This year marked the worst ever fire season in California’s history. Again. So to the average person considering a relocation, Southern California might not top their list right now. But we’ve been seeing attorneys flocking to Los Angeles at a record pace in recent months, as firms rapidly expand their Santa Monica and Century City offices.
The most obvious reason for their moves has been COVID-19, as Biglaw’s previous aversion to remote work has had to go out the window. Suddenly the need to be in Manhattan or San Francisco has waned for attorneys with a few years of experience under their belts, and the allure of having a house with a pool (and an actual home office space that’s not your dining room table) has grown. That house may not be as cheap as a house in the Midwest, but compared to housing in New York or San Francisco, it’s a downright bargain.
But aside from lifestyle reasons, the growth of SoCal’s tech scene has been a major draw for attorneys. While LA is still the best choice for any attorney wanting to break into entertainment, it’s also become a hotspot for attorneys with interests in technology and emerging companies as an increasing number of startups have decided to make SoCal their home. Tech hubs need an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and engineers who can move on to new projects when one startup goes bust, and SoCal’s ecosystem has been steadily growing as talent leaves San Francisco for the aforementioned house with a pool. New York saw a similar influx of tech talent around 2010, and the need for ECVC and tech attorneys followed shortly after.
In addition to firms growing their SoCal offices, we’ve seen a major uptick in in-house jobs in the area. While a year ago more startups had preferences for local candidates for counsel positions, the standardization of virtual interviews has evened the playing field for attorneys considering a relocation.
So if Southern California has been on your mind, and you’re not deterred by the fires, hopefully this has given you the permission you need to start working towards your move. SoCal is no longer a death sentence for your Biglaw career. And did we mention that it’s 70 degrees in San Diego year round?