State of the Market: Orange County by Claudia Barnes, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
Healthy Practice Areas:
Patent Prosecution is super hot! MANY firms are seeking candidates with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science/engineering, biotech, medical devices, and physics. Presently, our firm clients are seeking patent attorneys at all levels, although most seek an attorney with at least 2 years of prior firm experience. A partner with a portable book of business of at least $500,000 would likely garner several interviews. Candidates should have USPTO membership, and ideally California Bar membership.
Labor & Employment
Strong employment law candidates will do well in the Orange County market. Most firms are seeking candidates who are licensed in California, and have both class action and single plaintiff experience. Firms are specifically seeking candidates with wage and hour experience. Presently, the focus is on hiring more attorneys at the senior and mid-level than the junior levels.
Litigation remains a steady practice area in Orange County. Trial and deposition experience are valued, as firms want to hire self-sufficient candidates that can handle cases on their own. Junior to mid-level associates will do the best in this market. Senior associates need to have portable business or significant trial experience to be marketable. Candidates should have impeccable credentials (e.g. large firm experience, minimal job movement, top law school graduate).
We are happy to report a steadily growing need for corporate attorneys with experience in private equity, venture capital, initial public offerings, mergers & acquisitions, securities offerings and other business transactions. The focus is on hiring at the mid-level (3-6 years).
This maybe the first time we have listed this practice on our report. Public law is an incredibly niche practice. But there are firms seeking attorneys with 4-6 years of demonstrated experience and a strong desire to continue working with local government agency (cities, water districts) and governing boards.
We are so happy to be listing real estate as a growing practice area! Firms are actively seeking mid-level candidates with 2-5 years of experience in the following: real estate acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, and/or real estate finance. Candidates should already have membership to the California Bar.
Slow Practice Areas:
Unlike patent prosecution, patent litigation is incredibly slow, as is bankruptcy. Furthermore, there is very little activity in healthcare, tax, environmental, energy, trademark, trusts & estates and employee benefits/executive compensation. That being said, candidates who have outstanding academic and professional credentials, 3-5 years of experience in their field, and membership to the California Bar will definitely get interviews. We anticipate the market to continue to improve in Orange County over the next several months.
State of the Market: San Diego by Claudia Barnes, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
San Diego has historically been the hardest market to penetrate in California. To be competitive in the San Diego market you must have top credentials as well as strong ties to the area. The California Bar is a must, as is longevity at your current firm (2+ years). Be ready to explain your reasons for leaving your current firm, as well as any other moves on your resume.
Healthy Practice Areas:
Patent Prosecution and Litigation
Patent prosecution is the hottest practice in San Diego with patent litigation a close second. The strongest need for both litigation and prosecution is at the mid to senior level range. Candidates with backgrounds in one of the following will fair well: biology/chemistry/chemical engineering/life science - particularly those with a Ph.D. There is a tremendous need for prosecutors with an electrical engineering or computer science background. Candidates who currently work at a top boutique or large firm will surely get interviews.
Labor & Employment
Well-credentialed mid- and senior- level employment law candidates will do very well in the current San Diego market. 2010 was a good year for employment attorneys, and we continue to see a need for attorneys with trial and deposition experience who can take a case and run with it. Single plaintiff and class action experience is preferred. CA Bar admission is required.
Litigation has picked up since December. Areas of interest are general commercial/business, insurance coverage, securities and products liability. Firms want at least 2 years of experience, and many are generally seeking mid-level and senior-level attorneys who can handle their own cases, and have ample deposition and trial experience. General litigation candidates without the California Bar should really wait until they are licensed in the state, or have at least taken the bar to successfully apply for openings in San Diego. Partners are sought with portable books of business of at least $500,000.
Tax and ERISA/employee benefits has consistently been busy in San Diego. While senior-level attorneys are those most highly recruited, at this time in these practices there is room for mid-levels. Candidates who have experience in areas like employee benefits or charitable organizations will be attractive to potential employers and have better chances. In order to be competitive in San Diego, attorneys should be licensed in California, and they should also have both state and federal tax law experience. Senior level candidates with LL.M.s in Taxation will surely get interviews.
The need for energy attorneys has picked up all over the country as renewable energy becomes more popular. San Diego is no exception. Senior level energy attorneys are still in demand. Those with experience in energy finance and the purchase and sale of energy projects as well as energy regulations such as FERC, CEC, CPUC will quickly garner interviews.
We are not seeing much activity in corporate in San Diego with the exception of several firms seeking partner-level candidates with portable books of business of at least $500,000. We anticipate this practice area to pick up and see real activity over the next several months. Stay tuned.
The need for real estate and environmental attorneys has not picked up as of yet, but we anticipate this to change over the next few months. However, experienced real estate attorneys with traditional leasing and acquisition work from well-regarded law firms will get several interviews. Environmental attorneys with zoning and land use experience from well-respected firms will also get attention at top firms in San Diego.
We are not seeing a lot of activity in bankruptcy, trademark, healthcare, or trusts and estates. Anyone in these practice areas should seriously consider looking into the Orange County and Los Angeles markets.
State of the Market: Los Angeles by Claudia Barnes, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
So much has changed since December…there is a tremendous need for corporate and finance attorneys in Los Angeles! Within the finance realm we are seeing activity in corporate finance, project finance, and debt finance. We are also seeing activity in capital markets, private equity, mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures, initial public offerings, '34 Act, securities offerings and other business transactions. Firms are seeking candidates at all levels, even as junior as a second year associate. Firms prefer local and Bay Area candidates but will seriously consider East Coast and Chicago transplants with the right credentials and experience.
