- Philadelphia is home to many corporate headquarters that generate legal work for the city’s attorneys.
- A diverse economy supports full-service firms with work for almost all practice areas.
- A legal recruiter can be helpful for breaking into the Philly market because many firms will look for a demonstrated interest in living in the area.
The Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks and grit are the things Philly is famous for. Founded in 1682 and is located along the Delaware River, the city claims a lot of “firsts” in America. Philadelphia is home to many famous landmarks including Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and Liberty Bell. Philadelphia is also home to some of the best universities in the country including the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, and Villanova University.
With 5 major league teams, Philly is a sports fan’s dream. Its stadiums and arenas are home to some of the most passionate, crazy fans in all of sports. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, whose steps were made famous in Rocky, is the cultural heart of the city, and Philly has many other arts and textiles museums to explore, such as the Barnes.
Home to 13 Fortune 500 companies such as Comcast DuPoint, and Aramark, the city prides itself as the economic headquarters of the state of Pennsylvania. Urban Outfitters, Chipotle, and GoPuff are also headquartered in Philly. Major economic sectors in the city include financial services, biotechnology, healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, and tourism. Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley have become a biotechnology and venture capital hub in recent years.
Financial services account for the greater part of the city’s economy and it is no coincidence that Philadelphia is home to the oldest stock exchange in the United States, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, which is now owned by NASDAQ. The city also houses other notable corporations such as Cigna and Boeing and pharmaceutical corporations GlaxoSmithKline and Spark Therapeutics.
In addition, Philadelphia has a flourishing tourist trade owing to its historical sites, as the city played an important role in the history of the United States. Visitors come from all over the country to see Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. The city received over 6 million visitors in 2016 resulting in an economic impact of over $11 billion in Philadelphia and other surrounding counties.
According to a national survey carried out by the American Bar Association in 2021, the Pennsylvanian legal market has a total of 49,087 lawyers and the Philadelphia Bar Association accounts for over 12, 000 of the state’s licensed attorneys. Home to more than 100,000 companies spanning the arts, insurance, energy, defense, financial services, healthcare, food, transportation and pharmaceutical industries, lawyers here cater to the full spectrum of an entity’s legal needs. Currently, the average salary for attorneys in Pennsylvania is $138,610. Penn Law’s graduates account for a portion of the attorneys who work in Philly, but graduates come from many other cities to work in Philadelphia’s legal market. That said, Philadelphia can be a tough market to break into without ties to the area or a demonstrated interest in being in the area.
A recent survey projected a 1.8% increase in demand for legal services in 2021 while firms forecast a 4% revenue growth in 2022 in the legal sector. Consequently, an attorney seeking employment in Philadelphia has a good chance of securing employment in the area if they have enough experience and a demonstrated interest in living there.
Top law firms in Philadelphia
Philadelphia offers legal employment opportunities in almost every practice area. The city has office locations of about 20 AmLaw 100 firms, indicating a solid corporate practice in the area. Other common areas of practice in Philadelphia include healthcare, real estate, intellectual property, and labor & employment.
Some of the city’s largest firms include:
- Dechert has over 1,000 lawyers over its 22 offices. It is a large, full-service global law firm with special expertise in cross-border transactions and disputes.
- Morgan Lewis is a global firm with Philly roots. While it’s grown to have 31 offices on 4 continents, the firm was started in Philadelphia almost 150 years ago and still considers its Philly office its headquarters. It is a full-service firm catering to the needs of its middle-market corporate clients.
- Troutman Pepper (formerly Pepper Hamilton) is a Philadelphia-based law firm with 23 offices and around 1,000 attorneys. They underwent a merger in 2020 to nearly double in size and increase their national capabilities.
Other top firms in Philadelphia are:
- Faegre Drinker
- Ballard Spahr
- Blank Rome (headquartered in Philadelphia)
- Cozen O’Connor (headquartered in Philadelphia)
- DLA Piper
- Duane Morris (headquartered in Philadelphia)
- Fox Rothschild (headquartered in Philadelphia)
Is a Philadelphia legal recruiter right for you?
It can be tough to decide whether to enlist the help of a legal recruiter or go about your job search on your own. A legal recruiter can make the process go more smoothly and quickly, but it can also limit your ability to negotiate for the specifics you’re looking for.
Some benefits of working with a legal recruiter include: assistance in updating your resume, hands-on, local knowledge of the specific legal market you’re targeting, job interview preparations, latest updates on job vacancies that match your profile, and most importantly, they save you the time and stress. The legal recruiter will take care of a lot of the legwork during the process. They can package your application materials and edit everything before you submit it; a second set of eyes is always a good idea. They can also prepare you for the interviews you’ll do in-person or over the phone so you can stay focused on the demands of your current job. A recruiter just helps the whole process run more smoothly.
Legal professionals often want to speed up the process when seeking in-house or other roles. A recruiter to help with your legal search is one way to do this. For law students soon to graduate and other legal talent, it can be easier to find a great job in legal departments or firms when you work directly with a legal recruiter. In the Philadelphia area, there is no shortage of job opportunities in the legal industry, but it can be overwhelming to scour job postings and LinkedIn for the right role. A recruiting firm will sit down with you to discuss your goals, years of experience, and what you want in a role. This can speed up your hiring process by connecting you directly with legal staffing opportunities aligned with you.
Sadly, there are also downsides to working with a legal recruiter; for example, some employers may become reluctant to give signing bonuses, thus affecting your ability to negotiate the salary and/or benefits. The reason for this is not far-fetched; some firms pay a lot of money to recruiting agencies for their services and it is expected (and understandable) that such firms may not have as much flexibility in terms of the salary or bonus they can offer. Your reputation may also be linked to your recruiter’s reputation, so it’s important to make sure you’re working with someone reputable in your market. When you land at your new firm, you want to be able to get off to a good start.
Examples of lawyers who work with legal recruiters in Philadelphia
Mid-level associate who wants to lateral up to a higher ranked firm
Marcus is a junior associate at a midsize firm. He has gained valuable experience at his firm, but he wants to move to a more prestigious firm while he’s still in the early stages of his career. A legal recruiter is helping Marcus find a position at an Am Law 100 firm in Philadelphia where he can do more complex work for larger clients.
Lawyer who is moving to Philadelphia from a different legal market
Laura has lived in New York City since she started law school, and she’s ready for a change. She wants to move to Philadelphia to take advantage of the flavors of the city, but she’s not familiar with the partners and practice groups at Philly’s larger firms. She’s using an experienced legal recruiter to expedite her move to Pennsylvania. Laura is saving time by only doing interviews with firms that her recruiter has curated based on Laura’s experience and goals.
Senior associate seeking immediate partnership
Nathan 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 Philadelphia offer immediate partnership to lateral senior associates, and he’s using a legal recruiter to help him make the transition to partner at a new firm.
If you need more information on the best legal recruiters in Philadelphia, send me a message using the site’s chat button stating briefly that you’re on the lookout for a firm placement in Philadelphia. 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.