Advice for Lawyers Contemplating Relocation

Question:

I’m considering relocating to maximize my job opportunities. What legal career advice do you have in terms of cities that are reasonably affordable and offer strong prospects for legal careers?

Answer:

Be strategic when weighing job offers in other cities. Salaries and cost of living are obviously important, but think beyond the money. Considering career prospects, for example, means considering the strength of a city’s economic base as carefully as the stability of the hiring organization. The quality of life a city offers, and its cultural diversity, should also be added to the mix.

Comparing one location against another can be tedious and time consuming, but much of the work is already done for you. The Robert Half Career City Index benchmarks 25 U.S. cities to measure different aspects of career development opportunities, quality and cost of living, and cultural environment. Here are the three cities that ranked highest overall.

No. 1: Seattle

The Emerald City has a wealth of green spaces, and the larger metropolitan area is home to such corporate behemoths as Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and, of course, Starbucks. Traditionally, the region has offered more in terms of affordable cost of living than other major West and East Coast cities.

Heed this legal career advice, though: Act fast if you’re interested in moving there. Seattle is expected to grow as Facebook, Google and Salesforce establish remote offices in the city, which will likely drive up prices in the housing market. But growth is good for legal careers, especially for legal professionals with experience in IT, biotechnology, aerospace, healthcare and manufacturing. 

No. 2: Boston

The Boston metro area scores well in three categories: career prospects, quality of life and cultural diversity. The city’s reputation for finance, insurance, healthcare and academia translate into abundant opportunities for legal professionals with relevant expertise.

The slight downside is that it has a fairly high cost of living. However, Boston has the fifth-highest median household income in the Career City Index, meaning housing costs could be offset by a higher starting salary, so brush up on your salary negotiation tactics.

No. 3: San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its Giants in terms of both baseball and companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. While it is notoriously expensive, the region ranks very high for cultural diversity.

When job searching in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll do well to remember that innovation and real estate are major players here: If you have a background in intellectual property or real estate, this could be the place you should call home.

These three cities are by no means the only options for advancing legal careers. See the city index for help as you weigh options in other metropolitan areas, and Robert Half Legal for more legal career advice. Good luck!