1. Northern California (San Francisco and Silicon Valley)
  2. Southern California (Orange County, San Diego, and Los Angeles)
  3. Northwest (Seattle and Oregon)
  4. Southwest (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Colorado)
  5. Midwest (Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan and Chicago)
  6. Northeast (New York, Boston, New England and Washington D.C.)
  7. South (Texas and Louisiana)
  8. Foreign markets (Europe and Asia)
  9. Understanding Social Media and Using it to Boost Your Career
  10. Taking Charge of Your Mentoring Experience
  11. Why You Should Be Talking to a Legal Recruiter Right Now

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

State of the Market: San Francisco
by Evan P. Anderson Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas:

Intellectual Property (Patent) Litigation

This practice area continues to be the hottest sector in the California legal market, specifically in the Bay Area—and candidates with technical backgrounds continue to be in the driver’s seat. Attorneys with electrical engineering and computer science degrees (graduate or undergraduate) are in such demand that Bay Area firms are having a hard time filling vacancies. Associates across all levels of experience are sought, including the partner level. Firms like to see candidates who have Markman hearing experience as well as ITC experience. Admittance to the Patent Bar is a priority. Candidates with a PhD in a life science discipline will also get interviews although engineering and computer science candidates take precedence. Candidates do not need membership to the California bar.

Corporate

Activity in corporate hiring in San Francisco has remained steady since the 2nd quarter of 2011. There appears to be a trend with firms seeking mid-level associates (3-6 years) with experience in transactions, M&A, general corporate, and securities. There has been a slight increase in the hiring of junior associates with venture capital/private equity experience as well. Mid-level candidates who already reside in the Bay Area and work for a well-regarded firm seem to have an edge over their out of state competitors and are bound to get interviews.

Patent Prosecution

Patent prosecution hiring has picked up considerably in the Fall of 2011. Beginning in August, there has been a trend for firms seeking patent prosecutors with 1-6 years of experience. Firms consistently seek candidates with scientific, life sciences, and technology backgrounds, including degrees in chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, pharmacology, and biotechnology. USPTO registration is valued. Patent prosecutors are encouraged to also look in the Silicon Valley area for a position.

Litigation

Litigation hiring has remained fairly steady in San Francisco, although, much like the rest of the country, it is a highly competitive sector. Firms nationwide continue to be extremely cautious when it comes to hiring litigators; they are taking their time in doing so and finding top notch candidates in the process. This means that local firms are looking at superstar associates with stellar credentials: solid academics from a top school and experience in a top tier firm. Associates currently residing and practicing in the Bay Area are given a clear preference. Without a doubt, the demand is highest for commercial litigators in San Francisco. In fact, all of our current listings in the city are for commercial litigators. Associates with clerkship experience are especially sought after. Partners with business in commercial litigation are also in demand. Of course, admittance to the California Bar is a must, although some firms may interview a candidate with superior credentials who is sitting for the February 2012 California bar exam.

Steady Practice Areas:

Insurance

There is a consistent need for insurance coverage attorneys with 3-6 years of experience. Membership in the CA bar is required.

Labor and Employment

After a relatively slow year, hiring in the labor and employment sector has heated up slightly—and very recently. Interestingly, the hiring is very specific to mid-sized firms. As recently as October of 2011, these firms have begun seeking mid-level associates (3-7 years) with employment litigation experience and/or wage and hour, discrimination, and labor relations experience. Public sector experience appears to be in demand, as does class action experience.

Slow Practice Areas:

Real Estate

Hiring in Real Estate has been somewhat uneven this year in San Francisco—although admittedly, we are happy to see any increased activity in this sector given the mass layoffs of real estate associates that occurred during the economic downturn. While there has certainly been a discernible uptick in hiring, job availability has been somewhat inconsistent. There were several opportunities in the Spring, none in the Summer months, and a few open positions currently. The trend in hiring real estate associates in San Francisco is not unlike the cautious behavior we are experiencing in litigation; firms post vacancies and leave them open for several months. Given the uneven recovery of the real estate market, it is not surprising that firms are dipping their toes in the water and then reconsidering their hiring needs. Current vacancies are for mid-levels (3-5 years) with real estate transactional experience. There is one listing for a real estate finance associate. Experience in acquisitions, dispositions, commercial leasing and financing transactions (including origination of mortgage loans and mezzanine financing) is highly sought. Firms are also seeking partners with at least $1 million in portables.

Immigration

After two years of no activity in the immigration sector, there are currently two postings for immigration attorneys in San Francisco. Experience in non-immigrant and immigrant matters is sought in both, as is PERM and H-1B experience.

Energy

There is one active listing for an associate with 3-5 years’ experience in electricity and natural gas regulatory litigation and transactions.

Environmental

We have one active search for an environmental litigator with a prestigious mid-sized firm. They are seeking a mid-level land use and natural resources litigator with experience in CEQA, NEPA, ESA, CERCLA, and RCRA.

Dead Practice Areas:

The following practices have shown no activity in several months: antitrust litigation, bankruptcy, construction, ERISA/employee benefits, healthcare, securities litigation, tax, technology transactions, trademark, trusts & estates, and white collar crime.

However, firms will likely consider any mid-level candidate with a stable work history, strong academics, 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 Evan P. Anderson, Managing Director

Silicon Valley has historically been an outstanding legal market, and it is typically easier to find a position here than in San Francisco. Candidates seeking a position in San Francisco should definitely consider Silicon Valley as there tend to be more opportunities and less competition. Many people live in San Francisco or a neighboring city and commute to the Silicon Valley region. Furthermore, those with families will enjoy the benefits of warmer climate and quality of life found in Silicon Valley. The region boasts many small, charming, family friendly communities and it is a short driving distance to Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Russian River wine country.

Hot Practice Areas:

Intellectual Property (Patent/Trademark Litigation and Patent/Trademark Prosecution)

This continues to be the hottest practice area in California and in Silicon Valley in particular. 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. As with the rest of the California market, ideal candidates will have a degree or background in electrical engineering and/or computer science. In fact, firms are facing challenges filling positions with candidates with those two backgrounds in particular. Some firms have even begun looking at candidates from out of state who do not yet have the California Bar—a previously unheard of gesture. Other areas of interest in patent prosecution include 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 Master’s degree. Registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a must. We are seeing an ever-so-slightly growing need for trademark/trade secret attorneys, which is a good sign for a slightly recovering economy. When there are budget cuts, the first thing to be cut is advertising and protecting or registering a trademark. There are multiple jobs for true trademark/trade secret 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.

Corporate

There continues to be an abundance of corporate openings at all levels. As in our previous Market Reports, corporate continues to be the hottest practice in Silicon Valley! Candidates must have experience in at least one of the following areas: M&A, VC, IPO, emerging companies, capital markets, public finance, corporate finance, securities, investment management, and fund formation. We are even seeing a need for firm’s Indian law practices. 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 has top caliber academic and professional credentials. Furthermore, firms are keeping an eye out for Mandarin-speaking attorneys and those with technology backgrounds

Litigation

There are a number of firms seeking attorneys in a few different areas. Attorneys with backgrounds in either general, commercial, or securities will do well in Silicon Valley. Anyone who has some intellectual property litigation experience should be fairly marketable. Candidates should have membership to the California Bar.

Steady Practice Areas:

Executive Compensation/Employee Benefits/ERISA

Since our last report, the need for executive compensation/employee benefits attorneys has maintained if not slowed down a bit. A few firms of the larger firms are currently hiring in this area. The biggest need is for junior- to mid-level associates with 2-4 years of experience.

Technology Transactions

Technology Transactions is one of the practices we saw heat up the most this year. Starting the in Spring and continuing through the Summer, several firms began advertising for attorneys at all levels with a particular interest in mid-levels. As with other practices, things have cooled off a bit. There are currently three active openings in this practice. 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 also a need for candidates with backgrounds in the life sciences: biotech, clean tech, medical devices, and chemistry.

Slow Practice Areas:

Employment

The slight increase in hiring in this sector earlier in the year has given way to bit of a slow down. There is currently only one active posting for an Employment litigator in San Jose. As ever, employment litigation and counseling experience is sought and admission to the California Bar is required. The focus is on management-side experience.

Environmental

Historically, this is a rather slow sector in the Silicon Valley market, however two recent postings may indicate a bit of a turn around. Firms were seeking mid-level and senior associates with environmental litigation experience as well experience in CEQA.

Trusts and Estates

There is a currently one opening in this area. A firm in San Jose is seeking a T&E litigation attorney with 4-5 years of experience. Deposition and court experience are required as is admission to the California Bar.

Dead Practice Areas:

There is currently no activity in bankruptcy, construction, energy, healthcare, immigration, insurance, real estate, tax (firms are considering partners with at least $1.5 million in portable business).

 
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

State of the Market: Orange County
by Claudia Barnes General Manager, BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas:

Patent Prosecution

By far, the greatest need in Orange County is for experienced patent prosecution attorneys with varying technical backgrounds and at all levels. Candidates with the following technical backgrounds will get many interviews: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science/engineering, physics, medical devices or biomedical engineering or closely related background. There is a strong preference for candidates who have advanced degrees. In all cases admission to the USPTO is a must and there is a strong preference for candidates who already have admission to the California Bar. Because so many firms are seeking patent prosecutors, admission to the California is not an absolute requirement. Most firms do like to see candidates with excellent academic and/or professional credentials. Patent Agents are also increasingly in demand in Orange County with the same technical backgrounds.

Intellectual Property/Patent Litigation

IP Litigation is still going strong although not in as high demand as patent prosecution. There is a need for candidates with at least 2 years of experience. Those who have ITC patent litigation experience will have many options. By far, the most sought after candidates are those with backgrounds in computer science and/or electrical engineering. Firms are also seeking candidates with backgrounds in biological sciences and mechanical engineering. Candidates with USPTO and California Bar membership are given preference. There is also a strong preference for candidates with advanced degrees.

Steady Practice Areas:

Commercial Litigation

Hiring in Commercial Litigation remains steady in Orange County. Firms are seeking attorneys at all levels, from junior associates to partners with books of business. Candidates should have impeccable credentials (e.g. large firm experience, minimal job movement, top law school graduate). There is a small but growing need for candidates with construction litigation backgrounds.

