Legal Jobs

Spring-Summer 2016 Law Firm Hiring Market
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Legal market

Summary: It is that time of year for the latest hiring market report to come out, highlighting the ups and downs of the legal market across the country.

San Francisco


In-Demand Practice Areas:

Litigation is the strongest it has been in five years in San Francisco, especially for mid-level associates. Corporate associates are desired anywhere in the Bar Area that have strong academics and professional credentials. Labor and Employment needs have increased greatly in San Francisco and even the general Bay Area that excel in class action, deposition, and trial experience.

Steady Practice Areas:

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Real Estate is strong for mid to senior level attorneys with transactional experience as well as real estate finance experience. Patent Litigation was steady but not as much as in past years. In state attorneys with ITC experience are the most sought after. Patent Prosecution hiring has slowed down with firms seeking attorneys with 1-6 years of experience and USPTO registration required. Other areas include Healthcare, Tax, Technology Transactions, ERISA/Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation, Energy, and Immigration.

Slow Practice Areas:

Trademark, Environmental, and Insurance.

Dead Practice Areas:

Construction, Project Finance, Bankruptcy, and Trusts & Estates.

Silicon Valley

Hot Practice Areas:

Patent Prosecution has increased in Life Sciences and Hard Science fields with firms preferring attorneys with 2-8 years of experience and already registered with the USPTO. Corporate attorney growth has continued for the third year. Patent Litigation demand has increased but firms are still very particular about who they hire. Technology Transactions is a smaller specialty but growing. Labor & Employment is really booming in the Valley with firms looking for attorneys at all levels. The EBEC/ERISA is still in high demand, especially for attorneys at the mid to senior level. Litigation interviews have picked up in the past five years but firms are still particular over who they hire.

Slower Practice Areas:

Healthcare, Real Estate, Trademark, Tax, and Trusts & Estates

Dead Practice Areas: Bankruptcy, Environmental, and Energy.

San Diego

In Demand Practice Areas:

Patent Prosecution attorneys are wanted with life science and hard science backgrounds. Corporate hiring is strong for junior to mid-level attorneys in all sub-specialties. Employment is in demand through all of California but San Diego firms prefer attorneys that are already members of the CA bar. Litigation increased significantly this year more than in the last five years. Technology Transactions has the highest need for attorneys with a background in biotech or chemistry, with particular interest for junior to mid-level associates and in-house experience.

Slow Practice Areas:

Bankruptcy, Energy, Healthcare, IP/Patent Litigation, Real Estate, and Trusts & Estates.

Dead Practice Areas: ERISA, ECEB, Construction, Immigration, Environmental, Tax, Trademark, and Securities Litigation.

Los Angeles

Hot Practice Areas:

Litigation may have the highest demand in Los Angeles than in all the country but the competition is tough. Labor & Employment is particularly strong at the junior to middle levels. Corporate has stayed strong with the highest demand for attorneys with M&A and finance experience.

Steady Practice Areas:

Taxation, Trusts & Estates is steady due to the stage of the market cycle but an LL.M. in Taxation will improve an attorney’s chance even more. Healthcare surprisingly has picked up for mid and senior level attorneys. Patent Prosecution is remaining steady and is expected to do so in the near future. Immigration is finally seeing some action so take the opportunity to make a lateral move. Real Estate has dropped in demand but should stay steady.

Slow to Dead Practice Areas:

IP litigation, trademark and copyright, environmental, technology transactions, ERISA/EBEC, and bankruptcy.

Orange County

Hot Practice Areas:

Litigation is very hot but the competition for the positions is just as fierce. Patent Prosecution is especially strong in computer science and electrical engineering. Labor and Employment attorneys at the junior and mid-level that have experience in discrimination, wage and hour, and class action employment litigation are especially sought after.

Steady Practice Areas:

Corporate attorneys are wanted but not as much as they were the past few years. Real Estate positions have slowed down since mid-2015.

Slow to Dead Practice Areas:

Healthcare, antitrust, and bankruptcy.


Hot Practice Areas:

Litigation has grown for litigators with strong experience and credentials. Patent Prosecution has greatly grown due to the area’s technology industry. Corporate and Transactional attorneys with experience in M&A and Project Finance are being sought after in the area. Real Estate & Land Use is had a boom that is not over.

Steady Practice Areas:

Tax, Trusts & Estates has grown especially for attorneys with 3-5 years of experience. Labor & Employment and ERISA/EBEC is in demand for attorneys with 3-5 years of experience. IP and Technology Transactions are expected to remain steady because of the driving force of the area’s economy. IP Litigation fluctuates but since Seattle is a center for tech development, it shouldn’t go away completely.

Slow Practice Areas:

Healthcare, ERISA/employee benefits, and environmental law.


Hot Practice Areas:

Litigation has been exceptionally strong in Portland with numerous job listings. Corporate and Finance is strong due to the strong economy of new startups and companies expanding in the area.

Steady Practice Areas:

Employment and Labor is focused on wage & hour and counseling work and less on traditional labor. Patent Prosecution continues to grow in the rich technology area that is supported by many new startups. Real Estate & Land Use is not as hot as previous quarters but it is still a strong area of practice.

Slow to Dead Practice Areas:

Healthcare, IP litigation, technology and IP transactions, and taxation, trusts and estates.


Hot Practice Areas:

Litigation is continuing to grow with candidates of all levels being sought after by firms. Corporate is particularly interested in attorneys with M&A, finance, and securities experience.