Labor & Employment
Los Angeles is a wonderful place to practice employment law. It is always busy here! There is a never-ending need for employment attorneys at all levels, especially partners with some portable business. Mid - and senior - level employment law candidates with good credentials will do well in the current Los Angeles market. Historically, firms have sought candidates who are already members of the California Bar and have experience with California labor and employment codes. This practice area is recession-proof for the most part. Any general litigator who has some experience in this area should seriously consider applying for positions in this practice area. If you are a litigator who has spent at least 30% of your time on labor and employment matters, it would be wise to market yourself as an employment attorney who is flexible on class year. For instance, if you are a 5th year litigation associate, then tell firms you will come in at a lower level (leave it up to the firm to decide where they should place you) if you can become a full-time employment attorney.
There appears to be a need for experienced litigators with at least 3 years of experience, and preferably more. The super hot area right now is consumer finance/class action/financial services litigation - which makes sense given the state of the economy! We are seeing more openings that require solid hands-on experience, including trial and deposition work. Firms are not looking forward to training laterals. They want someone who can hit the ground running and help train the more junior associates.
Since the summer we have seen an increase in the need for true bankruptcy/corporate restructuring and true bankruptcy litigator candidates. Firms have been very willing to wait until they find the perfect candidate. Standards are high. Firms expect candidates to come from top tier law firms and have excellent academic credentials.
Due to the increase in corporate work, we are also seeing a significant increase in the need for tax attorneys. Candidates with at least two years (ideally, 3-6 years) experience in traditional transactional work, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and even state and local taxation (SALT) will definitely get interviews. Firms prefer to hire attorneys who possess an LL.M.
We are seeing an increase in need for true construction attorneys - both litigators and those who deal with major construction projects. Candidates with a strong transactional background and experience with public agencies should garner interviews - particularly at the mid-level range.
As a result of the increase in corporate activity in Los Angeles, we are seeing a slowly growing need for employee benefits/executive compensation attorneys with experience in qualified plans, health and wealth plans, and executive compensation.
We are seeing a slight increase in need for transactional energy attorneys at the mid to senior levels. Candidates should have experience in negotiating power purchase agreements, project development, mergers and acquisitions, and project finance. Those who have regulatory experience will do very well.
A couple of Los Angeles firms are seeking experienced trusts and estate associates who have at least 4 years of experience. This practice area is unusual in that many firms will hire laterally only if an attorney has a lot of experience (at least 5 years).
Patent and Trademark Prosecution
Los Angeles is not the best market for patent prosecutors, but it isn't bad either. Law firms continue to seek well-qualified patent prosecutors. Firms that are hiring are extremely particular about what they want and are not flexible - they are happy to wait patiently for the right person. The major focus is on candidates with 2-5 years of solid prosecution experience with backgrounds in biology, chemistry, life sciences, and electrical engineering. You must have membership to the USPTO, and there is a strong preference for candidates who are admitted to the California Bar. Many firms seek partners with an established patent prosecution portfolio.
Trademark prosecution is true niche practice; however there is a definite need for true trademark attorneys. Ideal candidates will have at least 4 years of experience and knowledge of new trademark applications to Office Action Responses and prosecution and defense of actions before the TTAB. Firms are also seeking partners who have clients and are self-sufficient.
Intellectual Property/ Patent Litigation
Los Angeles is not the best market for patent litigators, but it certainly was worse in 2010. Generally speaking, the patent litigation market is much softer than in recent years. But it is considered ''steady,'' since firms are truly looking for patent litigators - including senior level associate candidates. Firms are very specific about what they want and are willing to take their time in finding the right match. There is no rush to hire anyone. Like patent prosecutors, litigation candidates who also possess an electrical, computer science or physics degree will do very well. Patent litigators should also be a member of the USPTO, and if possible, the California Bar - although firms are more flexible with bar membership requirements if you have the right science degree. But, anyone who has solid patent litigation experience with a technical degree should have several interviews. The focus for IP litigators is on the mid to senior level. We are also seeing a need for candidates with trademark and copyright litigation experience, which is an encouraging sign for the improving economy.
The market has picked up quite a bit for real estate associates, particularly those with experience in senior mortgage/mezzanine debt, joint-venture equity work and/or acquisitions and dispositions. Candidates from top law firms with 1-6 years of experience will get interviews. Many firms also seek partners with excellent real estate experience and preferably a portable book of business.
Slow to Dead Practice Areas:
The following practice areas have very little activity: Technology Transactions (1 opening), Environmental, Healthcare (1 active opening). However, firms are always willing to look at stellar candidates (top law school/law firm) with 2-5 years of experience in these areas. Firms are also particularly interested in growing their healthcare practices and many firms are seeking to hire partners or groups of attorneys with at least $1.5 million in portables.
State of the Market: San Francisco by Claudia Barnes, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
Healthy Practice Areas:
Employment and Labor
The need for labor and employment attorneys has increased since the end of 2010. The focus is on mid-levels with wage and hour class action experience. There is also a need for mid-levels with traditional labor experience. Lastly, there is a real push to find employment partners with a sizeable book of business (at least $500,000).
