, often, California bar membership.


The Silicon Valley remains a strong market for attorneys looking for lateral opportunities. Competition for positions is intense, and it is best to have a knowledgeable recruiter poised to make a submission for you when an opportunity presents itself. BCG Attorney Search is an expert in law firm placement. Not only do we work with the traditional big firm candidates, but we also pride ourselves on knowing of unique opportunities for those with less traditional backgrounds. In addition, we are happy to provide strategic advice regarding how to manage your aspirations and goals in a potentially changing market.

State of the Market: San Francisco
By Deborah J. Acker, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Palo Alto

San Francisco is a vibrant, dynamic legal market with a variety of opportunities. The economy may slow things down in terms of the pace of hiring and the number of opportunities, but the breadth of sectors, the historical relationships with public corporate clients, the proximity to the booming technology industry, the real estate development in Northern California, and the geographical/cultural ties to Asia will keep the law firms in San Francisco stable and growing.

Historically, the primary areas of opportunity for lateral moves have included corporate practice, employment and labor, environment and land use, intellectual property (litigation and prosecution), litigation, real estate, and tax. There has been some slowing in the last six months, but opportunities still exist. As described in the Silicon Valley state of the market report, firms can be incredibly picky. As an attorney you have a lot of competition here. Schools, grades, experience, and portable business are the key factors in getting an interview.

However, there are unique opportunities beyond what can be summarized here for those with unique experience, and there may be a fit for you if you have the right background. Here are the details:


The demand has decreased about 20% from a year ago but has remained steady in the last six months. Attorneys are needed with experience in finance, securities, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, public offerings, venture capital, private equity, and/or hedge funds, among other areas. Often experience with public companies is more of a requisite in San Francisco than in Silicon Valley.

More than a few of these positions are targeting the energy sector; experience with projects and clients in standard and alternative forms of energy can get you in the door for an interview.

California bar membership is not always an entry-level requirement. Firms are eager to interview well-qualified candidates from the East Coast looking to move west. Asian language skills and international experience are often pluses in this market.

Employment and Labor

The need for employment (and less commonly labor) attorneys remains steady. There are good opportunities, but they are limited. Most firms seek attorneys in the two- to seven-year range. Employers tend to want a more transactions/counseling background, but many want a mix of transactional/litigation work. A few want a sole emphasis on employment litigation.

This is a practice area where you need to have strong "hands-on" experience. The big firms will want good schools and grades, but overall, having a good fit in terms of experience is the primary factor. Class action experience is nearly always required for litigation practices. Jumping into this area from a strong litigation background in other areas is occasionally possible, but these opportunities are rare.

A few firms specialize in public sector representation. If that is your interest and your experience is strong, you will get an interview.

If these are the opportunities you seek, you should be poised with your recruiter for submissions when they arise.

Environment and Land Use

This area is very slow at the moment. Firms were interviewing last spring, but there are few open listings in San Francisco in early 2008. If you are interested in smaller firms and would consider an East Bay location, you may have some options.

Intellectual Property

Despite what many think, not all intellectual property practices are in Silicon Valley. Many San Francisco offices of strong national and international firms have put great emphasis on intellectual property. Some of the greatest demand is for very well-qualified intellectual property litigation attorneys. Most firms will want a technical background, often with an emphasis in electronic engineering, computer science, or physics. Some firms seek life science experience. Most would like two to six years of experience. Specific experience with patent litigation is often a requirement. Asian language skills are sought in this area also.

Patent prosecutors are sought as well. You need USPTO registration and a background in electronics, computers, or mechanical work. A few firms seek patent prosecutors with biotech, chemical, or broader life science experience. You nearly always need a Ph.D. in these bio areas.

Intellectual property transactional positions arise from time to time, but this area is slow at present, or the opportunities may be bundled into corporate positions.


This area encompasses the greatest number of opportunities. Litigators are needed at firms of all sizes and in a variety of areas. The best way to gauge your possible fit is to speak with the local BCG recruiter. You may need a "big firm" background, or your experience in the courtroom may be what a firm is looking for. Litigators need to be great writers. Your resume should speak to your writing abilities.

The major types of litigation include torts (often toxic torts), products liability, commercial/general, securities, white-collar, fraud, antitrust, and construction, among others. Occasionally there is a need for appellate work.

Senior attorneys must have portable business unless they have acquired very unique skills or specialties.

Real Estate

Most of the major real estate practices in the Bay Area reside in San Francisco. There are steady opportunities, although they are limited in number. Firms are picky. They often want someone who can draft a variety of transactional real estate documents without a lot of training. This is a practice area where being senior may not hurt you as much if you have the right experience and would like to come in at a lower level. Firms are often looking in the three-to-six-years-of-experience range.

The types of skills sought are leasing, financing (lending), purchase and sale, partnerships and joint ventures, construction contracts, zoning, and land use, among others.


Tax positions open up sporadically. The market is a bit slow in this area now. When there are opportunities, the skills desired frequently include those pertaining to international taxation, broad-based federal transactional taxation, partnership taxation, corporate taxation, LLCs, and tax aspects of mergers and acquisitions, among other areas.

Positions in trusts and estates open up even more sporadically. To be competitive in the big firms, you need hard-core experience in this area.

Nearly all candidates will be expected to hold an LL.M. from one of the top tax programs in the U.S.

State of the Market: Sacramento
By Deborah J. Acker, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Palo Alto

The Sacramento legal market is one of great variety. Top regional firms compete with local offices of large international firms and smaller, high-quality boutiques. The need for lateral attorneys remains steady. Firms are looking for attorneys in a variety of practice areas as well as groups of senior attorneys in established practice groups.

Salaries on the whole tend to be significantly lower than in the Bay Area. Many attorneys seek this market in exchange for a potentially improved work/life balance and more favorable housing costs. The numerous well-qualified attorneys seeking this compromise create a competitive market in Sacramento, where top firms can demand sterling academic pedigrees.

Nevertheless, many firms in this market appreciate broad experience rather than a narrow practice focus. Practical experience with clients, hands-on skills, and the ability to get up to speed quickly will be highly valued.

Those practice areas with openings include environmental litigation, land use, energy law, commercial litigation, business litigation, trusts and estates, employment, construction law and litigation, corporate law, and environmental/water law. Most of these openings are at the mid-level or senior associate level.

Notably, an established practice group of senior attorneys who can perform a broad range of business transactions is sought by a well-respected firm.

State of the Market: Portland
By Gloria Noh Cannon, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Los Angeles

Portland remains an attractive locale for attorneys seeking to relocate to a region rich in natural beauty or who are simply looking for a change in lifestyle and pace. However, Portland's legal market continues to be relatively flat and very regionally based. Thus, candidates seeking to make the move to Portland should start their job searches as soon as possible and be prepared to be patient and persistent.

Successful candidates will have significant ties to the area and be able to demonstrate a long-term commitment to Portland as firms are very hesitant to hire relocation candidates who lack strong reasons for moving to Portland. In addition, candidates who are already admitted to the Oregon bar will have a definite advantage over the competition.

The strongest demand is for associates with two to five years of experience in the following practice areas: corporate, intellectual property, litigation, and real estate.


There is steady demand at both regional and international law firms for corporate associates with two to five years of experience in mergers and acquisitions, public finance, securities, and general corporate matters.

Intellectual Property

As previously reported, there has been an increase in the demand for patent prosecutors who are registered with the USPTO and have strong technical backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or computer science. There are also openings for associates with at least two years of experience in intellectual property litigation, trademark, copyright, and licensing matters.


Firms continue to seek junior to mid-level litigation associates with outstanding academic credentials and solid hands-on litigation experience. In particular, firms are seeking associates with experience in commercial, construction, business, products liability, personal and catastrophic injury, and labor and employment matters.

Real Estate

The need for mid-level to senior associates with outstanding experience in transactional real estate or land use matters remains strong.

State of the Market: Seattle
By Deborah J. Acker, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Palo Alto

Like Portland, Seattle continues to draw attorneys because of the lifestyle in the region, educational opportunities for spouses, and the area's natural beauty. In short, supply often outweighs demand. The successful candidates are those who start looking early.

