Reality Check: What to Expect While Searching for a Position in California

Thinking about moving to California, eh? I don't blame you. I love it here! I grew up in Southern California, went to college in Southern California and law school in Northern California, practiced in Northern California, and am now the Managing Director of BCG Attorney Search's L.A. office.

BCG works with a number of candidates seeking to relocate from another region (typically the East Coast) to California. Part of my job is to explain what to expect during the job search and the realities of living and practicing in California. This article surveys the process of finding a position in California and life as a California attorney.

What California Firms Look for in a Candidate

1. Compelling reasons for the move

Many firms tell us they have had great success with relocation candidates who moved to be with their significant other or are originally from the area or lived there before. I often hear this about candidates who are coming from the East Coast (New York in particular). A firm wants to be assured that a candidate who moves to California to join that firm will stay.

While having some ties to California is great, not everyone does; and that's okay. Other reasons people move here are purely for professional development (perhaps a particular practice area is hotter in a particular city and will offer more opportunities for a candidate to shape his/her practice) or the candidate had visited the area and fell in love with it. Larger markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley certainly like to see ties to the area; but as long as you have the right experience, you will likely get an interview. Relocation candidates who come from the East Coast thrive in these cities. California firms know East Coasters (particularly New Yorkers) generally have strong work ethics and have had exposure to high-level work. In fact, some firms have practices that are more "East Coast" and specifically want a candidate from New York (I hear this often from corporate practices).