Becoming a lawyer in Texas

Introduction and Economy

If you think Texas lawyering is all about donning a pair of Wrangler jeans and riding majestically up to the courthouse on your trusty steed, you’re wrong. Obviously. Here five members of longstanding Texas firm Jackson Walker tell it how it is and give you one mighty introduction to this thriving and dynamic legal market.

Dallas Skyline
“YOU have that very classic perception that we ride horses to work,”
jokes Jackson Walker’s director of associate recruiting, Meghan Pier, when asked about Texan stereotypes. But her point is serious, as she explains: “People don’t realize that Texas is as urban and metropolitan as it is. People presume that it is a rural environment and that business can’t be as good as it is in places like New York and LA, but Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio are some of the biggest cities in the US – and we’re still a state that has room to build.”

It’s a perspective shared by Houston-based associate Cameron Secord, who works in the firm’s trial and appellate practice: “Houston is arguably tracking Chicago as the third-biggest city in the US. I think the scope and scale is sometimes missed.” Meanwhile in Austin, corporate and securities associate Lara Assaf, who lateralled over to Jackson Walker from New York, flags that “from a business clientele perspective, there’s a feeling that Texas is all oil and gas work; it’s one of the big misconceptions that industry here is all cabined to that.”

It therefore became apparent early during our interviews that there are a lot of misconceptions about Texas and its legal sector that need clearing up. So, without further ado, here’s the reality behind the perception and the latest on-the-ground insight on the key areas to consider if you’re looking to make the Lone Star State your home as a practicing attorney.


The Texas Economy

Diversity of Industry

First up, the economy – clearly an important concern for any budding commercial lawyer who’s keen to know the kind of businesses and industry sectors they can become experts in. When Assaf decided to relocate from New York and her old firm, she was adamant that she wanted to find work of the same caliber she was used to. “My original background was in capital markets and in Texas I could translate my experience,” she explains. “There are so many established companies here, but on the other side of the coin Texas brings in so many different types of businesses, including venture capital firms, start-ups and tech companies. There’s a huge gamut of industries and clients of all levels of sophistication. As an attorney you can get so much range from ground-level work with start-ups to work with Fortune 500 companies and names like Microsoft.”

Dallas JW Building“The technology sector is a significant strength in Austin,” says Dallas-based partner Jim Ryan,who also lists finance, real estate, energy and healthcare as particularly robust industries in Texas. “Texas is the national headquarters for many real estate companies; Houston is the center of the energy sector; Dallas is known for real estate and finance; and healthcare is an emerging sector in the state.” He emphasizes that while certain cities are known for particular areas, these composite Texan “economies have become much more diverse” over the years.


“There’s a huge gamut of industries and clients of all levels of sophistication.”


One example of the ever-evolving nature of industries in Texas (and the state’s increasing pull factor) was the 2017 opening of Toyota’s North American headquarters in Frisco, just outside of Dallas (following the Japanese car manufacturer decision to move its North American HQ from California).  “That’s one business that has had a significant impact on Dallas,” reflects Ryan, “it was a huge development in the metropolitan area,” with reports suggesting that the company spent around $1 billion on the project.


Toyota is not the only company that has been drawn to Texas. “A lot of tech companies were priced out of Silicon Valley and start-ups found it hard because of the tax regime,” explains Assaf. “Austin took a lot of steps to make itself appealing in that regard, so we’ve had Dell, Amazon, Google and Facebook all open up branches in Austin.” This is emblematic of Austin’s tech boom in recent years, which is poised to only get bigger and better. “People in Austin have been pushing this ‘Silicon Hill’ moniker for a while,” Assaf adds, “but from a national and international perspective the reputation is growing. There’s been a huge rush and it’ll only grow. A lot of the investment funds work I do happens in Texas as venture capital funds are moving from the west coast and investing in new companies here.”