Insurance Coverage

The growing need for experienced (at least 3 years and in some cases 7 years) insurance coverage attorneys has continued since the summer. In particular, firms seek candidates with experience in first-party and/or third-party insurance coverage matters and related litigation (including drafting coverage opinions, prosecuting declaratory relief actions and defending bad faith actions).

Real Estate

Firms are actively recruiting for real estate transactions partners with a portable book of business. They are also seeking mid-level candidates with 2-5 years of experience in real estate finance. Candidates should already have membership to the California Bar.

Growing Practice Areas:

Corporate

There is a growing need for traditional mergers and acquisitions attorneys with at least 2 years of experience as well as a need for attorneys with at least 1 year of experience in investment management experience, specifically those with experience in variable insurance product, private funds, investment adviser, and/or commodities work. There is also a small need for mid-levels with public finance experience. A number of firms seek partners with at least $500,000 in portable business and senior associates with at least $250,000.

Trademark Litigation and Prosecution

There are rarely many jobs for trademark attorneys; however, there is a small but growing need for traditional trademark attorneys who have 2-5 years of experience in trademark matters, including prosecution, enforcement, and litigation. Specifically, candidates should have experience in responding to Office Actions, conducting trademark searches and clearance, client counseling, monitoring and enforcement, drafting settlement, coexistence and licensing agreements, and handling all aspects of a trademark case. Candidates must be admitted to the California Bar and have excellent academic and professional credentials.

Slow Practice Areas:

Bankruptcy has a bit of activity with firms seeking mid-level associates and there is also a need for partners with a minimum of $500,000 in portables. Furthermore, there is very little activity in employment, healthcare, tax, environmental, energy, technology transactions, 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 for the remainder of 2011 and into 2012.
 
State of the Market: San Diego
by Claudia Barnes, General Manager BCG Attorney Search

Traditionally, San Diego has been the hardest market to penetrate in California. To be competitive here, 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:

Corporate

Corporate continues to be hot in San Diego. While there is a need for corporate at most levels, the sweet spot is those with 3-5 years of experience. Candidates should have experience in at least one of the following areas: public and private securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, private company formation and financing, public offerings, public securities, 1934 Act. Partners with books of business of at least $1 million are in great demand.

Labor & Employment

Labor & Employment hiring has gained great momentum in the last few months. Many firms in San Diego are hiring at all levels, but the biggest focus is at the mid-level. Firms seeking attorneys at the junior and mid-level prefer candidates who have strong research, writing and discovery experience in employment matters. At the senior level, firms expect candidates to have experience in all aspects of employment counseling, litigation and administrative hearings, including wage and hour issues, leave issues, FEHA claims and class actions, at both the state and federal levels. In almost all cases, admission to the California Bar is a must. Senior level attorneys do not necessarily need a portable book of business to get interviews.

Patent Litigation

There is a tremendous need for patent litigators at all levels. Candidates with backgrounds in one of the following will fare well: electrical engineering, computer science, physics, software engineering, computer programming, physics, and biology/chemistry/chemical engineering/life science - particularly those with a Ph.D. While there is a strong preference for candidates already admitted to the Patent and California Bars, many firms will relocate candidates who are not already admitted to the California Bar. At the senior level, ideal candidates will have some experience in independently managing cases and preparing for trial. The junior level candidates should have some experience in the following: preparing and filing complaints, answers, and counterclaims, and the associated pre-filing diligence; drafting discovery requests and responses, and participating in discovery on infringement, validity, and damages issues, including expert discovery; researching and drafting dispositive and discovery motions and claim construction briefing; analyzing and understanding technology and patent issues, including claim construction; and supporting the teams in trial. Junior level candidates should also have experience in participating in underlying case analyses; conducting factual and legal research; drafting discovery requests and pleadings; possessing a strong foundation in procedural matters; and assisting in deposition and hearing preparations.

Patent Prosecution

Like patent litigation, there is a tremendous need for patent prosecutors at all levels, with a sweet spot for mid-levels (those with 2-6 years of experience). Candidates with backgrounds in one of the following will fare well: electrical engineering, computer science, physics, software engineering, computer programming, physics, and biology/chemistry/chemical engineering/life sciences (including molecular or cell biology, genetics, immunology) - particularly those with advanced degrees. Candidates should be admitted to both the USPTO and California Bar. Candidates who currently work at a top boutique or large firm will surely get interviews.

Tax/Employee Benefits/ERISA

Tax and ERISA/Employee Benefits remains a consistently busy practice 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 LLMs in Taxation will surely get interviews.

Steady Practice Areas:

Energy

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, and CPUC will quickly garner interviews.

Litigation

The need for litigators in San Diego has picked up a bit over the last few months. There is a consistent need for mid-level (at least 2 years) and senior level (at least 7 years) commercial/business, securities, litigators with hands-on experience appropriate for their level.

Technology Transactions

There are a few firms in San Diego seeking candidates who have experience handling technology transactions, specifically those with licensing experience. Some firms are even willing to retrain junior patent litigators who come from prestigious law firms to do this work.

Slow Practice Areas:

Real Estate/Environmental

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 general litigation, 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 General Manager, BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas:

Corporate & Finance

Firms have continued to recruit heavily in the corporate and finance sectors in Los Angeles at all levels, but the sweet spot is at the mid-level. Corporate associates with experience in mergers & acquisitions, private equity, joint ventures, general corporate and securities are in high demand. Many firms like to see experience in 34 Act public reporting obligations. Within finance, we are seeing activity in bank & institutional finance and debt finance. There are several openings for those with investment management experience and knowledge of the Investment Company Act. Ideal candidates will have experience in secured lending and leverage finance as well as experience representing banks and non-bank financial institutions in debt financing transactions, including: senior secured credit facilities, subordinated debt and other mezzanine financing, asset-based working capital facilities, aircraft and equipment financing, project finance loans, loan sales and participations, warrants and other equity participations, swaps and other derivative products and letters of credit and other credit and liquidity support devices, as well as workouts, enforcement and collection actions. While firms prefer California candidates most will seriously consider East Coast and Chicago transplants with the right credentials and experience. Most firms do not require prior membership to the California Bar, but there are some firms which will always require it. If you are thinking about moving to California, it would be in your best interest to take the next available exam.

Labor & Employment

The need for labor and employment attorneys is never-ending in Los Angeles. It is one of the few recession-proof practice areas. Presently, the focus is on mid-levels (at least 2 years) and senior (at least 5 years) with good credentials and hands-on experience in one or more of the following: wage and hour class action, single and multi-plaintiff cases, traditional labor, administrative hearing experience (such as before California Labor Commissioner), Employment Discrimination, Wrongful Discharge, Breach of Conduct, Fraud and Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Historically, firms have sought candidates who are already members of the California Bar and have experience with California labor and employment codes. 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. At the Of Counsel/Partner level, firms are seeking candidates with at least $500,000 in portable business.

Intellectual Property/Patent Litigation

Los Angeles has never been and will likely never be the best place to practice IP/patent litigation since there are far more opportunities in the Bay Area. That being said, we are happy to see that there is a growing and thriving need for patent litigators at all levels with the sweet spot in the 3-7 year range. 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 is on those with backgrounds (and if possible advanced degrees) in electrical engineering and computer science/engineering; and to a lesser extent biological sciences. Several top firms also like to see general intellectual property litigation experience such as trademark, copyright, and trade secret litigation matters. Firms are in no rush to hire and will wait for the right candidate.

Patent Prosecution (note about Trademark Prosecution)

Los Angeles will never be as busy as the Bay Area for patent prosecutors; however, we are seeing a great deal of activity for patent prosecutors at all levels with a focus on those with 2-7 years of experience. Candidates with an electrical engineering or computer science background will do well. Several firms seek candidates with experience in wireless telecommunications technology, internet technologies, communications and networks, and optical systems. Admission to the USPTO is a must but the California Bar is not as much of a pressing need. Many firms are looking to expand their patent prosecution practices and seek partners and groups with substantial portable business (at least 1 million). Presently, there are no active openings for trademark prosecutors.

Litigation

Litigation continues to be hot in Los Angeles and the focus is all over the place. We are seeing activity in the following practice areas: Healthcare, Entertainment, Consumer Finance, Commercial, Real Estate, Trusts & Estates, Insurance Coverage, Securities and White Collar. There is a need for litigators at all levels. Requests—even requirements—for clerkships are becoming more and more common. We are seeing more openings that also require solid hands-on courtroom experience, including trial and deposition work. Practices are staffed leanly after the economic downturn and firms are not looking to train laterals. They want someone who can hit the ground running and help train the more junior associates. As always, admittance to the California Bar is required. We are also presently working on a search for a plaintiff’s-side toxic tort law firm which seeks litigators with an interest in plaintiff’s work and 2-4 years of experience.

Real Estate

The market has continued to improve in real estate attorneys and there is a steadily growing need for real estate attorneys at all levels, but particularly those with at least 2 years of experience. Candidates with experience in one or more of the following will surely do well in Los Angeles: acquisitions and dispositions, real estate finance (including lending, borrowing, foreclosures, deeds in lieu of foreclosure, workouts and other loan modifications), and joint-venture work. Firms generally like to hire candidates who already work in California and are admitted to the state bar. While many firms are busy, the standards are quite high. Most firms seek candidates with top academic and professional credentials. Many firms also seek partners with excellent real estate experience and preferably a portable book of business.

Growing and Steady Practice Areas:

Bankruptcy

It says a lot about the economy when there are more openings in bankruptcy. Thankfully, there are more corporate associate openings than there are for bankruptcy! However, over the last few months, there has been a growing need for stellar bankruptcy associates in the 2-5 year range. Firms can be very picky right now and generally expect top academic and professional credentials (those currently working at a large firm or top boutique).

Employee Benefits/ERISA

As a result of the increase in corporate activity in Los Angeles, we have continued to see a growing need for employee benefits/executive compensation attorneys with experience in qualified plans, health and wealth plans, and executive compensation as well as attorneys experienced in ERISA law. Candidates with experience in design and operation of employee welfare and pension benefits, including internal revenue code, ERISA, COBRA and HIPAA will surely get interviews. Those that have some ERISA/employee benefits litigation experience will have many opportunities. Firms will consider candidates at all levels at this time.

