Texas Market Update: Lateral Opportunities Abound

Texas has received a lot of national attention in recent years, now with Austin rank first among top 50 largest subways for new residents as a percentage of total population. Even before the pandemic, Texas attracted immigrants from states like California and New York, helped by a lack of state income taxes, high-paying jobs, and a relatively lower cost of living. But as reflected in the recent wave of essential company Relocating their corporate headquarters to the state, this trend has recently intensified.

All of this growth has boosted the legal services market and created excellent career change opportunities, including in some areas of practice that have historically not been strong in Texas. For out-of-state candidates interested in moving, hiring conditions have never been better.

Austin’s making

The most notable change is the emergence of Austin as a true Biglaw center. Austin has historically supported a relatively small legal community compared to Dallas and Houston, and to be clear, it remains in third place today. But the growth rate has been impressive: Over the past year, companies like Gunderson, Latham, Kirkland, Quinn Emanuel, and MoFo have opened offices in Austin, primarily to service their growing list of Austin-based technology customers. To put Austin’s growth in perspective, there have been approximately 70 lateral transfers at the company since January 2021, compared to 17 transfers throughout 2019. (I have not included the 2020 stats due to the pandemic and hiring freeze.) The Bigger cities have also seen growth, like the opening of O’Melveny in Dallas, but Austin is the big story.

Some new fields of practice in demand

Transaction roles in Texas have tended to be M&A focused and demand from M&A groups is still strong in the current market. But an interesting new development is the increase in firms seeking capital markets attorneys. There are currently over 240 open business opportunities in Texas. On the litigation side, not only the demand for complex commercial disputes, but also for specialists in IP litigation has recently increased. The attitude was also strong in ERISA and real estate practice.

Profiles that companies are looking for

The sweet spot for a fling remains 2-5 years of experience. However, we are also seeing an increase in law firms seeking more experienced lawyers who can hit the ground running and take on significant responsibilities. So there are some great opportunities for candidates with 6-8 years of experience to come in as a Senior Associate or Counsel.

Another notable trend is the declining importance of strong past ties to Texas. It used to be a real challenge to break into Texas offices without having lived in the state before. Today, companies will still ask that question, but in this hot market, even tenuous ties like law school friends living in Texas are generally an acceptable answer.

In summary, the Texas legal market is thriving, with positions available for associates of all practices and seniority. Law firms are open and HAPPY to relocate worthy candidates – and some firms still offer phenomenal signup bonuses for the right attorneys. If you are interested in learning more about the Texas market please contact me at WendyBoone@laterallink.com.

Ed. a notice: This is the latest in a series of posts by lateral links team of experts. This post is from Wendy Boone Jaikarana director in the Houston office, where she oversees employee placement and customer service in Texas.

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