We are happy to report a continued increase in activity in corporate. Firms are seeking associates at all levels. The hot areas are all over the map: venture capital, finance, private equity, capital markets, debt finance, M&A, securities, general corporate governance. Mid-level candidates who already reside in the Bay Area and work for a well-regarded firm are bound to get interviews. Candidates who speak Mandarin will do exceedingly well.
Litigation is a healthy practice area. The focus is on mid-levels with top academic and professional credentials that currently reside in the Bay Area and are members of the California Bar. We are seeing an increase in the need for candidates with class action/financial institution experience.
Steady Practice Areas:
Intellectual Property (Patent) Litigation
This practice area has picked up a bit. Several firms in San Francisco are seeking associates in the mid-level range as well as the partner level. Firms like to see candidates who have Markman hearing experience as well as a background in chemistry, molecular biology, electrical engineering or computer science.
The need for patent prosecutors is not as strong as it has been in the past. There is a definite need for junior and mid-levels that have a strong biology/biotechnology background, including a Ph.D, or a background in electrical engineering, physics or computer science. Patent prosecutors are encouraged to also look in the Silicon Valley area for a position.
There is a small but growing need for healthcare attorneys at all levels that have experience in the following areas: healthcare corporate and/or regulatory experience, including M&A and/or physician integration transactions in the medical sector.
There is a slight need for attorneys with 2-5 years of experience in construction litigation. Candidates should have experience in mechanics’ liens, stop notices and construction damages and remedies. A background in engineering, architecture or construction is a plus.
There is a small need for real estate associates with 2-4 years of experience in acquisitions, dispositions, commercial leasing and financing transactions. Firms are also seeking partners with at least $1 million in portables.
Ideal tax candidates have at least 1 year of experience and a broad background in federal tax involving corporate, international and partnership tax (including LLC).
The following areas are truly ''slow'': energy, technology transactions, executive compensation, trusts & estates, environmental (1 opening for someone with regulatory experience), bankruptcy, and trademark.
However, firms will likely consider any mid-level candidate with a stable work history and solid pedigree from a well-regarded law firm. There is a strong preference to hire candidates who already reside in the Bay Area.
State of the Market: Silicon Valley by Claudia Barnes, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
Silicon Valley has historically been an outstanding legal market, and it is typically easier to find a position here than in San Francisco. If you are seeking a position in San Francisco, you really need to apply for positions in Silicon Valley. To be competitive in the current market, the successful lateral associate candidate will have graduated from a top tier law school; be admitted to the California Bar; and possess sustained association (at least 2 years) with a big name law firm - the preference is on hiring candidates who already work in Silicon Valley.
Corporate is hot, hot, hot! There is an unbelievable need for corporate attorneys at all associate levels that have experience in at least one of the following areas: M&A, VC, IPO, capital markets, public finance, investment management, and fund formation. Firms are having a hard time filling their corporate openings and have become more flexible with regard to class year. Although there is a strong preference in hiring local candidates who already have the California Bar, nearly every firm will seriously consider a candidate relocating from another region like New York, DC, Texas and Chicago who also possess top caliber academic and professional credentials. Furthermore, firms are keeping an eye out for Mandarin-speaking attorneys and those with technology backgrounds.
Intellectual Property (Litigation and Prosecution)
The need for intellectual property litigators (both patent and trademark litigation) at all levels and patent prosecutors at all levels are among the most sought-after candidates in Silicon Valley. For patent prosecution, candidates must have experience in a big firm or boutique and a strong technical background. Ideal candidates will have a background in electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, biotechnology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering, and/or medical devices. Those in bio fields are typically expected to have a Ph.D. or Masters degree. Registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a must. We are seeing an ever-so-slightly growing need for trademark attorneys, which is a good sign for a slightly recovering economy. When there are budget cuts, the first thing to cut is on advertising and protecting or registering a trademark. There are multiple jobs for true trademark prosecutors – this is something we have not seen in a long time. Candidates should have at least 2 years of experience in domestic and foreign trademark prosecution and client counseling on clearance and registration strategy.
The dramatic increase in need for technology transaction mid-levels has continued into 2011. Candidates should have true technology transaction and licensing experience, and experience in at least one of the following areas: biotechnology, clean tech, medical device, semiconductors, computer software/hardware, and telecommunications. Firms have a strong preference for candidates with tech backgrounds; particularly: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, biology, physics, or chemistry.
There is one job opening for a tax attorney with 3-5 years of experience. Most firms appreciate (or require) an LL.M. in tax or CPA degree and big firm experience.
Dead Practice Areas:
There is currently no activity in bankruptcy, employment, energy, environmental, healthcare, and trusts and estates.
State of the Market: Washington, DC by Robyn L. Ginsberg, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search
The DC law firm associate market has generally maintained the same level of activity as that displayed in the second half of 2010, with a consistent increase in activity in particular niche sectors. For example, beginning in the second half of 2010 and continuing into the first quarter of 2011, there has been a consistent increase in hiring in the healthcare sector and in the intellectual property sector (particularly patent prosecution and patent litigation).
The economy is continuing to pick up, and we expect 2011 to be a busy time, as firms increase their hiring needs and associates begin looking for new opportunities that were not previously available over the course of the last couple of years.
