- Austin is a leading city for the technology sector and has seen massive growth over the past decades.
- This growth has brought opportunities for legal professionals who practice in a variety of areas.
- Austin is home to numerous legal firms that are constantly seeking well-trained, highly-educated lawyers.
Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, attracting people and businesses from a wide variety of sectors, including technology, government, education, and entertainment. With such massive growth (which is expected to continue), there are also numerous legal opportunities.
Whether you’re coming from Dallas and hoping to end your legal search in an Austin office or you’re already in Austin but seeking a new challenge, a recruiter might be an important piece of that puzzle. A legal recruiting firm helps with executive search placement for in-house roles at companies or general practice area placements in law firms. Some also help with paralegal placement, too.
This city has a foundation of industries that are just as diverse as the population itself. While outsiders may not consider Austin among the top technology cities, the Texas capital is home to major tech companies that, in no small measure, drive much of the affluence in this region.
All of these factors have converged in recent years to make Austin a destination for law firms, including many new office openings. As we all know the legal industry, a new office is a major opportunity for lateral candidates looking to find jobs in the area.
Austin is one of the most forward-thinking cities in the country. With a focus on growth, a vibrant culture, and a friendly attitude that brings more business to the community, Austin has become a thriving region. In turn, this has made it one of the top destinations for ambitious attorneys who want a strong salary and an excellent lifestyle.
Major industries and corporations in Austin
According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, 14 different organizations employ over 6,000 people in the Austin area. These include major technology businesses like Apple, Dell, IBM, and Amazon, but also government institutions like the State of Texas, the City of Austin, and even the federal government.
Employers with over 6,000 employees in Austin include:
- Amazon Fulfillment Centers
- Ascension Seton
- Dell Technologies
- The University of Texas at Austin
- The United States government
- The Texas state government
- H-E-B grocery stores
- Round Rock Independent School District
- Austin Independent School District
Higher education is also an important part of the city. Home to the University of Texas at Austin, this city is known for world-class education alongside a sports department that boasts one of the largest fan bases in the country.
Is Austin emerging as the legal capital of Texas?
As people flock to Austin, it has become an important city for attorneys. Many lawyers, whether they are from the area or not, have found plenty of opportunities in the city and the surrounding areas.
No matter what the specialty, there are plenty of chances to work the legal industry. Families are moving here in massive numbers, so attorneys specializing in child custody, divorce, alimony, and estate planning, among other family law issues, have significant business. Corporate lawyers specializing in mergers, contracts, intellectual property, and labor law are in high demand. From personal injury to constitutional rights, lawyers of all stripes will find work in Austin.
As of the latest research, there are roughly 10,649 lawyers in Travis County, where Austin resides. Many of these attorneys, it can be assumed, were trained at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, which ranks among the best law schools in the country, public or private. Legal recruiters conduct an attorney search through their personal networks or LinkedIn for qualified candidates. These recruiters serve both sides of the market, helping legal professionals and the firms/companies who need them. This is why it’s so important for anyone in the search for a legal market job to read through testimonials and to get to know the legal recruiter first.
Biglaw firms in Austin
Numerous law firms have offices and headquarters in Austin. According to Austin Biz Journal, three different firms had a total staff of over 100 professionals.
- Jackson Walker LLP. The largest was Jackson Walker LLP, which had a total staff of 181, including 108 attorneys with 60 partners.
- Norton Rose Fulbright. Second on the list, Norton Rose Fulbright had over 155 staff. They had 69 attorneys under payroll, with 25 partners.
- Baker Botts LLP. With 126 members according to the article, Baker Botts is one of the larger firms. It employs over 67 attorneys including 24 partners.
- Winstead PC. Winstead had 97 staff members and 51 total attorneys, this law firm serves a variety of areas.
- Husch Blackwell LLP. Among 50 attorneys, this firm has 28 partners who guide the organization.
These law firms provide numerous opportunities for ambitious, hard-working lawyers in Austin and the surrounding area.
How to find a Biglaw job in Austin
A legal recruiter, who is sometimes referred to as a “headhunter,” is a professional who helps law firms find lawyers who can contribute to the organization. They work with law firms to fill job openings and perform many different job functions.