Nevertheless, firms continue a steady but low-volume approach to hiring. They are looking for the perfect candidates at the perfect moments. In recent months intellectual property and corporate positions have increased a bit. Whether the potential recession will have great impact on this market remains to be seen.

Land Use

Firms frequently need attorneys with ranges of land use, environmental, and energy practice experience at the mid to senior levels.


Litigation demand seems relatively consistent. Specific areas include commercial litigation, products liability, insurance coverage, and employment litigation.


Corporate associates are also in demand. Experience with mergers and acquisitions, private equity, venture capital, and general corporate transactions is needed to get an interview. Both international and regional firms have increased their needs in this area of late.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is thriving in this region, and attorneys with specialized skills are sought. Patent prosecutors with various backgrounds are desired. Attorneys with experience in intellectual property transactions are also needed. There is a small demand for patent litigators as well.

Many attorneys want what Seattle has to offer. Unfortunately, there is not enough to go around. A successful search in Seattle depends on finding a perfect fit, having the right chemistry with the firm and the group, and being in the right place at the right time. It requires patience and focus — and working with a good recruiter who can keep his or her finger on the market for you.

State of the Market: New York
By Carey Bertolet, Esq., Founding Managing Director, BCG New York

Spring 2008 brings us mixed messages, with no definitive answers about the direction of the market. At this time last year, we saw the salary wars; now we have a handful of firms that have weathered some downsizing. There are some examples of very public reductions in force in law firms and in the financial sector and rumors of stealth layoffs in other sectors.

While some firms are laying off associates, others in New York awarded market and special bonuses, with several firms reporting a highly profitable 2007. The economists and stock market keep us all busy speculating, but for New York there are no absolutes in reading the direction of the legal market.

To date, the law firm layoffs have been a result of the credit crisis of late 2007 and appear to have affected real estate finance and securitization groups. The two competing dynamics that will likely affect how the economy moves are the tightening of the credit market and the lowering of the federal interest rate. As a result of the dearth of financing in the markets right now, we hear that corporate transactional groups are less busy, but we rarely hear of a mergers and acquisitions, securities, or venture capital group that has nothing to do.

Thus, the state of the market for domestic mortgage-backed securitization work is at a complete standstill, but that has not dramatically affected other structured finance and other general finance departments (especially more cross-border-oriented groups that typically handle diverse groups of financial products). We still have banking needs, investment management needs, and plenty of good corporate mergers and acquisitions and securities opportunities. We find that law firms and lateral candidates are approaching the market more cautiously, which is absolutely appropriate in this environment. The upside of a downturn is that when caution returns to the marketplace, lateral moves tend to be deliberate and long-lasting.

Finally, two somewhat related areas are beginning to emerge as active practice areas. Several firms are developing subprime litigation groups to handle the inevitable lawsuits arising from the overextension in the mortgage market. Secondly, after much vacillating, bankruptcy groups are staffing up and now actively interviewing for bankruptcy litigation and restructuring positions.

Litigation seems to be doing well but not fantastically so. We are seeing more litigation positions, but our firms remain pretty picky about who they'll consider. Even the smaller firms that may not pay at market rates are still able to be quite choosy. As for other niche litigation practices, patent litigation is not as hot as it was at this time last year, but there are still a few quite active positions for candidates with the relevant backgrounds. White-collar criminal defense remains a marketable skill set, and antitrust litigation and employment litigation remain steady but not remarkably active.

We have been assured by several of our clients that transactional real estate (as opposed to the real estate-backed finance practice area) is still doing well locally. Indeed, many of our law firm clients have expressed needs in this area. We have not seen terribly active hiring, however.

In the intellectual property arena, trademark positions seem to be the most interesting right now, both at the associate level and at the partner level. Of course, there is a steady stream of both hard and soft intellectual property positions for associates, but we've seen the most positive change in trademark.

Tax continues to be a hot area, although we are seeing more conservative hiring than at this same time last year. ERISA is in demand, as always, and remains a highly marketable practice area.

Overall, the market feels like it may be on the cusp of a transition, but the effect has not yet been terribly dramatic or unexpected. We are seeing one of the benefits of a recessing economy, which is smart and sober decision making on the hiring front, which has created an excellent environment in which to move laterally. There may be fewer choices overall, but the choices tend to be safer. Most practice areas are reflected in firms' lateral searching, which we consider to be indicative of a healthy hiring environment.

State of the Market: New Jersey
By Carey Bertolet, Esq., Founding Managing Director, BCG New York

Of the most recent jobs our law firm clients have given us, one has been litigation, one corporate, one tax, one real estate, and one intellectual property. I couldn't have planned it better on the eve of preparing this state of the market report. What makes the New Jersey market interesting to lateral candidates may also be what makes it a relatively recession-resistant market. It is a diverse market not too focused on one geographic location, one industry, or one practice area.

There are limitations to the New Jersey market. The New Jersey bar is one of the most parochial. New Jersey isn't a state open to reciprocity from other locations, so unless you took the New Jersey bar (as many people do contemporaneously with New York), you'll have to be prepared to sit for it. The other unusual aspect of the New Jersey market is that there are excellent firms throughout the state, and while there are clusters of firms in Newark and Princeton, no one metropolitan area forms the center of the legal community.

Geography becomes a big issue for a lot of New Jersey lawyers. Lateral moves aren't just about professional considerations, but commute times are calculated on an opportunity-by-opportunity basis. Location aside, New Jersey offers a truly diverse mix of firms, ranging from national to regional, of a variety of sizes and types. As always, a major draw for the New Jersey firms is increased predictability when it comes to being promoted to partner — a clarity that is worth the short-term market decrease in pay.

Nonetheless, our concern for the New Jersey market in 2008 is how the increased salaries among some of the larger and more prominent firms will be absorbed. Several firms were aggressive and competitive regarding salaries in their New Jersey offices. Our hope is that the overall economy continues to support these salaries. This notwithstanding, we continue to hear that the lawyers in these New Jersey firms are busy with few signs of slowing.

We will look to litigation (particularly pharmaceutical related) opportunities to continue to be active, and we expect steady needs in corporate and securities departments. Because New Jersey firms are generally handling more middle-market transactional work, corporate work tends to be less reliant on the broad, sweeping trends that New York tends to react so quickly to. Tax and trusts and estates will continue to provide lateral hiring opportunities into 2008.

We look forward to seeing where the diversity of geography, practice area, and client base takes New Jersey firms in this uncertain economy. We are generally quite optimistic about New Jersey firms as excellent long-term options.

State of the Market: Connecticut
By Tricia McGrath, Esq., Recruiter, BCG New York

Traditionally, intellectual property has been the most sought-after area of expertise in the Connecticut market. From patent prosecution to litigation to intellectual property transactional work, there are great positions to be had for the science or technology minded. Intellectual property positions are located throughout the state of Connecticut.

One significant development in the Connecticut market over the past few months is the growth in corporate jobs in Southern Connecticut. As hedge funds and private equity funds entrench themselves in the Greenwich and Stamford area, law firms in the area have been expanding their corporate practices in Southern Connecticut. You'll note that executive compensation is also an important practice. Great news for corporate associates: Southern Connecticut is waiting for you!

One interesting development: the legal market in Hartford has been very quiet. We haven't seen as much activity in that area as usual.

State of the Market: Boston
By Stephen Seckler, Managing Director, BCG Boston

The mood is shifting at many of the major firms in Boston. At the same time, most of the major firms report that they continue to be busy with corporate deals, though deal flow is not quite as robust as it was during the first half of 2007. The report from most major firms is that 2007 was a very good year. The coming year seems less certain.

Nonetheless, most firms report that there continues to be a demand for junior to mid-level corporate laterals. Real estate departments are not quite as busy, though there remains some demand for mid-level real estate associates. Real estate candidates need to have extra-strong academic and firm credentials to get the attention of the top real estate groups in Boston. Intellectual property remains strong.

Overall, lateral hiring continues to be strong in Boston in corporate and intellectual property (patent prosecution, particularly for electrical engineering candidates). Attorneys with leveraged buyout experience or fund formation experience will find many opportunities available at single-office Boston-based firms, multi-office Boston-based firms, and branch offices of national firms. Associates with sophisticated mergers and acquisitions experience and securities experience will also find opportunities at larger firms and at branch offices. Venture capital deals are happening with good frequency, which is again fueling a good demand for corporate associates with deal experience.