Firms Continue to Seek Candidates with Specific Profiles and Skill Sets Across Most Sectors of the Legal Market
Right now we have searches in a number of areas but, as has been the trend as of late, the firms are looking for candidates with very specific profiles. For example, present openings include riders like: corporate (must have superstar credentials), patent litigation (must have computer science background and experience as a software engineer), civil litigation (must have strong securities background), project finance (must be a senior associate with Latin America and/or energy experience); tax (must have an LL.M in tax).
That being said, we are also seeing a slight increase in listings for attorneys with “general corporate” experience, in addition to some new corporate listings for associates with specific skills, such as mergers & acquisitions, capital markets, project finance and investment fund experience.
Increased Number of Firms Actually Interviewing Candidates:
The trend in early 2011 is similar to that in late 2010. In contrast to 2009, when firms often had openings posted on their websites, but they were not ''active'' openings, in late 2010 and early 2011, firms with openings are now genuinely looking to fill the positions and are actively interviewing candidates. We are finding that firms are continuously updating their listings and posting new listings on a consistent basis. Firms are indicating that they will, once again, have hiring needs on a quarterly basis. We are looking forward to receiving many new listings at the start of the second quarter of 2011, as firms determine their second quarter hiring needs.
In early 2011, as was the case in late 2010, there is an increase in actual firm hiring as compared to 2009. In 2009, firms would often interview candidates and then decide to put the search on hold, because they were concerned about whether they truly had enough work to keep a new associate busy. In contrast, now, when a firm has a need and finds the right candidate, they are much more likely to actually go through with the hiring, because they are less concerned about volatility or a sudden drop-off in work.
That being said, the hiring process is, generally speaking, moving at a slower pace than it has in previous years. Firms continue to put candidates through multiple rounds of interviews, often interviewing several candidates at once for any one opening. While firms are serious about hiring in early 2011, they understand that it is still a “buyer’s market,” and they can take their time to fully assess and screen all candidates before making any offers.
As Expected, Voluntary Attrition Has Increased and Is Expected to Continue Growing:
In 2009 and early 2010, associates generally couldn't leave their current jobs, either because there were no other jobs they could move to, or because they were hesitant to leave their current jobs due to the uncertainty of the market. This resulted in lower than average levels of attrition, which, in turn, resulted in an oversupply of associates at certain levels. Now that 2010 has come and gone, and bonuses (if any) and track calls have been given, more associates are voluntarily leaving for either other firms, or for in-house or government positions. Further attrition is expected throughout 2011. As a result, more associate openings are expected at firms across all sectors. As associates leave their firms, law firms will continue to have openings that will need to be filled.
Nevertheless, Certain Sectors of the D C Associate Market are Still Tight
Despite the positive direction and more openings, the DC associate market is still rather tight and competitive. Additionally, there remains a sense among firms that they have the luxury of being very selective and ''trading up'' their ranks of associates. Some firms continue to have a bias against candidates that were laid off despite the candidate's credentials or experience. There are, however, signs that this perspective is beginning to diminish, as firms look to increase their ranks by focusing their search on high-quality, experienced attorneys.
The litigation market remains particularly tight, with very few to no openings at DC law firms. The few firms that are hiring litigation associates, continue to be extremely selective and, in most cases, are looking for a very particular skill set or are looking to add associates to help partners litigate specific cases. There are signs that certain sectors of the litigation market are beginning to pick up, such as white collar (particularly FCPA-related work), export/import controls, and business litigation.
Our partner practice continues to have the highest level of demand, with the caveat that partners without self-sustaining portable business are finding it very difficult to move to other firms.
Right now, we are working on several searches on behalf of law firms looking to expand their practice area expertise, including but not limited to firms seeking to expand their healthcare practices, intellectual property and general corporate practices.
That being said, almost every firm in DC is open to partners with healthy portable practices. The minimum requirements for some firms are as low as $500,000 to $750,000 and some other firms require a minimum of at least $3 million. The average, however, requires portable business between $1 and $1.5 million. Partners seem to recognize that their choices are once-again increasing, and they are taking their time as they seek to find the appropriate long-term fit for growing their practice and further developing their business.
We continue to be contacted by a number of partner candidates who are contacting us for the purpose of ''feeling out'' the market. Partners, like associates, recognize that the legal market in DC is beginning to recover, and thus they are arming themselves with knowledge so that they can consider their options and, in some instances, make moves at the beginning of 2011, that they hope will sustain and grow their practices well into the future.
State of the Market: New York by Christine Gately, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search
There has been a continued increase in activity in most sectors in 2011, with a few specific sectors showing a real rebound.
There continues to be a growing demand for mid-to-senior level corporate associates in the Corporate and Finance sectors. The focus is currently on general corporate (M&A), capital markets, debt and equity financing, and in some cases distressed debt equity, high yield exposure is often a plus, and initial private and public offerings. I believe the need for tax associates will rise along with busier corporate practices.
Employment & Labor Law
This is a practice area that has done a turn-around since 2010. There is now an increasing need for Labor & Employment attorneys, with a broad range of experience including wage and hour, class actions, collective action and single plaintiff litigation and FINRA arbitration experience. Experience in litigating employment cases in Federal and State court is a plus. Firms are generally looking for mid-to-senior level associates with experience from mid-to-large sized firms with a busy Labor and Employment practice.
There has also been an increase in the need for healthcare associates in 2011. Firms are looking for associates with upwards of 4 years of experience in healthcare regulatory, compliance and transactional matters. Specific experience may include counseling clients regarding compliance with Stark Law, anti-Kickback Law, Medicare/Medicaid, HIPAA and other state health related laws and regulations. Representation and counseling of hospitals and physicians, and other healthcare entities in all aspects of litigation is a valued background as well. However, healthcare regulatory and transactional experience seems to be preferred to healthcare litigation.
