Career Moves: Laterals' Blog

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Expert insight and the latest trends in legal recruitment.

October 2020

As winter approaches in what’s been an ‘interesting’ year, the West Coast could be starting to look real attractive to those based Eastside. Below, the team at Whistler Partners outlines why Southern Cali in particular is pulling in a ton of talent right now.

For a move further afield, our eyes turn to the Asia market with the team at Jowers Vargas, who explain how the region’s key legal hubs and their practices are responding to the global pandemic (spoiler: it’s not as bad as you might first think).

Whether you’re looking to move your career near or far, you should always take steps to protect your best interests. To help you do just that, the National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC) have given us a bitesize overview of their code of ethics (and you can read about it in more detail here).

But first, this is the time of year when partner promotion discussions start to fire up. And if you’re not hearing what you want to hear, E P Dine have some words of wisdom for you…


Fall brings partnership election discussions to the table at many BigLaw firms

By E P Dine

An associate who has received positive partnership indications throughout his/her career, and should be up for partner, may be hearing that his/her partnership consideration is being pushed. If you have received this crushing news after working so hard for so long, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are a skilled attorney with a long career ahead of you – whether it is at the same firm, a different firm or in-house. You have some thinking to do and decisions to make:

1) Analyze the reasons as to why your partnership consideration is being pushed a year. Do they make sense?

2) Examine the firm's politics objectively. Making partner is a meritocracy, but it would be naïve to believe that politics are not involved.

3) Is the firm invested in your practice area or is it moving in another direction?

4) Assess the number of qualified associates who are ahead of you and behind you who will be seeking partnership.

Answering these questions will empower you to make a better and a more informed decision as to what you are going to do. Move forward with a deliberate plan and doors will open.


Why now is the time to move your career to Southern California

By Whistler Partners

This year marked the worst ever fire season in California’s history. Again. So to the average person considering a relocation, Southern California might not top their list right now. But we’ve been seeing attorneys flocking to Los Angeles at a record pace in recent months, as firms rapidly expand their Santa Monica and Century City offices.

The most obvious reason for their moves has been COVID-19, as Biglaw’s previous aversion to remote work has had to go out the window. Suddenly the need to be in Manhattan or San Francisco has waned for attorneys with a few years of experience under their belts, and the allure of having a house with a pool (and an actual home office space that’s not your dining room table) has grown. That house may not be as cheap as a house in the Midwest, but compared to housing in New York or San Francisco, it’s a downright bargain.

But aside from lifestyle reasons, the growth of SoCal’s tech scene has been a major draw for attorneys. While LA is still the best choice for any attorney wanting to break into entertainment, it’s also become a hotspot for attorneys with interests in technology and emerging companies as an increasing number of startups have decided to make SoCal their home. Tech hubs need an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and engineers who can move on to new projects when one startup goes bust, and SoCal’s ecosystem has been steadily growing as talent leaves San Francisco for the aforementioned house with a pool. New York saw a similar influx of tech talent around 2010, and the need for ECVC and tech attorneys followed shortly after.

In addition to firms growing their SoCal offices, we’ve seen a major uptick in in-house jobs in the area. While a year ago more startups had preferences for local candidates for counsel positions, the standardization of virtual interviews has evened the playing field for attorneys considering a relocation.

So if Southern California has been on your mind, and you’re not deterred by the fires, hopefully this has given you the permission you need to start working towards your move. SoCal is no longer a death sentence for your Biglaw career. And did we mention that it’s 70 degrees in San Diego year round?


The Asia Market: an overview

By Jowers Vargas

For decades, top international law firms have been drawn to the Asia markets for their strategic financial importance. After all, it was Asia (mainly mainland China) who arguably made the quickest recovery from the 2008 Great Recession, and once again it is Asia – spurred by its tech behemoths – flexing its resiliency during the Coronavirus crisis. As we move into the “next normal”, Asia is a geographic sector to watch. Will Singapore continue to ramp up into Southeast Asia’s Silicon Valley? Will tighter US rules continue to push IPOs from New York to Hong Kong or Shanghai? How long will Asia M&A outpace dealflow in the US and Europe? While only time can answer these questions, they are indicative of the growth and dynamism that continues to attract lawyers to Asia – including our co-founder Alejandro Vargas, who worked as an associate at Skadden and Davis Polk (Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo) for nearly a decade before changing careers four years ago. Co-founder Evan Jowers has specialized in Asia since 2006 and has made over 400 placements of associates, counsels and partners into and around Asia. Each of our Asia team has lived and worked in Asia as recruiters and / or BigLaw lawyers for over a decade. The BigLaw trends and developments in the Asia markets have been fascinating for us to witness and play our small role in. 

Find out more about moving into the Asia legal market here.


Six benefits of working with a NALSC member search firm


If you are contacted by recruiters, it is often difficult to determine who is trustworthy or reputable. You may wonder, “If I send this search firm my resume, can I be assured they will keep it confidential?” This is where the National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC®) comes in.  It was established in 1984 with a primary goal of providing a code of ethics to legal search firms. Below is Article II, from the NALSC Code of Ethics®, which lists the duties of NALSC search firms to candidates: 

  1. Information provided to candidates shall be the most accurate information known to the search firm.
  2. No search firm shall withhold employer information, which a candidate would reasonably consider essential to his or her hiring decision, subject to the search firm’s duties to the employer.
  3. Candidates shall be submitted to employers only with the candidates’ express prior consent.
  4. A search firm shall treat as confidential all information supplied to it in confidence by a candidate, subject to the search firm’s duties to the employer.
  5. Search firms shall make all submissions which have been authorized by the candidate and shall inform the candidate of the results of those submissions in a timely manner.
  6. No search firm shall attempt to exert undue influence on the candidate.

For a directory of which firms are members of NALSC, and therefore abide by and are bound to the NALSC Code of Ethics, please visit: