- Las Vegas is a relatively small market for big firms, but opportunities do exist for people that want to be in the city and practice specific areas of the law.
- The most robust practice areas in Las Vegas include gaming, real estate, and employment.
- To get the most up-to-date and accurate insight into the Las Vegas legal market, a legal recruiter may be necessary.
Drive through Las Vegas and you’ll be bombarded left and right with advertisements for small personal injury law firms. However, a number of national firms already have their foothold in this unconventional legal market, and some even predict that Las Vegas will become the next Biglaw boom. Las Vegas is a unique city with unique opportunities for lawyers who want to practice there. A legal recruiter can help navigate this odd legal market.
Las Vegas is part of Clark County, for which the American Bar Association reports just over 6,000 practicing attorneys. The State Bar of Nevada reports that about half of the attorneys in Nevada practice in Clark County. The only accredited law school in Nevada is the University of Nevada—Las Vegas, Boyd School of Law (“UNLV”). Thus, many attorneys in Las Vegas will have graduated from UNLV, but the market is not so insulated that an out-of-state attorney cannot break into the market.
Las Vegas is one-of-a-kind. Some might find the city to be the best place to be, but others might find it unbearable. Whether the lifestyle, community, and culture are all a good fit should be an individual inquiry, but here are some of the common non-legal pros and cons of living in Las Vegas. Starting with the pros: reasonable cost of living, unmatched entertainment and nightlife, excellent food options, no state income tax, spectator sports and events, and outdoor activities. However, look out for the cons which include: blistering summer heat, poorly rated schools, the lack of public transport, a never-ending presence of tourists, and a constant scare that fresh water will run out. Some never want to leave Las Vegas while others can hardly stand a weekend!
When it comes to Biglaw, Las Vegas is not considered a large market. Only a few powerhouse names keep a Las Vegas office, but there should be enough work going around to have a number of sizable offices that compensate their attorneys well. Certain practices blossom in Las Vegas, like gaming law, employment law, and real estate. There are many hotels, employees, food and beverage businesses, and construction projects to generate a narrow but substantial volume of legal work for the firms that have decided to service the market. It is these unique markets like Las Vegas where a legal recruiter can have a big impact in locating the right job for an interested candidate.
Top law firms in Las Vegas
Compared to the larger markets, Las Vegas will appear to have slim pickings when it comes to law firms. However, no Biglaw office in Las Vegas is there begrudgingly. Some of the Biglaw branches have many attorneys working on a variety of matters, while others will keep a smaller headcount and focus on niche practices tailored to Las Vegas. Some estimate that Las Vegas will soon experience a Biglaw boom, but what is certain is that the law firms that already have a Las Vegas presence are there intentionally and are competing for the best attorneys around.
Greenberg Traurig (“GT”) is perhaps the most notable firm in Las Vegas. A multinational law firm and the 9th largest in the U.S., GT’s Las Vegas office lists close to 50 attorneys that do litigation, corporate, real estate, gaming, intellectual property, and other practices. If you’re looking for a formidable Biglaw firm in Las Vegas, GT should be right near the top of the list.
Ballard Spahr is an AmLaw 100 firm with roots in Philadelphia. A national firm with 15 offices and regionally competitive starting salaries, Ballard Spahr maintains a small team of attorneys that focus on Las Vegas’s niche practice areas.
Snell & Wilmer is a full-service business law firm with 15 locations primarily in the western states. Snell & Wilmer’s Las Vegas office, opened over 20 years ago, now consists of over 40 attorneys and offer a comprehensive range of services. Although the firm is not definitively considered “Biglaw” (a little under 500 total attorneys), the office size, variety of practice areas, and compensation may fit the bill for an attorney wanting a large firm experience.
Because employment matters are so plentiful in Las Vegas, many notable employment boutiques keep a targeted presence in the market. Littler (14 attorneys), Fisher Phillips (6), Jackson Lewis (10), and Ogletree Deakins (8) may be opportunities uniquely available to employment attorneys.
Whether or not Las Vegas will become the next Biglaw boom, the city is sure to be on the list of possibilities for Biglaw firms looking to expand. For those who want to live in Las Vegas and work on the legal issues that the city generates, a career fit can definitely be found in Las Vegas. Using a legal recruiter can help find that career fit.