Intellectual Property has been a slower sector in 2011, with the exception of patent litigation/patent prosecution.
Trademark & Copyright continues to be an area with less activity, although some firms are still looking for associates with 3 plus years of experience handling trademark prosecution, licensing and trademark and copyright infringements.
Patent Litigation is a hotter area, also patent prosecution to some extent, with firms showing a special interest in associates with advanced technical degrees, usually Electrical Engineering / Computer Science/ Mechanical Engineering, in order of more popular demand. On point industry experience is a further plus. Computer Science and Biotech industry experience is generally sought after.
Litigation continues to be another of the slower sectors in New York, so far in 2011. Firms have been tentative to interview associates in this area, even if they have posted job openings. A few particular areas are in greater demand. Securities litigation is showing more activity, particularly for associates with 2 plus years of experience and a financial services background. Similarly, as mentioned above, there is a steady need for patent litigators with advanced degrees and industry experience. Bankruptcy litigation is an area that is picking up slightly, with associates with federal clerkship experience being strongly preferred.
The Partner market in New York continues to show the highest level of demand, as long as a partner has a self-sustaining portable book of business. Firms are generally looking for a minimum of $500,000, but are searching for partner level candidates in most practice areas. Corporate, Employment, Intellectual Property and Healthcare are all areas where firms are seeking to bring on partners with business, and to further develop these practices.
There seems to be little demand currently for associates with backgrounds in the following areas of law: environmental, energy, trusts & estates.
We have seen an uptick in positions recently. The East Coast market has noticeably improved and we are starting to see changes here as well. More positions are available now than at any time in 2009. We are seeing growth in the transactional markets especially, with energy leading the way.
As always, with its low cost of living yet comparable firm salary structure, Texas remains a great option for partners and associates. Out of state candidates find little barrier to get an entry in Texas as long as they have strong credentials.
Below is a breakdown of various practice areas as they relate to firms’ needs in Texas.
Partner movement remains high as many firms had problems with profitability in 2009. Many firms have expressed their desire to review partner candidates with portable business. BCG Attorney Search is a leader in partner placements nationwide, and we can use our contacts to make that transition very smooth and confidential for you. If you are interested in confidentially discussing any of these opportunities, please contact me at 713-270-1199.
Strong litigation candidates are always actively being sought in Houston and Dallas. And candidates with judicial clerkships and solid writing skills have a definite competitive edge. However, litigation is not one of the “hotter” practice areas right now.
Labor and Employment
Employment needs have cooled down somewhat since 2009, but we are still seeing a smattering of positions across the state.
Tax needs are increasing, but it is yet to be a highly active area for hiring. Candidates with an LL.M from top programs such as NYU, Florida, and Georgetown are most valuable to the firms.
IP Litigation needs have increased recently. We are seeing more needs in this area, especially for candidates with a background in Electrical Engineering or Computer Science.
Patent prosecution needs have increased somewhat at firms in Texas and this is a trend we have noticed nationwide. Particularly attractive to firms are those attorneys with a background in Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Physics or Computer Science.
Energy and Project Finance
Transactional Energy associates are heavily in demand in our Houston markets. We have positions in M&A, development, cross-border, and project finance.
This is still a weak practice area, but we are seeing some needs in Texas. This is a vast improvement from 2009 where we saw almost no needs.
State of the Market: Chicago by Jamie Bailey, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
The fourth quarter of 2010 brought significant change to the business climate. With the Republicans taking control of the House and gaining an effective minority in the Senate, the President moved toward the center. As a result, the Bush tax cuts were extended, government regulation and spending is being addressed, the stock market continues a sustained rally and businesses are beginning to hire. While the economy has a long recovery ahead, positive signs are emerging for the return of business growth.
Like last quarter, the Chicago legal market is definitely continuing to show signs of improvement and we are seeing an increase in the flow of lateral openings in law firms not only in Chicago, but across the surrounding submarkets in the Midwest.
We hope that the level of lateral activity we are already seeing in this first quarter of 2011 is a precursor to continued improvement in the legal jobs marketplace.
Partners with Portable Business
In Chicago, we are continuing to focus our attention on partner level searches for firms that are seeking assistance in hiring partners with portable clients to contribute to their bottom line.
Chicago firms have been receptive to income and equity partners with portable books of business, who are highly motivated to continue to grow their books in law firm environments which are well equipped to service their clients' increasing demands for diverse services and attractive billing rate structures. We would be interested in speaking with energetic junior partners who have growing books of business.
We would also like to speak with more seasoned partners who have well established clients seeking environments which are financially stable, and will offer their clients creative fee structures, excellent representation in key practice areas, and the ability to cross-sell services. Chicago firms are generally looking for a minimum of $1-2 million in portable business, but some smaller and mid-sized firms will consider books starting at $500,000.
Corporate - Banking and Debt Finance; M&A; Private Equity; Securities; Capital Markets, Corporate Governance
We are happy to report that we have seen a dramatic increase during the first quarter in the number of openings for transactional associates. Some of the largest Am Law 100/200 firms are seeking lateral associates with anywhere between 2-6 years of experience in banking, debt finance and secured finance (including senior, mezzanine and subordinated debt transactions); corporate M&A; private equity and fund formation; securities; capital markets; and corporate governance transactions.
