Tag Archives: legal sector

Accelerate Advancement: Initiate Your Lateral Attorney Move Before Year-End for Optimal Career Opportunities

As the luminous spirit of the festive season begins to envelop the concluding chapters of the year, numerous legal professionals invariably defer their lateral career aspirations to the new year, succumbing to the pervasive notion that January heralds a more conducive environment for such transitions. “Often, attorneys believe that the beginning of a new year symbolizes a fresh start in many aspects, including career changes. However, what they may not realize is that initiating a lateral move in the final quarter of the year can actually unveil a wealth of untapped opportunities and set the stage for a prosperous transition,” notes Lateral Link Managing Director, Vered Krasna. This prevalent conviction, while widely acknowledged, may inadvertently veil the untapped benefits and strategic footholds that can be gained by embarking on lateral career navigations sooner rather than later.

Challenging the Norms: The Undervalued Merits of a Preemptive Search

“Many Attorneys unintentionally place constraints on their career trajectories by adhering to the false notion that hiring processes do not occur in Q4.  The truth is, a larger number of hires in Q1 actually get underway in Q4,” observes Zain Atassi, Principal at Lateral Link. A significant spectrum of opportunity lies veiled in the fall, providing a backdrop where competition is considerably tempered, and unique opportunities manifest within a less congested market.

  1. The Perceived Awkwardness of December Onboarding:

“An integral facet often overlooked by candidates is that the prospect of starting anew amidst the holidays is, in actuality, relatively infrequent,” comments Matt Bennett, Director at Lateral Link. While the apprehension surrounding a mid-holiday employment transition is comprehensible, it is crucial to acknowledge that positions commencing in January or even February are far from scarce, providing ample space for strategic lateral moves without holiday encumbrance.

  1. Navigating the Bonus Conundrum:

Navigating through the anxieties concerning annual bonus preservation presents its own set of complexities. Amy Savage, Chair of Lateral Link’s Government Enforcement and Regulatory Group, sheds light on this matter, stating, “Most firms, cognizant of the financial motivations and apprehensions of potential hires, will formulate pathways that either compensate any forsaken bonuses or create transition scenarios that ensure bonus retention from the present employer.”

  1. The Myth of the Year-End Interview Lull:

Countering the presumption that firms hibernate their interviewing activities as the year draws to a close, Lateral Link Director, Christine Berger, elucidates, “Every lateral move I made as an associate attorney was in October. Q4 is a crucial time for law firms. Firms use this time to (1) close open positions that support their existing business and (2) hire new associates to support anticipated business in Q1. The need to be fully staffed entering the new year allows candidates to apply to new and current opportunities.”

  1. The Energy Dilemma: The Exhaustion vs. Opportunity Dynamic:

Balancing energy conservation and seizing potential opportunities often puts candidates in a quandary. “Candidates, especially those navigating through the lateral move terrain for the first time, frequently perceive the process as more taxing than it practically is,” notes Christina Ahn, Lateral Link Senior Director. An initial dialogue with a recruiter, albeit amidst perceived lethargy, might not only reveal unforeseen opportunities but might also rekindle latent career motivations and energies.

In an era where meticulous and strategic career mapping becomes pivotal, it’s essential to critically examine the widespread practice of postponing lateral searches until the commencement of the new year. Engaging with recruitment specialists before the year folds might just unearth those bespoke opportunities, allowing legal professionals to carve a distinctive presence in a momentarily sparse candidate market.

Understanding and masterfully navigating the intersect between market demands, personal career aspirations, and strategic timing enables legal professionals to adeptly steer through the tangible and perceived boundaries of lateral career moves, ensuring their professional pathways are not inadvertently sequestered by the cyclical boundaries of the annual calendar.

Capitalize on Your Next Strategic Move with Lateral Link

Embarking on a lateral career shift need not be a solitary or perplexing journey. Lateral Link, with its formidable assembly of industry-leading legal recruiters, stands poised to render your transition not only smooth but also astutely aligned with your career objectives and market realities. Our team meticulously appreciates the intricacies and pivotal moments embedded in the legal hiring landscape, ensuring that your move is both timely and strategically advantageous.

As the holiday season approaches, we invite you to engage with a Lateral Link recruiter in your region. Allow us to be your strategic partner, unearthing and navigating through those hidden opportunities, and propelling your career forward with discernment and strategic finesse. Your next career milestone might just be a conversation away – reach out to us and let’s shape your professional journey together into and beyond the holiday season.

Biglaw Associates’ Buying Power: Exploring Salary Disparities & Cost of Living in Major US Cities

Like it or not, most Biglaw associates have returned to the office, with 90% of AmLaw 100 firms now encouraging or requiring a specific number of days per week of in-person work. In an environment where “work from anywhere” is no longer viable for most lawyers, and where inflation remains high, cost of living in the market where your office is located has become more important than ever.

Cost of living and salaries are closely connected in many industries. Some legal sector jobs exhibit that correlation. Consider as an example a federal judicial clerk with one year of practice experience and bar passage (i.e., paid at the Grade 12, Step 1 of the Judicial Salary Plan scale). Because federal judicial pay rates are adjusted based on cost of living, that clerk would be paid $102,489 in San Francisco versus $89,848 in Dallas.

In Biglaw, however, cost of living is largely irrelevant to salary scales. Top firms pay associates the “New York” rate in several “major” markets, including the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Boston, and DC. From a cost of living perspective, paying New York salaries in San Francisco makes sense. In Houston or Chicago? Not so much.

It’s good to be a Houston Biglaw associate

A November 2021 NALP analysis of median private practice first-year associate salaries relative to cost of living found stark differences in associate buying power. NALP calculated that Houston and Dallas first-year associates each enjoyed more than double the buying power of their New York counterparts.

NALP’s calculations may actually understate the advantage enjoyed by Houston and Dallas associates because NALP considered only the relative cost of goods and services. But Houston and Dallas don’t just offer lower prices, they also feature no state income tax. For highly paid Biglaw associates, tax savings can make a significant difference in enabling fast wealth accumulation.

CityBuying power index (NYC = 1.0)Marginal state + local income tax rate for single first-year Biglaw associate
Houston2.50%
Dallas2.20%
Chicago1.94.95%
Atlanta1.95.75%
Los Angeles1.69.3%
Boston1.65%
Washington DC1.58.5%
San Francisco1.29.3%
NYC1.010.73%

The NALP survey looked at private practice salaries overall, rather than Biglaw salaries exclusively. If the analysis had been limited to Biglaw offices, the results would surely have been somewhat different. But the broader point is unassailable: associate salaries are poorly correlated with cost of living.

Billing rates are a key driver

If cost of living isn’t driving associate salaries, what is? In short, billing rates. Houston and Chicago may not be high-cost cities, but they have plenty of clients willing to pay firms top-dollar rates. Viewed from that lens, paying top salaries in these markets seems fair: associates are being compensated for the value they create. Over time, as clients become more accustomed to the notion of top legal talent being based in regional cities, we expect to see more lawyers being paid New York rates in cities across the country, especially with Biglaw firms expanding aggressively in secondary markets. That’s not to say that median associate salaries in secondary cities will rival the New York level. But for lawyers with top-flight credentials, geographic arbitrage may become increasingly possible and alluring.  

If you’re a New York or Bay Area associate tired of putting up with relatively low buying power, you may wish to consider a lateral move to Texas, Chicago or Atlanta. If working from the beach in Mexico is no longer in the cards, at least consider the wealth accumulation potential of a lower cost city where firms pay New York rates!