State of the Law Firm Hiring Market - Fall-Winter 2019 | BCGSearch.com

State of the Law Firm Hiring Market - Fall-Winter 2019

4

Print/Download PDF

Font Size

Rate this article

2 Reviews Average: 4.5 out of 5

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

State of the Market Report: San Francisco

by Romina L. Filippou, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search
 
Hot Practice Areas
 
Data Privacy / Cybersecurity / Data Breach | Technology Transactions | Corporate | Labor and Employment | Patent Prosecution / Patent Agents | Real Estate / Land Use



Data Privacy / Cybersecurity / Data Breach

As with Silicon Valley, there continues to be a great deal of demand from Big Law firms in San Francisco searching for Associate candidates with privacy and cybersecurity experience. There seems to be a particular need for junior to mid-level Associate candidates with large law firm experience, although sophisticated in-house experience is also often considered desirable. Experience with privacy or cybersecurity compliance, cyber incident response, related investigations and litigation are all in high demand. Firms are consistently looking for candidates with proper certifications such as the CIPP-US certification, as well as candidates that are admitted to the CA Bar (although the bar is often not required for candidates with excellent and relevant experience). Experience with Technology Transactions and Mergers & Acquisitions is a strong plus.

Technology Transactions

While there continues to be less of a demand for technology transactions in San Francisco than in Silicon Valley, there is still a strong need in San Francisco for technology transactions Associates with experience in intellectual property and contract law, in particular drafting, negotiation and counseling with a wide variety of intellectual property and technology-related transactions, including license agreements, development agreements, distribution agreements, data sharing agreements and service agreements. M&A experience, including conducting intellectual property and commercial due diligence, and drafting and negotiating intellectual property reps and warranties, is also considered a strong plus.

Corporate

As is typical of Northern California and throughout the entirety of California, there continues to be a high demand for Corporate Associates. Candidates with the following experience are highly desirable: experience in all aspects of mergers and acquisitions involving public and private companies, including drafting and negotiating acquisition agreements and ancillary documents, as well as experience working with emerging technology companies, including company formation, seed and venture financings, general corporate work and corporate governance and compliance matters. High finance as well as corporate securities experience is also desirable, although there continues to be less of a need in these two niche corporate areas. Admission to practice in California is usually highly preferred, but strong corporate candidates with bar admissions from other states are often seriously considered and interviewed as well, as this is such a hot practice area.

Labor and Employment

Labor & Employment / Employment Litigation Associates continue to be highly desirable and sought after since the last period, with firms seeking Associates at all levels but particularly junior to mid-level Associates. Firms consistently seek candidates with experience providing advice and counseling to clients concerning employment law issues; experience in employment litigation, including single plaintiff and class action matters and experience providing advice and drafting policies, handbooks, employment agreements, wage and hour, leaves of absences and investigations. Significant counseling, employment litigation experience and a broad understanding of federal and California employment laws and regulations are highly desirable. Firms usually want to see a majority of experience from an employment practice group or from an employment-only law firm. California State Bar admission, or pending admission, is almost always required, even for stellar candidates, as with all litigation-heavy practice groups.

Patent Prosecution / Patent Agents

Patent Prosecution hiring has decreased in the life sciences field (molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, large molecule / biologics and bioinformatics) since the last reporting period, and increased in the hard sciences field, with firms continuing to search for candidates with electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, optics and applied physics degrees and experience. Candidates with advanced degrees (i.e. Masters degrees, but especially PhD degrees) will continue to have the most success in their search. Experience with portfolio development and client counseling is very desirable, and admission to the USPTO is usually a prerequisite for obtaining an interview. There is also a strong demand for patent agents with degrees in the life sciences and hard sciences, but especially in the hard sciences.

Real Estate / Land Use

Real estate demands for transactional Associates have increased over the last reporting period, and decreased for litigation Associates, with firms seeking candidates at all levels, but especially at the junior and mid-level, with experience in acquisitions, finance, leasing, joint ventures, dispositions and development in the general commercial, retail, wine and hospitality sectors. Land Use candidates are always very in demand, as candidates with true land use experience are few and far between.
 
Steady Practice Areas
 
Litigation | Patent / IP Litigation | Taxation
Litigation

Demand for litigators continues to be steady since the last reporting period. While firms are primarily looking for junior to mid-level Associates, certain firms are also seeking senior Associate candidates. Defense attorneys with experience in commercial litigation, antitrust, securities and tort / civil litigation (products liability and mass torts) are in highest demand. Trial experience is highly sought after, and because there is always a high number of litigators in the market, firms are looking for highly credentialed candidates (top academics, Law Review, Moot Court, top firm experience and federal clerkships). Admission to the California bar is almost always required for general litigators, as with most litigation practice areas.

