Making the Move to a Bigger City During a Pandemic |

Making the Move to a Bigger City During a Pandemic

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Candidates with great experience are highly sought after by law firms, regardless of where they gained that experience. Firms are concerned with the quality of a candidate's legal experience, and do not always care if the candidate is moving from a smaller market. In fact, small markets might provide an opportunity for associates to get good hands-on experience that they would not otherwise get in a larger market. The work can be sophisticated and firms in smaller cities tend to staff fewer attorneys on projects. It is important to highlight the quality of your legal experience when changing legal markets. This is especially true if you are coming from a firm that is not well known nationally.
Making the Move to a Bigger City During a Pandemic

Mid-sized firms rely on lateral candidates with strong experience because they do not always have the resources to train that larger law firms do. They look for candidates who can hit the ground running and handle a variety of projects without a lot of oversight. They also like candidates with long term employment with one firm instead of multiple moves on their resume. Candidates who were loyal to their last employer are less likely to move again. Mid-sized firms also like to see a good reason for a lateral move, whether it be better partnership opportunities or a relocation. Some mid-sized firms worry that strong candidates might move on if an opportunity arises with a larger firm, so they need assurances that the lateral attorneys they hire will stay.

This candidate had a perfect background for a mid-sized firm in a large market. After graduating at the top of his class from a regional law school, he stayed in that city and joined a well-known regional firm that was based there. This firm is one of the largest firms in the city but is not necessarily well known outside of the region.
This candidate specialized in one practice area, joining the real estate group, where he was one of the only associates assigned to that group. He loves the practice area and plans to dedicate his career to it. His practice was broad based, and included assisting lenders, borrowers, buyers, and sellers navigate real estate and finance transactions of all types, including securing financing to acquire, develop, and run businesses and commercial properties. Because he was with a smaller firm, he was also asked to help with mergers and acquisitions and business services. He had a wonderful experience with the firm and received outstanding reviews from the partners he worked with. He was on the partnership track and would have stayed with the firm long term. However, his wife got a job in a bigger city, so he sought our help securing a new job there.
We started working with this candidate at the end of April 2020. By then, many large firms had put their hiring on hold while they waited to see what would happen with the Covid-19 pandemic. Small and mid-sized firms were also uncertain what to do as far as hiring goes. However, these firms do not have deep benches to pull from when staffing projects. Although workflow is hard to predict at this time, legal work is still steady and many mid-sized firms are hiring. This job was posted before the pandemic. Although the firm proceeded carefully with their hiring decision, they realized they needed someone soon and were excited to find an associate with a stellar academic background and strong real estate experience that fit in well with their existing practice.
Because of the pandemic, the hiring process took a bit longer than usual. After a couple of weeks to review his resume, the firm reached out to inquire about the status of his relocation. Fortunately, the candidate had already moved to the market and was working remotely for his firm, a short-term solution to his job search. The firm invited him for an in-person meeting, which the candidate felt comfortable with because the office was closed to most visitors and they took social distancing precautions. After the initial meeting, the firm quickly offered my candidate the job. The offer was much better than what he was making in the smaller market. It also offered real partnership opportunities. The head partner is near the end of his career and hopefully the candidate can eventually take over his clients when the partner retires.
A couple of take-aways from this case study: 1) Do not underestimate the quality of the training you receive at firms in smaller cities. These firms a great way to get hands-on experience. 2) Try to stay with one firm and not make multiple lateral moves. Firms value loyalty and do not want to hire someone if they think they may move again. 3) Firms are still hiring during the pandemic. Legal work is relatively steady in certain practice areas, like real estate, and small and mid-sized firms do not have large benches of attorneys to pull from when staffing projects.
This search demonstrates that superstar real estate associates can get jobs during these uncertain times, especially if they have great experience that is valuable to small and mid-sized firms.

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
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