Labor and Employment Litigation
Labor and employment continues to be an area in which we are seeing significant need in both larger general practice firms, as well as boutique L&E firms which have experienced tremendous growth over the past few years as large law firm partners have exited larger law firms due to billing rate pressures. We would be interested in speaking with junior, mid-level, and senior associates with employment litigation experience. Top priority will be given to associates familiar with defending class action cases in Illinois and jurisdictions across the country under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, wage-and-hour statutes and Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as well as handling cases brought by the EEOC.
We would be interested in speaking with employee benefits associates with 2-4 years of experience in working with defined benefits plans, defined contribution plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans and welfare plans. Firms are also seeking employee benefits associates with anywhere between 1-3 years of experience in employee benefits matters, including servicing corporate transactions and restructuring, Title IV and compliance matters. ERISA litigators with 1-5 years of experience should call our Chicago office. Additionally, employee benefits attorneys who have specific skills in health and welfare plans, as well as executive compensation matters should also contact our Chicago office. (We also have off-track, staff attorney positions available for attorneys with this skill set.)
General practice and boutique firms in Chicago are contacting us for litigation associates with 1-6 years of experience. We would also like to speak with associates with 3-5 years of white collar and securities defense experience. Excellent academics, large law firm experience, and IL bar admission are generally required for these positions. Clerkships are strongly preferred.
We have a unique opportunity waiting to be grabbed at a national firm's Chicago office for an off-track, staff attorney with 3-5 years of prior government contracts experience (or related experience and an interest in focusing in government contracts).
We would be interested in speaking with associates with anywhere between 1-8 years of experience in patent prosecution and background in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry or computer science. USPTO is generally required for these positions. Patent litigation associates with 3-8 years of sophisticated litigation experience should also contact us. (Law review and academic honors are preferred and prior litigation experience at a nationally ranked law firm is required.) Associates with 2-4 years of experience in handling trademark litigation and trademark prosecution matters should also get in touch with our Chicago office.
Although we have not yet seen a significant increase in the tax area, we would like to speak with associates with 1-4 years of experience in transactional tax matters.
State of the Market: Wisconsin by Jamie Bailey, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
Milwaukee and Madison
Partners with Portable Business
Law firms in Wisconsin continue to be focused on increasing their bottom line and we are seeing a lot of movement among the partner ranks. We would be interested in speaking with partners who have portable business in key practice areas generally found in large general practice firms.
Corporate - M&A; Securities; Corporate Governance; Private Equity; Venture Capital
We have openings in Madison and Milwaukee for corporate associates with 3-5 years of experience and a broad range of exposure to transactional matters, including M&A, securities, corporate governance, private equity and venture capital.
We have a unique opportunity at a Wisconsin firm for a healthcare associate with 2-4 years of experience in healthcare regulatory matters, to join its prestigious hospice and palliative care practice. This associate will assist the hospice team in advising its hospice and palliative care clients throughout the country on a wide range of issues from large Medicare/Medicaid audits to day-to-day contracting, regulatory and reimbursement questions. Prior healthcare experience and excellent research, writing and communication skills are needed for this position. An excellent academic record is required and large law firm experience is preferred. The Wisconsin bar is also preferred but not required.
Litigation – General Commercial and Creditors Rights
Milwaukee firms are seeking litigation associates with 3-5 years of experience and strong litigation skills including strong discovery, motion practice and deposition experience. State and federal court experience and prior clerkship experience are preferred. We are also seeking litigation associates with 3+ years of exposure to creditors’ rights matters and a wide range of experience in insolvency, secured transactions, and bankruptcy.
Intellectual Property – Patent Prosecution
The Milwaukee and Madison offices of a large law firm are seeking patent prosecution associates with 2-4 years of experience and electrical engineering or mechanical engineering backgrounds. USPTO admission is required for these positions.
State of the Market: Michigan by Jamie Bailey, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
Partners with Business
We are interested in speaking with partners practicing in Michigan who are seeking opportunities in Detroit and/or the surrounding legal markets, including Lansing, Southfield, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Novi or Troy. In particular, we would like to speak with partners with a minimum of $300,000 in portable business. Of particular interest are partners with portable business in the following areas: intellectual property, employee benefits, tax, employment, general commercial litigation, construction, healthcare, and corporate transactional.
We would be interested in speaking with attorneys with 4-8 years of experience in corporate finance, securities and restructurings. Mid to large law firm experience and excellent academics are required. Associates with 3-5 years of securities transactions experience (including private placements and public company representations) should also get in touch with our Chicago office.
Litigation associates with 1-5 years of experience, excellent academic and large to mid-size law firm experience should contact our Chicago office regarding opportunities at a highly regarded Detroit law firm.
We have an opening at a smaller Detroit firm seeking a tax attorney with subchapters C, K and S experience, as well as exposure to international and estate and gift tax matters. A CPA or LL.M. in Tax is preferred for this position.
Corporate associates with 4-6 years of experience handling general corporate matters should contact our Chicago office to discuss openings in Grand Rapids.
We are interested in speaking with healthcare transactional associates with 3+ years of experience. Preferred areas of experience include healthcare regulatory (Stark, anti-kickback, HIPAA), medicare reimbursement, and physician licensing and reporting.