Ryan’s own practice (which covers corporate and securities as well as healthcare matters) has also been shaped by technological developments. “We’ve had a lot of work that sits at the intersection between healthcare and technology. Our firm has a lot of expertise in it, which began with our representation of a telemedicine start-up company. Since then we have been swamped with opportunities. With an ageing population we’re doing a lot of work with hospice companies, for-profit companies and assisted living facilities. We’re also moving even more into telehealth as the impact of coronavirus continues.”


Houston may well be the center of energy work, but associate litigators Cameron Secord and Joel Glover have learned their craft here on many cases beyond those pertaining to oil and gas. “When people think of bankruptcy they tend to think of Delaware and New York,” says Secord, “but Houston has more Chapter 11 filings for major companies than those places. Our court systems run efficiently, and that’s a reason why people come here if there needs to be a restructuring. It’s become an increasing part of my work over the past couple of years.”

Media and Entertainment

For Glover, media and entertainment work has become one of his specialisms, which he puts down in part to “the changing nature of Texas law regarding the media; a lot of lawsuits previously didn’t have merit, but the legislation has caught up as we’ve got rid of privilege suits. In the entertainment space, we have loads of production companies in Austin and Houston as well, which are creating content – that has been a big growth area in Texas over the last several years and has brought international dimensions to the work as well.”

Real Estate

One sector that appears to be thriving all over Texas is real estate. “It’s booming in Texas right now,” reports Assaf, “and we’re not just talking local real estate.” Pier goes on to explain that “so many companies have moved to Texas and built headquarters here compared to California – there’s better pricing and companies are finding it more lucrative. Our real estate group is one of the biggest, so for a regional Texas firm to have that kind of real estate presence is awesome. It’s neat to think that our practice is better than the bigger international firms in Texas.” If you check out Jackson Walker’s Chambers USA rankings you’ll find that the firm comes out on top in Texas for real estate, beating off much larger national/international competitors such as Mayer Brown, Jones Day and DLA Piper.


The Legal Sector and the Local Business Community

The Influx of National and Global Firms

While we’re on the topic of those larger firms – it’s clear that it isn’t just big commercial names and promising emerging companies that have eyed up the Texas market; the US’s BigLaw firms have been drawn southwards too. “The strong business environment; the relatively low cost of living compared to the east and west coasts; the solid base of educated employees in central locations – these factors made Texas an attractive place to do business,” says Ryan. For law firms, “the work would support high rates similar to those found on the east and west coasts, so there were – and are – a lot of opportunities for law firms to do well. That is what attracted the national and coastal law firms, which was a relative phenomenon that started more than ten years ago but accelerated over the past three to four years.”

Some competition, however, is certainly welcome, as Glover tells us: “I think these firms recognized the sophistication of the work and the practice down here. That’s drawn people from New York, DC, California and London to Texas – and to Houston in particular – and that just adds to the quality of the legal practice here. It only makes things better.” Secord, on the other hand, feels that the influx of out-of-staters has calmed down for now: “Over the past year and a half we haven’t had too many additional firms coming in or mergers with local firms. A lot of them came in to get the big oil market deals.”

Areas of Strength and Opportunity for Regional Firms

Ryan also points to the emphasis on energy work and tells us that “the sector has attracted a lot of national firms in the Houston market, which is very competitive, but these firms are also expanding rapidly in Austin and Dallas.” But the moves of larger players have created opportunities for firms like Jackson Walker. “Some of the larger firms have de-emphasized real estate work, which has created new opportunities for us,” says Ryan. “The real estate industry offers a lot of opportunities for a regional firm like ours.” In addition, a lucrative space in the form of start-ups and emerging companies has been left open to a certain extent: “A lot of firms don’t like to represent these companies as they have minimal-level fees, plus these companies can be fee-sensitive. We’ve had a lot of opportunity to work for those companies as they grow and represent them until the exit stage. The strength of the Texan economy fosters entrepreneurship.”

