Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Employment Outlook

Many people who recently passed bar exams, as well as many current third year law students, are wondering about their employment prospects. Here are a couple of interesting articles.

First, John Bringardner writes that the jobs are out there ... overseas:

Major American law firms have long had a presence abroad, staffed by a combination of local counsel and lawyers from the home office. But as the economic downturn continues to cause upheaval in corporate America and the law firms that serve it, many firms are relying on their international outposts to keep profits up — and a growing number of lawyers are starting to look overseas for work. Not long ago, the City of London was New York’s primary competitor for financial talent, and Britain was often one of the first choices for lawyers deciding to head abroad.

But with Wall Street in tatters and London struggling as the credit crisis plays out, lawyers and analysts say that the most promising places for legal careers are such far-flung locales as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. Even though Dubai’s booming economy has cooled sharply recently, lawyers say demand for their services remains strong there, and other overseas markets are still beckoning lawyers despite the global impact of the credit crisis — at least for now.

When work was plentiful at home, it was often a tough sell to get lawyers to move halfway around the world. But since the financial unraveling in September, that’s all changed. In the last two months, recruiters in Hong Kong and Dubai say they’ve seen a record number of New York résumés from candidates looking for law-firm or in-house legal work overseas.

Over the past decade, major corporate law firms have made international expansion a top priority, and some have become truly global businesses.

In the past decade, top firms like Jones Day, based in Cleveland, went from 6 foreign offices to 18. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, based in New York, went from 3 to 9, and Latham & Watkins, based in Los Angeles, from 5 to 14.

More than ever, then, being bilingual can be a real plus.

Meanwhile, BCG Attorney Search analyzes growth markets. Folks in Southern California should remain optimistic:

In addition, we have seen a significant rise in the number of highly qualified attorneys looking to relocate to California. Thus, while the Los Angeles market remains steady overall, it is definitely a "buyer's market" with the "buyer" being the law firms. Our contacts within the firms tell us they are getting tremendous responses to the openings they post and therefore are tightening up their hiring criteria more than ever. In this market, it is helpful to have strong ties to California, admission to the California Bar (or plans to sit for the exam in the very near future), or an area of specialty in which there is still high demand but low supply.

Further, those interested in Intellectual Property work, especially in Orange County, need fear less:

Intellectual property remains a healthy practice area in this market. Many firms are looking for attorneys with both IP litigation and patent prosecution experience. Patent prosecution specifically, remains one of the hot areas of law in Orange County. Firms are seeking attorneys with electrical engineering, computer science, and physics backgrounds mainly. There are also a few openings for attorneys with biotech science backgrounds, as well as mechanical engineering backgrounds.

Since hiring has slowed due to the economy, more firms are seeking candidates that are already members of the California Bar and USPTO, even though this wasn't a strict requirement in previous recent hiring periods. Furthermore, candidates with advanced degrees will definitely have an upper hand in this competitive market. Most firms are seeking attorneys in the 2-5 year range for these positions, but more junior level attorneys will also probably be considered. Orange County also has openings for patent agent candidates as well. As always, partners with a book of business are highly desired.

Hopefully these articles have helped. Good luck out there!

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