Patent / IP Litigation

Firms are hiring patent litigators at a reduced but nonetheless constant pace since the last reporting period, with firms especially seeking strong junior and mid-level Associates with both hard sciences and life sciences backgrounds and experience. Soft IP experience, including Copyrights, Trademarks, Lanham Act and Trade Secrets experience, is also sought after, although less so than general Patent / IP Litigation experience. The CA bar is almost always a prerequisite in this practice area.

Taxation

While a niche practice area, we continue to see a constant number of openings for candidates with tax experience. Sophisticated prior law firm experience and an LLM degree in Taxation are almost always required (firms are especially seeking large law firm experience). There are opportunities in a variety of areas, including tax controversy, domestic, international / cross-border, M&A, renewable energy and non-profit.
 
 TOP
State of the Market Report: Silicon Valley
by Romina L. Filippou, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Hot Practice Areas
 
Corporate | Data Privacy / Cybersecurity / Data Breach / Technology Transactions | Patent Prosecution

Corporate

Corporate Associates continue to be highly sought after in Silicon Valley, especially junior and mid-level Associate candidates (candidates with 2-6 years of experience). M&A, start-up and emerging growth, venture capital and high finance (corporate, leveraged, and commercial) experience is high in demand, as well as corporate securities experience to a lesser extent.

Data Privacy / Cybersecurity / Data Breach / Technology Transactions

Much like in the fall and winter of 2018, 2019 continues to see a strong demand from especially large law firms searching for Associates with data privacy, cybersecurity and technology transactions experience. Firms are generally looking for data privacy and security as well as technology transactions experience, including technology regulatory and transactional experience in relation to privacy and data security issues. Experience counseling clients on data privacy and security compliance both in an advisory capacity and in relation to technology transactions (generally and / or in data-driven deals) is highly desirable, as is experience supporting wider corporate transactions with expert data privacy diligence and deal negotiations. An aptitude for technology and an understanding of how online technologies work are strongly preferred. CIPP-US certification and / or experience advising on GDPR are also considered a strong plus. Candidates are normally expected to be licensed to practice law in California, but exceptions are always made for strong candidates, as this is a relatively new and very niche practice area, and high-level experience is hard for law firms to come by.

Patent Prosecution

As would be expected in Silicon Valley, Patent Prosecution continues to be strong in the hard sciences (electrical engineering, computer science, and mechanical engineering). Life sciences practices continue to be strong as well, although not quite as strong as the hard sciences, with a particular focus on molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, large molecule / biologics and bioinformatics. Junior to mid-level Associates, as well as attorneys with advanced degrees (i.e. Masters but especially PhD degrees) are especially sought after.

 
Steady Practice Areas
 
Labor and Employment | Litigation

Labor and Employment

Demand for Labor & Employment / Employment Litigation Associates remains steady since the last reporting period. In terms of relevant experience, the ideal candidate will have extensive experience counseling clients on a wide variety of employment issues, including wage and hour compliance, non-compete agreements, termination and discipline decisions, as well as issues arising out of mergers and acquisitions. Experience litigating cases involving sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, executive compensation disputes, trade secret misappropriation and the classification of employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as experience conducting workplace investigations, is also highly desirable. Prior experience at a large law firm is always a strong plus, and as with other litigation-heavy practice areas, California Bar membership is almost always required.

Litigation

Demand for General Litigators remains steady since the last reporting period, with opportunities for all levels of attorneys, but particularly for junior to mid-level Associates with around one to six years of experience. Firms are generally seeking litigators with strong academic credentials, Law Review, Moot Court, federal clerkships and substantive law and motion experience. Experience taking and defending depositions, as well as arguing dispositive motions, is considered a plus, with first or second chair experience considered a strong plus. While general commercial litigation continues to be the most desirable subset of general litigation, there are also needs for securities and antitrust litigators, as well as civil litigators with general liability, malpractice, mass tort and / or class action experience. Admission to the California bar is almost always required for litigators.
 
 TOP
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
 
State of the Market Report: Los Angeles
by Romina L. Filippou, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, and it is also one of the leading markets in the country for lawyer growth. Going into 2020, some of the hottest practice areas are litigation, corporate and finance, real estate, and L&E. Steady practice areas include patent prosecution, tech transactions and data privacy, trademark prosecution, entertainment, municipal law, bankruptcy, tax, and immigration.
 
Hot Practice Areas

Litigation | Corporate and Finance | Real Estate | L&E
 
Litigation tops the list as the hottest practice area in Los Angeles in 2020. Demand is strong in firms of all sizes and specialties—from boutiques to BigLaw—and spans every type of litigation, including complex commercial, L&E, insurance defense and coverage, patent (both hard and life science) and soft IP, health care, construction, class action, mass torts, securities, and appellate. In general, firms are looking for litigators with at least three years of experience (and in some cases with over ten years of experience), who bring solid litigation skills to the table, including discovery and depositions, motion practice, court appearances, and trials.
 