Associates with experience in investment management ('40 Act, etc.) also continue to be in demand, particularly at some of the branch offices of national firms.

Lateral hiring in litigation remains soft. Litigation associates with stellar credentials are in the best position to move into the Boston market.

Many firms are still looking for patent attorneys with top credentials. Lawyers with backgrounds in electrical engineering are particularly in demand, but there are also opportunities for lawyers with backgrounds in the life sciences (particularly associates who have Ph.D. credentials) and in chemistry. Software and biotechnology continue to play important roles in the Massachusetts economy, and this is generating significant work for intellectual property boutiques as well as general practice firms that have expanded into patent work.

Partners in search of better platforms are finding the marketplace to be very receptive. Corporate partners with more than $750,000 in portable billings are in particular demand, but there are many opportunities for partners in other practice areas, and there is some willingness to speak with partners with smaller practices (i.e., where there is good evidence of marketing potential). This is particularly true at branch offices of national firms that are trying to grow or expand into the Boston market. We have been asked by a number of regional firms to identify partners with $400,000 to $600,000 in originations.

There has been increased demand for experienced tax associates, and tax associates with solid corporate transactional tax experience are in short supply.

While bankruptcy lawyers keep hoping for a field day in bankruptcy, it has not occurred yet, and hiring remains weak. Similarly, environmental practice remains weak in Boston. The prospects for later in the year will depend a lot on how the economy fares over the next several months.

State of the Market: Philadelphia
By Tricia McGrath, Esq., Recruiter, BCG New York

The Philadelphia market has become much more sophisticated over the past year. The quality of work in Philadelphia firms has continued to develop. Philadelphia has long been thought of as a stepchild to its big sister, New York. No longer!

Philadelphia is a very interesting legal market. Currently, we have openings across all practice areas. Philadelphia firms, however, continue to be highly selective in their hiring. These firms expect to see strong grades and connections to the Philadelphia area.

Here are the highlights:

Intellectual Property

The intellectual property market continues to thrive in Philadelphia. Although the associate needs tend more towards prosecution than patent litigation, there are good opportunities across the intellectual property spectrum. While all areas of specialty are in demand, a background in the life sciences is particularly desirable. The only area in which we haven't seen significant demand is the intellectual property transactional area.


The litigation market is alive and well in Philadelphia. The popular areas of specialty have been insurance, general commercial, and product liability.


We have just seen the uptick in bankruptcy openings in the Philadelphia area. Firms are looking for associates with real bankruptcy experience — generally two to four years.

Somewhat surprising, however, is the small amount of corporate positions available right now in the Philadelphia area. In the last quarter we had seen a good number of openings for sophisticated (and specialized) corporate associates. Right now we are seeing a bit of a lull in this area. There are still openings — just not as plentiful as in prior months.

Other practices in which we have seen interesting opportunities: real estate and labor and employment. Actually, there are a few labor and employment positions out there for experienced associates!

State of the Market: Washington, DC

By Dan Binstock, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Washington,
DC, and Lisa Pavia, Senior Recruiter,
BCG Washington, DC

We would like to start off by welcoming Lisa Pavia to our Washington, DC, office. Lisa is a very experienced recruiter in the Washington, DC, area who brings a wealth of expertise as both a search consultant and a law firm recruiting manager. Most of all, she shares our recruiting philosophy and recruits with a high level of integrity. We are very excited to have Lisa in our Washington, DC, office.

Now, let's move on to the market overview for Washington, DC.

Continuing talk of a recession and the roller-coaster of the stock market are having a subduing effect on the enthusiasm for lateral associate hiring in the Washington, DC, market. Firms are proceeding more thoughtfully and generally are looking hard at whether hiring needs are critical. The focus of most of the opportunities has become more precise, with mid-levels with very specific skill sets being highly sought and lateral partners with portable business being the prize catches.

Many firms restructured their bonus systems to offset the pay increases given last year, and that is reflected by the increased flow of candidates into the market who waited out the year's end. There is a large pool of general commercial litigation and finance associates now ready to make lateral moves and finding the going is slow.

An additional factor that stands to become increasingly significant as the year goes on is the presidential election this November. It is the first election since 1928 when an incumbent president or his vice president is not going to be on either party's ticket. A regime change is inevitable. Government attorneys and political appointees are beginning to look toward the private sector for opportunities, and there is a growing sense of urgency within the agencies and Department of Justice that the time to move is now and not at summer's end.

Firms are receiving a lesson in supply and demand. While most large firms have realized the need to build areas such as energy, food and drug, healthcare, antitrust, securities, and intellectual property, which define a Washington-based practice, the limited supply of appropriate candidates has dwindled. The focus of hiring in large firms began to shift in 2002 and continued for nearly four years on the expansion of large-scale litigation capabilities and corporate practices at the expense of their niche practice areas.

While firms consciously minimized hiring for smaller practice areas (the exception being intellectual property, where the candidate pool is small), they over-hired for the general groups. This has created lower-quality work and experience for associates and a narrower pool of candidates for other practice areas, many of whom would have preferred different assignments but accepted general litigation positions out of necessity. As more and more mid-size firms have merged into mega firms, partners with practices that have been neglected have moved on, looking for better platforms. Firms have found themselves turning away work from important clients because they do not have the diversity of practice to meet all of their needs. This has ultimately cost them in billable hours that they can ill afford to give away.

So what does the crystal ball show will manifest over the coming months for 2008?

Many large firms are likely to find at the year's end that the baby steps towards diversifying their practices and acquiring partners with large books have not carried them very far. The cross-selling capabilities strong Washington, DC, law firms once staked their reputations upon have declined gradually over the past five years. And it is going to take time and innovative hiring practices to restore balance in these firms. Large firms willing to invest the time to learn how to distinguish themselves among their peers and who are attentive to standing out in their marketing are the ones that will emerge as the leaders in their size range.

Competition is the buzzword for both candidates seeking opportunities and firms in need of the same expertise their next-door neighbors are looking for. If you'd like to find out how to get the edge on whomever you are competing with, we can be reached at 202-955-5585.

Now, let's move on to the practice area report.

Below is an overview of the current Washington, DC, region legal market, arranged by practice area in alphabetical order.

As you will see below, we have used the terms "hot," "warm," and "cool" to indicate the hiring demand in the area. However, understand that hiring demand alone can be somewhat misleading since there may be a high demand but also a very large pool of very qualified candidates, which in turn lowers your odds of being able to land a position. Thus, we have also used the terms "large," "medium," and "small" to indicate the size of the qualified candidate pool, which gives you an idea of the level of competition for these positions. For example, if you are thinking of making a lateral move and the hiring demand is hot in your area but the candidate pool is small, the odds are in your favor.

If you have any questions about your prospects in any of these practice areas or would like to discuss effective recruiting strategies for your firm's hiring needs, please feel free to contact us directly at 202-955-5585 for a confidential market assessment.


Hiring demand: warm

Candidate pool: medium

This area remains warm for both litigation and merger-related investigations and counseling. A number of firms are looking for lateral candidates who have experience in both antitrust litigation and merger-related investigations and counseling, but we have seen a slight decrease in the demand for merger-related antitrust attorneys (which is due to concerns over the economy). For attorneys focusing on merger-related matters, it is no surprise that the current administration at the Department of Justice is more conservative about blocking mergers, but it will be interesting to see how things play out during and after the election.

While there is a high overall demand for strong antitrust candidates, those with experience in HSR (Hart-Scott-Rodino) filings (and who don't mind working on them) continue to be in high demand.


Hiring demand: warming
Candidate pool: small

This area is warming up due to talk of recession.


Hiring demand: cool to warm
Candidate pool: small

Even though there are very few active opportunities in this area, if you have relevant experience (such as a background in the construction industry or an architecture degree) and relatively good credentials, you could be quite marketable in DC or Northern Virginia.

