Summary: BCG Attorney Search releases the Spring 2017 State of the Law Firm Hiring Market, an update on booming legal practice areas. The report includes recent hiring trends in the legal sector and legal recruiting across the US.

  1. Northern California (San Francisco and Silicon Valley)
  2. Southern California (San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County)
  3. Northwest (Seattle and Portland)
  4. Southwest (Las Vegas, Phoenix)
  5. Midwest (Colorado, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Michigan)
  6. Northeast (Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York, and Boston/New England)
  7. South (Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Atlanta, and Charlotte/North Carolina)
  8. Southeast (Florida)
 
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
 
State of the Market Report: San Francisco

by Claudia Barnes, Manager of BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas:

Corporate/Finance
 
Firms continue to seek a large number of experienced Corporate and Finance attorneys. Candidates with experience in any of the following will likely get interviews: private equity, structured and debt finance, corporate finance, emerging company/venture capital, M&A, and securities. Membership to the California Bar helps but is not always required.
 
Employment and Labor
 
Many San Francisco firms continue to seek Labor and Employment attorneys at all levels. Candidates with experience in the following: wage and hour, discrimination, and client counseling experience as well as class action, deposition, and trial experience are highly valued. Firms typically want candidates who are members of the California Bar, are located in California and/or have experience with California employment/labor laws.
 
Litigation
 
Litigation is the hottest practice area in San Francisco – more so than IP or corporate. Firms are seeking candidates at all levels with the greatest need at the mid-level (3-5 years). Candidates with experience in complex commercial and general litigation, construction (major pick up!), insurance coverage and securities/white collar litigation are in demand. In order to get multiple interviews, candidates must have strong academic and professional credentials as well as clerkship experience. Firms prefer candidates who are already admitted to the CA Bar, but it is not always necessary.
 
Patent Litigation
 
San Francisco law firms are actively hiring experienced Patent Litigators – a definite change since the beginning of the year. The need is concentrated on junior and mid-level attorneys (2-6 years). Candidates should have backgrounds in the following: electrical, computer science, computer engineering, mechanical, physics, pharmaceutical/medical device, chemistry, and biology. The ideal candidate will also be a member of the CA bar.
 
Patent Prosecution (Attorneys/Patent Agents/Technical Specialists)
 
San Francisco law firms continue to seek Patent Prosecutors, Patent Agents, and Technical Specialists. The need for patent agents and technical specialists is slightly greater than the need for patent attorneys. Firms continue to seek candidates with life sciences and hard sciences backgrounds.
 
Real Estate (Transactions & Finance)
 
There’s definitely been a pick-up in the Real Estate market since January. The sweet spot is at the mid-senior(ish) levels (3-8 years). Candidates should have experience in at least one of the following: purchase & sales, leasing, joint ventures, and finance (including CMBS) and REITs.
 
Tax
 
San Francisco firms continue to seek experienced Tax attorneys at all levels. The ideal candidate has an LL.M. in Tax and the CA Bar.
 
Steady Practice Areas:
 
Data Privacy
 
Data Privacy continues to be a solid practice area. Firms will consider candidates with good credentials in other transactional practices or with IP backgrounds. Ideal candidates should have experience working with technology clients on all matters of privacy and data security compliance.
 
Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation/ERISA
 
San Francisco law firms continue to seek Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits attorneys and to a lesser extent ERISA attorneys. The need has not grown as we had anticipated. Attorneys should have at least 3 years of experience, with the “sweet spot” in the 5-7 year range. Many firms desire senior attorneys with some portable business.
 
Environmental
 
The need for Environmental and Land Use attorneys has had a marked pick up since January. Most firms seek candidates at the mid and senior levels with litigation and transactional experience in water law, site remediation, and the defense of environmental enforcement actions. Candidates should have a familiarity with a broad range of state and federal environmental laws, including CERCLA, RCRA, CEQA, NEPA, CWA, ESA and the Clean Air Act.
 
Health Care
 
Law firms in San Francisco continue to seek experienced (3-10 years) Health Care transactional and regulatory attorneys. Firms will seriously consider partners without books or business.
 
Immigration
 
Firms continue to seek Immigration attorneys, particularly experienced Business Immigration attorneys with 7-10 years of experience.
 
Technology Transactions
 
San Francisco firms continue to seek Technology Transactions attorneys; however, they are willing to wait for the right candidate. Firms seek candidates with licensing, corporate/technology transactions experience, and/or IP support. Candidates with life science or hard science backgrounds are what firms are looking for.
 
Trademark
 
Much like Technology Transactions, San Francisco firms are hiring Trademark attorneys but are willing to wait for the right candidate. Candidates with at least 3 years of experience will likely get several interviews. Candidates should have the CA Bar.
 
Dead Practice Areas
 
The following practices have little activity: Bankruptcy, Energy, and Trusts & Estates. Experienced candidates with strong academic credentials in these practice areas will still get interviews.
 
State of the Market Report: Silicon Valley
by Claudia Barnes, Manager of BCG Attorney Search

Hot Practice Areas:
 
Corporate and Corporate Finance
 
Firms in Silicon Valley continue to seek Corporate and Finance attorneys. Firms are looking for candidates with experience in one of these areas: corporate finance, emerging companies, M&A, private equity, securities, or venture capital. Hiring is still strong in life sciences. Associates possessing experience at tech companies are sought after highly by firms.
 
Litigation
 
The market for litigators has continued to grow throughout the state, Silicon Valley included. The focus in Silicon Valley is on candidates with white collar and securities litigation experience, but those with antitrust, insurance coverage and commercial experience will also do exceptionally well here. Despite the strong need, firms are always highly selective and prefer to interview those already admitted to the CA bar.
 
Immigration
 
For the first time ever, Silicon Valley firms need experienced Immigration attorneys. Many firms (mostly boutiques) are in desperate need. The ideal candidate will have corporate immigration experience including experience managing others, overseeing workflow and delegating case assignments. Candidates should have experience assessing the eligibility of corporate foreign national employees for non-immigrant and immigrant visa status in the United States.