For Los Angeles attorneys who gravitate towards conference rooms instead of courtrooms, there is also significant opportunity in the corporate and finance space. There is demand for attorneys with experience in the range of corporate and finance practice areas, including general corporate, M&A, private equity, venture capital and emerging growth, capital markets, banking, asset-backed lending and securitizations, and project finance. To be most marketable, candidates should have top academic credentials, three to five years of experience, and AmLaw training.
 
Real estate is another healthy transactional practice area. Law firms are looking for candidates with experience in the range of real estate-related work, including loan origination and servicing, workouts and restructurings, purchase and sale transactions, development, leasing, condominiums, and affordable housing transactions. Partners seeking to lateral within the real estate space should have a portable book of business.
 
L&E continues to be very strong in Los Angeles, and well-credentialed L&E attorneys of all class years, and who practice on either the defense or plaintiff side, are marketable. Candidates should have knowledge of all areas of employment law, including wage and hour matters, class actions, discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and retaliation. There is also demand for attorneys who practice in the area of ERISA and employee-benefits law.
 
Steady Practice Areas

Patent Prosecution | Data Privacy | Tech Transactions | Entertainment | Municipal Law | Tax | Bankruptcy | Trademark Prosecution and Soft IP | Environmental | Health Care | Immigration
 
Los Angeles is a tech hub and there is thus demand for attorneys who service the work generated by LA’s many established and start-up tech companies. This includes patent prosecution in both hard and life sciences, data privacy, and tech transactions. When it comes to tech transactions, candidates should have a background in M&A deals, software licensing and technology commercialization, partnering and distribution, and Web-based services agreements. Knowledge of privacy, data security, and open source matters is a plus.
 
Entertainment is a well-established practice area in Los Angeles, and this niche area continues to have a relatively small but steady need for qualified practitioners. These positions are very competitive and candidates must generally have three to five years of solid experience at top law firms or in-house departments (studios or networks) or, if they are partners, a book of business. Transactional entertainment positions predominate over litigation positions, and to be marketable candidates should have experience with actor, writer, director, and producer agreements, as well as development, finance, production, distribution, and influencer-related agreements. Gaming experience is a plus.
 
Municipal law is steady practice area in Los Angeles. Municipal law candidates should have a background in public agency law and experience representing cities and counties in various matters. Marketable candidates will have knowledge of the Brown and Public Records Acts, and experience working with public works projects and school districts.
 
Tax and Bankruptcy are niche practice areas that are getting traction going into 2020. Tax lawyers who can provide advice on M&A and capital markets transactions are marketable in Los Angeles, especially if they have top credentials and an LLM degree, as are tax attorneys who specialize in income tax, wealth planning, charitable donations, and estate administration.
 
There is also demand for bankruptcy and restructuring attorneys with experience in
debtor, creditor, and distressed acquisition work. Candidates should have a deep understanding of Chapter 11 and experience with a variety of restructurings and cross-border situations.
 
Other small but steady practice areas are trademark and soft IP; environmental, health care, and business immigration.
 
Slow Practice Areas
International Trade | Antitrust
 
Heading into 2020, there is very little demand for international trade or antitrust attorneys.
 
NORTHWEST
 
State of the Market Report: Seattle

Seattle continues to have one of the country's strongest economies, thanks in part to the city's presence as a hub for important industries such as technology, green energy, aerospace, and transportation. It is thus no surprise that Seattle's market for lateral attorney hires is strong across many practice areas. Healthy practice areas include corporate and finance, real estate and construction, environmental, data privacy and tech transactions, patent and trademark prosecution, and litigation.

Whether you are an attorney who litigates cases or closes deals, Seattle is a good market to be in as we enter 2020. However, because so many people want to live and practice in Seattle, competition for jobs is stiff. Candidates who bring significant experience to the table-especially if they come from AmLaw firms and in the case of litigation jobs, have completed federal clerkships-will often get priority.

Moreover, if candidates are not local to Seattle, they should have ties to the Pacific Northwest, evidence a strong desire to relocate permanently, and have the Washington bar.
 
Hot Practice Areas

Corporate and Finance | Patent Prosecution | Data Privacy and Tech Transactions | Litigation | Real Estate and Construction | Environmental

Corporate and finance are among the most robust practice areas in Seattle. Demand is especially strong for corporate attorneys with experience in M&A, venture capital, private equity, securities, and capital markets.

Given the heavy tech presence in Seattle, demand is also high for tech-related legal work such as patent prosecution, data privacy, and tech transactions. In regards to patent prosecution, demand is heaviest for attorneys who have engineering degrees and a background in computers. To a lesser extent, there is also demand for patent prosecution work in the life science areas, especially biotech.