Corporate and Finance

Hiring demand: lukewarm
Candidate pool: small

Corporate and finance are lukewarm, but there is still some activity in this area (with the exception of mortgage-backed securitization and lending practices). Again, due to the fact that the corporate market tanked from 2002 to 2004, there continues to be a shortage of strong mid-level corporate associates, which is the primary focus of most searches. More junior associates are now in the pool, but recently firms have expressed a strong preference for those with two to five years of experience.

Employee Benefits and ERISA

Hiring demand: hot
Candidate pool: small

Employee benefits and ERISA continues to be a hot area for hiring with a tiny pool of candidates. This highly specialized and in-demand area is on the priority list for a number of firms. If you have relevant experience and good credentials, you will have several very good firms to choose from and little competition in getting interviews.

Employment and Labor Law

Hiring demand: warm
Candidate pool: small

While the employment and labor market in general slowed down at large firms towards the end of the year, we have still received several very good searches (at strong general practice firms) that remain unfilled. Some of these searches are to replace departing associates, but some are the result of increases in work. If you are a mid-level associate who has not been actively looking in recent months, this is a good time to consider your options.


Hiring demand: hot
Candidate pool: small

If you have experience (regulatory or litigation), there are still numerous firms looking to hire junior to mid-level associates, particularly those with FERC experience. Also, several firms have expressed openness to considering attorneys with corporate or litigation backgrounds who are interested in transitioning into this area. Candidates with prior work experience in energy-related fields will have a substantial advantage, even if their grades are not as high as the firm's usual cutoff.


Hiring demand: warm
Candidate pool: medium

The number of active searches in the environmental area has been consistent for the past six months, with many searches remaining open due to emphases on specific types of experience on the parts of the employers. We have some litigation-focused environmental positions as well as some hybrid positions that involve environmental litigation, enforcement, and handling the environmental aspects of large transactions.

Food and Drug, FDA

Hiring demand: hot
Candidate pool: small

This is another in-demand and highly specialized area. Experienced associates in this practice area are in high demand due to their rarity in the marketplace. If you are coming from the FDA and have experience with pre-market and post-market regulatory requirements for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, you will likely be able to choose between multiple offers.

Government Contracts

Hiring demand: warm
Candidate pool: medium/small

This area remains warm. Fewer new opportunities are coming in, but strongly credentialed candidates with larger firm experience are in demand. There are a number of firms that, while not actively looking, will consider top-quality laterals on an opportunistic basis.


Hiring demand: red hot
Candidate pool: small

This area is red hot, especially for those with experience in Medicare and Medicaid, fraud and abuse, regulatory and compliance matters, reimbursement issues, health policy, and legislative matters. If you are practicing healthcare law in another city and wish to relocate to DC, it is best to highlight any regulatory experience you have gained.

Insurance Coverage

Hiring demand: cooling
Candidate pool: small

There are ongoing needs for insurance litigators, but the activity level has been sluggish as firms proceed more slowly in response to the economic forecast.

Intellectual Property, Patent Law

Hiring demand:

For electrical engineering/computer science: hot
For mechanical engineering: warm
For biology/chemistry: warm
For biotechnology/pharmaceuticals: warm

Candidate pool:

For electrical engineering/computer science: small
For mechanical engineering: medium
For biology/chemistry: medium
For biotechnology/pharmaceuticals: medium

The state of the market is essentially the same in this area. We are continuing to see a widening gap between the demand for electrical engineering- or computer science-degreed patent attorneys versus those with degrees in life sciences (biology and chemistry). We are still receiving calls from law firms pleading for electrical engineering- or computer science-degreed patent attorneys, while our biology and chemistry patent attorneys are finding it much more challenging to get interviews.

This is an especially difficult market for those without advanced degrees or substantial litigation experience. The above information applies to both patent prosecution and litigation, with one exception: firms focusing on hiring patent litigators with electrical engineering or computer science degrees are open to considering patent litigators with degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science.

There are several firms seeking to bolster their biotechnology and pharmaceutical capabilities and desperately looking for high-profile partners to raise the prestige of their practices in this growing area.

Intellectual Property, Trademark and Copyright Law

Hiring demand: warm
Candidate pool: medium/small

We have several trademark searches that remain unfilled. Overall, while trademark prosecution is valued, trademark litigation experience seems to be a bit more in demand since it is generally more profitable than trademark prosecution. If you are a trademark examiner at the USPTO, try to gain as much TTAB experience as possible.

For those of you who are interested in practicing exclusively copyright law in a DC firm, the market is virtually nonexistent, and you would be better off either focusing on trademark law or moving to a market where this field is more active, such as New York or Los Angeles.

International Trade

Hiring demand: cooling
Candidate pool: small

The lateral market for international trade has cooled off as a result of fewer filings (anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases) at the ITC. We are still working on several active international trade searches, but export control/compliance seems to be the area with the greatest need. This is due to several factors: (1) it is an area in which more firms are going to be focusing due to the decrease in anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases, (2) the growing scrutiny in exporting technologies that could threaten national security, and (3) new proposed regulations to increase export control.


Hiring demand: lukewarm
Candidate pool: medium

Litigation has been slowing down for the past six months. Firms are experiencing less litigation work on the whole (which we hear from numerous sources) and have become very selective in even offering interviews to candidates for their open positions.

If you are a junior litigation associate, unless you have stellar credentials and experience, you may be better off waiting until spring has officially begun to launch a search. The best times to look for lateral litigation positions have always been during the winter and spring, but there is a "wait-and-see" attitude on the part of the firms. Until demand and activity intensify, this is a good time to work on honing your skills where you are so that when the market is more dynamic, you will have a stronger resume. That being said, we do have several searches for junior litigators that remain open but have been fairly inactive.

Real Estate

Hiring demand: lukewarm
Candidate pool: small

Due to the downturn in the real estate market on the whole, few fresh opportunities have come in. However, there are a number of large real estate practices still looking for specific experience in real estate financing, leasing, and real estate acquisitions.


Hiring demand: warm
Candidate pool: small

New tax opportunities are coming in slowly, but there is still a need for mid-level tax attorneys with strong academic credentials who have either transactional or litigation experience. We also have several searches for international tax attorneys with cross-border experience.


Hiring demand: warm
Candidate pool: small

Telecommunications remains steady. Almost all of the firms are looking for associates with two to five years of relevant experience (e.g., wireless and common carrier issues, wireline, VoIP, satellite, etc.). Candidates from the FCC and candidates with mixes of transactional and litigation experience are experiencing the most success. There is a lack of active candidates, so if you are a candidate interested in hearing about your options, this is an excellent time to find out.


State of the Market: Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Miami, South Florida, Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee
By Raffaele Murdocca, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Atlanta


Corporate is slowing down. We are seeing a shift from many positions to very few in the Atlanta market. Firms are looking for candidates with four to six years of experience who can hit the ground running.

Due to the mortgage crisis and layoffs, we are seeing a real slowdown in the finance practice area.

Intellectual property is hot in Atlanta. We have several patent prosecution positions for those with electrical engineering backgrounds. We are also seeing an increase in positions in intellectual property litigation for those associates who are members of the USPTO.

Commercial real estate is still hot. Firms in Atlanta are still looking for associates with two to five years of experience in this practice area. Firms are looking for experience with acquisition and disposition of property, leasing, or lending work.

Litigation is picking up and turning around in 2008. We expect to see many positions in this area in Atlanta.

Labor and employment is picking up. We have a limited number of opportunities in this area, but we are predicting that companies will be laying off employees, which will spur on more employment litigation in 2008.

Bankruptcy is slow but turning around. We are seeing a few openings for bankruptcy associates. We believe firms are beefing up their practices for an upswing in bankruptcy filings. Last year bankruptcy filings were down 70%, so this practice area is sure to turn around in 2008.

We have a number of firms looking in the employee benefits/ERISA practice area. You will have a few options in terms of firm size and culture.


Banking, lending, structured finance, asset securitization, and capital markets all continue to be the busiest practice areas in this market. It is the first time in years we are seeing a slowdown in this area. However, we still have positions; they are just limited and for the perfect candidates. There were nine associates laid off at Cadwalader in Charlotte, so their resumes have flooded the market.

Real estate continues to be a great practice area in Charlotte. We have many positions in commercial real estate with great firms. You will have a work/life balance and get paid at the top of the market. The real estate market continues to thrive here. As the city continues to develop, we will see more and more positions.

