- Baltimore is a small, competitive, and insulated legal market.
- Life as a Baltimore resident is full of unique upsides and common downsides.
- Lateral moves to Baltimore firms can benefit from legal recruiters that are connected and have an intimate understanding of the market.
Baltimore is a city with a very rich history but also modern innovation. While once a predominantly industrial region, the city’s economy has multiple faces. The majority of Baltimore’s workforce is involved in either low-wage service jobs or the tech sector. You’ll find the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Under Armour, but Baltimore is not necessarily known for its massive corporations. Baltimore’s legal market is small, full of potential, and yet difficult to navigate for a paralegal, associate attorney, in-house counsel, or anyone else in the legal profession.
Around 5,000 attorneys practice in Baltimore as reported by the American Bar Association. Baltimore firms can afford to be picky and insular because they are a small market. Most of Baltimore’s Biglaw associates will come from the cream of the crop from local law schools like University of Maryland and University of Baltimore (and some from the D.C. schools). Real Biglaw summer associate positions are limited, and compensation rarely matches the larger markets.
Baltimore residents experience distinct appeals and downsides. The positives include charming neighborhoods, cultural and historical roots, excellent seafood, the complete set of four seasons, the downtown attraction of the Inner Harbor, a robust higher education community, spectator sports, and a short train to Washington D.C. for a field trip to the capital. That’s a lot packed into one city! However, certain areas of Baltimore are right at the top for violent crime rates, many Baltimore grade schools are not the best, traffic is horrendous, income and property taxes are high, and the homeless community is massive. For some coming from other big cities, the pros could definitely outweigh the cons.
Top law firms in Baltimore
Even though Baltimore is a small market and very competitive, you’ll still have a number of large firms to look at as a lateral attorney. Consider these following notable law firms in Baltimore:
DLA Piper is a massive global law firm with strong roots in Baltimore. This firm pays Cravath Scale for all starting salaries across offices. With 70 attorneys, DLA Piper will be a full-service law firm that serves Baltimore.
McGuireWoods maintains a small 25-attorney office. However, because Baltimore lags in compensation and McGuireWoods pays Cravath Scale in all offices, this office can be a desirable place to land in Baltimore. A small office can’t cover every practice area, so you’ll have your best shot here if you’re a commercial litigator or in public finance.
Venable was founded in Baltimore in 1900 and eventually became a very large firm. Their Baltimore office is huge—over 150 attorneys! Anyone looking to lateral into Baltimore should not leave Venable off their radar.
Is a Baltimore legal recruiter right for you?
There are reasons for and against using a legal recruiter, so it’s important to be informed and make a decision that is aligned with your interests. A legal recruiter can get you effective results, but of course they can also serve as limitations in certain situations. Working with a staffing agency may give you the inside track on trends in human resources for full-time legal professionals. Finding the right recruiting firm, however, is important.
Some advantages of using a legal recruiter include: resume help, local market insight, interview coaching, up-to-date reports on new job openings, and they save you so much of the time and stress associated with job searching. A legal recruiter can work on your application materials for you, prepare you for interviews, and personalize the job search so that you are in the best position to get placed in a Baltimore firm.
Lawyers will often want a quick transition when looking to change jobs. A legal recruiter can expedite the process with their ability to find job openings, make contact with firms, and follow up on leads as if it’s their job (because it is). In Baltimore, your internet searches may come up with nothing, or your cold applications might blend in with the crowd. However, a legal recruiter in Baltimore should be well-connected to a handful of firms like DLA Piper or Venable that would be the target destination for any lateral attorney.
Unfortunately, there are also downsides to working with a legal recruiter. While you don’t pay the recruiter any fees (the firm does when you get placed), it may cost you your signing bonus or other negotiation leverage. Your legal recruiter’s reputation will also become attached to yours, so in the case you don’t get a diligent and well-reputed legal recruiter, you risk carrying their reputation with you to your new job as well… if you get one. Whether you’re a current law student or already have an associate position, make sure that you know what you hope to gain when working with headhunters and their specialties before deciding to work together.
Examples of lawyers who work with legal recruiters in Baltimore
Associate moving to Baltimore from a different legal market
Chris wants to be close to family in D.C. but doesn’t want to work in D.C. He thinks that trying to Baltimore would be worth it if he can get placed in a firm, so he calls a legal recruiter. Chris understands that there aren’t too many firm options, but that makes it all the more reason to cover all his bases and get all the help he can. Based on their years of experience, this applicant wants help finding the right position in legal services. In a legal career, job seekers may shift their goals from entry level positions to more advanced and higher-paying legal jobs, and in this case it makes sense to get support from an executive search firm.
Mid-level associate that wants to lateral up to a higher ranked firm
Oliver went to law school in Maryland and now works in Baltimore at a mid-sized firm. Biglaw was extremely competitive coming out of law school, but now that he has a few years under his belt he thinks that he has a decent shot at getting hired at one of the larger firms. Because firm options are limited, Oliver wants to make the most out of every candidacy possible so he calls a legal recruiter to help him with his application materials, interviews, and to locate any job openings he might have missed, including those at non-profits or in-house.
Associate that wants to change practice areas
Isabella is a litigator in Baltimore at a mid-sized firm. Isabella has always wanted to litigate high-stakes and complex cases, and she thinks that she can get more of those if she is at a higher ranked firm’s Baltimore office. Isabella has heard of a coworker successfully using a legal recruiter, so she takes a referral and decides to pursue any litigation opportunities that the legal recruiter can find.
If you need more information on the best legal recruiters in Baltimore, send me a message using the site’s chat button stating briefly that you’re on the lookout for a firm placement in Baltimore. I’ll keep all your information confidential and get back to you quickly with some recommendations. Moving to a new practice group may require someone in the recruiting industry who knows the demand in the local region for professional services.
If you’re looking to explore lateral opportunities and the best legal recruiters in other states, we can connect you with legal recruiters throughout the United States. Whether you’re coming from Annapolis, Washington, DC, New York, or somewhere else, the right Baltimore County or Baltimore City recruiter can probably help you find the perfect legal job for you.
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.