There’s also nothing like a heap of local knowledge and historical roots to give a competitive edge. “Firms have been able to capitalize on their long-term ties to Texas and their familiarity with the unique aspects to doing business here,” reports Ryan, who cites “connections with local government, understanding of legislation and ability to be nimbler than bigger firms” as factors that make Jackson Walker and its kind a more attractive prospect for smaller companies looking for legal advice and representation. “I benefitted from the strong business climate and the value based on relationships – professionally and personally – over my whole career,” he concludes.


“Firms have been able to capitalize on their long-term ties to Texas and their familiarity with the unique aspects to doing business here.”


Austin skylineIt’s a point echoed by Assaf in Austin. “Personal relationships with clients are so important here,” she says, drawing on her previous experience in New York as a point of comparison. “It’s not about scoring points in a contract. In New York you can be working with huge companies and most client interaction is with in-house legal teams. Here you can be working with the people who run the businesses, and they will be building their working relationship with us based on their personal relationship with you. It’s not about fancy things like how big your wallet is: it’s more ‘How’s your partner doing?’ That can be jarring for some coming in from the coastal cities; it’s not what they’re asked to do. You’ve got to be comfortable interacting with a diverse range of people and forming authentic relationships with them.”

Future Growth in the Legal Sector

Adapting to the close-knit business community and culture is therefore key for law firms and attorneys coming into Texas, but not such an easy switch to make when faced with local relationships that have been nurtured for a long time. However, for regional and out-of-state firms alike, Texas looks set to continue providing a range of opportunities for attorneys. “The areas that are strong now – tech, finance, real estate and healthcare – will continue to be strong,” predicts Ryan. “There will be some upheaval in the energy market due to recent events [the global Covid-19 pandemic] and there will be some shake out for firms that have expanded into Texas, especially those not based on the coasts; the midwestern firms that have opened smaller offices here as opposed to making a big splash will struggle.” For Glover, the diversification of the Texan economy since the eighties oil boom means that “when the energy work goes down it will not be devastating to the growth or future of the firm.”

The Work

The Corporate Attorney Experience

So, what does this mix of industries and growth areas provide for lawyers when it comes to their work and career progression?  Assaf, for one, feels that there have been many benefits to bringing her corporate law expertise to Texas. “I think it’s a function of the Texas legal market as well as the culture of Jackson Walker, but it’s very entrepreneurial here: you can bring in a client at any time,” she reveals. “The clients I have brought in have been individuals and small businesses, which means I get an incredibly useful on-the-ground perspective from a company level. That’s the kind of work I would never do in New York, where I was writing basic resolutions.”

There’s a greater range of matters to be exposed to, Assaf notes, from the “huge M&A deals that are as big as they are in New York” to the “deals that are more basic: when I was a third-year associate here I was handling $10 to $15 million deals myself – I wouldn’t be able to do that until I was 60-years-old in New York!” Beyond just deal size, Assaf explains that it’s easier to gain experience across different types of transactions too. “The way it worked in New York meant that you were split up into corporate subgroups like structured or leveraged finance. In Texas, most corporate groups are doing all of it; there’s a more generalized mandate and it’s been great to work on a variety of matters.”

The View from Litigation

Houston SkylineThere’s plenty of variety to be experienced as a litigator too, as Secord flags from his vantage point in Houston. “Frankly, I’ve done a lot,” he replies when asked about the substance of his workload. “There are general commercial disputes tied to companies fighting over a contract or dealing with the fallout from a failed joint venture. I’ve also done real estate developer cases where something’s gone wrong on a large scale, as well as oil and gas litigation, bankruptcy disputes and important advisory import and export work. The questions are like ‘Hey, I’m an oil and gas equipment manufacturer, where can I send my stuff?’ That’s related to the size of the Texan economy and the number of things coming in and out. I’ve worked with Mexico on matters tied to our trading relationship.”