We have a few corporate mergers and acquisitions and securities positions for associates with at least three years of experience.

We still have a few employee benefits/ERISA positions with our top clients. They are looking for associates with at least two years of experience.


Real estate is hot in Raleigh. We have a number of real estate positions in the Raleigh/RTP market. There is a lot of commercial development being done in Raleigh, and we have a number of clients looking for candidates with two to five years of experience with the acquisition and disposition of property.

Corporate mergers and acquisitions has picked up in the Raleigh market. If you have two to five years of experience, we have several positions available.

Partners or associates with backgrounds in the life sciences area are encouraged to give us a call. We know several firms that would be interested in continuing to develop this practice.

The employee benefits/ERISA practice area is very busy right now, and we believe it will continue to be busy for the next several months. We also predict a few tax positions in the near future.

Miami and South Florida

We have several positions with mid-size and large firms looking for top corporate mergers and acquisitions associates. We expect this trend to continue for the next few months.

The residential mortgage slowdown is having a negative effect on commercial real estate deals. Therefore, real estate in Florida is very slow right now.

Things are starting to pick up for litigation associates in South Florida. However, firms are still focused on candidates who are already signed up or members of the Florida bar. Most firms are looking for associates with at least three years of experience.

We are seeing a few needs for trusts and estates attorneys with at least three years of experience. We expect this trend to continue, especially with so many baby boomers moving to Florida. Our clients prefer attorneys with LL.M.s in tax or estate planning.

The environmental area has picked up over the last six months. We have a number of needs in this area of law.

Orlando and Tampa

Corporate is pretty hot in Central and North Florida. If you have two or more years of experience, you should consider a move today.

Real estate is slow. However, our clients are also looking for attorneys with land use experience.

Litigation is starting to pick up in Central Florida. You still must have great experience, good credentials, and Florida bar membership.


We have several environmental opportunities. We believe this area will remain hot for the next several months.


State of the Market: Texas
By Suzanne Dupree Howe, Esq., Managing Director, BCG Houston

It is an interesting time for lateral recruiting as we continue to hear much about the housing decline and a cautious financial market. In Texas, however, we continue to see strong activity from the firms, albeit with a little more caution. Transactional candidates are still highly in demand, but the firms are less likely to look outside of strict academic standards, and "red flags" are more closely scrutinized.

Candidates with mergers and acquisitions, securities, corporate finance, tax, transactional energy, and employee benefits/ERISA experience will find the Texas market noticeably receptive to their resumes. Out-of-state transactional candidates with good credentials will find the Texas firms welcoming, and the lack of Texas bar membership is almost never an issue.


Corporate attorneys continue to be sought in both Houston and Dallas. While we still see a demand for mergers and acquisitions and private equity, securities experience seems to be the type of experience most highly sought currently. Law firms will consider junior corporate candidates and will look at attorneys with at least one solid year of transactional experience; however, they greatly prefer candidates with two to six years of experience.

Project Finance

Attorneys with project finance experience are heavily sought in Houston right now. Many of the larger firms in Houston are finding themselves overwhelmed by the abundance of clients needing attorneys capable of providing this niche practice area. Houston firms are willing to look at all levels of candidates with project finance experience, including of counsel. But as always, a book of business makes a candidate more attractive.


Many Houston firms continue to need candidates with upstream and downstream oil and gas experience. Candidates with experience in acquisitions and divestitures of energy assets will find a solid market here. Energy litigation, on the other hand, is much less in demand.


Tax associates are very much in demand in Texas due to the strong economic climate the state continues to enjoy. Candidates with LL.M.s from top programs are most valuable to the firms. Candidates in consulting positions with the national accounting firms have recently made transitions into the tax departments of major law firms and are in demand, especially if they have experience in areas like ERISA, employee benefits, and international tax. We have also seen an increased need for trusts and estates associates at the large firms.

Employee Benefits and ERISA

Candidates with heavy tax-based employee benefits and ERISA experience are very much in demand in both Dallas and Houston. While firms do like to see an LL.M. in Taxation, it is by no means a requirement.

Real Estate

Real estate attorneys are still being sought by firms in Dallas, with some minimal activity in Houston as well. However, the nationwide real estate slump seems to be contributing to the fact that fewer active positions are available. The needs seem to be cut in half, but there is no question that opportunities are still available. Those with finance experience may have an easier time looking to make a transition.


Litigation remains remarkably slow in Texas due to tort reform as well as a nationwide slowdown in commercial filings. Several small to mid-sized firms have sought attorneys in this area recently, but litigation positions with large firms in Texas remain scanty. Even litigation candidates with high grades and J.D.s from top-tier law schools may experience frustration and difficulty in making lateral moves.

Those with commercial litigation experience may have an easier time as this is more in demand. However, securities and bankruptcy positions are still difficult to come by, as is typical of the litigation market nationwide. In the coming months it remains to be seen if the shift in the economy will stimulate the litigation market in Texas. We are obviously expecting an increase in consumer finance litigation.

Intellectual Property

In the last few years, many plaintiffs chose to file their cases in the Eastern District of Texas, but the docket, while still appealing, has slowed. Intellectual property litigation associates are still highly sought, but without a technical background, these positions are difficult to come by. The firms consistently request candidates with electrical engineering degrees, but we have had requests for computer science, physics, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering as well. A master's degree in one of these areas will definitely enhance a candidate's chances.

Patent prosecution attorneys remain in demand statewide in Texas. However, these attorneys are in much greater demand in Dallas and Austin, where a great number of the state's technology companies are based. Particularly attractive to firms are those attorneys with backgrounds in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, physics, or computer science.

We also have seen a need for trademark attorneys in Dallas recently. Licensing experience is also heavily sought in all major legal markets in Texas.


As always, partners with portable books of business are sought at many firms in the major metropolitan markets in Texas. BCG is the leader in partner placements nationwide, and we can make the transition very smooth for you. If you are interested in confidentially discussing any of these opportunities, please contact us at 713-270-1199.

State of the Market: Arizona
By Veronica Pawlowski, Esq., Recruiter, BCG Los Angeles

Given the state of the economy, it is no surprise that the overall state of the market in Arizona is a little slower than we usually expect at this time of year. Having said this, the effect we have seen thus far is not necessarily a decrease in the positions available. Rather, we see law firms looking for more experienced attorneys who possess strong qualifications and are already members of the Arizona bar. With these qualifications in mind, attorneys practicing in the following areas remain in demand:

Commercial Litigation

Though the typical "prime" marketability for attorneys is in the third to fifth years of practice, the current demand extends that "prime" marketability into the sixth year. Thus, well-credentialed litigators with three to six years of experience will fare well in the Arizona market.

At this level attorneys are expected to have substantial, hands-on litigation experience that includes taking and defending depositions and engaging in trial preparation. Any trial experience (first or second chair) is a definite plus. And, as previously mentioned, candidates interested in relocating to Arizona will fare much better if they have already taken and passed the state bar exam.


The trend in litigation is true for corporate attorneys as well — experienced attorneys who can make an immediate contribution with little training are strongly encouraged to apply. The target level of experience for corporate openings looks to be in the range of five years, and attorneys who have taken the lead on negotiations and/or deals will succeed in this market.


We note this as a category of its own because there are opportunities in the current market calling for attorneys who have transactional finance experience in a number of subcategories. These subcategories include real estate finance, corporate finance, and hospitality financing.

For opportunities such as these, a strong transactional background with any finance experience is desirable. Of special note, opportunities in this category may provide more flexibility when it comes to state bar admission because the experience sought is so specialized.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property attorneys and, specifically, patent prosecution attorneys are almost always in demand, and this quarter is no different. The most sought-after science background remains electrical engineering, but chemical and mechanical engineering come in closely behind.

Membership in the USPTO is also extremely valuable, as is the ability to support the firm's patent litigation and trademark practices as well. Of special note, this is another practice area in which firms tend to be a bit more flexible with respect to Arizona bar admission; again, because the pool of qualified candidates can be quite limited, more flexibility is warranted.


