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California Has a Uniquely Competitive Legal Job Market

California Has a Uniquely Competitive Legal Job Market

Many Americans — in the legal industry and otherwise — desire a move to California.  They see the state as the ideal, both from a lifestyle perspective and from a career perspective, and they are not necessarily incorrect in harboring this perception.  In 2018, SF Chronicle reported that the Bay Area’s economy (overall) grew at nearly double the rate of the rest of the United States, and if it were its own country, would outstrip many major nations in terms of its total economic output.

Certainly, various legal practice areas are thriving in California.  Those looking to make headway into the media and entertainment law field would do well to transition to Los Angeles, for example, while those interested in entering the tech space and working on cutting edge intellectual property issues would do well to transition to a position in the Bay Area.

California can be a challenging move, however.  Increasingly, Americans — particularly educated professionals, such as attorneys — are moving out to the coasts, and the trend of hyper-urbanization is putting a strain on a job market that may still be lagging behind and struggling to adapt to the influx of new talent.  We therefore encourage attorney candidates making the move to California to get in touch with an experienced legal recruiter at Garb Jaffe & Associates for guidance, advice, and further information on how to proceed.

Demand for Attorneys Trails the Supply

Though the economy is booming in California’s urban centers, the supply of attorneys continues to outstrip demand.  This puts attorneys in a difficult position — outside of a select few firms that are willing to match New York compensation levels, attorneys may find that they do not quite have the same bargaining position vis-a-vis their employers as they would in other regions.

Those looking to break into the California job market will likely have to demonstrate both a commitment to the region for the foreseeable future, and also a unique competitive advantage as compared to other candidates, such as specialized training, or extensive client-facing experience.

California Allows Foreign Attorneys to Sit for the Bar Without American Schooling

California deepens the competition by being one of just a few states — in addition to New York, Virginia, New Hampshire, etc. — that allows foreign-educated attorneys to sit for the bar exam without having attended an American law school.  In conjunction with the high-demand for California jobs internationally and domestically, this lowered barrier of entry means that the supply of qualified attorneys entering the California legal market every year is substantial.

The availability of foreign attorneys puts an additional burden on American attorneys interested in making the jump to a California position, as — even if you are a mid-level attorney — you may find that you are competing with a more highly-qualified foreign attorney for the same position.  Foreign attorneys are more likely to accept a somewhat less senior role as a means of establishing a foothold in the job market.

The California Bar Exam Was Recently Streamlined

In 2017, California moved from a three-day, multi-part exam — widely perceived to be the most difficult in the country, and with the lowest passage rates (historically) of any state bar examination — to a more streamlined, two-day version that should make it easier for those who simply could not sustain the energy levels and concentration necessary to succeed over the once grueling three-day period.

In fact, the classic California bar exam was so challenging to pass (and gave rise to such low passage rates) that there were numerous discrimination lawsuits and litigation intended to “equal the playing field” somewhat.  The move to a streamlined bar exam is likely to further increase the supply of attorneys entering the California legal workforce, thus depressing wages and making it more difficult to secure an ideal placement at various Biglaw firms and in-house legal departments throughout the state.

Contact an Experienced Bay Area Legal Recruiter for Additional Information and Guidance

If you are from outside California and are interested in making the transition to a position at a Biglaw firm or in-house legal department in California, then you may be concerned about your job prospects given the highly-competitive legal market in the state.  Qualified and experienced attorney-candidates are likely to secure a position, though they may face certain challenges in obtaining “ideal” placements as they proceed with the recruitment process — as such, it’s important to connect with a skilled Bay Area legal recruiter for assistance.

Here at Garb Jaffe & Associates, our team of legal recruiters boast decades of experience helping attorney-candidates throughout the hiring process, and assisting with resume development, employer assessments, mock interviews, and counseling sessions, among various other matters.  We believe that comprehensive, candidate-oriented recruitment assistance serves as the foundation for developing an effective application.  Over the years, we have secured best-fit placements for our clients in Biglaw firms and in-house legal departments alike.

Call (310) 207-0727 to speak to an experienced Bay Area legal recruiter at Garb Jaffe.  We’re excited to work with you and help you achieve your career goals!

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