“…the oil term that’s used is ‘wild catting’ and it essentially means that if you think you can go out there and make some money, then go for it!”


Again, Secord attributes his “substantive experience as a young litigator” to “the entrepreneurial vibe” in Texas. “In general, it goes back to the oil base days: the oil term that’s used is ‘wild catting’ and it essentially means that if you think you can go out there and make some money, then go for it! Jackson Walker is a cautious firm fiscally, but if you think you can make something happen then they support you to go for it.” This kind of approach and backdrop helped Secord to take 11 depositions and secure three motions to compel and a further three to dismiss by the time he was a second-year associate. “I was the guy talking in front of the judge! I’ve directed witnesses in federal court and done a bench trial. Compared to my peers in Biglaw, I don’t know of anyone who’s taken a deposition in a $34 million case.”

As a fellow litigator in Houston, Glover’s practice has also stretched further afield than Texas. “I’ve worked on a few international issues, but domestically I’ve gone to federal court in New York; claims courts in California and Florida; and handled a few matters in Colorado.” He’s been able to work on copyright and trademark cases, as well as matters relating to the banking and finance side of the energy industry. Media and entertainment cases are his favorite, however. “Cases in that space are really interesting, and not just because the subject matter is engaging and different every time; they’ve also allowed my practice to expand to other places because the work is just so spread out.” The matter that saw him travel to federal court in New York was a highlight: “We represented a great baseball player called Roger Clemens during a defamation lawsuit that was brought against him by his former trainer at the New York Yankees – I learnt a lot from the experts on that case.”

Career Development in a Regional Firm

Considering the size and scope of Jackson Walker, both Secord and Glover pinpoint benefits for general career experience and development. “Jackson Walker’s only in Texas [physically speaking], which gives us a different stake in the market; if you come to Texas as part of a global or nationwide firm you function as more of a niche,” says Secord. “The other thing that makes us unique in BigLaw is that we are still balanced with just over 50% of our work being transactional and the rest composed of litigation. In BigLaw there’s been a shift away from litigation and more towards high-dollar transactions. That’s different to us and something to consider when planning your career.” Glover also flags the business model of a firm like Jackson Walker as a reason to be confident about career development: “We are lean – that’s the best way to describe it. We don’t over-staff and as a result we don’t have excess numbers; we don’t pursue numbers for the sake of it and therefore at times like this we’re not struggling in the way that other firms may be struggling. Our path to the partnership is more natural by necessity.”


Culture and Lifestyle

Working Hours and Routine

Austin Boat CruiseAll work and no play can make any job a tad insufferable after a while, so what are the hours like in Texas? Ryan is quick to tell us about presumptions of a “relaxed atmosphere” but warns that it’s a mistake to assume that attorneys have it easier in Texas. “It’s a very competitive legal market and to succeed as a lawyer here you have to have a strong work ethic and work very hard – it’s not the case that we work less hard!”

In Assaf’s experience, the difference in hours from her career in New York comes down to pacing. “In New York it was more fast and furious due to the nature of handling a lot of debt and equity issuances; you would have to turn stuff around between ten days and two weeks, so depending on the volume of deals I could be sleeping in the office for weeks.” However, Assaf still feels that “the hours are comparable” between New York and Texas – they are just more spread out and manageable where she is now. “We still respond to emails as quickly as possible, but there’s not so much pressure if something comes through the door late in the day. I don’t have to get back straight away – the clients wouldn’t look at it! In New York I was working much harder from an energy and resource perspective, but when I look at my annual billed hours now the difference is one or two hundred hours. However, because of the pacing difference, that feels more like a thousand hours!”


“This is 2020, so it’s a work/life integration rather than a balance.”