Candidates seeking positions in the data privacy space should have experience with cybersecurity, incident response and investigations, payment systems, health privacy laws, and drafting privacy policies. A CIPP certification and international privacy experience is a plus.

For tech transactions, candidates should have a background negotiating and drafting commercial and technology transaction documents as well as counseling on IP matters for M&A deals. A technical undergraduate degree is a plus.

Litigation continues to be very strong in Seattle. There is demand for litigators with a wide range of specialties, including complex commercial, insurance defense and coverage, product liability, construction, L&E, and white collar and internal investigations. Desired skillsets for litigators include brief writing, depositions (both taking and defending), discovery, and trial or in-court experience.

Other hot Seattle practice areas include real estate, construction, land use, and environmental -practice areas that relate to the commercial and residential development happening in the area.

Candidates seeking real estate positions should have experience with purchase and sale transactions, leasing, financing, real estate investment vehicles, entity formation, development and construction contracts, multi-tier investment funds, condominiums, and master-planned community governance documents.

Candidates seeking environmental positions should have a background in environmental due diligence, permitting, and compliance, as well as a working knowledge of laws such as MTCA, NEPA, CERCLA, NRD, CWA, CAA, and RCRA.
 
Steady Practice Areas

L&E | Health Care | Family Law | Trademark | Tax

L&E and, to a lesser extent, health care, remain strong in Seattle. When it comes to L&E, there is demand on both the litigation and counseling side, and for attorneys with experience in hiring, discipline, termination, harassment, noncompetition, wage and hour matters, and labor relations. Candidates should also have experience drafting employee handbooks and employment-related documents.

In terms of health care, demand is spread among transactional, regulatory, and litigation work. Marketable candidates will have a background in licensing and regulatory issues, M&A transactions involving health care providers, health care fraud and abuse, knowledge of privacy laws, and health care litigation.

Though not as robust as patent prosecution, trademark prosecution and soft IP work is active in Seattle. Firms are looking for strong lateral candidates with the range of soft IP skills, including US and foreign trademark clearance, prosecution, licensing, due diligence, TTAB practice, internet policy, and litigation.

Given the demand for corporate and finance attorneys, it is not surprising that there is also a need for tax attorneys in Seattle. This is particularly true for tax attorneys who have a background in domestic and international business transactions such as M&A deals, debt and equity financings, entity formation, and tech transactions.

Family law continues to be a steady practice area in Seattle heading into 2020.
 
Slow Practice Areas

Bankruptcy | Telecommunications | Municipal

Bankruptcy, telecommunications, and municipal are relatively slow in Seattle.
 
SOUTHWEST

State of the Market Report: Denver
by Karen Wenzel, Legal Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Denver's popularity has never been higher. Attorneys seek opportunities in the Denver market due to the presence of many offices of large, national firms, combined with the perceived superior culture and lifestyle of the region. The influx of candidates to the Denver market is a double-edged sword; firms appreciate the high caliber of talent they see but are wary of the long-term intentions of many candidates. General external candidates without ties to the area compete with both local candidates (who earn a definite advantage), as well as elite candidates seeking to make a move and open to Denver. Smaller and mid-sized firms will require Colorado licensure before consideration of most candidates. Denver combines sophisticated work and a robust law firm presence with the aura and lifestyle of the Rocky Mountains.
 
Hot Practice Areas

Real Estate | Business / Corporate / Finance | Labor & Employment | Energy / Oil & Gas

Real Estate

Colorado is home to many full service firms with sophisticated real estate practices, as well as a host of smaller and/or boutique firms that boast a focus on real estate transactional work. Development remains strong throughout the state, and the area's popularity for both tourism as well as residency contributes to the strong demand for representation of buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, lessors and lessees, and developers, and in acquisitions/ dispositions, commercial lending, commercial contracts, financing, and loan originations, for deals both large and small.

Business / Corporate / Finance

As with many growing markets across the U.S., transactional attorneys with strong corporate governance, M&A, and finance experience are highly in demand in Denver. Particularly emphasized are private equity/ venture capital roles that aim to serve the vibrant entrepreneurial community of emerging growth companies (including in the cannabis sector). Securities and investment advisory expertise is sought after as well. Commercial/ tech transactions roles remain steady.

Labor & Employment

Denver is home to offices of many national management-side L&E litigation firms, which are consistently seeking experienced and committed attorneys with relevant labor and employment backgrounds. Lateral L&E attorneys will see openings with multiple firms for solid mid-level transferrable skills - though given the high candidate flow into Denver itself, qualified laterals will need to be prepared to show their deep substantive experience and dedication to the L&E arena. Transactional labor and employment skillsets such as related deal due diligence and advising/ counselling are also in demand.

