For many years, the legal market in Dallas has focused on financial services and commercial real estate. This business has certainly been affected by the pandemic, and we’ve seen personnel reduction in some large and mid-size firms.
The new year typically brings a flood of freshly bonused and holiday rested attorneys into the job pool. With few firms paying bonuses in 2020 and stability of some firms in question, we are not seeing the usual increase of lawyers interested in making a move.
Where Lawyer Hiring is Taking Place
Our comeback kid appears to be pandemic-related bankruptcy work. This has resulted in many law firms adding lawyers and paralegals with bankruptcy experience to their ranks. Reviewing Dallas/ Ft. Worth job postings on Indeed, Texas State Bar website and others, we see boutiques and mid-size firms looking for litigators with 2-5 years’ experience.
These firms can potentially benefit with the availability of big firm trained attorneys that were laid-off in 2020. Those still employed feel a natural inclination to sit tight until the economic picture becomes more stable creating a tough sell for legal recruiters trying to entice them away to another law firm.
Historically we see litigation work increase and corporate/ transactional work decrease during troubling or challenging times. Certainly 2020 checks many of the boxes to qualify as challenging. Presidential election, huge swings in the stock market and of course, the COVID pandemic. Litigation including bankruptcy work, both individual and corporate. We see law firms hiring for these litigation groups, primarily at the associate level. COVID related employment law for terminated workers, and companies and law firms trying to navigate terminations, furloughs and work from home issues.
In-house practices have remained fairly stagnant. We wouldn’t view this as stable at this point, but more of a hunker-down and weather the storm. With Q2 being the next timeframe to evaluate remote workers, returning to the office, assessing hiring needs or possible lay-offs, we will have a better idea of hiring needs this year.
How Dallas is Faring Compared to Other Cities
Buoyed by transportation, fine art, and Fortune 500 companies, in 2020 Dallas ranked as the 14th best city in the country and one of the top cities in Texas, according to Vancouver-based Resonance Consultancy Ltd’s annual study. The study, which specializes in marketing, strategy, and research for the real estate, tourism, and economic development sectors ranks large U.S. cities by relying on a mix of 26 performance and quality measures.
Of No. 14 Dallas, the report says, “Dallas-boosters like to say that ‘Big Things Happen Here,’ and as the city climbs up our ranking, we’d have to agree … the city isn’t just big money; it’s big on fun and culture, too.”
Highlights for Dallas include:
- 1 ranking for airport connectivity, thanks largely to the presence of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
- Country’s highest concentration of corporate headquarters (more than 10,000).
- Country’s third largest grouping of Fortune 500 companies (24 in Dallas-Fort Worth).
The strong Texas economy entering the pandemic will certainly play a role in the recovery of the major cities, including Dallas.
Population Changes that could Impact Attorneys in Dallas
The Texas Triangle, stretching from Dallas on the north to Austin and San Antonio at the southwest corner, with Houston anchoring the southeast corner. The Triangle is comprised of only 35 of Texas’s 254 counties. But 18 million people live in those 35 counties — 66% of the state’s population in 2020.
A surprisingly large number of the Triangle’s residents live in large cities. Already, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are among the nation’s 10 most populous cities. These cities are growing fast. By 2050, the populations of the Dallas and Houston metros each are expected to grow to 13 million people — about the same population as metro London or Beijing.
Furthermore, the Triangle produces 77% of the state’s gross domestic product. The Triangle is home to 48 Fortune 500 headquarters.