After weathering a COVID-fueled slowdown in 2020, the legal industry has rebounded with a vengeance over the last two years. As a result, recruiting jobs are plentiful most anywhere in the US right now. However, finding the right city to relocate your time and talents as a recruiter isn’t always easy with all the choices out there. To help you along, these are some of the best cities for legal recruiters, along with reasons why each one may hold the “golden ticket” when it comes to your career.
As the third-largest legal market in the country, Chicago is home to over 30,000 lawyers and more than 2.7 million residents. With a robust economy fueled by 14 Fortune 500 companies competing in sectors ranging from transportation to financial services and technology, the “Windy City” can put air in any recruiter’s sails.
Prestigious AmLaw firms with offices in Chicago include Kirkland & Ellis, Sidley Austin LLP, Latham & Watkins, and Mayer Brown LLP. Presently, the hottest practice areas for Chicago-based attorneys are Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Law, Employment Law, Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), and Bankruptcy Law. As a headhunter, Chicago is a land of opportunity no matter what your recruiting niche might be.
With a population of approximately 2.3 million and more than 12,600 licensed attorneys, Houston, TX, is the next city featured on our “best cities for recruiters” list. Although Houston’s energy industry fuels a sizable portion of the legal work, lawyers with experience in Intellectual Property Law and other practice specialties are very much in demand.
In addition to energy, the city’s vibrant economy is driven by healthcare, biomedical research, aerospace, and – more recently – media and entertainment production. Some of the top law firms in Houston include Vinson & Elkins, Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, and Baker Botts LLP. A whopping 21 Fortune 500 companies have their corporate headquarters in the Houston area.
Although San Francisco may be smaller in stature than other cities found on our list, this Northern California city makes up for it in the legal department. With the second-highest number of lawyers per capita (New York City is number one), San Francisco is home to around 10,200 attorneys within a metropolitan area that holds roughly 815,000 residents.
Big East Coast law firms that have historically been hesitant to set up shop in the Bay Area have now done so during the last two years – including Top 100 AmLaw mainstays such as Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, Debevoise & Plimpton, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Even though Big Tech is still king when it comes to legal work in the Bay Area, practice areas such as Antitrust and Competition, Corporate and Securities, Finance and Bankruptcy, Privacy and Cybersecurity, Healthcare, and Environmental Law are attracting attorneys there in droves. San Francisco’s economy has remained strong over the past few years, fueled by sectors such as tourism, shipbuilding, food processing, and textile production.
With all the glitz and glamour it has to offer, the “City of Angels” is a heavenly destination for both lawyers and those who recruit them. Los Angeles has roughly 24,300 lawyers who serve a population of roughly 3.8 million residents, ranking it sixth in terms of US cities with the most attorneys per capita.
As the de facto “Entertainment Capitol of the World,” LA is also a global economic powerhouse for industries that include aerospace, bioscience, transportation, and fashion. 11 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here, along with a “Who’s Who” of BigLaw stalwarts such as O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Latham & Watkins, Gibson Dunn, Munger, and Tolles & Olson LLP.
In addition to anything related to the media and entertainment industry, some of the hottest practice areas for attorneys working in LA include Intellectual Property, Corporate and Private Equity, Privacy and Cybersecurity, Employment, and Real Estate. Tech-related legal jobs are also prevalent in the LA area, including work in gaming, cloud-based ecommerce, and social networks.
New York City
You were probably wondering when we’d get to the “Big Apple,” and for good reason. New York City ranks number one in several legal-related categories, including total lawyers (over 55,000), most lawyers per capita, and annual legal market revenues.
With a population of over 8.4 million, NYC is also the most populous city on our list. From large, international firms with multiple offices to smaller, prestigious boutiques, legal jobs abound throughout the city for partners, interns, and associates.
As the financial center of the country – and possibly the world – much of the legal work is corporate-focused within the financial sector. In addition to Financial Services and Commercial Finance, hot practice specialties for lawyers working in NYC include Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Real Estate, Litigation for White Collar Bankruptcy, and anything related to investment funds.
Prestigious AmLaw firms with offices here include Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. With 43 Fortune 500 companies based there, NYC plays a vital role in global industries that include fashion, retail, entertainment, mass media, real estate, and food service.
District of Columbia
Last but not least, we have the District of Columbia. As the nation’s capital, much of the legal work in DC is centered around the Federal Government. With only 670,000 full-time residents and roughly 41,400 lawyers, DC ranks third for cities with the most attorneys per capita.
16 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in DC, helping fuel a robust economy that’s driven by sectors that include hospitality and tourism, life sciences, higher education, real estate, construction, technology, and media and communications.
Some of the top law firms in the DC Area are Covington & Burling, Latham & Watkins, Williams & Connolly LLP, and Skaddan. For lawyers looking to relocate, the greatest demand over the past two years has been in Corporate Law, Intellectual Property Law, Litigation, Banking and Financial Services, and Real Estate.
There you have it, our list of the top cities for legal headhunters and legal recruiting agencies. Other factors to consider when choosing your recruiting destination include cost of living, public transportation, average annual recruiter compensation and career-advancement opportunities. Best of luck as your exciting job search journey plays out!
Allow Us to Simplify Your Search Process
Knowing how and where to relocate your time and talents as a legal professional isn’t always easy. The Legal Directory simplifies the search process by placing the profiles of hundreds of reputable recruitment agencies across the US at your fingertips.
At Deep Footprint, the firm responsible for the Legal Recruiter Directory, we focus on results-driven digital marketing solutions for legal recruiters, law firms, and legal placement firms. We excel at helping those we serve to realize higher client engagement and conversion rates. The Legal Recruiter Directory also provides online support that allows legal recruiters to place talented attorney candidates with law firms and corporations so that all parties benefit.