Legal Career Resources

Spring 2017 State of the Market Report
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law firm hiring

Summary: BCG Attorney Search released the latest report on the current state of the legal market, providing insight into hot, steady, and dead practice areas per region.

Practice areas range in demand across the country. Some regions will see high demand in one practice area that is dead in other regions. The Spring 2017 Law Firm Hiring Market Report is full of a few surprises but mostly the same trends building from the past few reports.


Northern California

Hot – Corporate, finance, labor and employment, tax, and litigation remain strong practice areas. Litigation is the hottest practice area at this time in the San Francisco region. Experienced patent litigators and prosecutors are seeing a demand in need from the San Francisco region. Real estate has seen a rise in the hiring market since January. Immigration and technology transactions are strong in the Silicon Valley region.

Steady – Data privacy, environmental, healthcare, immigration, employee benefits/ERISA/Executive Compensation, technology transactions, and trademark remain steady in the San Francisco area.

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Dead – Areas with very little, if any, activity are energy, trusts & estates, and bankruptcy. Trademark is a slow practice area in the Silicon Valley with energy, environmental, healthcare, and tax as dead practice areas.

Southern California

Hot – San Diego is exploding in litigation, corporate, and employment needs. Obviously, in a place so highly sought after, attorneys in these practice areas have the experience to back up their qualifications. Los Angeles is booming in corporate, litigation, employment and labor, executive compensation/employee benefits/ERISA, real estate, tax, and patent prosecution. Orange County is especially hot in litigation.

Steady – Strong areas in the San Diego area continue to be in tech patent law. USPTO registered and advanced degrees will make obtaining a position as a patent agent easier. The steady practice areas of Los Angeles are data privacy, environmental, family law, healthcare, trademark, trusts and estates, technology transactions, and entertainment. Patent litigation, patent prosecution, and labor & employment are steady in Orange County.

Dead – San Diego is struggling in environmental, healthcare, real estate, trusts & estates, bankruptcy, ERISA, and insurance law. Not surprisingly, bankruptcy is dead in Los Angeles as well as energy and trademark law.


Hot – The northwest has been seeing a lot of growth in litigation and corporate practice areas. Portland is seeing a similar market as Seattle with a few differences. Litigation and the labor & employment practice areas are strong in the Portland region.

Steady – Pretty much all the other practice areas are going strong in the Northwest. At this stage of the cycle in Seattle’s economic boom, Labor & Employment is remaining steady for now as well as patent prosecution, trademark & copyright, real estate, and ERISA. Portland is enjoying a steady market for corporate and environmental, energy and infrastructure law.

Dead – The northwest is not seeing much action in patent litigation, trusts and estates, healthcare or environmental law. Portland is slow in patent, tax, trusts and estates, and real estate.


Hot – Phoenix is rocking litigation, real estate, family law, and corporate, especially corporate finance. The hottest practice in Las Vegas is litigation. The more experience the attorney has in the area, the better their chances of being hired.

Steady – Labor and employment is still an impressive market in the Phoenix area. While it is declined slightly from the last quarter, it is still a strong market in the area. Other steady practice areas include intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, and trusts and estates. Las Vegas has a steady need for employment, corporate, and insurance defense attorneys.

Slow – Las Vegas is struggling with immigration, tax, bankruptcy, and trusts and estates. The strongest candidates in any of these practice areas will still be able to find work but it may take longer.


Hot – Chicago is still seeing a hot corporate, patent prosecution, trademark, and intellectual property market. However, Colorado is enjoying need in litigation, intellectual property, and transactional practices. The hottest practice areas in Indianapolis are patent prosecution, corporate, health care, litigation, and employee benefits/executive compensation.

Steady – There has been a steady need for private equity, investment management, joint venture, M&A, finance, and securities attorneys in Chicago. Just about every other practice is remaining steady in Colorado for attorneys with experience. Pharmaceutical and patent are in steady demand in Indianapolis.

Dead – Commercial real estate, tax, and ERISA/Employee benefits attorney are not seeing much growth in the Chicago area at this time. ERISA, real estate, bankruptcy, construction, and labor & employment are experiencing a lull in demand in the Indianapolis area.


Hot – Attorneys in corporate and litigation law are experiencing a boom all across the country and Boston is no exception. New York is leading the way in the demand for corporate attorneys. Philadelphia is no different than the usual trends with litigation, intellectual property, real estate, patent prosecution and corporate being the top markets.

Steady – Real estate, intellectual property are strong in the Boston area. Healthcare, intellectual property, and patent law are keeping a strong pace in New York. Surprisingly, bankruptcy and executive compensation/employee benefits/ERISA are staying steady in Philadelphia.

Dead – ERISA and tax are not seeing much action in the Boston area right now. Oddly, immigration is not an active market for hiring in New York right now. Trusts and estates and tax are only strong for candidates with top qualifications. Philadelphia is the same are the rest of the market with little to no demand in tax, trusts & estates, technology transactions, and data privacy.


Hot – Kansas City has seen a sharp increase in litigation needs from previous quarters. Atlanta is also seeing a need in corporate and real estate law.

Steady – There is a significant need that has remained steady in patent prosecution and tax. Steady practice areas in Atlanta include employment, intellectual property, and litigation law.

Dead – Atlanta is not seeing much action in ERISA/Employee Benefits, IP litigation, privacy, immigration, restructuring, technology transactions, and taxation/trusts and estates.


Hot – Florida is where everyone wants to end up so it is no surprise that there are very few job openings in the region. Litigation continues to be the one practice area with the most action, although it is generally in smaller law firms.

Steady – Trust and estates is steady in Florida, but once again in smaller firms.

Dead – Intellectual property is pretty much non-existent in Florida.

To learn more about past law firm hiring market reports, read these articles:




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