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10 Reasons Attorneys Need to Consider Other Markets
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Summary: There are ten key reasons that an attorney should be open to other markets when looking to lateral.

Attorneys must be open to all options if they are serious about finding the best position possible for them. Restricting themselves to their immediate market limits the opportunities for a better job. In Harrison Barnes’ article Top 10 Reasons Attorneys Should Look at Multiple Markets in Their Job Search, we learn about what attorneys should be considering when looking for a new job.


These ten reasons are the most important for an attorney when considering multiple markets:

  1. Unemployed

An unemployed attorney should be looking anywhere and everywhere for a job because getting any job will be complete luck. Law firms do not like, and often won’t even consider, an attorney that is unemployed. They assume that there is something wrong with an attorney that is not currently employed. A law firm willing to hire an attorney out of work may not be in their current city. Waiting for another law firm to be willing to hire them that is in their current city may not happen.

  1. About to lose their job

An attorney should never let themselves be unemployed. If they learn they are about to lose their job due to layoffs, downsizing, or other reasons, attorneys should be doing whatever they can to line up a new job immediately. This means being willing to consider other markets. Looking for a job while still employed is a lot easier than waiting until they are unemployed.

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See Legal Career Suicide: Quitting a Job without Having another One Lined Up for more information.

  1. A senior attorney with no business

Attorneys with over seven years of experience are considered senior. By this time in their career, attorneys should be bringing in business. Senior attorneys cost more so they need to be able to offset their cost by bringing in business. Otherwise, law firms will get junior associates to do their work.

  1. Niche practice area

An attorney practicing in a niche practice area has to look in other markets. There are likely only a few job openings within a niche practice area at a given time, plus only a few law firms may handle the kind of work that attorney deals with.

  1. Practice area is slow

The market will slow down at some point, which may affect an attorney’s practice area more than other practices areas or their location more than other locations across the country. When the market does slow down, there will be even more competition for the few jobs in their market, so opening up the options to other markets can help beat the competition.

  1. Negative aspects of current market

An attorney may have people in their current market that they do not get along with or have a bad reputation from their last law firm that taints their abilities to find a job in their current market. An attorney in this position should look in another market to get a fresh start.

  1. Crowded and slow market

The market may be slowing down, resulting in a number of attorneys looking to lateral. Unless the attorney is the most qualified out of the bunch looking to lateral, they are better off looking in other markets. If the attorney has time to search for a new position, their best option is to wait until the market changes.

  1. Small market

An attorney in a small market may have to wait a long time to find an opening. Those willing to wait have a shot at getting a position, but those that don’t want to should consider a large market to make lateral moves in the future easier. Small markets are very limited in choices.

  1. Large market

Large markets have more competition and have higher qualifications demands from their attorneys. Those looking to lateral will need top-notch qualifications to get a position. There are certain locations that are extremely difficult to find positions in, especially for some practice areas.

  1. Move home

Attorneys that look to return to their hometown have a good chance of finding a law firm willing to take them. Law firms prefer to hear this story from laterals because it is a sign that they are likely to stay in the position. Attorneys that have a support network will be more successful.

To learn more about what it takes to keep working as an attorney, read these articles:




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