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Suzanne Howe Discusses the State of the Legal Market in Texas [post_view]
Suzanne Dupree Howe is the Managing Director of BCG Attorney Search’s Texas office. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, she joined a large firm in Austin, where she concentrated on litigation for five years. During Ms. Howe’s tenure in litigation, she realized that interacting with fellow attorneys was her favorite part of practicing law. She was attracted to legal recruiting due to her interpersonal skills, as it was a profession that permitted her to regularly interact on a personal level with attorneys.
Ms. Howe earned her Sociology degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she participated in the Liberal Arts Honors Program. While studying at Austin, she also completed a concentration in Psychology. Ms. Howe uses her background to help coach and inform attorneys during their job search.
She was attracted to BCG Attorney Search because of their ethical candidate-focused model, where recruiters give worthwhile and personal attention to every candidate. Ms. Howe is personally interested in helping every candidate she takes on, whether they are an experienced partner or a second-year attorney. She views herself as an advocate and friend of her candidates, assisting them in finding their perfect law firm job. Ms. Howe gets this done by using her knowledge of the local market, targeted resume critiques, as well as assisting candidates with interview coaching, partner business plans, and offer negotiation.
While she is based in BCG’s Houston office, Ms. Howe works the entire state of Texas, which includes Austin and Dallas. She also places candidates in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, where she is from. Ms. Howe also works with international candidates, even working with firms in locations as far as the Middle East and Russia.
She contributes to the online blog, Counsel to Counsel, which is an affiliate of the Law.com Network.
In her spare time, she enjoys American and English history, European travel, pop culture, and handicapping the Oscars. Ms. Howe plans to retire someday in Hawaii.
She discussed the state of the legal market in Texas with me, and I found out that the legal market in Texas is doing good, although there are still some areas that are slower than others. My interview with Ms. Howe is below.
State of the Market
How long have you been a legal recruiter?
I began recruiting in 2005 and came to BCG as Managing Director in 2006. So, nine years!
What legal areas do you specialize in?
I handle all practice areas.
You have placed attorneys throughout the state of Texas. How has the state of market been in Texas in the past year?
The Texas market has been quite robust for a number of practice areas. Corporate and Transactional Energy practices have had very consistent needs. I’ve also had a lot of needs for venture capital and private equity candidates.
In 2013, the majority of Texas’ needs were in M&A. Is M&A still in demand today?
This is true. While I stated that corporate needs have been consistent in Texas, M&A is definitely the most in demand component of the corporate sector. I think M&A is hot in Texas because our economy has remained strong throughout the recession and the state has done a lot to attract new corporations in terms of tax breaks. In short, people just like doing business in Texas.
What do you think the state of market will be like in Texas in 2014?
I think it will be very similar to today’s market, but I hope that we see more litigation needs. That practice area has been slow for years.
Can you predict the trend of the market for the next three years?
I think the market will be very similar to the last two years, where corporate needs abound.
What practice areas are not doing well in Texas today?
Litigation, as I mentioned, has been slow for years. Tort reform really changed the landscape in Texas. I think we had a lot of litigators and when tort reform occurred, the market was suddenly flooded with litigators and not enough work. Even though this happened a few years back, the market has really never evened out in litigation.
What do you tell your candidates who are in an area that is not doing well in Texas today?
I tell them to consider strengthening their resumes in other ways. For instance, litigators can get trial experience. Some candidates can get board-certified in their specialized area. Candidates nearing partnership can work on business development skills. Networking and business development are more important today than ever before. It’s much harder to make partner than 15 years ago. The goal is to make yourself a more attractive candidate than the other person. You have to ask yourself, ‘What can you do to stand out?’
What has surprised you the most about the state of market in Texas today?
I am probably most surprised that litigation has remained a weaker practice area the entire time I’ve recruited in this market – 8 years!
Why has Texas remained a great option for partners and associates?
Texas has such a robust economy and a low cost of living. And large firm salaries here are commensurate with New York/DC salaries at the more junior levels, which I still to this day find remarkable! Your dollar simply goes much further here. Plus, while obviously you are not going to succeed anywhere without working hard, large firm attorneys typically do not have the workload here in Texas that is found in New York and DC. And while our summers are hot, our winters are warm!
If you’re interested in seeing the available attorney positions BCG Attorney Search has in Texas, click here.
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