- Nashville is a growing legal sector with many Fortune 500 headquartered companies.
- Many Vanderbilt law graduates stay in the area to work for the city’s most prestigious firms.
- Working with a legal recruiter in Nashville’s hot market may help you land a job faster.
Earning the name “Music City”, Nashville is a major center for the music industry, home to numerous colleges and universities, and a major center for the healthcare and publishing industries. Old images of the Grand Ole Opry as the main source of entertainment have given way to the expansion of multiple professional sports franchises as Nashville has become a “southern boomtown” in recent years. As in Austin, TX, the housing market has grown exponentially and home values are on the rise as more white-collar workers move to the metro area. The Nashville crane watch will keep you abreast of the real estate developments in the city.
Come for a bachelorette party and hot chicken, stay for the buzzing economy. The city’s diverse economy is home to the headquarters of five Fortune 500 companies: HCA Healthcare, Dollar General, Community Health Systems, Delek US Holdings, and Tractor Supply. Companies with a strong presence in Nashville include Amazon, AT&T, Dell, Deloitte, Oracle, Schneider Electric, Sony, U.S. Bank, and Verizon Wireless. Nissan’s largest North American manufacturing plant employs 11,000 workers in the area.
In 2021, Oracle was given the go-ahead on the largest economic development deal in Tennessee’s history—a $1.2 billion campus in Nashville that is expected to bring in 8,500 jobs over the next 10 years. Nashville is home to more than 300 healthcare companies; healthcare is the area’s largest industry with Vanderbilt University Medical Center as the area’s largest employer.
Nicknamed the “Athens of the South,” the Nashville area is home to many colleges and universities, the largest of which is Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt’s law school consistently ranks among the top 20 law schools in the country and produces lawyers for Tennessee’s most prestigious firms. The vast majority of Vanderbilt Law grads end up outside of Nashville, though, with Texas and New York as the top destinations. Nashville School of Law offers affordable night school classes for working professionals who want to continue their career while they pay for their education. According to the American Bar Association, there are currently 5,663 lawyers in Davidson County, and they are supported by the Nashville Bar Association’s many practice-based committees.
Top law firms in Nashville
The city of Nashville has experienced increasing economic growth and development, which has led many companies to open offices or move their headquarters entirely there. With a population of over three thousand lawyers in the Nashville Bar Association, this development has opened several doors of opportunities to the lawyers in the Nashville legal market. As businesses are striving to surpass their pre-pandemic levels, the demand for junior attorneys and seasoned attorneys alike has been on the rise especially in transactional fields, intellectual property, and entertainment law.
The legal market in Nashville is being targeted by Biglaw firms, though most of them haven’t really moved into Nashville, yet so a good number of their employees in the city work remotely. This has brought about a strong competition amongst junior attorneys to get placement in the few Biglaw firms that have an already established presence in Nashville. Here are a few:
- K&L Gates opened an office in Nashville in 2021 by doing a combination of merging with partners from three local firms and bringing in lateral from its other offices. Its mainstays are healthcare regulatory and transactional work, but it also provides services to its clients in the construction, finance, and manufacturing industries.
- Jackson Lewis, a NY-based labor and employment law firm, opened an office in Nashville in 2022 with 5 attorneys.
- Womble Bond Dickinson, an Am Law 200 firm, entered the Nashville market in 2022 with a six-person office.
For now, the Nashville legal market is dominated by smaller, regional firms, although we are beginning to see an influx of national firms. Some of the best law firms in Nashville are Adams and Reese, Baker Donelson, Bass, Berry & Sims, Ogletree Deakins, and Littler Mendleson. The significant increase in the presence of Biglaw firms in Nashville has skyrocketed the demand for placement in the very best of them all by young and seasoned attorneys who have keen interest in the Nashville legal market.
Is a Nashville legal recruiter right for you?
On pace with other kinds of growth in Nashville, the demand for legal talent and Biglaw firm placement has outstripped supply. An experienced legal recruiter can ensure a seamless recruiting process for attorneys at any stage of their career, but you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of using one.
Staffing is a challenge for many firms, which is why they enjoy working with recruiters to fill open positions. Likewise, legal professionals like lawyers and paralegals are often seeking a perfect opportunity for them. Whether that’s in legal departments at bigger companies, as corporate counsel, or as general counsel, there is no shortage of open jobs in the Nashville area. When looking for a full-time role, you can spend hours on LinkedIn and on job boards looking for a great position, but headhunters can cut through a lot of this work for you.
Recruiter talent solutions know that there are many options available to you in your executive search, such as large law firms, corporate counsel, or in-house counsel. Make the hiring process easier for yourself with a recruiter supporting you.
Some of the benefits include:
- Assistance in updating your resume. Haven’t updated your resume since law school? A legal recruiter can help you fine-tune the description of your work so it will land just right with the firm you’re targeting.
- Acute perception of the legal market. A skilled legal recruiter knows which practice areas are growing and taking on new clients. They know which partners will be good for you to work with and the culture of each of the firms where you’re applying.
- Assistance in preparing for job interviews. The recruiter will have a call or meeting with you prior to the interview to get you ready. They often know the hiring partners or recruiting team personally, so they can give you good information about what to expect.
- Knowledge of job vacancies that you might never be aware of. Nashville has a quickly-growing legal market with lots of big firms coming to town and merging with regional offices. A recruiter can help you catch the wave at just the right time.
- No cost to you. You won’t pay the recruiter a dime for working with you, but this might come with some downsides (see below). Still, there’s no cost for having a conversation.
However, just like every other good thing, working with a legal recruiter also has its downsides, such as:
- The firm might be reluctant to give you a signing bonus. This is the flip side of there being no cost to the candidate. The firm will likely pay the recruiter a hefty chunk (~20-25%) of your starting salary as a fee, so they won’t be likely to hand out a huge signing bonus to you on top of what they’re spending.
- Loss of bargaining power. You might not be able to negotiate your salary or a special work arrangement. Similar to the signing bonus issue, the firm might expect a recruiter to find a candidate who meets all of their expectations without asking for anything else. If you are trying to negotiate an above-market salary or a below-market billable hour requirement, you might have better luck on your own.
Examples of lawyers who work with legal recruiters in Nashville
Lawyer moving to a new city
Allison is an attorney working in Boston. She’s been working for a large firm for a few years but is feeling the tug to move back home to the South. She knows Nashville pretty well from traveling there, but she isn’t at all familiar with the legal market or which Biglaw firms have moved to Nashville, and she is honestly too overscheduled to search for another job on top of the demands at her current firm.
An experienced legal recruiter can help her understand her options in Nashville. The recruiter might schedule a few rounds of Zoom or phone calls to help Allison get a sense of which firms might be the best fit. When Allison is ready to take the next steps, the legal recruiter can help coordinate onsite interviews at potential firms and will support her throughout the interview and offer negotiation process.
Associate who isn’t happy with their current firm culture
Will is working in a practice group that’s part of a toxic culture at his firm. He enjoys his work in healthcare law, but he wants to lateral to another firm in Nashville in hopes of finding better colleagues and a more supportive environment. Will reaches out to a legal recruiter to help him find a firm with a better culture where he can hopefully find teammates he enjoys working with. The recruiter takes care of the legwork and provides Will with a shortlist of firms, which helps Will make his exit more quickly before he feels any more dragged down.
If you need more information on the best legal recruiters in Nashville, send me a message using the site’s chat button stating briefly that you’re on the lookout for a firm placement in Nashville. 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.