- New Orleans has an economy and legal market built around its harbor; maritime and energy law are major practice areas in NOLA.
- New Orleans is home to a few of the Am Law 100 as well as many midsize firms.
- A legal recruiter can help you learn the ins and outs of NOLA’s regional legal market.
The Big Easy is one of the most unique cities in America. With a rich, multilayered history, New Orleans has a vibrant food culture, an abundance of architectural styles, and city-wide music events like Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Following Hurricane Katrina, the city has undergone massive infrastructural changes and has encouraged resettlement of damaged areas. NOLA has been rebuilt and modernized, but it still retains its historic charm.
The New Orleans economy is built on the pillars of oil & gas, tourism, and shipping. The Port of New Orleans is the only international port in Louisiana and one of the largest ports in the United States, which makes NOLA the economic hub of the broader gulf coast region in the country. New Orleans is home to one Fortune 500 company, Entergy, a nuclear electric power generation company.
While actively contributing significantly to the country’s petroleum refining and petrochemical production, the city also serves as a corporate headquarters for several petroleum and natural gas production companies. As a result of its proximity to the numerous rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, the city houses offices for several energy companies that carry out different production activities.
In addition to the energy and maritime sector, tourism is a central force for New Orleans’ economy. With attractions such as the magnetic French Quarter, America’s largest Mardis Gras festival, and river-boat gambling, New Orleans maintains a flourishing history of tourist trade. The city welcomes over 10 million visitors annually, which supports a hospitality industry providing over 66,000 jobs in real estate, accommodation, and restaurant services.
New Orleans isn’t just a good place to visit; the city is a reasonable destination for working professionals. In 2022, the median sale price for a home in the New Orleans metro area was $270,000 according to the New Orleans Metro Association of Realtors. Given that the average lawyer salary in Louisiana is $105,490, it’s possible for an attorney to create a comfortable lifestyle in the Big Easy.
According to the American Bar Association, there are 5,805 lawyers in Orleans Parish, where New Orleans is located. The legal market in New Orleans is supported by two significant law schools, Tulane and Loyola University College of Law. Tulane frequently ranks in the top 40 law schools in the US and offers special programs in Admiralty & Maritime Law, Energy & Environmental Law, Sports Law, and International Law.
With the growth of the city’s hospitality sector amongst others, the New Orleans legal market has experienced tremendous growth in its legal market clientele. The choice areas of law practice amongst attorneys in New Orleans are energy, maritime, construction and personal injury law.
Top law firms in New Orleans
New Orleans not only boasts of a thriving legal market, the city is home to a few offices of Am Law 100 firms such as Locke Lord, Ogletree Deakins, and Proskauer.
- Founded in the 1920’s in Baton Rouge, Breazeale, Sachse, & Wilson is a full-service law firm and one of the largest law firms in Louisiana.
- Fishman Haygood is a Louisiana law firm of about 40 attorneys with business and litigation practice areas.
- For maritime and oil & gas practices, Jones Walker is a top-ranking New Orleans full-service firm. About 150 attorneys sit in its New Orleans office, and it has other offices across the southern United States.
- There are a number of small shops in New Orleans with specialized practices tailored to client needs.
When researching law firms, pay attention to things like their overall staffing with legal professionals like paralegals, too. You’ll want to know if you’ll get support from a paralegal, legal secretary, or administrative assistant in your job search.
Of course, even if a recruiter is helping you, it’s good to do research about the firm itself. Check out their legal staff so you can see how many people work there before you go any further with your own legal employment. Whether you’re looking for an associate attorney role or something in-house, you know what you’re looking for in terms of work culture and size of the law firm.
Is a New Orleans legal recruiter right for you?
There are several pros and cons to working with a legal recruiter; some benefits include assistance in updating your resume, insider knowledge of New Orleans’s legal market, and preparation in advance of calls and interviews. They can give you the latest updates on job vacancies that match your experience, and, most importantly, they save you the time and stress of doing this legwork on your own on top of your daily obligations. Unlike human resources, legal recruiters do not work directly for the law firm. They might have placed candidates there before, but they are an outside entity that connects job seekers with firms that have open roles.
Finding the right full-time role is very time-consuming, and it can also feel transactional. Thankfully, working with a headhunter can open more doors and make this feel more like a search for the right fit. Headhunters often have years of experience in placing people in legal professional roles. A recruiting firm can cut down on the time you spend searching for a dream role in the New Orleans area, getting you to that all-important interview process sooner rather than later.
Sadly, there are also downsides to working with a legal recruiter. For example, some employers are reluctant to give signing bonuses to candidates working with a recruiter, thus affecting your ability to negotiate your salary and/or benefits. The reason for this is not far-fetched; some firms pay a lot of money to recruiters for their services—up to 20-25% of the candidate’s starting salary.
Bear in mind that all all legal support recruiting services are created equal. Job seekers should look at reviews and testimonials before making a decision about a recruiting firm.
Examples of lawyers who work with legal recruiters in New Orleans
Mid-level associate who wants to lateral up to a higher ranked firm
Will is a junior associate at a regional firm in Louisiana. He has gained valuable experience at his firm, but he wants to push himself to move to a more prestigious firm before he commits to staying at his firm long enough to try for partner. A legal recruiter is helping Will find a position at an Am Law 100 firm in New Orleans where he can grow the breadth of his practice.
Lawyer who is moving to New Orleans from a different legal market
Stephanie has lived in her East Coast city since she started law school, and she’s ready for a change. She wants to move to New Orleans to take advantage of the flavors of the city, but she’s not familiar with the partners and practice groups at NOLA firms. She’s using an experienced legal recruiter to expedite her move to Louisiana. She’s saving time by only doing interviews with firms that are likely to be a good fit for her; her recruiter created a list based on her experience and goals.
Senior associate seeking immediate partnership
Michael is a senior associate at his firm and is slowly seeing the writing on the wall: he’s not likely to get elected to the partnership for various reasons. He knows that a few larger firms in New Orleans offer immediate partnership to lateral senior associates, and he’s using a legal recruiter to help him make the transition to junior partner at a new firm.
If you need more information on the best legal recruiters in New Orleans, send me a message using the site’s chat button stating briefly that you’re on the lookout for a firm placement in New Orleans. 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.