Tax

There has been a significant increase in job openings for tax attorneys in Los Angeles. The focus is in the mid-level range (2-6 years of experience). Firms like to see candidates who have an LL.M. in Taxation as well as experience in the following: mergers and acquisition drafting and negotiation, traditional transactional matters, and joint venture deals. As a general matter firms prefer candidates already admitted to the California Bar; however, many firms will consider East Coast and Midwest transplants that also have impeccable credentials and excellent hands-on experience.

Trusts & Estates

We are pleased to report there has been a noticeable increase in the number of requests for experienced trusts and estates attorneys. Firms generally like to see candidates with at least 3 years of experience and some firms are seeking very senior attorneys (15 years). A portable book of business is not necessarily required for these positions. Firms generally like to see candidates with experience in complex and sophisticated trust and probate administrations in addition to extensive experience drafting sophisticated and complex estate plans. Candidates with extensive experience in estate, gift and fiduciary tax returns will do well. An LL.M in Taxation is a huge bonus and membership to the California Bar is a requirement for nearly every firm.

Slow to Dead Practice Areas:

Environmental

There is a small need for environmental attorneys with 3-6 years of experience. Candidates with experience in RCRA, CERCLA, and CEQA are preferred, as are those associates with regulatory experience. Experience in Air & Water as well as Climate Change is also desired.

Public Law/Construction

There are certain firms that specialize in construction/infrastructure and public law matters (such as redevelopment). We are seeing an increase in openings at these firms. We have listed it under “slow” because even in the busiest of times, these are niche practices which rarely have more than a couple openings at a time.

Project Finance/Energy

Although there are no openings for true energy attorneys, like public law, there is a small need for mid-level project finance attorneys with experience in the development and financing of complex energy or infrastructure projects. Those possessing experience in renewable and alternative energy and that have knowledge of tax and regulatory issues have an added advantage. Admission to the California Bar is strongly preferred and prior experience with a well-regarded law firm is a must.

Health Care

Candidates with at least 5 years of experience handling one or more of the following will likely get interviews in Los Angeles: transactional and regulatory matters, licensing and certification and other health care compliance matters, fraud and abuse, Physician self-referral (Stark law) and hospital/physician contracting. Furthermore, a number of firms are seeking to expand in this area and are seeking healthcare partners and even healthcare groups.

Technology Transactions

Los Angeles will never have the activity in technology transactions that the Bay Area or San Diego has; however, there is a need for candidates with experience in assisting clients in evaluating Intellectual Property (IP) rights, IP licensing, technology transfers, sponsored and collaborative research agreements, joint ventures, and strategic alliances. Firms like to see candidates who also have a degree in Electrical Engineering. The pool for such candidates is remarkably small.

 
THE NORTHWEST

State of the Market: Seattle
by Claudia Barnes, General Manager, BCG Attorney Search

Seattle is an attractive city for many attorneys around the country. The city is picturesque and offers a top quality work and life balance that many cities cannot compete with. Further, after 5 years many attorneys are able to waive into the Washington Bar. The city has historically been a smaller legal market compared to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. The city welcomes those who already have strong ties to the area – particularly those who grew up in the area. Also, attorneys who come from a much colder climate will do well here IF they have outstanding academic and professional credentials. Candidates who are admitted to both the Washington and Oregon Bars will certainly have an edge. Many firms have offices in Spokane that are actively hiring. We encourage anyone applying for positions in Seattle to also consider Spokane.

Hot Practice Areas:

Corporate

The need for experienced corporate attorneys remains in Seattle. The focus is on the mid to senior level associates and partners. However, any strong junior candidate will surely garner interviews as well. Experience with some of the following areas is necessary to get an interview: public and private mergers & acquisitions, debt and equity financing, initial public offerings, and securities. There is a strong need for partners with portable books of business.

Intellectual Property/Patent Litigation

There is a pressing need for patent litigators in Seattle with 2-5 years of experience and backgrounds in a variety of technologies, but particularly in life sciences. Candidates with advanced degrees will do well in Seattle. Candidates should be members of the USPTO but admission to the Washington Bar is not essential.

Patent Prosecution

There are an equal number of openings in patent prosecution as patent litigation in Seattle. Firms seek candidates in the junior to mid-level range with backgrounds in the following areas: electrical engineering, computer science/engineering, physics, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and organic chemistry. Candidates with advanced degrees will surely get interviews. Admission to the USPTO is required and there is a strong preference for admission to the Washington Bar.

Trademark Prosecution

Because trademark prosecution is such a nice practice, when a couple of firms are hiring it is rather exciting! There is a strong need for experienced trademark attorneys with at least 2 years of experience (ideally the candidate should have at least 5 years). Candidates should have experience in the following: brand strategy counseling (including filing and prosecuting trademark applications), trademark litigation, licensing, portfolio management, TTAB proceedings, enforcement and acquisition, advising on trademark infringement issues, and enforcing trademark rights.

Steady Practice Areas:

Employment and Labor

The need for labor and employment attorneys has stayed firm. Firms are seeking to hire senior level attorneys with at least 5-10 years of experience (if not more). Employers tend to favor broad-based labor and employment litigation experience including class action and single plaintiff cases. Membership to the Washington Bar or ability to waive in is key. The big firms always weigh ties to Seattle heavily.

Litigation

Litigation remains steady in Seattle but there are not a large number of openings in the area. Firms seek candidates with at least 3 years of experience and some as many as 15 years. Some firms prefer to hire candidates who have clerked with a federal or state supreme court and who also have strong academic and professional credentials. Current admission into the Washington Bar is a must.

Slow to Dead:

Tax

There has been a small increase in the need for tax attorneys in Seattle. There is a focus on hiring experienced attorneys (at least 5 years) who have traditional corporate tax experience as well as experience in advising a variety of clients in Section 103 and ARRA-related financing, federal tax credit transactions, 501(c)(3) issues, and Indian tribal finance matters. Firms have a strong preference for candidates with an LL.M or CPA background.

Trusts & Estates

Very recently we’ve seen a spike in activity in the hiring of trusts and estates attorneys. Presently, we are seeking junior level associate candidates (1-3 years) with estate planning experience and who also have an LL.M or CPA certification or experience working for an accounting firm. Trusts and estates attorneys at the senior level will surely fare well in Seattle.

Surprisingly, the need for technology transactions attorneys has quieted. There is currently no activity in the following: bankruptcy, construction, employee benefits/executive compensation/ERISA, environmental, real estate, healthcare, and energy.

 
State of the Market: Oregon
by Evan P. Anderson Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

Many job seekers who seek to move to Seattle also consider Portland. The city is a wonderful “small” city that offers everything that a large city has with more of a “small town” feel. Candidates who expect to be taken seriously should be prepared to demonstrate strong ties to the area. Excellent academic and professional qualifications are also expected. Admission to the Oregon Bar or the ability to waive in is a must for consideration. For more information, please review the Oregon Bar website www.osbar.org.

Healthy Practice Areas:

Patent Prosecution

Hiring in patent prosecution remains strong in Portland and is most likely the hottest practice in the city. Patent prosecutors with at least 2 years of experience will garner interviews in Portland. Candidates who possess a degree and background in electrical engineering, computer science, and related areas are in particular demand. Attorneys with advanced degrees in chemistry, biotech, or pharmacology will also do well. Candidates should have superior academic credentials and experience in drafting patent applications, opinions, and/or reexamination requests. Candidates must also be registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is not necessary to be admitted to the Oregon Bar.

Corporate

The corporate market in Portland has remained healthy for much of 2011. The strongest need is for mid-levels in the 2-6 year range. Candidates should have experience in one of the following: corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, private and public offerings, and securities.

Steady Practice Areas:

Real Estate

After a near two-year lull, real estate hiring in Portland has picked up! Firms are looking for both partners with portable books and junior- to mid-level associates with experience in land use, real estate transactions, and leasing. Admittance to the Oregon Bar is expected and having the Washington Bar is a plus.

Trusts & Estates

Portland firms are hiring experienced trusts and estates partners with an established client base and at least 10 years of experience in trusts and estates planning and administration. Candidates who also have general business, tax and/or charitable organization experience will be greatly valued. Admission to the Oregon Bar is required and admission to the Washington Bar is strongly preferred.

Slow Practice Areas:

Construction

After three years of no activity in this sector, two firms have active vacancies for construction attorneys in Portland. One firm is seeking a mid- to senior-level associate with substantial litigation and insurance coverage experience. Another is seeking a construction partner with a book of business to join their growing firm.

Bankruptcy

This is a traditionally slow practice in Portland but two firms posted bankruptcy vacancies this quarter. A firm in Eugene was seeking a senior creditor’s rights attorney and the Portland of a large, national firm was seeking a mid-level with extensive court room and deposition experience. It is hard to say if this was an anomaly or an indication of a larger trend but we do not anticipate any future openings in bankruptcy until early next year.

Tax

The need for tax attorneys has declined a bit from earlier this year. There are currently two active tax vacancies in Portland. Firms are considering both junior- and mid-level associates. As with previous tax vacancies we’ve seen, Portland firms have a strong preference (if not requirement) to hire those with an LL.M. in taxation.

Environmental

Environmental hiring in Portland has been traditionally uneven and it has been a while since there have been active listings in this sector. There is, however, one current listing for an environmental regulatory attorney with experience in water quality, air quality, and clean-ups.

Dead Practice Areas:

There are few to no active job openings in the following areas: employment, executive compensation/ERISA, energy, environmental, healthcare, immigration, insurance, intellectual property litigation, litigation, technology transactions, and trademark. Look for the market to pick up after the first quarter of 2012.

 
THE SOUTHWEST

State of Market: Las Vegas
by Claudia Barnes, General Manager, BCG Attorney Search

Overview:
Historically, Las Vegas is a great market and a wonderful place for attorneys from major markets to find a new home. It’s a city that has everything you can ask for – great shopping and restaurants and you can actually afford a home. However, the economy has still not improved. In fact, there are very few positions in the city. We predict there will be a small improvement toward the end of the first quarter of 2012. Most likely, we will see more opportunities for transactional attorneys. Stay tuned.

