I have an unusually large number of searches for both partners and associates out West. If you are considering making a move, please let me know.
As an East Coast guy (for all of you West Coasters, I am not blogging to do anything to Compton), who has spent significant time out West, we have an office out there, I wanted to share with you some impressions about making the move to practice in California, Oregon or Washington.
Yes, California Dreamin’ is particularly easy these days of ice, snow, and the cold, and in each of these areas one can find some of the most beautiful and enjoyable places to live. There is a different vibe on the West Coast, and while we on the East tend to live to work, they tend to work to live. Their focus on quality of life and work/life balance does present a true difference from what we experience on both the East Coast and in the Mid-Western cities. In addition, they are known not only for high-tech, but significant corporate practices and litigation practices are thriving. While lateralling to the West Coast is not always easy, the many associates whom we have helped to make the move are immensely happy that they have done so. While having the Bar and ties to the areas are beneficial, they are not necessary in all cases. Let’s talk briefly about each location:
The land of fruits and nuts. Hollywood. Movie Stars. Google. Apple. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jerry Brown. Ok, I can keep going but I think you get the point. Cali is cool. The weather is typically awesome, and people living in the Bay Area can go to both the beach, and snow-skiing all in one day. Pretty amazing, right? No brainer than that it is a highly sought after destination.
So what do my clients look for in lateral candidates wanting to move here? Bar admission and Some kind of ties to the area. If you are not admitted, you do have to sit for the Bar, or at least express your intention of doing so as reciprocity is not offered. Some of my clients will not even look at a resume without being barred in CA, while others are a little more flexible especially regarding transactional attorneys, but again they must plan to sit for the Bar. Remember, California allows attorneys who have not attended accredited ABA law schools to sit for the Bar, and they pass and practice, so I do not really view this as an insurmountable obstacle. Why are ties to the area important? My clients want to know that you are serious about making a move, especially to some of the smaller cities in the State. If you do not have friends, family, or another valid reason for making the move, many of my clients will not move forward with your candidacy.
Oregon and Washington
The Pacific Northwest. Flannel. Magnificent hiking. Great coffee. Fish throwing. Again, areas possessing a more laid back vibe, and the outdoors manage to find their way in to all aspects of life. I am just imagining breathing non-recycled air, and the magnificent scenery. Oh well. Back to reality.
I am grouping these two states together because in my experience they are pretty similar in their approaches to hiring out-of-state attorneys…getting there can prove somewhat challenging for non-locals, but we do it for associates with relative frequency. Why do my clients have some reluctance to hiring outsiders? Did I forget to mention the rain? How about the cold and fog? Oops.
While these states offer some tremendous opportunities, many of us East Coast transplants find the weather there, well, depressing. My clients want to know that you either grew-up there, went to school there, or have some very strong reason as to why you want to practice there prior to their investing the time, effort and money to bring you on board. Unlike California, reciprocity exists in both states but admission requirements are different for each. Interestingly, firms want you to be barred in both because there is a lot of collaboration and cross-over work between the two.
So, if you are lucky enough to have a window, and happen to be looking outside of it at another office building, mounds of snow on the street, or that lovely grey-slushy like substance we have in NYC and are wondering whether the grass is greener out West, let’s talk, It very well may be.