“I completely agree that our attorneys have lives outside of work but still work very hard,” says Pier. “This is 2020, so it’s a work/life integration rather than a balance; work is integrated into my life. I don’t have set hours, so sometimes I get up early and work for a few hours, then go for a run, then get back to work etc… It’s about just getting the work done.” Secord has a similar approach and raises that “the firm’s pretty flexible about when you work as long as you’re getting the work done by the deadline. You can do things with your life and not have this pressure, which makes us distinct from other BigLaw firms. My wife and I will get breakfast or brunch on weekdays; I’ll get into the office by ten or 11am and work later. It’s easy to take a three or four-day weekend and a two-week vacation if you communicate well.”

Life Outside Work in Texas’ Urban Centers

There’s certainly a lot of life to be living in Texas by all accounts. Take Austin, for example. “There’s a really big outdoor community as there are so many trails and lakes,” says Pier, so fans of fresh air and bracing exercise will be at home here. “There’s a hiking and bike trail to a lake just one block from our downtown office, so people head there for a walk or a jog.” There’s also a famous music scene in Austin, which Pier describes as “the live music capital of the world.” It goes without saying that the annual Austin City Limits music festival (which is scheduled to take place in October 2020) is a must-attend event for locals and visitors. “There’s always live music here,” states Pier, “always people playing music in restaurants and bars and outside.” On the subject of restaurants, foodies will certainly have their culinary tastes satisfied: “There are more mom and pop style restaurants here instead of chains; when a chain opens in Austin they tend not to survive as we people here prefer to eat at the mom and pop restaurants or food trucks.”


“In the same weekend I can go to a professional football game and see a Tony Award-winning show at the theatre.”


It’s a similar story for Dallas and Houston. Alongside Austin, “these are the cities of growth,” says Ryan. “Over the past 30 years they have become a lot more sophisticated for arts and outdoors activities; all have come to offer a lot more options for things to do outside of the office than there were even a generation ago.” Houstonites Secord and Glover concur. “Houston is a great secret that is getting out there,” says Glover. “There are world-class museums, art galleries, theatres and every type of professional sport (except hockey). In the same weekend I can go to a professional football game and see a Tony Award-winning show at the theatre. People who come here from elsewhere are so surprised by it.” When asked about myths about Texas, Glover is quick to make a request: “Can you not bust the myth about all the great Mexican food and barbecues?!”

Secord certainly isn’t bored of Houston life either: “My wife and I are still discovering new things. All the major acts come to town – there’s comedy, theatre and music. We still haven’t run out of things to do!” He admits that Houston isn’t quite on the same level as Austin when it comes to outdoor activities, but there’s a very good reason for that: “There’s a big humid period here between June and September, so people tend to hide where there’s air conditioning! But the Texas coast is only a 40-minute drive away, so there are always beach days as an option.”

Housing Opportunities and Cost of Living

With much to do and inevitably pay for, the question of money and salaries comes up. Luckily for attorneys in Texas, a lower cost of living compared to other legal hotspots (like New York or California) means that “in basically every way your money goes so much further,” says Assaf, who adds that “a huge part of moving here was how much flexibility you have with land and house prices. Austin is more expensive than other real estate markets in Texas but compared to New York it’s wildly different. I’ve been able to buy a house with a big back yard.” Secord and Glover have also been able to buy homes in Houston, with the latter telling us that “there’s no comparison when it comes to the cost of a house per square foot – my friends in New York, DC and California are stunned when I tell them.” Beyond cost, it’s the number of housing options available that makes Texas desirable: “If you come to Texas you can live downtown in a townhouse or a high rise, or you can move out to the suburbs. You can find your groove; it’s a lot more flexible than it is in other big cities.”

