The legal market
An abundance of investment opportunities has bred pretty healthy legal markets. Dallas and Houston are two of the largest markets in the country, with the Dallas/Fort Worth area housing more than 10,000 corporate HQs, more than anywhere else in the States. As such, Texas firms have opened their doors to a flood of lateral hires over the past few years. One Haynes & Boone associate told us: “There's been a lot of change in the Houston market over the last few years, with many national and international firms opening up here. We've seen people leaving the traditional Texan firms to go to them, so there's been more in the way of turnover than normal.” Since 2010, Latham & Watkins, Sidley Austin, Quinn Emanuel, Kirkland & Ellis, Arnold & Porter, K&L Gates, Reed Smith, and Katten Muchin have all launched Houston branches. Longstanding Texan firms are increasingly under pressure to up their game since young associates looking to start their careers now have a lot more choice of where to go.
The energy sector isn't Texas' only winning industry. As Amanda Kelly, manager of attorney recruitment at Haynes and Boone, points out: "Many people don’t realize that Texas is second only to New York in the number of Fortune 1000 company headquarters. Our firm serves 20% of the Fortune 500 corporations in a wide variety of industries, including energy, technology, aviation, transportation and healthcare so we are diversified and staying busy. Right now, for example, real estate has ramped up nicely, and a good amount of our work is coming in from outside Texas, especially on the IP side." Karen Sargent of the career services office at Southern Methodist University notes adds: "I'd say intellectual property law was originally the rocket docket in East Texas – we have a US patent and trademark office opening in Dallas now, and IP is a big focus of our law school. Obviously energy is big here, but that ebbs and flows with the economy. On the corporate side, we're a center for some of the largest corporations in the country, and that brings in a big deal of M&A work. Law firms are now moving into the Dallas area for IP and transactions, where they'd previously moved to Houston for energy."
The leading firms in Texas for associate satisfaction
Which firms in Texas offer the best associate experience? In this section we are only including firms who were willing to take part in our research, and whose Texan offices are a significant part of their identity.
If you're motivated by doing the best work possible, the industry-standard Chambers USA rankings are invaluable. Here are the best firms in Texas for the most common practice areast. There are lower bands and many more practice area rankings at chambers.com.