Energy / Oil & Gas

The Rocky Mountains see a consistent need for legal expertise and services in the energy and oil and gas arena. Analogous to real estate, large firm platforms will have expertise in this field, and many smaller and mid-market firms will focus heavily or exclusively in this practice area as well. Title work is a particularly demanded skillset. This practice area dovetails with environmental and land use law as well (e.g. land/ water rights, etc.). Attorneys with relevant experience will have many opportunities, and attorneys who can evidence a strong desire or passion to focus in this area (or industry background or professional experience) may also do well.
 
Steady Practice Areas

Litigation | Trusts & Estates | Intellectual Property

Litigation

The demand for litigators in Denver remains steady in both the small and mid-market firm space as well as in the local offices of AmLaw firms. Insurance and civil defense openings, particularly in smaller as well as Denver "suburb" firms (e.g. Boulder), are consistent. Litigation requisitions at top-tier firms are somewhat more sparse, and may be focused in a particular industry or specialized practice area (e.g. health care litigation or securities litigation). For these opportunities, very strong credentials are required - and local ties are always beneficial.

Trusts & Estates

There are a good number of small and mid-sized trusts and estates-focused firms in the greater Denver area. Many of these firms have and are interested in attorneys with specialized backgrounds in the tax realm, such as CPAs or L.L.M.s. - and focus on tax matters as well to the extent relevant to closely held businesses, family offices, etc. Candidates with relevant experience and a strong and demonstrable interest in this area will find a steady stream of openings. Many of these positions reflect opportunities for the right attorney to grow and establish a somewhat more independent practice in a particular geographic market with support from a regional firm.

Intellectual Property

Denver is home to sophisticated IP boutique and regional firms with strong IP practices, as well as offices of national firms. Similar to larger markets, attorneys with undergraduate degrees in the hard sciences, including electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science, remain in demand for patent prosecution roles. Firms are seeking patent attorneys as well as patent agents. Additionally, the trademark and copyright practices of many firms in the area are robust. Demand in the soft IP (chemistry, biology) patent prosecution arena is slower, and there is not an extremely large market for IP litigation.

Slower Practice Areas

Bankruptcy | Family Law

Bankruptcy roles are fairly sparse in the Denver market. Similarly, while family law firms exist, hiring is not robust.
 
MIDWEST
 
State of the Market Report: Chicago
by Karen Wenzel, Legal Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Chicago remains a diverse and busy legal market. Firms of all sizes and with all types of practices, from insurance defense to complex commercial and transactional work, are seeking lateral attorneys with experience. Chicago is home to many "transplants," and while local connections are always valuable, many firms are excited to consider strong candidates moving to the area. Likewise, candidates appreciate the combination of a sophisticated legal market and the Midwest culture.

Hot Practice Areas

Business / Corporate / Finance | Real Estate | Labor & Employment | Hard Science Patent Prosecution & Litigation

Business / Corporate / Finance

Demand for mid-level transactional attorneys with solid experience continues to outpace supply in Chicago. Firms are looking for attorneys with meaningful experience in general corporate, private equity/ venture capital, and M&A, as well as individuals with more specialized experience in areas such as project or leveraged finance. Smaller firms will look for a broader-based background, while larger firms will seek specialization and expertise. Securities experience is less sought after than other types of finance and commercial skillsets. In areas traditionally set apart - i.e. intellectual property, health care, technology - firms are increasingly seeking due diligence/ drafting transactional attorneys as well.

Real Estate

Similarly to general corporate, real estate transactional attorneys continue to see high demand. Relevant experience sought includes representation of buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, lessors and lessees, and developers, and in acquisitions/ dispositions, commercial lending, commercial contracts, financing, and loan originations.

Labor & Employment

Solid management-side labor and employment experience is being highly rewarded in the Chicago market. This is true for both relevant litigation experience (with national L&E firms and boutiques constantly seeking candidates for perpetual openings), as well as transactional labor and employment skillsets such as related deal due diligence, advising/ counselling, policy drafting, and drafting of L&E-related contract provisions. Candidates with practices committed to L&E have significant latitude to make a lateral move.

Hard Science Patent Prosecution & Litigation

Attorneys with undergraduate degrees in the hard sciences, including electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science, remain highly in demand. Firms are seeking patent attorneys as well as patent agents. Many firms have perpetual openings for individuals with these backgrounds and relevant experience, both in patent prosecution as well as litigation roles (though prosecution is even more desired).
 
Steady Practice Areas

Data Privacy | Litigation | Bankruptcy | Soft Sciences Patent Prosecution & Litigation

Data Privacy

Need for data security/ privacy and breach response expertise has been steadily increasing for the past half-decade. Recent demand has not meaningfully spiked, but remains steady for those with significant and substantive experience, as well as credentials such as CIPP. This area of the law is still developing, and "data privacy" postings are often fairly firm and/or industry specific (e.g. health care).

Litigation

While not considered a "hot" practice area in the Chicago market, litigation demands continue to be steadily heavy. This is particularly true for smaller and mid-market firms, where insurance defense and civil defense workloads remain high. Complex commercial litigators seeking a lateral move may find less movement at top-tier firms, though opportunities for very hard-working attorneys with a strong pedigree and background continue to exist. Specialization can be valuable, as it sets candidates apart from the general pack of litigators.

Bankruptcy

Needs for bankruptcy and refinancing roles remain steady, without high growth but with continued openings reflecting existing sophisticated practices in the area.

Soft Sciences Patent Prosecution & Litigation

After facing a slow market in the soft IP (chemistry, biology) patent prosecution arena for the past couple of years, openings have begun to rise back to a steady state. This is true on the litigation side as well, particularly with respect to pharma/ Hatch-Waxman related experience. Attorneys who can demonstrate meaningful experience, have attending high-caliber credentials, and evidence a passion for working in this area, will continue to see opportunities. For prosecution needs, firms are seeking both patent attorneys as well as patent agents.
 
Slower Practice Areas

Environmental | Tax | Family Law/ Trusts & Estates

Chicago is not home to a large environmental law presence. While tax attorneys will see some openings, there is little current opportunity for attorneys from the "big 4" to break into the private practice sector. Family law and trusts and estates attorneys continue to be more highly in demand in the small to mid-size firm space.
 
NORTHEAST
 
State of the Market Report: Boston/New England
by Amanda Mindlin, Legal Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Hot Practice Areas

Litigation | Corporate | Patent Prosecution

Litigation

More than any other practice area, litigation has become extremely hot in Boston over the past few months. The need is highest for strong general commercial litigation associates with 1 - 5 years of experience. However, demand for junior to mid-level labor and employment litigation and real estate litigation associates is also rising. Firms in Boston are particularly interested in candidates who have completed a federal clerkship.

Corporate

Demand for corporate associates with 1 - 7 years of experience in general corporate, M&A, venture capital, equity offerings, private equity, private funds, and/or finance remains extremely strong.

Patent Prosecution

Demand for patent prosecution attorneys at all levels remains extremely strong in Boston, particularly in the life sciences, with health care, bio-pharma and biotech experience preferred. Most firms require registration with the USPTO and prefer candidates with patent office or industry experience and advanced degrees in the corresponding life or hard science. There is even increasing demand within firms for patent agents without law degrees.

Steady Practice Areas

Real Estate | Labor & Employment | Technology Transactions | Bankruptcy

Real Estate

There is steady demand for real estate candidates with experience in complex commercial real estate transactions. Candidates with commercial real estate experience in the following are in the highest demand: commercial leasing, financing, joint ventures and co-investments, acquisitions, dispositions, and development.

Labor & Employment

Demand for labor and employment associates (both litigation and transactional) also remains steady in Boston. On the litigation side, firms are particularly interested in associates with wage and hour, wrongful termination, and discrimination experience. On the transactional side, firms favor candidates with experience in L&E due diligence on corporate transactions, drafting and negotiating a wide variety of employment agreements, and employment counseling experience (particularly as it pertains to statutory and regulatory expertise).

Technology Transactions

Firms continue to seek mostly mid-level technology transactions associates with experience in licensing agreements, compliance strategies, data privacy, and due diligence in venture capital transactions.
 
Bankruptcy

While still not a hot practice area, demand for attorneys with bankruptcy experience has been increasing in Boston.
 
Slower Practice Areas

Demand has been slow for trusts and estates, tax, and construction attorneys in Boston.
 
 TOP
State of the Market Report: Washington, D.C.
by Nadeen Weybrecht, Legal Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Hot Practice Areas
 
Corporate | Real Estate | Patent Prosecution | Patent Litigation | Litigation | Data Privacy | International Trade

Law firms in D.C. are quite busy and continue to seek associates in a high number of practice areas that include corporate, real estate, intellectual property, litigation, data privacy, and international trade.

Corporate

Corporate and finance demand dominates the market in D.C., with law firms looking for mid-level associates coming from peer firms with sophisticated deal experience. Specific subject-matter expertise in M&A, private equity, capital markets, and investment management experience is in high demand, with finance (corporate, leveraged, and commercial) also in demand. If not local candidates, D.C. firms really want candidates with niche experience and top training from large New York firms, especially when it comes to fund formation work.

Additionally, project development work remains strong and, finance attorneys with a handful of years' experience years with both transactional and regulatory matters are in demand.

Real Estate

The real estate market in D.C. is hot right now! In addition to traditional real estate experience
in commercial leasing, sales, acquisitions, and dispositions, substantial real estate finance experience is in high demand. Also, of particular interest to a number of firms is experience with HUD-insured lending, specifically Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Patent Prosecution

The need for patent prosecution associates is extremely high. Candidates who are most in demand are those with between 2 to 5 years of experience, and there is almost an equal need for those with Hard Science backgrounds as for those with Life Science backgrounds. Within Hard Sciences, the technical backgrounds in high demand are Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering. For those with Life Science backgrounds, firms often mandate that candidates have advanced degrees, which is almost never a prerequisite for Electrical Engineering or Computer Science positions.

