Legal Career Resources

7 Hot Practice Areas in New York – 2017
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Summary: BCG Attorney Search has released a new report about 2017 legal hiring trends.

Read the full report by Harrison Barnes here: The BCG Attorney Search 2017 State of the American Lateral Law Firm Legal Market Report.


New York has almost 20 million people, and New York City has almost half of the state population with 8 million residents. New York City is not only a fantastic wonderland of things to do and people to see, but it is also the home of some of the country’s largest and most prestigious law firms. No wonder the state and city is such a draw for attorneys.

Recently, Harrison Barnes of BCG Attorney Search released a report about the American legal market, and he found that certain practice areas were especially bustling in the Big Apple and the smaller markets in the state. For corporate, bankruptcy, healthcare, banking, immigration, trust and estates, and project finance attorneys, there was a lot of lateral hiring activity there; and it appears that those areas will continue to prosper.


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Corporate attorneys made up the largest percentage of BCG’s placements in 2016, but Barnes noted that hiring in New York and the East Coast was slower than in previous years. However, corporate attorneys with niche skills were in high demand, especially in big law firms in New York City, which typically hire a large number of corporate attorneys.

“Large law firms in New York City, in particular, typically require that their attorneys have very niche skills,” Barnes said. “They want attorneys with experience in things like structured finance, securities, and other niche areas. The niche experience is important for attorneys because the work done in New York tends to be the most specialized.”


The majority of bankruptcy work is done in New York, and Barnes said that the area is expected to grow in 2017. He stated that in 2016, several energy companies filed for bankruptcy, which should result in more work for these types of attorneys.


The area of healthcare did extremely well in 2016, and Barnes said that the demand for healthcare attorneys continues to grow. Assuming that the GOP will make changes or repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, there will be even more work for attorneys in this area in all parts of the country.


Banking law is hot in major cities. Junior to midlevel attorneys have the best chances of finding lateral jobs in this area during a good economy, and the majority of activity is traditionally in the New York legal market.


Immigration is a niche practice area that is great for attorneys to move laterally in, according to the BCG report.

“Immigration has become a healthy practice area on both coasts,” Barnes said. “In fact, many large law firms have gotten into this “niche” practice area and are staying busy doing the work. This has become an excellent practice area despite the fact that there are a limited number of opportunities in it. There are a dearth of attorneys at the “high end” with experience from well-regarded law firms and good law school credentials.”


The area of trust and estates should experience growth, Barnes said. East Coast law firms have a number of openings and are interested in hiring laterally.

“Most of the opportunities for laterals tend to be midlevel to senior trust and estates attorneys who are taking over and assisting with “legacy practices” of attorneys who are getting senior and ready to retire at law firms around the country,” Barnes said.


While it is not easy to find jobs in the project finance area, Barnes said that the speciality is “vibrant” in New York. In 2017, the amount of work could grow if President Elect Donald Trump creates more construction positions like he promised while on the campaign trail.

“One bright spot in 2017 is that it is likely that the market will improve if new infrastructure and other spending occurs with the new presidential administration,” Barnes said. “This seems entirely likely given Trump’s statements while on the campaign trail about building roads and other infrastructure projects. The market is likely to be much stronger in 2017 and going forward than it has been in years.”

Do you agree or disagree with this list? Let us know in the comments below.





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