Responsibilities often include:
- Contacting law firms to understand their staffing needs
- Finding viable job candidates
- Contacting job candidates to schedule interviews
- Meeting with possible hires to see if they are a good match
- Helping candidates improve resumes (Highlighting important experience, achievements, etc.)
- Screening candidates for specific job requirements
- Interviewing potential hires
Legal recruiters in Austin have a close relationship with a law firm’s human resources department and management, which helps them stay up-to-date on the firm’s needs.
While they are not employees, legal recruiters are paid by law firms. This may not be the most profound information, but it’s important to understand what a legal recruiter does, why they do it, and (most of all) what are their incentives.
To law firms, a high-quality recruiter is an extremely valuable resource. For a variety of reasons, there is a high amount of turnover at law firms. Thanks to legal recruiters, firms can swiftly fill their staffing needs and continue to hire top-flight attorneys with the appropriate education, background, and experience.
What are the reasons lawyers use legal recruiters in Austin?
There are many ways that a legal professional can move from one firm to another. Whether the attorney is switching geographic areas or not, the shift usually takes one of three forms.
The lawyer may:
- Stay with the same firm but switch cities.
- Lateral from one firm to another, but stay in the same city
- Change law firms while also moving to a new city.
Option 1: Same Firm, Different City
Many lawyers will stay with the same firm but, for a variety of reasons, move from one city to another. This is often a more convenient approach, as you can move to a new city without the rigors of changing companies.
Many will start the process by talking with their human resources department. This seems like a logical first step, but be cautious. Legal departments are usually staffed to capacity and rely on associates to perform the legal work. The partners may not agree to bring you to a new office; they may prefer to let you go instead.
If switching cities within the same law firm, ask yourself these questions:
- Can you remain as an associate with the same partners?
- How will the move be perceived by the firm’s leaders?
- Will you need to shift to a different group or practice area?
After you have considered these questions, discuss the move with your partners and have human resources approve the transfer. But be prepared, as not all transfers will be approved; you may have to decide between staying with the current law firm or finding a new firm in your next city.
Option 2: Different Firm, Same City
If you are moving to a new firm, but want to stay in the Austin area, you should focus the job search on your legal network. You’ve likely made dozens, even hundreds of connections in Austin legal circles; these connections could unlock opportunities at a new firm.
By leveraging the services of a legal recruiter, while also leaning into industry connections, a high-quality lawyer should have no problem finding gainful employment.
Option 3: Different Firm, Different City
This is where a legal recruiter in Austin can help the most. Your job search will be significantly improved by working with a legal recruiter or search firm that can help you find a wonderful opportunity in Austin and the surrounding area.
A good Austin legal recruiter knows the area, has connections at top law firms, and can help place you with a firm that provides a new opportunity for your career!
Examples of lawyers who might consider working with a legal recruiter in Austin
Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some examples of attorneys who choose to work with a legal recruiter.
A mid-level associate who wants to lateral up to a higher-ranked firm
If you have worked in the legal industry, you are well aware of the Vault 100 ranking, which is like the Fortune 500 for businesses or the Top 25 for college sports. It drives prestige in the legal industry, and many feel that working for higher-ranked firms shows a stronger career.
Carla is a fourth-year mid-level associate at a Vault 100 firm. She feels she is ready for a larger, more prestigious position, so she begins looking for a Vault 50 firm (in the top 50) that serves the Austin area. She has ample experience, so she hires a legal recruiter to help her find a higher-ranking firm.
An associate who wants to change practice areas
Jonathan is a two-year junior associate at a major firm. He is doing well and bringing a strong income to his firm, but he’s starting to feel squeezed in, both mentally and professionally, by personal injury law, his current practice area.
He has always wanted to enter estate law, which he feels is less combative, less stressful, and better fits his personality. He knows this won’t be an option at his current firm, so he hires a legal recruiter to help him find a new position and launch a career in estate planning.
How to find a legal recruiter in Austin
I could list a few legal recruiters in Austin that I’d recommend, but I’ve found over the years that the ideal candidate for you depends heavily on who you are. Therefore, the best way to find the right legal recruiter is to simply use the chat button to tell me briefly that you’re searching for a firm job in Austin. I’ll keep all of your information confidential and get back to you quickly with some recommendations.
If you’re looking to explore legal job opportunities outside of Austin, 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.