Patent Litigation

The demand for patent litigators, too, is significant. The need for mid-level hard science litigators with electrical engineering or computer science backgrounds remains stronger than the need for those with life science backgrounds, with Hatch Waxman experience preferred. ITC experience is in particular demand.

Litigation

Litigation remains a strong practice area in D.C., although firms are very, very selective. D.C. is perhaps the most competitive market for litigators. Successful lateral candidates are ones with stellar academics (top law schools and high performance at those schools, law review, federal clerkships, preferably appellate), 2-5 years of BigLaw experience, and excellent skills such as trial, arbitration, and deposition work.

A good number of litigation openings are for general commercial litigation associates. Additionally, there is a strong need for white collar litigators with firm experience (if, in addition, they have experience as an AUSA or as a trial attorney with the DOJ).

Data Privacy

There is a healthy demand for privacy and cybersecurity attorneys with at least one year of experience. Laterals should have experience advising clients on data privacy and security laws, including HIPAA, COPPA, and GLBA. Candidates should have an understanding related to compliance regimes, enforcement trends and privacy policies.

International Trade

There is a significant amount of openings in the international trade market. Mid-level candidates with large firm experience in U.S. Customs compliance and export control work are especially appealing, specifically those with experience with CFIUS and FCPA.

Steady Practice Areas

Antitrust | Health Care | Government Contracts | ERISA |Trademark and Copyright

The following areas, while are not as strong, are steady in D.C.: antitrust, health care, government contracts, ERISA, and trademark and copyright.

Antitrust

There is a consistent demand for junior to mid-level associates with experience in merger review, cartel investigations, private and government litigation and compliance counseling.

Health Care

There is a continued need for health care attorneys in the mid-level range with both compliance and healthcare regulatory counseling experience as well as transactional diligence experience.

Government Contracts

The market for junior to mid-level candidates with experience in government contracts is a healthy one. Specific government contracts experience in counseling, transactional support, and litigation is what is sought.

ERISA

There are a handful of openings for mid-to-senior level ERISA/Employee Benefits candidates who have experience working with retirement plans, health and welfare plans and executive compensation programs for both publicly-traded and privately-held companies.

Trademark and Copyright

There are a few openings for mid-to-senior level candidates with experience in trademark clearance and copyright counseling in the areas of prosecution and clearance, investigations, enforcement, and litigation.
 
SOUTH
 
State of the Market Report: Austin, Texas
by Jennifer McNeil, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Austin is a tiny legal market that is difficult to break into, especially for candidates relocating to Texas from other markets. Austin is an amazing and vibrant city! A lot of technology companies are opening offices in Austin and the large firms are following them. Many Am Law and large Texas have opened small offices in Austin in the last few years. The majority of the work is corporate and private equity related. Litigation is a slow practice area in Austin, and IP is smaller than you would expect for a city with so many technology companies.
Healthy Practice Areas 
Corporate | Intellectual Property
Corporate

Corporate law is a hot practice area in Austin (and throughout the rest of Texas). The market is especially strong for junior to mid-level associates. The influx of tech companies and startups has created a need for a wide variety of corporate attorneys. Firms are particularly interested in associates with experience with M&A, venture capital, private equity, public financing, and SEC reporting. Big firm experience is a must. Because the market is small, firms welcome associates from other regions of the country, particularly California and New York. It is not absolutely necessary to have the Texas bar if you are a corporate associate, as long as you are willing to take the next available bar or quickly start the process of waving in.
 
Intellectual Property

Several prestigious Austin firms are looking for associates with technology transactions experience. Firms are looking for all levels of experience, as long as it is direct experience in technology transactions.

There are also a number of openings for data privacy and cybersecurity associates. For these openings, it is helpful to have CIPP certification and some experience in the practice area.
 
Neutral Practice Areas
Litigation | Employment
 
Litigation

Although litigation is a busy practice area throughout Texas, the Austin market does not have a lot of litigation openings. Most of the positions are with insurance defense firms, not big law firms. When they have the rare litigation opening, candidates must have top credentials. Am Law firms in Austin expect candidates to have graduated from Top 25 schools, and have law review, moot court, mock trial, and other trial advocacy activities. Generally speaking, litigators must already have the Texas bar. Firms want litigation candidates who can hit the ground running. 
 
Employment

As the local economy grows, so does the need for employment law attorneys. Several Austin firms are looking for junior and experienced management side employment attorneys. Firms are looking for attorneys with experience in employment litigation and counseling. Subject matter expertise in employment law is a huge plus, although some firms will consider litigation associates who would like to concentrate their practice on employment litigation.
 