It has been quite a while since we considered tax to be a busy practice in Arizona, but this quarter, the opportunities for tax attorneys are definitely on the rise. The specific qualifications sought are an LL.M. in Taxation and experience with sophisticated business tax issues.

Labor and Employment

Similar to current litigation demands, firms looking for labor and employment attorneys want experienced attorneys who can take immediate lead responsibilities with little supervision. Moreover, firms are looking for qualified candidates who have litigation and counseling experience. On the litigation side knowledge of federal and state laws is crucial, and on the counseling side exposure to a wide range of matters including termination, discipline, FMLA, FLSA, and other such policies and procedures is desired.

In conclusion, we would summarize the Phoenix market as being steady but cautious. Opportunities exist in all of the above-specified practice areas and also in areas such as bankruptcy, healthcare, and employee benefits.

With the current state of the economy, our recommendation is for out-of-state attorneys to have at least taken the Arizona bar exam, and it is even better if such candidates have already passed the exam. For attorneys currently practicing in Phoenix, the market is very promising and rather unusual in that firms are interested in seeing candidates with a bit more experience than they expected to see during previous trends.

State of the Market: Nevada
By Veronica Pawlowski, Esq., Recruiter, BCG Los Angeles

For the last several years, Las Vegas has been an extremely attractive market because of the tremendous growth the city was experiencing and also due to the number of firms moving into the market. While the growth has slowed due to nationwide concerns over the economy, there are still firms that have recently moved into Las Vegas that are looking to grow.

With that in mind, the highest demand in Las Vegas is for partner-level candidates who have portable business. Candidates at this level would be welcome in just about any practice area, but litigation and employment attorneys are in particular demand.

When it comes to associates, the Nevada market remains fairly busy in the following areas:


Litigation is steady as usual in Nevada, and the highest demand is for general commercial litigation associates. With respect to credentials, firms prefer attorneys who are licensed in Nevada and those who graduated in the top third of their law school class. The target level of experience is in the two- to five-year range, and attorneys at the upper end of that scale are expected to have significant experience that includes taking depositions and drafting and arguing dispositive motions (in particular, motions for summary judgment).


Though limited, there are opportunities for attorneys who have sophisticated training in ERISA matters. In this practice area admission to the Nevada bar is absolutely flexible, provided the candidate's experience is on point. To that end, firms seek junior to mid-level attorneys who will work on plan design and drafting and who must also be well versed in the regulatory compliance issues involved in administering employee benefit plans.

Real Estate

Real estate opportunities have definitely slowed this quarter, but unlike many other markets, real estate is not at a standstill. Nevada can be an attractive market to attorneys who may be interested in relocating. Having said this, the leaner market in this practice area has also resulted in a higher demand for attorneys who have sophisticated backgrounds, top academic credentials, and enough experience to make an immediate contribution to the firm. Specific experience desired includes real estate acquisition, disposition, development, financing, and leasing.

Intellectual Property

For intellectual property associates Nevada is a good market on the transactional side. Attorneys with patent prosecution and trademark experience will be well received in this market, especially if they are registered with the USPTO and/or have experience practicing before the TTAB. In this specific practice area, firms have traditionally demonstrated flexibility when it comes to Nevada bar admission.

Business and Finance

In many regions across the country, transactional attorneys are divided into highly specialized subgroups. Law firms in Nevada are unique in that the transactional attorneys often have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of transactional business law matters. Therefore, as expected, we do see a need this quarter for transactional generalists who have sophisticated experience with entity formation, corporate governance counseling, advising on finance matters, etc. Thus, for a well-rounded transactional attorney who has diverse experience, Nevada is a great market.

State of the Market: Chicago, Wisconsin, and Michigan
By Jamie Bailey, Managing Director, BCG Chicago

Despite the subprime mortgage situation and uncertain economic conditions, the first quarter of 2008 has brought promising opportunities for lateral attorneys at law firms across the Midwest region in many key practice areas. Law firms which have globalized their practices are well positioned for continued growth and expansion in the upcoming year.

With many experts projecting slowdowns in the mergers and acquisitions, private equity, finance, and general corporate areas, firms are carefully evaluating their needs in these areas but have continued to actively interview and hire the best and brightest corporate attorneys.

During the first quarter of 2008, we have also experienced a very slight increase in requests from top law firms for highly qualified laterals in other key areas, including bankruptcy, ERISA, healthcare, and patent prosecution. We anticipate an exciting year of lateral hiring in 2008 in the Midwest region!


General Corporate, Private Equity, Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Securities, Fund Formation, Structured Finance, and Securitization

We are not seeing any slowdown yet in Chicago for experienced corporate attorneys. Some of the largest firms in the city are requesting associates with anywhere from one to three and four to six years of experience in finance, private equity, securities, joint venture, and mergers and acquisitions, as well as more experienced attorneys at the 10-plus year level.

Top firms with excellent banking and finance practices are also seeking associates with one to three years of experience in banking matters. We are also interested in speaking with associates with one to four years of experience in fund formation and three or more years of experience in hedge fund work. Firms are also seeking associates with two to four years of experience in securitization matters.

Bankruptcy and Restructuring

It came as no surprise to us given the current market conditions that during the end of the last quarter of 2007, we began to see a slight increase in requests for mid-level and senior-level associates with bankruptcy and restructuring experience. Firms are seeking associates with large Chapter 11 cases as well as significant experience in representing both creditors and debtors in corporate restructurings, workouts, and reorganizations.

Employee Benefits — Executive Compensation, Qualified and Non-Qualified Plans, and Welfare Plans

We cannot keep up with the requests we are receiving from law firms for highly qualified employee benefits attorneys. These attorneys are in very high demand. If you are an ERISA transactional attorney seeking to transition to another law firm, this is an excellent time for you to look in Chicago.

Chicago firms are seeking junior and mid-level associates as well as senior associates and junior-level partners (no business required) with experience in executive compensation, qualified retirement plans, health and welfare benefit plans, and regulatory compliance matters.

Healthcare — Transactional and Litigation

Firms continue to seek qualified healthcare associates with one to three years of experience in healthcare transactional and/or regulatory matters. In particular, we would like to speak with candidates with exposure to healthcare fraud and abuse, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures, as well as HIPAA, health information technology, and Medicare private plan regulation.

Attorneys with three or more years of experience who have had exposure to healthcare compliance matters including internal investigations, defense of whistleblower actions, and legal and regulatory analysis of proposed and existing activities and relationships should get in touch with us in connection with healthcare litigation opportunities. Advanced degrees in healthcare are highly valued, and Illinois bar admission is preferred.

Tax — Transactional, REITs, and Private Equity Fund Formation

We have quite a few opportunities for talented tax associates in Chicago. We are seeking tax associates with four or more years of experience in federal income tax matters, partnership transactions, and private equity fund formation issues. We are also interested in speaking with senior associate or junior partner candidates with anywhere from five to 10 years of experience in tax matters and particular exposure to REIT transactions and/or real estate partnerships.

Patent Prosecution and Intellectual Property Litigation

Patent prosecutors are in demand in Chicago, and associates with anywhere from one to five years of experience should definitely get in touch with us. Preferred backgrounds include biotechnology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals, and computer science. As always, Ph.D.s are highly sought after, and USPTO admission is preferred in most cases.

We are also seeking associates with four or more years of experience preparing patentability opinions and patent infringement and validity opinions. General practice firms and intellectual property boutiques are also seeking patent litigators with one to eight years of litigation experience, strong analytical skills, deposition experience, and motion practice.

Real Estate — REITs, Finance, Secured Lending, Leasing, and Acquisitions and Dispositions

Despite the downturn in mortgage securitizations, we are still seeing some opportunities in some real estate departments in Chicago. We would be interested in speaking with candidates who have large law firm training, excellent academics, and three to five years of experience in commercial real estate matters, including retail, acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, real estate finance and secured lending, and/or REIT transactions.


Similar to the last quarter of 2007, despite the slowdown in litigation, firms continue to ask us for strong litigators but are being extremely selective and particular about the litigation skills they require. We have great opportunities at top-tier general practice firms as well as sophisticated boutiques. Firms are seeking candidates with two to six years of experience and strong deposition, discovery, and motion practice. Excellent academics are required, and admission to the Illinois bar is generally preferred.