Hot Practice Areas

Labor & Employment

Finally, the need for labor and employment attorneys picked up dramatically in the last couple of months. We are pleased to report there are a several firms seeking attorneys at the junior (1-2 years) and senior (7+ years) level. At the junior level, candidates should have experience handling motion practice, depositions, and briefing within the employment law context. At the senior level, attorneys should have experience in counseling employers on labor and employment issues. It is not necessary for a senior attorney to have a portable book of business in order to get interviews. Admission to the Nevada Bar is strongly preferred but not essential.

Litigation

The most opportunities are for general, commercial litigators at present. In particular, litigators with least 2-5 years of experience in general commercial litigation (including construction, real estate, and bankruptcy) will get interviews. Candidate should possess the Nevada Bar. In some cases, it is a bonus to also be a member of the California Bar.

Slow to Dead

The following practice areas have little to no activity: Employee Benefits/ERISA, Corporate, Tax, Trusts & Estates, Land Use/Environmental, Intellectual Property (Litigation and Prosecution), Healthcare, and Bankruptcy. We predict there will be a shift in 2012 and there will be more of a need in transactional practice areas.
 
State of the Market: Phoenix
by Claudia Barnes Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

Phoenix is the largest legal market in Arizona and it is home to a number of national and regional firms. The economy is still slowly improving. We believe the market will pick up in the middle of the first quarter of 2012. If you are a stellar candidate coming from a larger market or from a top firm in Arizona, you will likely have success in securing employment. Phoenix is an excellent place to live and offers a terrific quality of life. To break into the Phoenix market you need to have a tie to the area or a well thought out reason for moving to Arizona.

Hot Practice Areas

Litigation

There has been a recent surge of activity for litigators in Phoenix. Specifically, firms are currently seeking candidates with 1-5 years of hands-on commercial litigation experience who also are admitted to the Arizona Bar. Judicial clerkships are always a plus for many of the big firms. Phoenix firms like to see candidates who have experience in all aspects of discovery in state and federal court, including preparing and responding to written discovery requests, drafting and arguing motions, preparing witnesses for depositions, and preparing for and taking depositions. Candidates who have trial experience are highly desirable. Firms are also considering senior level litigators with at least 5 years of experience who also have some portable business (at least $150,000).

Patent & Trademark Prosecution

There is an increase in activity in patent prosecution. Firms are seeking mid and senior candidates (at least 3 years and in some cases 6-10 years) with experience in patent prosecution and a background in electrical or mechanical engineering, computer science, biomedical engineering, biochemical engineering, chemical engineering and biotechnology. Firms are also seeking to add partners with a moderate portable client base in patent, trademark, copyright, and/or licensing. Candidates must be licensed in Arizona or willing to sit for the bar. There is less of a need for trademark prosecutors; however, some firms are considering candidates who have at least 5 years of experience and a moderate portable book of business ($150,000).

Steady/Growing Practice Areas

Corporate

There is a small increase in the need for corporate attorneys in Phoenix. This is great news for the economy, and we believe the need will continue into 2012. Presently, the focus is on hiring mid-levels with 3-6 years of experience in general corporate, securities, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. Firms are also seeking senior associates with at least 5 years of experience and at least $150,000 in portable business. Candidates must be members in good standing of the Arizona Bar.

Bankruptcy

With respect to bankruptcy, we are seeing a demand at the mid-senior level (at least 5 years) with experience in handling creditor's rights, foreclosures, and workouts. Some (not all) firms also want to see some ability for a senior level attorney to be able to build a book of business, and are expecting senior attorneys to have at least $150,000 in portable business. Candidates should be members of the Arizona Bar.

Slow to Dead

Intellectual Property/Patent Litigation

Presently, the focus is on building practices at the partner level. The ideal intellectual property litigation partner-level candidate will have 15 years of experience and a portable book of business. Candidates should have first or second chair complex patent, trademark, and copyright trial experience, with USPTO admission preferred. Firms are seeking candidates who have experience in cross-marketing with other practice groups.

The following practice areas have little to no activity: Labor & Employment (typically a hot practice area but some firms are always looking for superstar candidates), Real Estate (not hot for the moment but it is a cornerstone of the Phoenix market so look for it to pick up again), ERISA/Employee Benefits, Tax, Environmental, and Trusts & Estates.

 
State of the Market: Colorado
by Jamie Bailey, Partner, BCG Attorney Search

Partners with Portable Business

We would be interested in speaking with partners with portable business in finance, estate planning, intellectual property litigation, patent prosecution, labor and employment and tax. Generally, firms are seeking a minimum of $500,000 in portable business.

Denver and Broomfield

Intellectual Property - Patent Prosecution; Patent Litigation

As we reported last quarter, intellectual property remains an area in which firms in Denver are continuing to expand. We are interested in talking with associates with 2-5 years of experience in intellectual property litigation. We would also be interested in speaking with patent prosecution associates with 1-5 years of experience and backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, computer science, biotechnology or physics. USPTO is generally preferred in most cases and/or required. We would also be interested in speaking with senior patent prosecution attorneys with 6-10 years of experience and backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, or biotechnology. Some portables are required for this position and the CO Bar is preferred.

Environmental

We have a few environmental positions in Denver for associates with 2-5 years of experience in environmental work. In particular, we would like to speak with associates with experience in CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and public lands law, as well as environmental litigation matters. We would also like to speak with senior associate or junior partner level attorneys with 8+ years of Clean Air Act experience.

Real Estate

We are happy to report that a few Denver firms are seeking real estate associates with 2-4 years of experience in real estate finance, lending, acquisition and dispositions.

Litigation – Labor and Employment, Construction and Financial Institutions

We have a variety of litigation positions in Denver, including labor and employment litigation at the 5+ year level (Title VII, ADA, FMLA, FLSA and wage and hour); financial institutions litigation at the 7+ year level (federal clerkship preferred); and construction litigation at the 2-3 year level (construction defect experience is preferred). For all of these positions, the CO Bar is either required or candidates must have the ability to alternatively waive into the CO Bar.

Corporate –M&A and Securities

We would be interested in speaking with associates with 2-6 years of experience in general corporate, M&A or securities. Candidates with significant public company securities offerings experience are also sought by firms in Denver.

 
MIDWEST

State of the Market: Minnesota
by Laura Rusche, Managing Director, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search

The Minneapolis/St. Paul market continues to improve, and on the associate side, we are seeing a steady stream of litigation, corporate, employee benefits, intellectual property, health care, and labor and employment positions for talented and experienced associates. The top law firms are always interested in partner-level candidates with a solid book of business as well. Given this steady increase in demand for associates, we are optimistic that the end of 2011 and first portion of 2012 will be a great time for associates and partners to make a lateral move. In general, attorneys currently practicing in Minnesota and those with strong connections to the state are more marketable than those without such a connection, although it is certainly not required, as long as the candidate has a valid reason for moving into the region.

Intellectual Property – Patent Prosecution and Litigation and Trademark

The Twin Cities is generally a hotbed for intellectual property work, and there are a number of general practice firms and sophisticated boutiques with busy practices, both on the prosecution and litigation sides. On the prosecution side, many firms seek junior to mid-level associates (anywhere from about 2 to 5 years of experience), with technical backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer science. There are a few firms that have been looking for associates with degrees in organic chemistry and chemical engineering, but this is the minority. While most firms do not require an advanced degree, associates with such a degree are very well-received. Prior industry experience as well as legal experience with a top law firm is preferred.

Corporate – Mergers and Acquisitions; Securities; Finance; Health Care; Others

Throughout 2011 we have seen a large number of positions for corporate, healthcare and other transactional practices. In general, the firms seek candidates with strong academic credentials (both in terms of the rank of the law school and the grades earned while there) and large law firm experience, although candidates with exceptional experience and less-than-perfect law school grades tend to be marketable as well. The majority of the current positions seek candidates with 3 to 5 years of broad-based corporate experience, including M&A, securities corporate governance, private equity and finance. Recently, however, we have seen a few firms looking for associates with heavy backgrounds in finance. In addition, a fair number of firms are seeking to hire healthcare associates, both on the regulatory and transactional sides. As the New Year approaches, we anticipate these markets to continue to improve, so now may be a great time to get started on the process.

Litigation—General, Energy Litigation and Labor & Employment

Like other practice areas, the need for litigation associates remains steady in the Twin Cities. We are seeing opportunities at a variety of levels, from junior associates to mid-levels and more senior candidates. Many of the firms prefer associates with a diverse litigation background that includes experience litigating general commercial cases, labor & employment matters and other specialized areas of litigation, 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. 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.

Tax & Trusts and Estates

We are seeing an increased demand for trusts & estate and tax associates. While certainly not a requirement of all positions, an LL.M. degree in taxation will be well-received, especially when combined with 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, Managing Director, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search

Demand has remained steady throughout 2011 for attorneys in Indianapolis. The primary practices in need of associates are litigation, labor & employment, intellectual property and to a lesser extent, real estate. The current open positions seek associates at the 3 to 5 year level, but we are hopeful that more junior level positions will arise in the near future. 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, Managing Director, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search

Opportunities continue to arise for associates and partners alike in Ohio. The majority of positions are in the areas of litigation, labor and employment, corporate (general corporate, banking and finance, private equity, etc), real estate, healthcare, intellectual property, and trusts and estates. Many firms require candidates to be admitted to the Ohio Bar, while others will consider candidates that plan to gain admission, as long as they have a valid reason for making the move to Ohio.

Cleveland and Cincinnati

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 matters leanly and require lateral associates to hit the ground running. While these firms 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.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property has remained largely steady throughout the year, with a handful of positions open at any given time. The firms currently recruiting patent associates are looking for candidates with technical backgrounds in the chemical arts, electrical and/or mechanical engineering. Most firms are currently looking for prosecution associates, but others are looking for litigators and those with both prosecution and litigation experience. 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.

