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What Laterals Should Plan For When Planning To Relocate

If you are an attorney thinking about taking your career to another market—or if you are the type of attorney who has always been open to relocation so that you may advance your career—there are some important points to keep in mind. Below, I summarize my understanding of why lawyers should be open to relocating and important factors that should be considered while working with a recruiter.

Understanding Lateral Hiring

Lateral transitions from one law firm to another are often accounted for in a law firm’s hiring plan when hiring new associates from law school. Although some firms changed their practices after the recession (having smaller summer classes or doing non traditional forms of recruiting), associate attrition has increased as the economy recovered and activity grows within the legal industry. Law firm mergers and failures also cause attorneys to reconsider their career plans. Firms have to adapt and rebuild their practices and set up their ranks at the same time corporations see the value of adding attorneys to their in-house teams. As a result, lateral recruitment and relocation activity is rising. Strong associates are in a more competitive position than they were before the recession.

Why Millennial Attorneys Lateral

For many associates, a stronger bargaining position means considering other markets. Many go from New York City to a growing markets like Atlanta. Associates make these moves to rebalance their lifestyles. Many associates at AmLaw firms look to relocate even though the billable hour requirements the same—but the transition from large to mid-market may provide a greater opportunity to make partner at a faster pace.

Why Relocate to Atlanta?
Law firms in Atlanta are hungry for talent, and seek talented associates that are looking to practice in more intimate, lower-cost environments. This often proves to be an excellent career and lifestyle move. In Atlanta, companies like Home Depot, Delta, Coca-Cola, UPS, Carter’s and Equifax represent a few of the many large companies in the area served by both strong in-house and outside counsel. I also wrote a separate entry about why attorneys should definitely consider relocating to Atlanta that you could read about on this blog here (

If you’re contemplating relocating to Atlanta, work with a legal recruiter to consider the following:

Your Firm

  • Are your target firms comparable to your current firm?
  • Would you be handling similar matters that you are familiar with?
  • Is there a clear career path for you to achieve your goals?
  • Can you picture yourself there being appropriately challenged as well as rewarded for your results?
  • If you are not licensed to practice in the state that you’re considering moving to, will you be supported during your transition (e.g., a bar review course, CLE courses, etc.)?

Your Colleagues

  • Do you like your new colleagues and peers?
  • How your colleagues support your client development efforts?

Your Work

  • What are the billing expectations?
  • What is the practice group you will be joining?
  • What is the work volume and client demographics?

Your Life

  • Is the new cost of living favorable compared to your previous location? (Most AmLaw firms in Atlanta offer compensation well into six figures, which gives a lot more bang for your buck).
  • Will your family’s educational, security, and medical needs be met in your new location?
  • Will you meet or exceed you financial bottom line?

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