Partners with Portable Business

We are interested in speaking with partners with significant portable business in any of the following areas: corporate transactions, employee benefits and executive compensation, real estate finance, products liability, private equity, labor and employment, healthcare, patent prosecution, intellectual property litigation, and trusts and estates. Typically Chicago firms are looking for a minimum of $1 million to $2 million in portable business, but some smaller and mid-sized firms will consider books starting at $500,000.


Patent Prosecution, Trademark and Copyright, Healthcare, Mergers and Acquisitions, Securities, Real Estate, Employee Benefits, and Tax

Milwaukee and Madison firms offer unique opportunities for lateral associates. We are seeking associates with two to six years of experience in particular practice areas including patent prosecution (with particular need for mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electromechanical, computer science, chemistry, organic chemistry, and/or pharmaceutical backgrounds), trademark and copyright, healthcare (transactional and compliance), mergers and acquisitions and securities, real estate transactional (acquisition and disposition, leasing, and retail), employee benefits (transactional), and tax (partnership, corporate, and tax-exempt transactions).

Partners with Portable Business

Wisconsin firms are actively seeking partners with portable business in a variety of areas including ERISA, trusts and estates, healthcare, employment relations, patent litigation, and real estate land and resources.


Detroit, Birmingham, and Bloomfield Hills

Patent Prosecution, Real Estate, Private Equity, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Securities

As we have previously reported, the negative effects of the declining auto industry and current economic conditions nationwide are continuing to affect Detroit. We are seeing some need, but overall lateral activity has declined. We do have needs for strong patent prosecutors with two to six years of experience and technical backgrounds in electrical or mechanical engineering.

Despite the current mortgage crisis, some Detroit firms are still seeking commercial real estate associates with five or more years of experience in acquisitions, leasing, and lending matters. Additionally, we have a need for corporate associates with three to five years of experience in securities, private equity, and mergers and acquisitions transactions.

Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Troy, and Kalamazoo

Litigation, Real Estate, Mergers and Acquisitions, Trusts and Estates, and Patent Prosecution

Firms with offices outside of Detroit are seeking attorneys with two to five years of experience in key practice areas including litigation, commercial real estate (acquisitions and dispositions), general corporate and mergers and acquisitions transactions, trusts and estates, and patent prosecution.

Patent prosecutors are also needed at the more senior associate through junior partner level. Most of the patent prosecution positions require technical backgrounds in electrical engineering, computer science, chemistry, or computer science and USPTO admittance.

Partners with Portable Business

We are interested in speaking with partners practicing in Michigan who are seeking opportunities in Detroit or the surrounding legal markets, including Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids. In particular, we would like to speak with partners with a minimum of $300,000 in portable business in corporate transactional, real estate (acquisitions and development), private equity, securities and banking, patent, or labor and employment matters. We would also be interested in speaking with business transactional attorneys with international/cross-border exposure.

State of the Market: Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio
By Laura Rusche, Esq., Recruiter, BCG Chicago


Intellectual Property

Minneapolis continues to provide significant opportunities for intellectual property attorneys. Many of the top firms are looking for intellectual property litigators with one to four years of experience. These firms tend to prefer technical backgrounds, but some do not require them.

The Minneapolis firms also have a significant need for transactional intellectual property attorneys, particularly for associates with computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and biotech backgrounds. There are also opportunities for copyright and trademark attorneys, especially in the one- to three-year range.


With the economy struggling, many of the large Minnesota law firms continue to seek bankruptcy associates, both at the junior and mid-level associate stage.


Corporate transactional associates remain in high demand in Minnesota. Most of the large firms continue to seek associates with a combination of mergers and acquisitions, securities, international, banking, and finance experience. While many are looking for associates with three to five years of experience, there are opportunities for more junior associates as well. Associates with strong corporate backgrounds should contact our Chicago office to discuss these great opportunities.


While litigation associates are not in huge demand, we have a number of litigation associate positions available in Minnesota. Firms seeking litigators are generally looking for attorneys with one to four years of experience in products liability, antitrust, commercial, and general business litigation.

Labor and Employment

After a slight decrease in need late last year, we are seeing a sizable increase in demand for labor and employment associates and partners. Currently, a number of the larger firms are looking for associates with one to five years of experience. Additionally, we also have openings for more senior attorneys with six to 10 years of experience. Senior labor and employment attorneys with business are encouraged to contact our Chicago office to discuss these opportunities.

Tax and Real Estate

We have a few open positions for real estate attorneys at both the associate and partner level, although partners should have portable books of business. With respect to tax, there is a need for associates at the junior level as well as more senior attorneys with eight to 10 years of experience.


Indianapolis firms continue to seek intellectual property associates with patent, trademark, and copyright transactional and litigation experience. Technical backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical engineering are in demand.

Employee benefits associates are also in demand, both at the junior level and at the mid to senior associate level. We also have a few openings for corporate associates, especially those with experience in mergers and acquisitions and securities.


Cleveland and Cincinnati

Corporate, Securities, and Mergers and Acquisitions

We continue to see some opportunities for corporate associates with all levels of experience. Many of the firms are looking for candidates with experience in mergers and acquisitions, securities, commercial finance, and private equity. Candidates with one to seven years of experience in these areas should contact our Chicago office to discuss these opportunities in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Labor and Employment, Litigation, Intellectual Property, and Bankruptcy

Demand remains steady for intellectual property associates and litigators. In the area of intellectual property, many firms are looking for associates with two to five years of patent experience, with technical backgrounds in chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and the life sciences.

With respect to litigators, associates with one to seven years of experience in all stages of litigation should contact the Chicago office. We are also seeing a steady need for labor and employment associates, especially those with OSHA experience. In all of these practice areas, many firms are interested in partners with portable business.

Real Estate and Tax

We continue to see needs in the areas of real estate and tax. Firms are generally looking for associates with two to four years of real estate experience. In the area of tax, associates with one to three years of experience are in demand. Moreover, we have openings for senior associates/partner-level candidates with experience in Subchapter C, Subchapter K, and tax-exempt finance.

Environmental and Employee Benefits

We have seen a slight increase in need for both environmental associates and employee benefits associates. Generally, firms are looking for associates in the two- to six-year range. Firms are also interested in partners with portable business.

Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo

As in the other Ohio cities, we continue to see opportunities for corporate associates in Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo. Most firms are looking for associates in the two- to five-year range with experience in mergers and acquisitions, securities, private equity, joint ventures, and general corporate law.

Additionally, there has been a recent increase in the need for employee benefits associates with significant experience with ERISA. Likewise, there is an increased need for trusts and estates associates, at both the junior and senior associate levels.

The needs remain steady for environmental, labor and employment, and intellectual property associates. With respect to intellectual property, there is a demand for associates with backgrounds in chemistry. Many of the firms are also looking for partner-level candidates in the areas of intellectual property, public finance, labor and employment, healthcare, and bankruptcy.

State of the Market: Colorado
By Jamie Bailey, Managing Director, BCG Chicago


General Corporate, Mergers and Acquisitions, Securities, Private Equity, and Joint Venture

Particularly needed in Denver are attorneys with anywhere from one to seven years of experience in general corporate matters, mergers and acquisitions, securities, private equity, and joint venture transactions.

Patent Prosecution and Trademark Litigation

We continue to receive calls from Denver firms requesting talented intellectual property attorneys with two to five years of patent prosecution experience. Particularly attractive to these firms are undergraduate degrees in the following areas: electrical engineering, physics, mechanical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, computer science, aerospace, and civil engineering. USPTO admittance is required for most of these positions.

We would also like to speak with intellectual property litigators with three to four years of experience and senior-level trademark litigators who have eight or more years of experience in litigation and trademark and unfair competition matters.

Energy and Natural Resources

Denver firms continue to experience need in the energy and natural resources transactions areas for associates with three to five years of experience. More specifically, firms would like to see purchase and sale, exploration, joint venture, mineral leases, marketing contracts, title work, and financing project experience. Candidates with experience in the areas of environmental sciences, engineering, geology, and chemistry are also particularly attractive.


A few select firms in Denver are seeking associates with three to eight years of healthcare experience. Firms prefer candidates with exposure to Stark and anti-kickback compliance, physician practice development, provider network development and antitrust counseling, managed care contracting, and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement issues.