Health Care, Tax, Employee Benefits and Trusts & Estates

Over the last few months, we have seen a continued demand for healthcare and trusts and estates associates. We previously saw an increase in demand for employee benefits, which we anticipate will increase again with the New Year. The largest and most sophisticated firms focus on associates with superb academic and law firm credentials, but the smaller to mid-sized firms are not as strict and may instead focus on the hands-on experience of the candidate. 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.

Corporate and Real Estate

Demand for corporate and/or real estate associates increased at the beginning of 2011 and has continued to remain strong. After years of almost no real estate associate jobs, we now have multiple firms seeking associates in the 3 to 7 years range. Most are looking for associates with broad-based transactional experience, but others seek associates with real estate litigation experience as well. On the corporate side, some large and mid-sized firms tend to look for associates with finance and banking experience, while others seek candidates with a more broad-based corporate background that includes M&A, private equity, corporate governance and the like. Overall, associates with 3 or more years of experience with superb academic credentials 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

While Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo are relatively small legal markets, there is a fair amount of activity on the associate and partner levels. The firms are primarily seeking associates with high level trusts & estates, tax, employee benefits, corporate, litigation and healthcare experience, and those with strong connections to the particular cities tend to be more marketable to the firms.

In addition to the need for a variety of 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, health care, 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, Managing Director, Chicago Office of BCG Attorney Search

While Utah appears to have weathered the economic storm relatively well, we have not yet seen a large increase in demand for associates. We do, however, have some needs for intellectual property associates with a technical background in electrical engineering, computer science and/or computer engineering. We have also seen a few positions for corporate associates, especially for those with banking and finance experience. 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. Admission to the Utah bar is often required. We anticipate more opportunities for associates in a variety of practice areas in the New Year and encourage anyone interested in making a lateral move to Salt Lake City to contact BCG Attorney Search now to begin the process.
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 making the move. The amount of portable business required varies from firm to firm, so contact the Chicago office for more information.
 
State of the Market: Chicago
by Jamie Bailey, Partner, BCG Attorney Search

Similar to our report last quarter, uncertainty continues to dominate the economy, and the legal sector continues to reflect that uncertainty. Although the legal sector added 400 jobs in October according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it hasn’t been enough to induce firms to increase their lateral hiring to the levels to which we would have hoped. Most businesses are continuing to watch and wait, with muted hiring and cautious expansion. However, in spite of this, we are happy to report that there are particular emerging trends and areas of targeted growth in law firms, and we are working hard to continue to identify opportunities in the legal marketplace. In particular, we have seen excellent opportunities in the transactional practices in Chicago and many firms are seeking associates at all levels in corporate finance, private equity, M&A and securities. We are also seeing continued need for highly qualified intellectual property patent prosecution and patent litigation attorneys. Finally, labor and employment, ERISA and employee benefits continue to be areas of need.

We hope Congress’s deficit super committee can come up with a remedy to send us into first quarter 2012 with some good economic news for everyone. In the meantime, read on for excellent lateral opportunities in Chicago and the Midwest.

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 which 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. Practice areas of particular interest to prominent firms in Chicago include: intellectual property (patent prosecution and patent litigation), litigation (general commercial, environmental, mass tort and products liability), labor and employment, corporate (M&A, securities, private equity, investment management), government and public affairs, bankruptcy, estate planning, health care, life sciences, energy, employee benefits and ERISA litigation.

Corporate – Finance; Private Equity; M&A; Securities; Banking and Commercial Lending

Third quarter demand for corporate transactional associates has remained steady and there are a number of prestigious firms in Chicago seeking mid-level corporate associates. Some of the best corporate practices in Chicago are seeking associates with anywhere from 3-6 years in private equity, M&A and securities experience. We are also receiving requests for associates with ’34 and ’40 Act experience. Junior associates with 1-3 years of experience in fund formation should get in touch with us. We would also like to speak with associates with 3-5 years in private equity transactions, including documenting and negotiating acquisitions and financing of private and public companies; going private transactions; stock for stock acquisitions, spin-off transactions; and acquisitions of minority interests. We are continuing to receive requests for finance attorneys with 2-5 years of experience in debt and leveraged finance. Firms with prominent financial services groups have also requested that we send them associates with 3-5 years of experience in corporate lending and banking.

Intellectual Property - Patent Prosecution; Patent Litigation

Intellectual property has remained a high area of demand this past quarter at firms in Chicago and there has continued to be significant demand for both patent prosecutors and patent litigators. We continue to receive requests for patent prosecutors with 2-5 years of experience and backgrounds in any of the following areas: chemistry, chemical engineering, food science, mechanical engineering, computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering. We also have an opening requiring combustion engine experience for an associate with 3-5 years of experience and a mechanical engineering background. Additionally, firms are requesting that we send them patent litigation associates with 3-5 years of experience in patent litigation and backgrounds in electrical engineering, computer science or chemistry. We have a few more senior positions requiring between 6-10 years of experience in patent litigation and backgrounds in mechanical, electrical or chemical engineering. USPTO is generally required for all of our patent prosecution positions and for some of our patent litigation positions. IL Bar is generally preferred. Advanced degrees are always a plus.

Employee Benefits; ERISA Litigation

A few large firms with Chicago offices are seeking employee benefits associates with 3-5 years of experience in qualified retirement, and welfare benefit and benefits-related mergers and acquisitions transactions. Additional experience in executive compensation plans, including stock options and restricted stock, are a plus. We are also still interested in speaking with income partner level attorneys who have strong ERISA litigation experience.

Labor and Employment Litigation

Labor and employment continues to be an area in which we are seeing need in both larger general practice firms, as well as boutique L&E firms which have experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. We would be interested in speaking with junior, mid-level and senior associates with employment litigation experience.

Litigation

We have seen a slight increase in the need for litigation associates in Chicago firms during this past quarter. Associates with 2-6 years of experience in general commercial litigation matters should contact us. Excellent academics and large law firm experience, as well as strong litigation skills, plus IL bar admission are generally required for these positions.

Real Estate

Like last quarter, we are continuing to receive a few real estate openings from firms that are supplementing their commercial real estate practices. We would be interested in speaking with real estate associates with 2-5 years of experience in general commercial real estate transactions. Those with retail leasing experience should definitely contact our Chicago office.

Trusts & Estates

We have a few positions for trusts and estates associates with 2-5 years of experience in estate planning and administration matters and experience dealing with high net worth clients. An LL.M. in taxation is preferred.

Health Care

We have a unique opportunity in a prominent healthcare practice for a 3-5 year associate with transactional and M&A experience. Experience with health industry transactions and health care regulatory issues, including fraud and abuse, antitrust, clinical research and/or tax exemption concerns for non-profit organizations is required.
 
State of the Market: Wisconsin
by Jamie Bailey, Partner, 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 the key practice areas generally found in large general practice firms.

Intellectual Property - Patent Prosecution

Wisconsin firms are continuing to exhibit strong intellectual property practices and requesting patent prosecutors with 1-5 years of experience. We would be interested in speaking with associates with patent prosecution experience and backgrounds in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science or biotechnology. In most cases, USPTO is required for these positions.

Banking

We are interested in speaking with associates with 2-3 years of experience in acquisition financing, asset-based financing, private bond offerings and mezzanine financing. Excellent academics and law firm experience are required for this position.

Litigation

We have a few Wisconsin firms seeking litigators. Associates with 3+ years of experience handling complex litigation (especially products liability litigation) and knowledge of federal court procedure who are admitted to the Wisconsin bar should contact our Chicago office. We would also be interested in speaking with more senior level attorneys with 8+ years of experience in litigation and experience in all phases of litigation, including motion practice, discovery, deposition, mediation, trials and appeals.

Health Care

We are interested in speaking with healthcare associates with 2-5 years of experience in regulatory matters. Associates with 2-5 years of experience in advising hospitals, physicians, health systems and other health care providers on federal and state law regulatory issues should get in touch with us regarding opportunities in Wisconsin firms.
 
State of the Market: Michigan
by Jamie Bailey, Partner, 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.

Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, Novi and Troy

Corporate – Securities

We would be interested in speaking with associates who have 3-5 years of experience in securities law, including private placement offerings and public company representation.

Intellectual Property – Patent Prosecution

Attorneys with anywhere from 4-8 years of experience in patent prosecution matters and backgrounds in electrical engineering or chemical engineering should definitely contact our Chicago office. We would also like to speak with patent prosecution associates who have 2-5 years of experience with biological science and biotechnology patents and backgrounds in life sciences or biotechnology. USPTO is required for these positions. Associates with 2-5 years of patent prosecution experience and electrical engineering, computer science, or computer engineering should also apply for our Michigan openings. (Those who have Japanese or Mandarin Chinese speaking skills are particularly sought after for some of our positions.)

LitigationConstruction and Financial Services

We continue to be interested in speaking with construction litigators with 8-12 years of years of experience. Also, if you are an associate with 2-4 years of experience in financial services litigation, you should definitely contact our Chicago office.

General Tax, and Estate and Trust Administration

Firms with offices in Detroit and Novi are seeking associates with 3-4 years of experience in tax (including Subchapter C, K and S, international tax and estate and gift tax). A CPA or LL.M. is preferred. We would also be interested in speaking with associates who have general business and transactional tax experience in business formation, corporate and M&A transactional matters. (OH bar is required and MI bar is preferred for this position. An LL.M. or CPA is also preferred.)

 
NORTHEAST

State of the Market Report: New York
by Christine Gately, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

There has been significant activity in most sectors during the fourth quarter of 2011, with a few areas of law being particularly strong.

Litigation


While there are openings for litigation associates on varying levels within the areas of complex commercial litigation, white collar, and antitrust litigation, there has not been an increase of activity in this practice area. Even very strong candidates with litigation experience from top law firms are having trouble securing offers or even getting interviews. Securities litigation and patent litigation have seen the most consistent increase in activity.

Corporate

There has been a continued increase throughout the fourth quarter of 2011 for transactional corporate attorneys having at least 3-5 years of experience. A hot area within the corporate practice is start ups and venture capital financing, public offerings and other capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and public company counseling. Accordingly, there has been a need for senior level tax associates.

Banking experience in acquisition and other leveraged finance transactions, including the preparation and negotiation of credit agreements, security agreements, intercreditor agreements and other loan documents, seems to be another area of high demand. Candidates with at least 3-5 years of experience from large law firms are preferred.