Salary Expectations

Salary-wise, the influx of the national and global firms has brought with it a hike to the Milbank/Cravath scale salaries. “Some firms have moved to that scale and others have kept the model that they’d been using,” Assaf reports. Glover, meanwhile, tells us that at Jackson Walker “the starting salaries are the same as they are at other large firms around the country, but as you progress into your fourth-year and beyond, it’s easy to not just make what your peers around the country are making but exceed it. If you bring in your own business as well, this firm has a very fair way of compensating for that in comparison to others.” At the same time, Assaf urges young attorneys starting out to consider their long-term career prospects: “As a junior of course you’ll think ‘That’s what I want’ [the Milbank/Cravath scale salary], but as you progress to the mid and senior associate level your chances of making partner go down if you have the huge salary and overhead requirements. For anyone coming into Texas and interviewing, if you’re thinking ‘this firm isn’t Cravath scale, ask yourself what your career goals are: are you looking to go in-house after a few years or do you want to be an equity partner?”

Raising a Family in Texas

Thinking about the long-term was exactly what Assaf did when she considered where she would like to settle down and start a family. “I was really concerned in New York,” she says, “about how tough it would be for a woman who wants to have a family. That was not my old firm’s fault but characteristic of the model for Biglaw.” Looking at Texas (where Assaf’s family are based), Assaf wanted a place where she could “stick to being a corporate attorney but be in an environment that would support me.” What she discovered was that “so many people at the partnership, senior and mid-levels have families, so it was easier not to feel like an outlier or make nerve-wracking calculations about how a partner will respond when I say I’m pregnant.” The combination of flexibility and efficient Texan infrastructure has been a winner for Assaf: “It’s so much easier to drive around and get to and from work here – you don’t have to be crammed on the subway! I’m able to get home at 5pm every day, have dinner and put the kids to bed and then plug back in remotely.”

Politics in Texas

Assaf also had some concerns about moving to Texas, however. “From a political perspective I was nervous and wondered whether being a woman lawyer would be harder. I was concerned there would be more of a patriarchal system compared to the east coast, but I was really happy to find that was not the case at all!” In fact, she says, “in Texas it’s about who you are as a person. Are you kind and diligent? Are you hardworking and sincere? These are the things that matter.”

It’s fair to suggest that Austin is the most liberal city in Texas. “Anything goes in Austin!” laughs Pier, who explains that “you can really tell the difference here. They say Austin is the blueberry in a  tomato soup. It was built up by the hippies and we still have them here. You’ll see an old hippie sitting next the tech guy sitting next to the conservative lawyer eating lunch.” Assaf cites another label for Austin: “The colloquial phrase is that it’s the lake of blue in the sea of red; it’s this tiny democrat stronghold. Austin is especially fascinating as you have the University of Texas here. It’s one of the country’s biggest universities and it spread a more progressive ideology. There’s a big libertarian vibe here, a ‘make your own way’ spirit, and there are a lot of people coming in from the coasts. It’s growing leaps and bounds.”


“You’ll see an old hippie sitting next the tech guy sitting next to the conservative lawyer eating lunch.”


It is of course reductive to suggest that political divides are so clear-cut in Texas. “Texas as a whole (like the country itself) is re-finding it’s footing politically,” adds Assaf. And while counties shift and evolve in terms of their political make-up, there has long been an open and discussion-based approach to politics in Texas. “It’s an open community without a lot of stratification of people,” says Ryan, while Pier uses a Jackson Walker-based example to highlight the broader attitude to political difference: “At the firm especially a lot of attorneys will bring by judges who are up for election; they’re republican, they’re democrats, they’re everything. No one is judgmental.” Assaf also highlights a tradition in Texan business circles: “We don’t talk about politics in business. At Jackson Walker we’re a really old bona fide Texan firm and our reputation was built on bringing in different people with different ideologies. As a firm we need people from all areas of expertise and across the political spectrum to meet our clients’ needs.”

At this point Glover again makes a request: “Can you also not bust the myth about the friendliness? You will not be unwelcome if you don’t wear Wrangler jeans. Texas is a real honorable place and the people are good to each other – we show mutual respect for our neighbors and business partners.” As Ryan concludes, “we don’t rely on pedigree and background and people don’t emphasize – as they maybe do elsewhere – where you’re from and what your connections are. The community values relationships and I think that is a strength of our firm and the regional firms.”

