The Benefits to Living and Working in a Smaller Market |

The Benefits to Living and Working in a Smaller Market


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Everyone knows that the country’s biggest cities, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, are, not surprisingly, also the country’s biggest markets for legal employment. If you have spent your legal career to date in one of these large markets, it’s possible (if not probable) that the thought of working in a smaller market has never crossed your mind. But if you are in fact looking for a new position, you should consider living and working in a smaller market - like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Rochester, or Northern Virginia, for example – and here’s why:
  • Despite perception, many firms located in smaller markets do in fact offer a competitive salary and benefits package compared to those in larger markets, particularly when you factor in the lower cost of living in these markets.
  • The compensation offered by these smaller markets looks even more competitive relative to the large market firms when you consider the fact that many often also offer a better work-life balance. Target billable hours are usually around 1800 in smaller markets. Associates have the flexibility to leave the office by 6 PM and spend time with family, enjoying hobbies, etc. For many associates as large New York law firms, that free time simply doesn't exist.
  • Candidates have found that the work remains sophisticated and challenging. In addition, lawyers are firms in smaller markets often report that they have found their firms to have a more entrepreneurial environment that their large market counterparts. These firms often lack the traditional "biglaw" regimented seniority/compensation structure and as a result, high performing associates have opportunities to excel and advance quickly.
  • The job market is less competitive. If you have experience working for a reputable firm in a larger legal market, you are likely to be highly after by firms in smaller markets. The New York and Washington DC markets are extremely competitive, however it's not uncommon to see candidates who would be passed over by a "big law" firm in NYC or DC receive multiple interviews in smaller markets.

The market for Corporate and Real Estate lateral attorneys in many of these smaller markets is extremely busy and firms are looking for associates with "big law" pedigree from a larger market. Here are some examples of positions we are currently working to fill:

  • Rochester office seeks corporate attorney having 3+ years of experience in transactional work. The candidate should preferably have strong experience in one or more of the following: mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, private equity, private placements, public companies, franchising.
  • Rochester office seeks corporate attorney having 4+ years of experience in a law firm corporate law practice group. The candidate should preferably have M&A, corporate tax and securities law background.
  • Philadelphia office seeks corporate attorney having 4-7 years of sophisticated experience in general corporate, securities and M&A transactions or other transactional experience. The candidate should preferably have large firm experience.
  • Richmond office seeks corporate attorney having 3+ years of experience in sophisticated public and private merger and acquisition transactions. The candidate will provide 'first chair' support on significant transactions and will be primarily responsible for routine matters.
  • Baltimore office seeks transactional finance attorney having 3-5 years of relevant experience. The candidate should have a strong commercial finance background. Experience representing regional and national banks, commercial finance companies and/or private funds in commercial loans, asset-based credit facilities, mezzanine financings and trade finance transactions is preferred. MD Bar admission is required. DC Bar admission is helpful. Large firm or finance boutique experience is preferred.

Real Estate:
  • McLean office seeks real estate attorney having 2-4 years of experience in complex business transactions. The candidate must be a member, or eligible to become a member, of the Virginia State Bar.
  • Philadelphia office seeks mid- to senior-level real estate and commercial finance attorney preferably having experience originating CMBS loans, and experience with intercreditor and co-lender agreements. Focus is on real estate finance, but asset based and commercial lending work a strong plus.
  • Philadelphia office seeks attorney having 2-6 years of commercial real estate investment and fund experience including the preparation of real estate fund documents, representing institutional investors in private real estate funds, preparation of joint venture agreements on behalf of institutional investors and general experience representing funds investing in commercial real estate. Large law firm experience is strongly preferred.
  • Rockville office seeks real estate attorney having 7+ years of experience with commercial real estate transactions to include HOA, condominium, title and transaction work. The candidate should preferably have business transactional experience including entity formations, shareholder agreements and other commercial documents. Must be committed to business development and actively involved in the community to promote own and firm practice areas.

Please contact me at if you are interested in hearing more about the opportunities listed above.

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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