Relocation! Relocation! Relocation! |

Relocation! Relocation! Relocation!


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I had an interesting summer working with a number of U.S. citizens who were working at large firms in London and other foreign cities who decided that it was time to return to the U.S., specifically to New York. The transition was relatively easy for these candidates as they had were corporate associates and the New York corporate market is strong. The candidates were coming from top tier firms, and they were transitioning to other top tier firms so I was surprised, when the offers began to arrive, by the disparity between what seemingly comparable firms offered in terms of moving costs.
Relocation!  Relocation!  Relocation!

Without naming names (!), the range - even for a move from London to New York - was stunning. One top firm's absolute maximum for moving costs was $3,000, whereas another top firm offered $10,000 without a moment's hesitation. The "average" seemed to be somewhere around $6,000. I should note that all firms offered airfare as part of the package; and that the airfare was exclusive of the above referenced costs. It was quite a learning experience for my candidates, and I decided to write about this topic, as I felt that readers might benefit from the information in several ways.
Are Moving Costs Fair with Respect to Your Market?

By referencing the above numbers, you should be able to gauge whether your moving costs are fair if you happen to be moving from one top firm in London to another top firm in New York! However, what if you are making the move from Chicago to Denver? Your recruiter should be able to tell you what his candidates have been offered in the past. If he cannot, then you might want to ask him to inquire among his clients (who are comparable in size, prestige and location) to the firm that has made you an offer. If the moving costs are in the average to high range, then consider yourself fortunate and move on to any other outstanding issues with respect to the offer. If the moving costs are below average, then you may decide that you wish to ask for additional moving costs and feel very confident making such request. In either case, information is power!
What Is the Policy?

If you feel that the moving costs are low and opt to request an increase, then the manner in which you present your request is important. The top tier firm that offered $3,000 for a London to New York relocation had a very firm policy that they did not go above $3,000 under any circumstances. Thus, unless you are willing to forego the offer, you should not present your request as an ultimatum. For example, you do not want to suggest that you cannot accept the position unless the firm increases the relocation costs because then if the firm does not increase the costs (or cannot due to their own internal policies), then you will either be forced to decline or look as if you were bluffing. The latter is definitely not the approach you want to take with a new firm!

Do Not Be Myopic or Extrapolate

I have seen candidates focus on one issue to exclusion of other, in some cases, more important issues. When you are evaluating whether to accept a position, do not get hung up on any one factor. Rather try to evaluate the offer in its totality. What is the total compensation package? Do other benefits (health insurance, life insurance, gym membership, on-site daycare, etc.) outweigh low moving costs? How will the position benefit your career in the long term? Will the position allow you to grow and develop, and ultimately create better opportunities for yourself in several years? While it is very hard to go out of pocket to accept a position, it is worse to be myopic, i.e., to focus only on the moving costs rather than the overall benefits of the position.

I want to say one final word about moving costs: do not extrapolate a firm's policy on moving costs to any overall statement about the firm and its treatment of its employees. Over the course of the summer, I had one candidate compare a firm's unwillingness to increase its moving costs to dating versus being married. I am sure you get where I am going here, but the candidate said "If this is how they are treating me while they are supposedly still courting me, how will they treat me once I accept?" I reminded the candidate that we were talking about a top tier firm where associates - including the associates with whom the candidate had spoken during the interview process - were extremely happy with the quality of their work, their relationships with partners and peers, and the overall environment at the firm. Again, you need to look at the totality of the offer and that includes what you learned during the interview process from the people who actually have experience - sometimes years of experience - working at the firm.

Please know that I am not suggesting that you should simply accept what you are offered. Rather, I am suggesting that you need to evaluate moving costs by asking yourself a few simple questions. First, are the costs fair with respect to your market? Second, if the costs are not fair, what is the best way to ask for an increase? If you decide not to ask for an increase or your request is denied, do the overall benefits - compensation, other benefits and/or long term career advantages - outweigh the low moving costs? The key is to research the topic, decide how best to proceed, and evaluate all factors!

About Harrison Barnes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About BCG Attorney Search

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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