Employee Benefits

Mirroring other markets, Denver firms continue to seek ERISA associates with two to six years of experience with qualified plans, welfare plans, and executive compensation matters.

Real Estate

Despite the mortgage crisis, Denver firms continue to experience need in the commercial real estate area. In particular, Denver firms are focused on hiring real estate attorneys with two to seven years of exposure to commercial real estate transactions relating to mixed-use development, leasing, and lending transactions. We have also received calls from firms requesting attorneys with specialized experience in resort, timeshare, condominium, retail development, and fractional ownerships.

Partners with Portable Business

Denver firms are actively seeking partners with portable business in a variety of areas, including real estate (resort development), mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, securities, patent litigation, patent prosecution, tax, environmental, oil and gas, and labor and employment.

Boulder, Broomfield, and Colorado Springs

Patent Prosecution, Trusts and Estates, Real Estate, and Government Contracts

Firms continue to expand their Boulder, Broomfield, and Colorado Springs offices. We are receiving requests for associates with anywhere from two to six years of experience in patent prosecution (with electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, and/or physics backgrounds). We would also like to speak with trusts and estates attorneys with three or more years of experience. Senior-level associates or junior partners with experience in commercial real estate matters who have exposure to acquisition, disposition, financing, and leasing projects should definitely get in touch with us. We also have an outstanding opening for a government contracts attorney with three to six years of experience.

State of the Market: Utah
By Laura Rusche, Esq., Recruiter, BCG Chicago

There continues to be a need for a wide variety of attorneys in Utah, especially those with significant ties to the area who can show that they are dedicated to remaining in the state long-term. The Utah bar is strongly preferred and in some cases may be required.

Corporate, Real Estate, and Tax

While corporate associates are not in high demand, there are opportunities for them in Utah, especially those with three to six years of experience in mergers and acquisitions, securities, and tax. Likewise, real estate opportunities remain, especially in the area of resorts and lodging. In the area of tax, firms are looking for attorneys with expertise in corporate and partnership tax.


We are seeing a slight increase in demand for litigators in Utah. In particular, associates at the one- to four-year level with experience in products liability, personal injury, and general commercial litigation should contact the Chicago office for more details.

State of the Market: Europe
By Danice Kowalczyk, Esq., Managing Director, BCG New York

In Europe, as in the U.S., spring is the busy season. From January through mid-May, it is the most active hiring period of the year, and this year firms have gotten off to a speedy start. With the euro much stronger than the dollar, deals are thriving abroad, and the need for bodies to handle the work flow (much like our discussion on Asia below) remains strong.

What has also remained constant is firms' desire to focus strongly on UK-qualified candidates (above U.S.-qualified candidates). The demand for UK-qualified candidates has been most prevalent in London, Germany, and even Paris (which previously only focused on candidates with French legal degrees and French admission).


Like Asia, London has been seeking candidates in the finance practice areas, particularly corporate finance, banking, and project finance. Capital markets has also remained active, although mergers and acquisitions has slowed down just a touch — or, rather, firms have been looking less for mergers and acquisitions specialists and more for candidates "skilled in M&A, capital markets, and general corporate." As always, tax is strong, and intellectual property (privacy focus) falls a close second.

As expected, if you wish to work in London, (1) you should currently be working (or have recently worked) for a U.S. Wall Street or Magic Circle firm; (2) you should possess an exemplary academic history from a notable U.S. or international educational institution; and (3) you should possess a tangible connection to London (e.g., through family, past work history, past study history, or practice flow). Of equal importance is bar admission, as mentioned above.

With regard to being UK-qualified (as well as U.S.-qualified), keep this in mind: many London firms have U.S. J.D.s and UK-qualified lawyers working side by side in the same department on the same deals but getting paid different wages (with UK-qualified candidates falling below). This is a point of concern for many London attorneys/solicitors. Thus, if you are qualified in both the U.S. and the UK, and your UK qualification renders you appropriate for an opening with the UK team in a certain legal department, be clear about where your pay is falling — on which side of the coin.

As for activity, London has been doing a great deal of work in emerging markets (see the report on Moscow below); thus, we are seeing more and more London-based associates traveling a great deal and spending large chunks of time away from the city in order to tend to deals in Uzbekistan, for example. This is both exciting and troubling. A good friend recently joined a high-profile London firm with the goal of living in London and spent more time out of London than in it during 2006 and 2007. He's become very knowledgeable on emerging markets, but he didn't quite reach his goal of really living in London.


Similar to London, in Paris capital markets and finance remains hot. Any candidates interested in Paris, however, must also possess (1) fluency in the French language; (2) a U.S. LL.M. or MBA from a top U.S. educational institution (and top grades) as well as a French legal degree; and (3) experience from a top U.S. Wall Street firm.


In addition to London and Paris, Moscow remains an interesting city and a viable option. As legal work increases in the city and more and more U.S. and UK firms open up branch offices there, they are recognizing that candidates with native Russian dialects are fewer and further between. Thus, they have been thinking outside the box and loosening the demand for native speakers. Moscow is all about emerging markets. It's an ideal platform to really learn how to create and structure a deal in a new economy.


As always, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, and Munich remain the prime cities of choice in Germany. Quite simply, Germany (all cities) looks for corporate practitioners with perfect language skills (no exceptions) and, more likely, German bar admission.

State of the Market: Asia
By Danice Kowalczyk, Esq., Managing Director, BCG New York

Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Singapore

It is no surprise. The Asia-practice job market remains consistently booming. In addition to the usual prerequisites, however, we have seen two recent trends come to light.

First, Shanghai — yes, Shanghai — is becoming more and more popular. Three years ago, Hong Kong and Beijing largely served as the most active hiring ports for laterals. Today, we are seeing what used to be considered "secondary" markets like Shanghai (which never got any real play from laterals unless they had family there and wanted to "go back home") getting more and more attention.

As business needs increase, including foreign investments in U.S. real estate, companies, and other entities, business in Asia is booming, and we are seeing law firms in Shanghai and Singapore picking up the slack. This is a good thing for those laterals who do not wish to deal with the demands of Hong Kong — the stresses and the hours (24/7). Having said this, I wonder how long it will be before these secondary markets are exactly like Hong Kong, offering no real "alternative" options for folks wishing to practice in Asia but not willing to work 24/7.

In addition to the above trend, we are seeing more and more firms becoming "open" to non-Mandarin speakers. Obviously, this could be caused by the increase in deal flow and the need for more bodies to handle the work — hence, a loosening of the language requirements usually demanded of candidates in order to entice more candidates to come abroad. This could also be caused by the increased number of English-speaking businesses doing work in Asia and looking for native English speakers.

Obviously, we could predict all day, but none of it matters. The only thing that matters is that four or five positions currently exist for non-native Chinese speakers, and that's a good thing for some folks. Keep in mind, however, that these English-only speakers are still required to have (1) some familiarity with Asia (whether from attendance at school there or from having lived there at one point) and (2) some "familiarity" with the language (whatever that means). Obviously, Chinese is not a language that one picks up easily; thus, I am not certain what use a familiarity with the language will provide. However, I have been asked by a number of firms to request that talent, so I'm sharing that with my candidates.

Other than the above, the typical mandatory requirements in Asia remain the same: (1) you must have experience from a U.S. Wall Street or Magic Circle firm; (2) you must have a corporate background; (3) you must possess stellar academics from a recognizable U.S. or Asia institution with accompanying transcripts proving your standing (note: candidates possessing U.S. LL.M.s are in hot demand); (4) you must be fluent in English, and you must (or, ideally, should) be native and/or fluent in Mandarin (with Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean speakers also considered depending on the position and firm); and (5) depending on the firm, you must be admitted in at least one jurisdiction in the U.S. or one common law jurisdiction (such as Australia or New Zealand), with folks who are also PRC admitted doing exceptionally well. Prior work experience in the Asia region or significant work experience in the U.S. on cross-border matters involving Asia is also a plus.

As for practice areas, mergers and acquisitions has slowed down a little bit, but capital markets, joint venture work, and finance continue to thrive (especially bank finance).

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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