The pros/cons of using a legal recruiter in Las Vegas
Because Las Vegas is a smaller market, there may not always be job openings that are obvious to the casual job seeker. A competent legal recruiter who is familiar with the local market can be the difference maker for a Las Vegas job search. Whether you have experience in a relevant practice (e.g., gaming law or employment) or want to find a fit using transferrable general skills, a legal recruiter’s experience and knowledge base can make for more effective and efficient placement of legal professionals. Looking for the right job in Las Vegas, NV can easily be overwhelming, but partnering with a recruiting firm or staffing expert can greatly speed up the process for you.
However, using a legal recruiter is not always the answer. You’ll want to consider the pros and cons of using a legal recruiter and determine for yourself if you need one. Here are a few of the advantages that come from using a legal recruiter:
Local market familiarity. A Las Vegas legal recruiter understands the legal market in ways that an outsider would not. A local recruiter will be well-connected and can inquire about job openings or firm hiring trends from reliable sources—valuable information that is difficult to acquire otherwise. Headhunters who know the local legal industry can make for a better recruiting process for you.
Legal recruiters don’t charge! The job candidate takes on little risk financially by using a legal recruiter. Because the firm that the job candidate ultimately gets placed into is the one paying the recruiter fees, the job candidate’s wallet is unaffected and there is almost nothing to lose when looking for a traditional lawyer position or in-house role (There is a caveat, however. See below.)
Quick placement. A recruiter can expedite the process for those who urgently need to change jobs. A good Las Vegas recruiter will be up to date on the latest job openings and can make contact with potential employers quickly. For top legal talent, finding a new role quickly aligned with your career expectations and years of experience can be a huge benefit.
Direct and truthful feedback. Recruiters are paid when they place lawyers, so they will be honest about a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. There is no benefit to sugarcoating expectations and being overly optimistic about leads. Blunt feedback and accurate assessments about one’s job prospects are the valuable kind of honesty—the kind that will help your career rather than hurt it.
Legal recruiters do come with potential downsides as well. A few disadvantages that could come with using a legal recruiter:
No signing bonuses? When law firms pay recruiters, that money could come out of what would have been a signing bonus. Because using a recruiter takes some control out of your job search, a successful placement sometimes means less negotiating power over salary, bonuses, and benefits.
The recruiter’s reputation affects you. There is no promise that every legal recruiter is top-notch quality with an excellent reputation. A legal recruiter with a poor reputation will struggle to find quick job placements. Sometimes, legal recruiters can end up finding placements that don’t fit well with your goals. It’s equally important to avoid a bad legal recruiter as it is to find a good one. Always do research before choosing your legal staffing company, as not all search firms are created equal.
Examples of lawyers who work with legal recruiters in Las Vegas
Associate that wants to change practice areas
Alyssa has always been interested in gaming law but has had trouble finding opportunities for it within her desired Biglaw career path. Because she is willing to move cities and has a fairly generalist skillset as a Biglaw junior associate, Alyssa considers Las Vegas as a potential destination to find the kind of work that really interests her. Alyssa calls a legal recruiter to see if there are any firms looking for an attorney like her. Las Vegas attorneys looking to find a new role as an associate attorney full-time or partner track position in a new practice area should partner with a recruiting firm that can help them make the transition effectively. Knowing when open positions show up in different legal departments can give you a competitive edge.
Lawyer who is moving to Las Vegas from a different city
Tyler wants to settle down in a place that has both entertainment and a reasonable cost of living. Tyler sees Henderson (just a 20-minute drive to Las Vegas) as a growing community and an optimal place to purchase a home. However, it makes sense for Tyler to find ways to maximize his career opportunities while moving cities and so he calls a legal recruiter to get the inside scoop on the Las Vegas legal market.
Associate that isn’t happy with current firm culture or colleagues
Claire is already in Las Vegas working at a sizable firm. However, because most firms’ Las Vegas branches tend to be smaller offices and more specialized teams, Claire has to come realize that her particular office culture and colleagues is not a great fit for her and that that likely won’t change. She likes the city, and she likes her work, but perhaps she’ll feel more comfortable working with other attorneys at a different firm. Claire calls a legal recruiter to get some insight on lateraling to a position much like her current one, just in a different work environment.
I could recommend legal recruiters, but I find that the best legal recruiters are found when considering individual circumstances. To get more information on the best legal recruiters in Las Vegas, send me a message using the site’s chat button stating briefly that you’re on the lookout for a firm placement in Las Vegas. I’ll keep all your information confidential and get back to you quickly with some recommendations.
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.
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.