We have a unique opportunity for an intellectual property attorney to join the Troy office of a highly regarded firm and serve as a Japanese liaison. This opportunity requires 2 years of experience working with Japanese corporations in international intellectual property matters. Such matters should include semiconductors and printers, ITC and licensing matters. Qualified candidates will assist in the preparation and prosecution of patents before the WIPO, the USPTO and various foreign patent offices. U.S. law degree, engineering undergraduate degree and admission to the MI state bar are required, as well as familiarity with Japanese culture.
We would be interested in speaking with associates with 1-4 years of experience in real estate workouts and foreclosures, as well as exposure to commercial real estate litigation or transactional experience.
Ann Arbor offices are seeking associates with 3-6 years of commercial litigation experience, including strong motion practice and deposition experience. Exposure to e-discovery compliance matters is a plus. Admission to the Michigan bar is required.
Corporate - Private Equity; M&A; Securities
Associates with 4-8 years of experience in general corporate, private equity, M&A and securities transactions are sought by offices in Ann Arbor. Mid-size to large law firm experience is required.
State of the Market: Colorado by Jamie Bailey, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search
Partners with Portable Business
We would be interested in speaking with partners with portable business in litigation, labor and employment and corporate, M&A and securities. Firms will look at a minimum of $500,000 in portable business.
We would be interested in speaking with associates with 3-6 years of experience in any of general corporate, corporate governance, M&A, securities, debt equity financing, capital markets and/or private equity matters.
We would also like to speak with associates with 2-5 years of experience in patent prosecution matters. A background in electrical engineering is required. USPTO is also generally preferred or required. Patent litigation associates with 3-4 years of experience, USPTO, and a background in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or computer science should also contact our Chicago office.
We have also seen some need for litigation associates at the 4-6 year level at smaller and mid-size firms and some prestigious boutiques. These positions generally require strong academics and law review. Prior federal clerkships are preferred. Colorado licensure is also generally required. We would also be interested in speaking with associates who have environmental litigation experience and exposure to CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and NEPA.
State of the Market: Minnesota by Laura Rusche, Legal Recruiter, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search
In general, we are happy to report that the legal market in the Twin Cities is recovering from the recession, and more and more firms are hiring associate and partner-level candidates. The hottest practice areas are intellectual property (prosecution and litigation), commercial litigation, corporate (M&A, securities and general corporate) and labor and employment. Given the strength of the first month of 2011, we are optimistic that this increased demand for attorneys will remain (and hopefully grow) as the year progresses.
Intellectual Property - Patent Prosecution and Litigation and Trademark
2011 is starting off with a bang in the Twin Cities, and as a hotbed for intellectual property work, associate level positions in prosecution and litigation are popping up regularly. On the prosecution side, many firms seek junior to mid-level associates (anywhere from one to five years of experience, depending on the specific firm and position) with technical backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science. Still others are recruiting associates with technical degrees in organic chemistry and chemical engineering. Prior industry experience as well as legal experience with a top law firm is preferred. Some firms require an advanced technical degree, but the majority will consider candidates with undergraduate degrees. Unlike some other markets, most firms in the Twin Cities require IP litigation candidates to have a technical degree as well, but there may be a little more flexibility in terms of the specific degree.
As the economy continues to recover, the demand for bankruptcy associates has decreased somewhat. A few firms are looking for general litigation associates with specific experience in bankruptcy and restructuring, but the demand for associates focused exclusively on bankruptcy is not as great. The few positions we have at the present time are looking for top quality candidates from Minnesota or with significant connections to the state and strong experience from a mid-size or large law firm. Qualified candidates are encouraged to contact our Chicago office for details about these opportunities.
Corporate - Mergers and Acquisitions; Securities; Finance; Others
2011 has brought an increase in demand for corporate associates in the Twin Cities! There is still a large pool of strong corporate associate candidates applying for these positions, so firms are seeking top academic credentials (both in terms of the rank of the law school and the grades earned while there) and large law firm experience. The majority of the current positions seek candidates with 3 to 5 years of experience in M&A, securities and general corporate work. In addition, a few firms are seeking to hire healthcare associates, both on the regulatory and transactional sides. As the year progresses, we anticipate even more corporate and healthcare positions, so this may be a good time for qualified candidates to contact our Chicago office to begin the job search process.
Litigation-General, Energy Litigation and IP Litigation
Like many other practice areas, the need for litigation associates is growing in the Twin Cities. We are seeing opportunities at a variety of levels, from junior associates to mid-levels and more senior candidates. The demand for labor and employment associates has also grown, and candidates in the two to four year range are in demand. Many of the mid-sized firms prefer associates with a diverse litigation background that includes experience litigating general commercial cases and labor and employment disputes, in part because of the diversity of the cases they handle for their clients. Candidates with top academics and large law firm experience are the most marketable, but even those with sophisticated experience from a smaller firm or less-than-perfect grades may be attractive to some employers. Overall, the litigation opportunities tend to seek candidates at the 2 to 6 year level, and qualified candidates are encouraged to reach out to BCG for assistance.
While the Twin Cities is not a huge market for tax, trusts and estates work, there is a growing demand for these types of associates. Because of the large pool of qualified candidates on the market, many firms seek tax associates with an LL.M. degree in Taxation and significant prior law firm experience. As with other positions, candidates admitted to the Minnesota bar and/or with strong ties to the region are preferred.