The demand for mid to senior level corporate associates in the sectors of corporate and finance remains strong. In some cases distressed debt equity and high yield exposure can be a plus as well.

Commercial Real Estate

The fourth quarter of 2011 has seen a continued increase in the need for associates with commercial real estate experience. Firms are seeking junior to mid-level real estate attorneys having 2-6 years of experience working on a broad range of sophisticated commercial real estate transactions including acquisitions, dispositions, financing, joint ventures, construction, fund formation, and leasing.

Firms are more commonly looking for specific experience including the origination of mortgage loans and mezzanine loans. Firms are especially seeking those with experience in the restructuring and workout of commercial mortgage loans, and specifically experience representing mortgage and mezzanine lenders. Retail development and leasing experience can also be helpful.

Employment and Labor Law

This is a practice area that is continuing to do well. There is now an increasing need for labor and employment attorneys with a broad range of experience including wage and hour, class actions, collective action, and single plaintiff litigation. FLSA experience is also a plus.

Firms generally look for 3rd, 4th, or 5th year associates with extensive employment litigation and counseling experience. For example, handling federal and state harassment and discrimination suits from inception through trial, FINRA arbitrations, FLSA and wage-hour audits and litigation, drafting and revising employee manuals and policies, handling RIFs and WARN act issues, drafting separation and severance agreements and releases. Significant experience litigating cases in NY state and federal courts is sought after.

Health Care

The need for health care associates has somewhat tailored off in the fourth quarter, with some firms still looking for associates with upwards of 4 years of experience in health care litigation, as well as compliance, regulatory, 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.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property has picked up in the fourth quarter of 2011, with more firms looking for trademark, copyright, and especially patent litigation/prosecution associates.

Trademark and 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 and prosecution is a more desirable practice area, with firms showing a special interest in associates with advanced technical degrees, usually in electrical engineering, computer science, or mechanical engineering, in order of more popular demand. Several firms have recently requested backgrounds in medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, synthetic chemistry, biochemistry, or a closely-related field, in particular. Industry experience is a further plus if the industry experience matches matters the firm might be involved in.

Partner Market

The partner market in New York continues to show the highest level of demand, with larger firms searching for corporate and litigation partners with a substantial book of business; at least $1 million. Partners of other sectors such as intellectual property, health care, and employment law are also in demand. The key for partner candidates is the type of clients they service and the associated business they will generate. Firms will look for proof of billings over the course of the past several years in most instances.

Some smaller to mid size firms will look for a minimum of $400,000 in business when considering partner level candidates, and again seem to be open to a variety of practice areas.

Firms are generally interested in candidates with at least 3-5 years of experience from larger law firms and some prefer judicial clerkships. Firms are moving quickly in the process of interviewing and extending offers particularly in the corporate sectors of law.
 
State of the Market: Boston/ New England
by Robyn L. Ginsberg, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

Boston/New England Market

A. Boston

The Boston legal market continues to show signs of slow but steady growth in the second half of 2011. While the Boston market has historically been difficult for outsiders to penetrate, we are seeing some signs of flexibility here. This is partly the result of Boston law firms’ continued efforts to bring on the best and brightest attorneys, and partly because of recent expansion into the Boston market by large international law firms (e.g., Latham & Watkins and Jones Day
). As a result, despite the fact that the Boston market remains tight and still favors those with local ties to the area, we are seeing an uptick in hiring, particularly in the corporate, real estate, and intellectual property sectors. For the first time in a few years, we are seeing the beginning signs of increased hiring in the commercial and general litigation sectors.

General Corporate Trends

In contrast to other markets, Boston has consistently shown a preference over the last several quarters for corporate attorneys with wide-ranging practice area expertise (rather than niche expertise in one area). For example, attorneys who have experience in M&A, capital markets and venture capital matters are often having an easier time making lateral transitions than their colleagues who are focused on just one practice area. In other words, this is an excellent time to be a corporate generalist.
 
1 Examples include the following current listings: (1) Boston office seeks corporate attorney having 4-5 years of significant corporate experience specifically in the areas of private equity, M&A, emerging companies or securities; (2) Boston office seeks corporate attorney having 3-4 years of experience. The candidate must have quality training in general corporate and transactional matters; (3) Boston firm seeks a 2007/2008 associate with a general corporate background and some experience with M&A, private investing, and securities filings.

Additionally, firms in the Boston area continue seeking to build up their emerging technologies practices at both the associate and partner level. In fact, multiple firms have indicated that they are having difficulty finding qualified emerging companies candidates (from anywhere in the U.S., let alone Boston). If you have emerging companies expertise, there is no better time than now for making a lateral move.

Lastly, there is an increased need in Boston for attorneys with IP transactional experience and/or technology transactional experience. This is a recent trend that we expect will continue throughout 2012.

Real Estate

As in early 2011, Boston firms continue to look for top-level commercial real estate associates (particularly at the mid-level), and partner candidates with portable books of business. The majority of these firms – in a similar fashion to firms in New York – are focused on finding real estate candidates with some level of real estate finance expertise. Several firms are also currently seeking attorneys with commercial mortgage loan experience and we expect this trend to continue in 2012, both in Boston and other east coast markets.

Intellectual Property

The trend towards beefing up IP litigation practices continues in the Boston market. The focus in late 2011 – in Boston and elsewhere on the east coast – has unquestionably been on attorneys with an electrical engineering or computer science background. Now is probably the best time in years for IP attorneys with these technical backgrounds to seek to make a lateral transition, as the market will no doubt shift towards other technical backgrounds in the coming months.

The patent prosecution market is also very vibrant right now in Boston. Here we are a seeing a need for prosecutors at all experience levels and with a wider range of technical backgrounds. For example, firms are looking for USPTO-licensed patent prosecutors with biotechnology, pharmacology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and/or electrical backgrounds.

Litigation

For the first time in a few years, we are seeing a slight resurgence in law firm litigation hiring – both at large, national firms and at more regional firms. The interest, at this stage, is primarily in junior level commercial litigators, with some small interest in mid-level commercial litigators. Note that the litigation market continues to be extremely competitive, with opportunities primarily going to those candidates with exceptional law school and law firm credentials. These stringent requirements may loosen up some in 2012, as more firms start competing for litigation talent.

Other Practice Areas

In addition to the above practice areas, Boston law firms continue to seek qualified transactional tax attorneys and health care attorneys at all levels. This is a very good time to consider making a lateral move if you practice in one of these areas.

B. Other New England Markets

As in early 2011, Connecticut law firm hiring has been at a consistent but slow trickle. Law firms in the Hartford, Stamford and New Haven markets continue searching for strong IP candidates, in both the prosecution and litigation sectors, while also seeking commercial litigators, corporate attorneys, and real estate attorneys. In many ways, the hiring trends for Connecticut firms mirrors those for the Boston market, although the number of firms searching for lateral attorneys is understandably smaller in Connecticut.

In New Hampshire, there continues to be some minor demand for experienced litigation and product liability associates. There also continues to be a demand in New Hampshire for partner-level candidates, particularly corporate and/or tax partner candidates with a portable book of business.

The remainder of the New England market has remained stagnant in late 2011, with little to no active efforts at hiring. Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island have shown very little hiring activity in 2010 and 2011 and we expect that pattern to continue into early 2012, with individual firms hiring on an “as needed” basis only.
 
State of the Market: Washington, DC
by Neil Sirota, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

The associate market in DC and the surrounding areas continues to show strong signs of activity in late 2011, though firms remain cautious about whom they hire. In the second half of the year, we see steady hiring activity in virtually all practice areas. While we continue to have a significant number of litigation openings, the glut of top-level litigation associates on the market make this a challenging area for all but the well-credentialed candidates. Even IP litigators with strong science backgrounds must also have high-end credentials to get traction at law firms.

The corporate hiring market remains quite strong. As economic activity has picked up in 2011, firms are seeing a more robust deal flow, and are seeking to staff matters with qualified candidates. However, candidates should be aware that firms are only looking at those with immediately transferrable skills. Now is not the time to switch practice areas or areas of focus, even within the corporate space. That said, if you are a candidate with strong corporate skills who wants to make a move within your area of expertise, now is the time to do it.

Where firms have a clear need, we are seeing them move quite quickly through the interview process, eager to fill their needs. However, where the need might not be so clearly defined, the application process can take a long time. Candidates should budget a minimum of three to six months for a comprehensive job search.

Hot Practice Areas:
 
  • As discussed above, corporate remains the hot area to be in. We have multiple openings for corporate attorneys, with an emphasis in securities. If you are a mid-level associate with strong capital markets experience, you will likely have multiple opportunities.
  • Patent remains very strong for those with hard science degrees. Ph.D.s are preferred, those with only an undergraduate science degree are also in demand, especially if the degree is in computer science or electrical engineering.

Warm Practice Areas
 
  • Regulatory practices are very hit-or-miss right now. We have multiple openings for investment management, but FDA, environmental, and telecom remain slow. Antitrust opportunities are available for those with strong credentials.
  • Litigation is strong for those with top-tier credentials.

Cold Practice Areas:
 
  • Tied as they are to the housing market, both real estate and construction remain very slow. We have not seen and noticeable movement in these areas since the downturn began.
  • As hot as hard IP is, soft IP is equally as slow. We see very little opportunity for copyright and trademark attorneys.
  • We have seen very little movement in bankruptcy.

As a final point to keep in mind, firms in this market are sticking very closely to their year requirements. Even one year on either side of posted years is resulting in out-of-hand rejections. Three to five years of experience remains the “sweet spot” for hiring. With few exceptions, candidates with more than six years of experience will be expected to bring a portable practice to be considered.

 
SOUTH

State of the Market: Texas
by Suzanne Dupree Howe, Esq., Managing Director of BCG -Texas

The market in Texas is starting to follow the trend of the East Coast with a noticeable increase in new positions. We are seeing growth in the transactional markets especially.

As we write this, it bears mention that lateral hiring is at its highest in January. Candidates submitted in November, December, and January will be best positioned to obtain these positions. If you are considering a lateral move in the next six months to a year, consider that January and February will usually give you the most options.

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 entry in Texas as long as they have strong credentials.

Below is a breakdown of various practices areas as they relate to firms’ needs in Texas.

Partners

Partner movement remains high as many firms have fared better than others throughout the recession. 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 in any of these opportunities, please contact me at 713-270-1199.

Bankruptcy

This practice area has slowed since 2008 and 2009 but there are still positions on a rolling basis. We are seeing less activity in bankruptcy generally, but economic indicators are telling us that bankruptcy will increase in 2012.

Litigation

Strong litigation candidates are always actively being sought in Houston and Dallas, although Dallas has had an edge so far this year in terms of cumulative positions. And candidates with judicial clerkships and solid writing skills have a definite competitive edge. Litigation candidates are being sought by many firms currently.

Labor and Employment

Employment needs remain solid throughout the state, though our needs are not as strong as in 2010.

Corporate

This area of law has really picked up from last year. Many of our clients are considering corporate resumes with strong deal experience. Private Equity experience remains a hot area for firms.

Tax

Tax needs are increasing, but it is yet to be a highly active area for hiring. We predict a greater need for these candidates in 2012 in Texas. Candidates with an LL.M from top programs such as NYU, Florida, and Georgetown are most valuable to the firms.

Intellectual Property

IP Litigation needs have very much increased recently. We are seeing more needs in this area, especially for candidates with a background in Electrical Engineering or Computer Science. This is a great time to move as firms are getting busier and have ample work to go around.

Patent prosecution needs have also increased 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. In Houston, candidates with experience in oilfield tools are highly valued.

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 probably the most active area for hiring in Houston.

Employee Benefits/ERISA

While this practice area remains in high demand nationally, we haven’t seen as many needs in the Texas market. However, these candidates are always marketable.

Real Estate

While real estate needs picked up towards the beginning of 2011, these needs have noticeably cooled in recent months.
 
State of the Market: Louisiana
by Suzanne Dupree Howe, Esq., Managing Director of BCG -Texas

New Orleans law firms have needs on a rolling but scattered basis. We currently have needs in corporate, real estate, and litigation.

This market has not been affected greatly through the recession and needs have stayed fairly constant. Candidates with personal ties to the area are often favored for this market.
 
FOREIGN MARKETS

State of the Market: Europe and Asia
by Neil Sirota, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

London

Energy is among the hottest areas in London right now, with a particular emphasis on Oil & Gas. Firms are looking aggressively for both finance, upstream, and regulatory experience. Corporate has picked up in London, as firms look for experienced M&A, capital markets, and finance attorneys. While English qualification is needed for most positions, if a candidate has strong U.S. capital markets background, we do have some available opportunities.
Outside of corporate, there is a consistent demand for those with competition or shipping expertise and there is a smattering of dispute resolution opportunities across a range of specific disciplines.

Europe

We have certainly seen an uptick in opportunities across Europe since the last time we updated the market. From corporate in Germany to dispute resolution and competition in Brussels, European firms are hiring. Unfortunately for U.S. trained attorneys, options remain few and far between. If a candidate has an interest in working in continental Europe, language skills are an absolute must, and even then, jobs are hard to come by. The best way to get European experience is to do a stint in a European office of your current firm and then use that to leverage a full-time position.

Asia

We are seeing incredible opportunity in Asia, especially in the corporate area, where the market is even more robust than in New York. Opportunities abound in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Singapore, with a significant pool of jobs available in Shanghai and Tokyo as well. The biggest opportunities are for U.S. trained M&A and capital markets (both debt and equity) attorneys. FDI (foreign direct investment) lawyers remain big news in Asia. Corporate jobs are also widely available for those with training in the U.K or another commonwealth jurisdiction. And for attorneys who may be returning home after an LLM, the world is your oyster, with jobs available throughout Asia. As always, language fluency is a virtual must in China and Hong Kong, while Singapore may provide some flexibility.

We have seen a definite slowdown in opportunities in the Middle East, though jobs are available for those with finance or energy expertise.

 
CAREER ARTICLES

Understanding Social Media and Using it to Boost Your Career
by Liz Hudson, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

In today’s world of modern technology, even our social interactions and presence has crossed over to the digital world. Instead of calling someone to wish them a happy birthday, or even more outlandish, sending them a birthday card via the U.S. Postal Service, we now post a happy birthday message on their Facebook wall. And old colleagues we may have once been too intimidated by to even say hello in the hallway are now approachable as we send them a “connect” request through LinkedIn. As Drew Barrymore’s character in “He’s Just Not That Into You” lamented, there are so many social media outlets available now that just keeping up with your different accounts is nearly impossible! As you begin your job search, or just aim to keep yourself on an upward trajectory with your current employer, there are some rules of the game to play by with regard to your social media accounts.

Networking to Find New Opportunities

Some things never change and the principal of networking and using who you know to your advantage in your career search remains the same. Though there are more social networking sites than I could even begin to list, I’m going to focus on three main social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn is likely the most important place to make your presence known in the working world. Make sure your profile is complete with current work information, an updated photo (keep this professional, obviously, and headshot only) and as many identifying factors that can help you connect as possible. This means adding your high school, college and graduate schools as well as every professional job you’ve held, organizations you have been or currently are a part of, and a link to your Twitter account (which I’ll cover in more detail). After your profile is complete, you can sign up to follow companies which you are interested in, including your current company, and stay up to date on what is happening with each of them. You can also ask current or past colleagues to write a recommendation of your work to post on your profile, which is a great way to highlight your skill set in a less biased way. LinkedIn also has a great arsenal of job postings, which you can tailor to fit your needs. Lastly, make sure to join LinkedIn groups which appeal to your background and preferred opportunities. For example, you could join alumni groups, career groups for like-minded professionals, and philanthropic causes that you support. It is best to not join groups affiliated with any religious or political ties as your LinkedIn profile should not reveal anything that you would not reveal on your professional resume or in a job interview. And we all know the legal marketplace rules are similar to Dating 101: never discuss religion or politics on a first date (or in this case, a job interview).

Facebook may seem a less likely place to network for a job, but you’d be surprised how helpful your otherwise questionable friends can be! Of course, Facebook is a less buttoned up version of you so you may not be as naturally cautious as you would be on LinkedIn, but we’ll get to those rules later on. One great way to get out the word that you’re looking for a new position on Facebook is to change your status to let your friends know that you are looking for a specific type of new job in a particular city. Often times your friends will respond and get you in touch with someone who may be of assistance. I did this in my own career search a few years ago and was overwhelmed by the help that poured in from people who I otherwise would refer to as purely a “Facebook friend” and may not have spoken to in months. If you are friends with your colleagues or your boss on Facebook, you will have to handle this differently. You can target specific people and create a group out of those contacts; this way you won’t be sharing information with people who you don’t want to see it.

Twitter may not be as helpful in searching for a new job, but a quick tweet about what you’re looking for certainly can’t hurt (again, provided you don’t have a current employer or co-worker following you). In general, it is great to stay active on Twitter and cross-post your tweets on LinkedIn. By tweeting industry news and staying fresh in the mind of your followers, you will keep an active network.

The most important part of your social media network, regardless of the medium, is to build your network and stay active in it. If you only use these accounts when you need something, they aren’t going to work as well for you. Instead, if you are a frequent poster (though not an abuser) and try to help others when they use their networks to bolster their career, you will see more return. And hey, good karma is never a bad thing!

Managing Your Connections

This rule is similar to the school of thought that the best employees manage their bosses, which also means those being managed don’t necessarily know it. For Facebook, it is important to use the privacy controls and group settings. Above all, make sure that your Facebook account is only visible to those people you have confirmed as your friends. The percentage of employers who check Facebook accounts now is staggering and you don’t want them seeing photos of you dressed up in your less than office-appropriate Halloween costume or a status update about sleeping one off at your desk. So take the initiative and create groups for your status updates to go to and make your photos visible only to those who you want to see them.

You also have the ability to manage what others post on your Facebook wall and you should stay on top of this. Delete anything that you feel is inappropriate and, if necessary, set controls whereby your contacts need your permission before doing things like posting on your wall or tagging you in a photo. Of course, if you are not friends with anyone in your professional network and have privacy controls intact, this is less important, but it is still good to monitor.

Along with managing your contacts comes the task of determining who is and who is not an appropriate contact. My rule of thumb is to keep co-workers as contacts on my LinkedIn account but not as Facebook friends. My LinkedIn account is always professional and there is nowhere for a friend to leak information about a job search or some other inappropriate-for-work news. You’ll have to assess the situation on your own and it certainly would be awkward to deny a friend request from your boss, so be sure to change privacy settings with contacts where appropriate.

LinkedIn and Twitter need less monitoring on the connections aspect. For the most part, I wouldn’t worry about managing those connections. If anything, I would be over-inclusive with LinkedIn because you never know who will prove to be a helpful contact. The only issue, as previously mentioned, is having current colleagues on your LinkedIn account and then advertising your job search. This is where individual messages to contacts becomes very useful, so be sure to take stock of all your contacts before posting what may be job-sensitive information.

Keeping Your Accounts Appropriate

After you’ve gone through and managed your contacts to make sure they don’t ruin your solid gold reputation, it’s up to you to keep your own accounts perfect and shiny. As a legal recruiter, I can personally attest that I search for all my new candidates on LinkedIn and Facebook to make sure their accounts are in good shape and I’m astounded at some of the things I see. Believe me, potential employers (and even some current employers) will be doing the same searches. Here are a few guidelines for keeping your accounts professional:
 
  • If you are currently employed, make sure that news of your job search isn’t directly getting back to your employer or colleagues. If you are connected to any co-workers on any social media sites, this means setting up special groups, carefully crafting your LinkedIn updates and not tweeting about how badly you want out of your current gig.
  • If you are not employed, you don’t need to be as careful about the above issues. However, potential employers will try to look at your social media accounts, so it is crucial that you keep them appropriate and professional, and private where necessary.
  • Never say negative things about your current job. Although it may get a good laugh on Facebook to talk about how outrageous your boss is, no future employer will want to hire you if they think you will badmouth them in the same manner.
  • Consider having separate Twitter accounts if you like to tweet funny or potentially unprofessional content. You can link your more professional Twitter to your LinkedIn profile to continue having an active online presence and keep contacts engaged. Your personal one should be closely monitored so that only approved followers have access, but that way you can still have an outlet for those your humorous observations that have attracted so many followers in the first place.
  • Be careful about posting too frequently during business hours. Employers don’t want to hire someone who spends their time on the clock doing non-work related activities. Quick posts to reach people during their business day (when they are looking for a distraction from their own work) is okay, but be conscious.

