A bankruptcy attorney who originally worked in New York City after law school had left to go to a smaller East Coast market. The attorney had been in the smaller market for the past few years when they decided that they wanted to return to the fast pace of New York City. This was unusual, most New York City attorneys leave this market and go to work in smaller markets because there is more perceived opportunity, fewer hours and it appears to make more sense for them as a place to settle down. Here, this attorney was making the opposite move and wanted to work in the most competitive firms they could find in New York City.
I was surprised by this because the attorney was approaching almost 10 years of experience at this point in their career. Despite this fact, the attorney was very motivated and really liked the prospect of living and working in New York City.
When the attorney started their search the market in New York was very slow for bankruptcy attorneys. In fact, there were not even any openings at the time the attorney started their search. Nevertheless, I kept in contact with the attorney and updated them on the market each week. One thing about bankruptcy law is that the market can often be sort of feast or famine. When the market is active, there can be openings in large law firms that keep attorneys busy and lateral hiring. When the market is slow, things can slow down often for months—and sometimes years at a time.
After four months of working with this attorney and not having had many openings for them, all of a sudden the market changed. A few law firms that we approached weeks before, suddenly were interested in the candidate, there were also a couple of new openings in the market that we submitted the candidate to and those law firms were interested in the candidate as well. Due to the sudden burst of activity, within a few weeks the candidate had several interviews.
A couple of the firms the candidate interviewed with did not seem overly busy and ended up not passing on the candidate but stating that they would be waiting at least a couple weeks before moving forward. The most prestigious law firm that the attorney approached, though, was very interested in the attorney and after the initial interview, called them back for a full day of interviews, meeting several partners and associates in the bankruptcy group. The law firm was very interested in the attorney and a few days after these interviews made the candidate an offer. What is so surprising about the offer was that not only did they offer to pay the candidates moving expenses, but they prorated the bonus that he would’ve received at his previous firm for the time he had been there so far that year. The firm was also an excellent cultural fit for him. Moreover, the attorney was joining what is arguably the best bankruptcy practice in New York City.
What this placement demonstrated to me was a few things. First, you can leave New York and go to a smaller firm and come back to a larger firm. Second, you can get a position at a major law firm in New York City with no business when you have almost 10 years of experience. Third, bankruptcy is a practice area that can become busy almost instantaneously and an attorney can literally go from feast or famine almost overnight in the search.