Spurred on by strict regulations, high taxes, and an inflated housing market, the mass migration of tech companies from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX, shows no signs of slowing down. Within the last year or so, Oracle, 8VC, FireTrail, and Question Pro announced plans to move their corporate headquarters to Austin, aka “Silicon Hills.”
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Although we would probably prefer to do so, the last two winters are ones that residents of Austin, TX, will soon not forget. In February 2021, winter storm Uri paralyzed the area for days with a mix of freezing rain, snow, and frigid temperatures. The storm caused widespread power outages that impacted thousands of households and businesses while further – and sadly – resulting in hundreds of deaths.
Houston has always been known for energy and oil & gas. An area located west of downtown known as the Energy Corridor is home to many of these companies. There are currently twenty-one Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Houston, most of them related to Oil & Gas/Energy.
Included in the Top 200 are Phillips 66, ConocoPhillips, Plains All American Pipeline, Baker Hughes and Halliburton. Upstream, downstream, drilling, pipelines, and oilfield services. These companies have large corporate counsel offices and equally large outside counsel with multiple law firms.
As legal and compliance recruiters in Texas, we continue to work with corporations who are improving their legal operations and getting more out of every dollar of legal spend. General Counsels remain focused on optimizing performance and creating new efficiencies in order to positively contribute to the bottom-line. Creating a well-run legal machine with enhanced productivity and improved efficiencies requires lawyers to combine their legal knowledge with business judgement. Enter stage right – Legal Operations Specialists – now indispensable members of the corporate legal team. Legal Operations Specialists arrive at their specialty through myriad paths, from legal work as an attorney or paralegal, an I.T. background, accounting, or other internal operations.
New rules have been announced for lawyers seeking Admission Without Examination (waive-in) to be admitted in Texas. Currently in order to be licensed in Texas without taking the Texas Bar Examination, you must demonstrate that you:
- Hold a J.D. from an ABA-approved U.S. law school
- Are licensed to practice law in another state
- Have been actively and substantially engaged in the lawful practice of law as your principal business or occupation for at least 5 of the 7 years immediately preceding your application
- Have never failed the Texas Bar Examination
Whether in private practice or a corporate legal department, having a niche legal practice is critical to a lawyer’s success and opportunities today. A specialty also translates to more control over your career and the number of options available to you: whether you want to change firms, move in-house, or pursue an alternative legal practice of some sort. Our December blog discussed this prevailing trend and the importance of having a niche, along with some of the reasons why specialization has replaced the traditional wisdom of being a generalist who can handle almost any type of legal matter. This month we explore how to choose a niche and develop one a bit further.
In our work as legal recruiters, we talk to candidates every day about job opportunities and what they seek in a new position. Many times we actively solicit attorneys with niche practice areas for specific client needs and there are some firms we call first – because we know that job satisfaction at certain firms is low and highly qualified associates are eager for a new opportunity. But there are some firms where the job satisfaction is so high that associates rarely want to leave and won’t even consider a new opportunity, no matter how great it is.
158 people move to Austin each day, and 400,000 into Texas each year. Numerous publications have marveled at the growth and economic strength of our Lone Star State in the past year – such as Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg and Kiplingers to name a few. Two recent reports caught our attention and prompted our legal recruiters to ask what these trends mean for both employers seeking top talent for highly skilled jobs and job seekers in a competitive, educated workforce. As legal recruiters based in Texas and with extensive experience here, we see firsthand the impact of these factors at play as well as some significant secondary consequences that we thought our clients and candidates would find helpful.