The Recruitment Scene

Entry-level associate recruiting

JW Summer AssociatesSo how do you get a foot in the door? For law students looking for entry-level associate positions, the recruitment season tends to start earlier in Texas than it does elsewhere in the US. As Pier explains, it typically begins in July each year: “We’ll start recruiting 2L students through diversity job fairs and out-of-state law schools’ Texas job fairs between the mid and end of July. During the first and second week of August we conduct most of our OCIs at law schools and over the following two weeks we’ll do our callback interviews.” The season is often wrapped up by the beginning of September.


 “We’ve been to Hispanic Society meetings, Black Law Association events and hosted events for women’s groups.”


Following the change in NALP rules that prevented firms from reaching out to 1L students until December 1st, focusing on 1Ls has becoming a much more significant part of law firm recruiting – especially in Texas. However, individual law schools have subsequently implemented their own restrictions on when firms can start recruiting their 1L students; the University of Texas, for example, has now barred any contact for recruiting purposes until November 15th.  While there may be restrictions, when these dates have passed 1Ls certainly move quickly, says Pier: “They were super eager to be in front of employers and wanted to get to know as many as they could.” One thing firms are doing once restrictions are lifted is hosting mock interviews and more formal interviews for 1Ls in their offices.

The hosting of interviews at this stage signals how competitive a recruitment market Texas is: some firms are now making offers of summer positions to 1Ls before their first semester’s grades are published in mid-January. Larger firms with big summer intakes tend to be doing this as they can absorb the risk, but at regional firms where intakes are much smaller, the focus tends to be on proven academic achievement: Jackson Walker, for example, waits until January to see if candidates have met its GPA cut off.


“Out-of-state, students may not necessarily know our name, but when we go to them we can deliver the message that we’re a go-to firm in Texas.”


1Ls will still get to see a lot of Jackson Walker on their campuses, however. Pier tells us that the firm often attends affinity group events at the likes of SMU and the University of Texas. “We’ve been to Hispanic Society meetings, Black Law Association events and hosted events for women’s groups. We’ll sit down and explain things that people don’t necessarily learn at law school, like the more intricate differences between transactional and litigation work. We want to help by giving more information.”

Further afield, Jackson Walker also has its eye on ‘Texas Clubs’ that exist in out-of-state law schools. Pier mentions UVA, Notre Dame and Duke as schools that have them among others. “Last year we went up to UVA and did a panel and mixer event,” says Pier, “and we saw a lot of positive impact from that and received a lot of applications from UVA. Out-of-state, students may not necessarily know our name, but when we go to them we can deliver the message that we’re a go-to firm in Texas.” If you’re an out-of-state law student then definitely check to see whether there’s a Texas Club on your campus, and if not, why not start one?

Lateral recruiting

The bigger national and global firms in Texas may well compete to hire lateral associates with lucrative pay packages , but regional firms like Jackson Walker have a lot to offer. “We’ve traditionally recruited laterals from big firms who haven’t made partner – not because of who they are and their capabilities, but simply because there are a lot of people in BigLaw who don’t get elevated,” says Pier. “They look at their long-term plans and they hear about us; one of the key things here is that you can make partner and build your business. Other firms have big institutional clients, but our top ten clients bring in less than 3% of our overall profits.”


“…their practices will accelerate much faster and they will have significantly better prospects for making partner.


While Pier admits that the Milbank/Cravath scale salaries have made it more challenging to recruit laterals, she tells us that Jackson Walker still receives plenty of interest from those with a particular mindset: “The associates we’ve brought over from big firms have been open-minded and those are the candidates we’re attracted to. They think outside of narrow pathways and while their pay check may stay flat in the first year of being here, their practices will accelerate much faster and they will have significantly better prospects for making partner.” So if Texas sounds like home and you’re in for the long haul, look no further than a firm like Jackson Walker.

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