Partners with Portable Business
As always, firms in the Twin Cities remain interested in recruiting partners with portable business that compliments the firm’s current practice or brings something new to the team. The amount of business required varies from firm to firm, and the largest and most prestigious firms seek a minimum of $1 million. However, the smaller and mid-sized firms will consider less if the practice area and attorney are a good fit for the firm, especially if the partner has established plans for business growth. Partner-level candidates with a reasonable book of portable business should contact our Chicago office.
State of the Market: Indiana by Laura Rusche, Legal Recruiter, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search
While Indianapolis remained relatively strong during the recession, we are seeing an increased demand for associate-level attorneys. The demand for corporate associates dropped significant in 2009 and 2010, but some firms are once again recruiting in this area. The current open positions seek associates at the 3 to 5 year level, but we are optimistic that more junior level positions will arise in the near future. Other areas with open positions include healthcare, labor and employment, employee benefits, litigation and intellectual property. In general, the top law firms continue to look for strong candidates with at least 3 or more years of law firm experience. Candidates with top credentials should contact our Chicago office for assistance in applying to these positions.
Indiana firms remain interested in partner-level candidates with solid books of portable business. The amount of business required varies from firm to firm, but in general, firms will consider partners with approximately $500,000 or more in business if their practice area(s) are sophisticated and compliment those of the firm, or the attorney brings new expertise to the group. Partners with a portable book of business who are currently practicing in Indiana or interested in moving their practice there, should contact our Chicago office.
State of the Market: Ohio by Laura Rusche, Legal Recruiter, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search
While the Ohio market was not hit as hard as New York, Chicago and some of the other larger cities, lateral hiring in the firms slowed considerably during the recession. Even so, we are happy to report that the market is improving every day, and there are a number of fantastic legal opportunities for associates and partners alike.
Labor & Employment; Litigation
A number of strong law firms are looking for litigation and/or labor and employment associates at a variety of levels, from junior to mid-level and more senior associates as well. Many of these opportunities are within the highly regarded, local or regional firms that staff leanly and require lateral associates to hit the ground running. While these firm definitely stress academic credentials, some are equally interested in seeing candidates with sophisticated experience handling matters independently. Many firms in Ohio focus heavily on candidates with a strong connection to the state (and particular city), with a particular emphasis on those already admitted to the Ohio bar.
We have seen a slight increase in the need for intellectual property associates in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and we are optimistic that this will increase as we head further into 2011. The firms currently recruiting patent associates are looking for candidates with technical backgrounds in the chemical arts, electrical and/or mechanical engineering. In general, firms like to see a minimum of two years of solid experience from a large law firm or sophisticated boutique. Interested candidates should contact our Chicago office for more details.
Over the last few months, we have seen an increase in demand for these types of associates in Cleveland and Cincinnati. Because there is still a large pool of candidates on the market, many firms focus on associates with superb academic and law firm credentials, but not all firms require them. Most firms are looking for attorneys with 2 to 6 years of experience and a strong connection to Ohio. If you have such credentials, please contact our Chicago office to hear more details about the specific opportunities in this region.
Demand for corporate and/or real estate associates virtually disappeared during the recession, but we are happy to report that this is changing. While not back to where it was pre-recession, a handful of firms are recruiting associate-level attorneys in these practice areas. Some firms are looking for general corporate and M&A experience, while other are more interested in associates with banking and finance experience. Overall, associates with three or more years of experience are the most marketable, but some firms will look at more junior associates as well.
Partners with Portable Business
Demand is high for highly-qualified partners with portable business. Most firms are looking for partners in all areas of law, but we are seeing a particular desire for corporate, labor and employment and intellectual property attorneys with established and/or growing books of business. The amount of portable business required varies from firm to firm, but in general there are opportunities for partners with $500,000 or more in portable business. Even so, partners with less than $500,000 and a concrete plan to grow this business are encouraged to reach out to BCG for assistance.
Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo
Because Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo are relatively small legal markets, we have not seen a significant increase in activity in these cities for associate-level attorneys during the first part of 2011. We are, however, optimistic that this will change in the near future. A few associate-level opportunities still exist, most of which are in the areas of healthcare, bankruptcy, litigation, and corporate and are focused on mid-level associates.
We continue to see opportunities for partners with portable business, especially in the areas of corporate, litigation, bankruptcy, labor and employment, real estate, intellectual property, healthcare, tax, estate planning and employee benefits. As with other cities, it is difficult to quantify how much business a partner will need in order to be marketable, but generally firms in the area will respond favorably to $500,000 and/or a concrete plan to grow this business in the near future.
State of the Market: Utah by Laura Rusche, Legal Recruiter, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search
While Utah appears to have weathered the economic storm relatively well, we have not yet seen a surge in demand for associate level attorneys in Salt Lake City. At the current time, we have a few open positions in Salt Lake City for intellectual property associates (with a technical degree in electrical or mechanical engineering), and we are optimistic that the firms will soon have a need for associates across all practice areas, especially in light of the recent increase in demand in other geographic locations. Because of the strong community in and around Salt Lake City and the large number of candidates attracted to the city, firms strongly prefer candidates currently residing in Utah, originally from the area or with significant ties.
Utah Firms are always interested in speaking to partners with significant portable business, especially if currently practicing in Utah or with strong ties to the area. Firms are skeptical of attorneys without connection to Utah who seek to move there, so if you are such an attorney, be clear as to your reasons for moving there. The amount of portable business required varies from firm to firm, so contact the Chicago office for more information.
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