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Associates are considering moves to smaller markets, legal recruiters say

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Associates in New York and other large cities are considering moves to smaller legal markets that would be less costly and closer to family, legal recruiters told Law360.

Some associates are considering moves to different offices of their law firm or remote work. But others are exploring moves to cities such as Denver, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Detroit.

Few law firms are hiring right now, but when that changes, there could be a lot of associates switching firms, the recruiters said.

Legal recruiter Ken Young, who handles placements in law firms in the Southeast, told Law360 that he is seeing interest from associates.

Young noted that many law firms have hiring freezes in place. “But I do get calls from BigLaw associates in the largest cities wanting to move to the Southeast for green grass, the ability to get outside, no need to ride a subway,” he said.

Many associates in Los Angeles and New York relocated to less populated areas to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Michelle Fivel, a partner in the associate practice group at legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa. Some stayed with family and others stayed at second family homes, Fivel told Law360.

Some law firms may allow associates to continue working remotely, but many will likely require some face-to-face interaction at least once per week, Fivel said.

There could be problems for associates who are allowed to work remotely, according to San Francisco Bay recruiter Daren Wein, who also spoke with Law360.

“The fact that people can do work remotely doesn’t mean that they will get that work once they leave town,” Wein said, citing the adage, “out of sight, out of mind.”

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