 TOP
State of the Market Report: Dallas, Texas
by Jennifer McNeil, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Dallas is by far the hottest legal market in Texas, if not the south. The economy is booming, especially for litigators and corporate attorneys. Because it is such a hot market, Am Law 200 firms are trying to move into the Dallas market. There have been a number of firm mergers and acquisitions, with lots of law firm partners moving firms. It’s a good time to consider a move in Dallas, especially for mid-level associates to want to take advantage of growth opportunities.
 
Healthy Practice Areas
Litigation | Corporate | Real Estate

Litigation

Dallas is our biggest market for litigators. We have placed more litigators in Dallas than all other cities in the south. Some of the most prestigious trial boutiques in the country have offices in Dallas, and many of the larger firms have strong litigation groups. The market for junior to mid-level litigators is extremely strong, especially for candidates with outstanding credentials. We have even placed senior associates without business in Dallas. Firms look for candidates who did well at a top law school (top 15% or higher), competed in trial advocacy activities (mock trial, moot court, legal clinics), and participated in law review. Firms prefer candidates with federal court or state supreme court clerkships. Litigation boutiques provide an amazing opportunity for associates who want meaningful courtroom experience early in their careers. Now is a great time to consider a lateral move.

Corporate

Corporate has been a strong practice group for the past couple of years because of the strong economy. Most Dallas firms are focused on corporate associates with mergers and acquisitions experience, though there is a growing market for private equity and finance. Firms prefer candidates from nationally recognized firms and welcome candidates from other regions, particularly California and New York.

Real Estate

Real estate is a steady market in Dallas. There are a number of openings for mid- to senior level associates with real estate transactions or finance experience. There is a strong need for real hands on experience. Firms are flexible regarding class year if the candidate has genuine real estate experience.
 
 TOP
State of the Market Report: Houston, Texas
by Jennifer McNeil, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

The legal market in Houston has finally bounced back after being slow because of low energy prices. The market for associates is strong. Houston firms are growing, and many national firms are opening new offices in the city.
 
Tax | Corporate | Litigation | Energy
 
Corporate
 
Houston firms are looking for junior to mid-level corporate associates, preferably with M&A and finance experience. Large law firm experience is a plus.
 
Litigation

After several slow years, litigation has picked up considerably in Houston. Several major firms are looking for litigation associates, from junior to senior level. There is a preference for litigation candidates with experience from top tier law firms and/or a federal judicial clerkship. Firms will also consider candidates from smaller firms if they have strong experience and stellar credentials.
 
Energy

There are several large firms looking for energy associates, both litigation and transactional. Direct experience in oil & gas is a must.

Partner Searches

Firms in Texas are always happy to consider partner candidates with existing books of business. One firm in particular asked for our help growing their Houston office dramatically over the next couple of years. The firm seeks to leverage its top litigation practice by adding corporate, energy, healthcare, and intellectual property partners.
 
 TOP
State of the Market Report: Atlanta
by Jennifer McNeil, Recruiter, BCG Attorney Search

Healthy Practice Areas
Corporate | Real Estate
 
Corporate

Atlanta is a great city for corporate associates. Firms are hiring in a large number of practice areas, including public and private M&A, debt finance, public securities, and traditional corporate. The majority of the current openings are for junior associates. Firms welcome candidates from larger markets with top firm experience.
 
Real Estate

Atlanta is a growing city, and with that comes major real estate development. Several large Atlanta firms are looking for experienced real estate associates. Firms want direct experience with real estate transactions, financings, fund formation, equity investment, and management experience.
 
Steady Practice Areas
Litigation
 
Litigation

Litigation is picking up after several sluggish years. Several top Atlanta litigation practices are searching for junior to mid-level litigation associates. As always with litigation, firms are picky and require top credentials, including top grades, participating in trial advocacy activities, law review/journal, and a federal or state supreme court clerkship. It’s also essential to already have the Georgia bar. 
 
Slow Practice Areas
Intellectual Property
 
Intellectual Property

Several Atlanta IP boutiques and Am Law firms are searching for patent prosecution associates. The majority of the current openings are for associates with hard science backgrounds, including electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, or physics. Strong candidates will have experience with some or all of the following technologies: computers, wireless, cloud computing, software, artificial intelligence, consumer electronics, network engineering, etc. USPTO registration, or ability to quickly take the UPSTO exam, is essential.

Download the BCG Attorney Search App for the Latest Articles

AGREE/DISAGREE? SHARE COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY! We Want to Hear Your Thoughts! Tell Us What You Think!!

Related Articles

We've changed thousands of lives over the past 20 years, and yours could be next.

When you use BCG Attorney Search you will get an unfair advantage because you will use the best legal placement company in the world for finding permanent law firm positions.