- The Los Angeles legal market continues to be hot and includes just about every practice specialty. There are tons of Biglaw options in LA.
- California law schools produce excellent candidates for jobs, so working with a legal recruiter can help lateral attorneys navigate the market.
- Email me if you want help finding a recruiter in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles area may be known for all things Hollywood, including lavish lifestyles and green culture, but the city is also home to a diverse economy that is home to 23 Fortune 500 companies out of the 57 headquartered in California. For those that want to work in the area, there is a thriving legal market in LA, including in practice areas around entertainment, real estate, energy, and transportation law. The city is also home to a number of large industries, including finance, telecommunications, healthcare, and transportation.
Many of the attorneys practicing in Los Angeles are homegrown, having studied at one of the state’s numerous law schools, including Stanford Law School, the University of California at Berkeley, or UCLA, among others. UCLA and USC both have entertainment law programs to support the industry’s transactions and controversies in Los Angeles, and many law firms have built out an entertainment law practice. Still, Los Angeles has an incredible and fast-growing economy that cannot have all of its needs met by in-state law schools. Many lawyers in practice here have made lateral moves from other states into California to take advantage of the large legal market.
For lawyers coming from outside of Los Angeles or California, there are positions available. There are 65,045 lawyers living in Los Angeles County, according to the American Bar Association, and the LA Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in the country, with over 18,000 members. Outside of New York, LA has the largest legal market in the country. The hiring process here is competitive, and that often means the best way to find an ideal position is to work with a legal recruiter. The weather, recreation, and lifestyle here make LA a very attractive destination for lateral moves.
Top Law Firms in Los Angeles
A number of law firms are on the AM Law 100 from Los Angeles. Here’s a list of the firms with the largest offices in LA, ranked by the number of attorneys. Gibson Dunn and Latham & Watkins top the list of Biglaw firms with large LA offices, but Kirkland, DLA Piper, Skadden, Sidley Austin, Jones Day, and Morgan Lewis also have a significant presence in LA. Many midsize firms also have smaller LA offices to take advantage of California-based business.
For those who wish to move to Los Angeles and already working for a Biglaw firm with an LA office, it may be possible to transfer within your firm. If that is not an option for you, there are numerous other Los Angeles law offices that would be happy to offer a lateral placement to the Los Angeles office for qualified candidates.
Like other major markets, the demand for legal talent has outstripped supply, and firms are opening or growing their LA offices to satisfy client demands. This is great news for junior associates because you can likely transfer to Los Angeles despite having a limited number of years of experience. For mid-level and senior associates, Los Angeles is similar to other cities, where demand is high for associates across the span of years of experience.
The pros/cons of using a legal recruiter in Los Angeles
For those who are considering the move to Los Angeles, it may be essential to work with a legal recruiter. However, you’ll want to consider the advantages and possible downsides of using one. Utilizing a recruiter can be beneficial, as it will save you time and keep you from making significant mistakes when choosing a firm (remember that the best legal recruiters recognize that a bad fit is a direct reflection of their services).
In your legal search, you might be looking for something specific like an in-house counsel role or a job as an associate on partner track. The recruitment process is often much smoother with a legal staffing recruiter at the helm guiding you through. Finding the right Los Angeles legal recruiters is strongly recommended when you start your job search for a full-time role. Headhunters work with a recruitment team to find a good fit on your end and with the law firm. If you’re already busy in another role and want to avoid the work of searching for the right open positions yourself, take on a search firm as soon as you can. The recruiting manager will learn as much as possible about what you want to see in job opportunities and will then use this information in sourcing roles for you.
Here are a few advantages of working with a legal recruiter:
- A good recruiter has deep knowledge of the legal industry in their region.
- Recruiters are placing candidates every day, so they are current about new positions that you might not catch.
- They know the major partners in the market and can help match you for unlisted positions.
- It can be more efficient to work with a recruiter. They perform much of the research, so you don’t have to spend hours looking at job postings, revising your cover letters or application materials, making calls, or prepping for interviews alone.
Here are a few downsides you might experience when working with a legal recruiter:
- The firm may be less likely to offer signing bonuses or other financial incentives. It is likely paying the recruiter around 25% of your salary as a fee, so your bargaining power may be limited.
- When you work with a recruiter, you are, in a way, connecting your reputation to theirs. You want to make sure you’re working with someone with a good—or at least, not bad—reputation at your firm.
- Legal recruiting can attract salespeople who care more about making a placement than making sure it’s the right fit.
Being careful about which legal recruiter you work with is key to avoiding experiencing these downsides. Learn more about their recruiting efforts by reading testimonials before you decide who to work with in terms of staffing services.
Examples of lawyers who work with legal recruiters in Los Angeles
Associate who wants to change practice areas
Heather is a junior associate in general corporate practice at a large firm. She wants to begin to specialize in entertainment law, but the partners she works with don’t have much entertainment work coming in. To get the experience she wants, Heather is using a legal recruiter to be placed into a firm where she can learn about entertainment law and grow her practice. Heather’s legal recruiter is knowledgeable about which firms might be a good fit for Heather.
Lawyer moving to LA for a lifestyle change
Brian is a mid-level associate in a large East Coast city, and his partner recently got offered a new job in Los Angeles. Brian is ready for a lifestyle change and the SoCal weather, so he’s using a legal recruiter to make the transition to California much easier. He’s saving time by relying on the legal recruiter to research firms, revise his resume, prepare for interviews, and negotiate his salary and some time off while he makes his cross-country move.
If you need more information on the best legal recruiters in Los Angeles, send me a message using the site’s chat button stating briefly that you’re on the lookout for a firm placement in LA. I’ll keep all your information confidential and get back to you quickly with some recommendations.
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Joshua Holt is a lawyer with 10 years of experience in Biglaw working at the country’s largest law firms, culminating in his work at a Vault 30 law firm in the private equity mergers & acquisition group. He has extensive experience counseling associates in lateraling to a firm with a better fit, helping associates make partner and working with law students navigating on-campus and call-back interviews.