Ways to Improve your Social Media Accounts

Alright, now you’ve set up your accounts, perfected your profiles, managed your contacts and kept your accounts looking squeaky clean. Why would anyone want to look at them now? In order to keep people engaged and make sure they are getting your messages and growing your network, there are some things you can do to bolster your efforts in networking.

For all of the social media outlets, the number one thing you can do is stay active on your accounts. Post articles that may interest others (again, avoiding topics like politics and religion), keep your updates positive, participate in group conversations, “like” other poster’s comments, re-tweet relevant messages, and just make sure you are engaging your contacts. As mentioned before, take care not to be an over-poster or too active during work hours, but regular activity is a great way to stay connected.

If you are able to keep a blog that is professional and potentially of interest to your network, keep it up to date and make sure to have your social media accounts automatically update anytime you make a new post or entry. Again, only do this if it is professional enough for networking.

Lastly, consistency is crucial for your social media accounts. No, that doesn’t mean that you have to post your Facebook profile picture of your dog in his reindeer antlers on your LinkedIn page, but you do need to make sure anywhere you have information listed about your job history, job title, years of employment, education and other similar information, you keep it consistent. It would cause questions for a potential employer if your title was different or years of employment varied on your own social media pages, so make sure all the information lines up.

Conclusion

For all the times your friends rolled their eyes at you tweeting at the dinner table or trolling away on Facebook, you can now be confident that your efforts were not wasted! Social media is becoming a mainstream means of communication and you don’t want to miss out on a potential outlet to further your career. So, follow these easy guidelines and as Tim Gunn always says, “Make It Work.”
 
Taking Charge of Your Mentoring Experience
by Evan P. Anderson, Managing Director

Mentoring relationships are as old as the legal profession itself. In the earliest days of legal practice, mentoring and apprenticeship were the only way lawyers could learn their craft. Although legal training is more formalized today, mentoring remains a key component of attorney professional development. This is because mentoring was, and continues to be, one of the most effective ways to pass on skills, knowledge, and cultivate critical professional relationships.

Attorneys at all levels can reap benefits from the guidance and instruction of a good mentor. In addition to providing necessary instruction and development of legal skills, a mentor can help associates navigate the often tricky internal politics of a law firm, become a much needed ally and advocate, and help expand the associate’s professional network both inside and outside the firm. Associates over the years have reported mixed experiences with law firms’ efforts to provide formal, structured mentoring programs. For some, the mentoring relationship is a vital piece in the associate’s development. In these instances, the mentor’s guidance and shared expertise becomes an important part of the associate’s skill and relationship building and fosters a sense of loyalty to both the mentor and the firm. For others, the relationship feels like a perfunctory, “box checked” experience offered by the firm to satisfy internal and external demands and perceptions, but ends up being a program which has little if any meaning or effectiveness.

It has been my experience that structured mentoring programs often struggle (or fail) because associates are matched with partners either randomly or based on practice area. There is usually little effort to ensure compatibility in terms of a shared background or common interests. As many partners and associates will attest, a meaningful connection is really at the heart of the most effective mentor-mentee relationships. And although it may seem counterintuitive, it is not necessary for a mentor to share the same practice area as the mentee. In fact, this arrangement is sometimes preferable to both parties because the associate has the option of being more open and honest about matters pertaining to skill development, firm structure and politics, and the associate’s true career aspirations. Mentoring relationships can also falter if associates sit back passively and wait for the partner to take the lead. As with most things in life, if you want a successful mentoring relationship, you have to take control of the situation and assume responsibility for keeping it going. Much of what you get out of your mentoring experience depends on your willingness to be proactive and to ask for what you need. This begins with finding the right mentor. If your assigned mentor is clearly not a good fit, ask to be reassigned to someone with whom you think you might be more compatible. If that is not possible, an informal (i.e. unassigned) relationship with a superior in the firm with whom you feel a connection or would like to get to know better can serve the same purpose. Once the relationship has been established, assume that it is up to you to keep the relationship moving forward. You may wish to create a list of objectives to be clear about what you would like to achieve from your interactions with your mentor. Clearly outlined objectives can provide structure to your meetings and serve as a useful guide with which to measure your progress. You may wish to consider the following when creating your goals:
 
  • What exactly do I want from this relationship? Skill building? Networking opportunities? Career guidance?
  • What specific opportunities can this particular relationship provide me?
  • What do I hope will be different for me as a result of this experience?
  • How will I measure success as the relationship progresses?

Keep in mind as you move forward in the mentoring relationship that the focus of your meetings should be on the successful achievement of your goals. It is important that you continue to play an active role in the relationship by assuming responsibility, staying organized, and keeping the momentum going. It is also critical that you demonstrate respect for your mentor’s time. Keep the following pointers in mind when meeting with your mentor:
 
  • Take responsibility for initiating meetings.
  • Know in advance what you wish to discuss at each meeting. Prepare an agenda, either mentally or literally.
  • Balance your comments with positive experiences and challenges you are experiencing. Come to meetings ready to share experiences that moved you closer to achieving your goals as well as experiences that set you back.
  • Solicit feedback from your mentor on what he or she is observing in you.
  • With your mentor’s guidance, assess your progress, identify setbacks, and determine next steps.

Remember that in addition to a meaningful connection, the success of any mentoring program depends on the mentees’ willingness to be actively involved in their own success. If the relationship is not helping you to meet your objectives, it is important to speak up so the appropriate adjustments can be made.
 
Why You Should Be Talking to a Legal Recruiter Right Now
by Robyn L. Ginsberg, Managing Director, BCG Attorney Search

The fall season is a very transitional time of year for law firms. By now, summer associates have completed their internships with law firms and have returned to their respective law schools. Law firms can, therefore, now comprehensively assess their practice area gaps (which may previously have been filled in by the summer class). Moreover, by the start of fall, law firms have completed their annual (often onerous) process of on-campus interviewing (“OCI”) and can now fully turn their attention to lateral hiring. Additionally, the fall season coincides with the beginning of the last quarter of the calendar year, which means law firms are beginning to assess their hiring needs for the start of the new year and/or looking to make 4th quarter hiring additions where their budgets allow. Lastly and perhaps most obviously, come January and February of the new year, there is traditionally an upsurge in the number of attorneys looking to make lateral moves, as year-end performance evaluations will have ben received, along with (or without) bonuses. Historically, this makes the start of the year the busiest time for lateral hiring.

This makes the fall season the perfect time for lawyers of all levels and experience to begin building a relationship with a recruiter, even if you are only loosely contemplating beginning a job search. There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to begin talking to a recruiter now rather than waiting until the start of the new year:

• First, recruiters are generally more successful with candidates who take the time to invest in their job search and in their relationship with a specific recruiter. This means starting the process early on. If you begin building a relationship with a recruiter now, he or she will have sufficient time to become familiar with your background and experience, as well as your interests and long-term goals. Your recruiter will then be well-positioned to advocate for you when opportunities arise.

• Keep in mind that a job search —even when aggressively pursued —can often take up to a year (and sometimes longer, depending on your interests and seniority). Don't expect to be able to make a lateral move over night. If you think you want to make a move within the next year, find a good recruiter and start looking now. By doing so, you'll greatly increase your chances of making a good lateral transition within your desired time parameters.

• Furthermore, by building a relationship with a recruiter now, you position yourself to take advantage of lateral opportunities that may arise unexpectedly and may just happen to be a spot-on fit for your interests and experience. Some firms — having become wise to the historic annual hiring patterns of their competitor firms — will be looking to anticipate possible year-end departures from their firm by adding to their attorney pool before the competition among law firms for top candidates becomes even fiercer at the start of the new year.

• Relatedly, candidates are most likely to obtain interviews when their recruiter is positioned to submit them to law firms immediately upon learning of new job openings, rather than days, weeks or even months after a listing has been posted. This means that it pays to build a relationship with a recruiter before you spot a job listing that is of interest to you, rather than after. I would suggest taking the time to review, and appropriately update, your resume with a recruiter early on and provide him or her with the necessary documents to support future applications, such as transcripts, writing samples, deal sheets, and business plans and draft patent applications (where relevant). If you take these steps preliminarily, you will be able to capitalize on new opportunities right away, since your recruiter will be armed with the necessary information to zealously and effectively advocate for you.

• Keep in mind that, once you build a relationship with a recruiter, you have someone who is constantly advocating for you and working behind the scenes to match you up with opportunities that are well-suited to your interests and experience. The sooner you begin to invest in a relationship with a recruiter – and the more information you provide to that recruiter about your experience and career interests — the more likely it is that you will be placed at a law firm that is a strong fit for you (and vice versa). For example, we at BCG are contacted almost daily by law firms of all sizes, including regional, national and international law firms in every part of the country, looking for our assistance in finding qualified applicants for specific job openings. Naturally, when we receive such calls, we are well-positioned to advocate for candidates with whom we have already been working (even before that listing becomes public). On many occasions, this has led to placements of long-standing BCG candidates.

Even if you are uncertain whether you will want to make a move in the near or distant future, it will benefit you to speak to a recruiter and to start building that relationship as early as possible in your career. Most everyone seeks to make a lateral move during the course of their career (or at least explore the possibility of doing so), and thus it makes sense to begin developing a rapport with someone who can assist you down the road in that endeavor and who can advise you on how to best develop your resume in the interim. Additionally, you will be able to turn to your recruiter for insight into the state of the job market and for general guidance regarding your career development. If you feel that a recruiter is pressuring you to begin applying for jobs before you are ready to do so, than find another recruiter who better understands your goals and your timeline. If you begin the process now you can ensure that you will find the best advocate for you and your interests by the time you are ready to begin your search.