Steady Practice Areas:

Real Estate is gradually growing with attorneys with 2-6 years of experience preferred. Family Law attorneys are in need with 1-5 years of experience. Patent Prosecution is looking for those with a minimum of 2 years with a degree in computer science, physics, or electrical engineering.

Dead Practice Areas:

Estate planning, employment, transactional tax, and bankruptcy.


In Demand Practice Areas:

Corporate fields such as M&A, Finance, Securities, Private Equity, and more and needed with a minimum of 2 years of experience and strong credentials. Litigation attorneys with 1-3 years of experience in commercial or 3-5 years of experience in toxic tort with medial background are highly sought after. Technology is consistently strong for attorneys with 2-4 years in M&A and private equity transactions. Patent Prosecution requires USPTO and CO bar to already be obtained. Real Estate is strong for mid to upper-level associates.

Las Vegas

Hot Practice Areas:

Litigation is the strongest market in the area with a plentiful number of positions open. Insurance defense, construction defect, and general commercial experience are the most sought after.

Steady Practice Areas:

Corporate is a steady specialty and often prefer candidates that are already Nevada state bar members. Intellectual Property is still going strong off their sudden demand at the end of 2015. Real Estate has seen a decline in the need for transactional real estate attorneys but those with over four years of experience will still find opportunities.

Slow to Dead Practice Areas:

Employment, white collar crime, bankruptcy, and environmental law.


In Demand Practice Areas:

Corporate – Finance is especially sought after right now with anywhere from 1 to over 7 years being preferred for specific specialties. Tax is looking for associates with greater levels of experience and an LL.M. Litigation is looking for middle to upper level associates. IP has many opportunities for associates at a range of levels of experience.


Lateral associates can expect to be hired in corporate, real estate, patent prosecution, employee benefits/ERISA, and healthcare.


Patent Prosecution, Corporate, Employee Benefits, Trusts and Estates, Labor and Employment, and Energy and Environmental areas are being sought after.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

In Demand Practice Areas:

Corporate and Securities Law has seen continued growth this quarter for middle and senior level associates and partners. Litigation picked up last year and has continued through 2016 for associates with strong academic credentials. IP is always in need in the area with electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Saint Louis

In Demand Practice Areas:

Tax attorneys saw the demand start last year and continue through this year. Commercial litigation has been on the rise for the last few years and is expected to keep growing.  IP Prosecution requires attorneys that are already registered with the USPTO and have experience in drafting and prosecution of patents.


In Demand Areas:

Patent Prosecution is the highest demanded area in the Detroit metro area. Corporate has slowed but is still generating a high demand for those with M&A and Securities experience. Bankruptcy is expected to have greater growth next quarter since it has been slowly increasing. Tax has been seen an overall increase nationwide so it is expected to keep growing into next quarter.


Areas of IP, trademark, corporate, employment, real estate, tax, and commercial litigation are strong markets in Ohio this quarter.


In Demand Practice Areas:

Corporate is seeking associates with 2-5 years’ experience and partners with over 10 years. Consumer Finance requires bar admission. Tax wants associates with previous experience with ERISA and employee benefits plans. Real Estate prefers commercial real estate finance transaction experience.

Boston/New England

Hot Practice Areas:

Corporate wants transactional attorneys in investment management, fund formation, M&A, and Capital Markets. IP attorneys with life science backgrounds will have little trouble getting interviews, as well as attorneys with electrical engineering and computer science backgrounds.

Steady Practice Areas:

Real Estate has slowed down nationally but is still strong in Boston for mid-to-senior level associates.

New York

Steady Practice Areas:

Litigation has really seen a boom in the region with AM Law firms seeking mid-level associates. Corporate is staying steady despite the expectation of it slowing down from the increase in litigation. Real Estate as well has slowed down slightly from last year. Bankruptcy/restructuring has many top and mid-sized firms with listings.


The legal market is improving in Philadelphia compared to last year in a wide range of practice areas such as patent law, insurance, family law, real estate, corporate, litigation, and employee benefits.

Kansas City, Missouri

The strong practice areas are IP Prosecution, Corporate, Labor and Employment, Litigation, and Health Law. Law firms in the area tend to hire locally and being a member of the Missouri and Kansas bar are often required.


Hot Practice Areas:

Corporate is seeing continued demand nationally and in the area. Litigation has experienced growth to put it in the same level of demand as corporate law.

Steady Practice Areas:

Real Estate was the hottest practice area in the past year but is now starting to slow down. IP has openings for patent prosecutors and patent litigators.

North Carolina

Steady Practice Areas:

Corporate has the top firms in the area seeking attorneys with experience in finance, M&A, and capital market. Real Estate has slowed down from a year ago but there are still a few new openings for attorneys with strong credentials.

Slow to Dead Practice Areas:

Litigation and Intellectual Property


Steady Practice Areas:

Patent Prosecution has slowed but still remains a very strong market area especially for candidates with technical backgrounds. Employment law is seeing a high demand in Dallas and Houston with both cities enjoying a booming economy. Litigation in Texas is no exception to the overall nationwide trend of growth. Bankruptcy is starting to tick upwards as the energy industry, specifically the oil industry, is starting to suffer. Corporate is still hot but it has taken a hit from three years ago. Other strong areas are Finance, Employee Benefits and ERISA, and Tax.


Employment and Litigation, specifically in energy, are strong in the southern state right now.

Read BCG Attorney Search Summer 2015 State of the Market Report Released to learn more about last year’s report.





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