“…the activity level is better than in 1999…”

California is booming, with press on Silicon Valley and its start-up community illustrating the awe inspiring growth that California has been experiencing, and legal is no exception. With over 58,000 new jobs created in 2014, and a growth rate unseen since 2000, the legal market is cautiously but quickly expanding to service their ever increasing client base.

While Silicon Valley continues to be primarily tech driven, legal has seen an upswing in work across all practice areas. One Canadian lawyer, now a partner at a premier California firm said that, “…the activity level is better than in 1999…” Silicon Valley accounted for 46.9% of all state patent registrations, 26.2% of all state M&A activity and 39.7% of state IPOs in California, leading some to fear the possibility of another tech bubble, but economists and industry leaders are quick to dispel fears.

As of 2014, California’s economy had surpassed Brazil in size, with an equivalent GDP of $2.20 trillion, and is the 2nd fastest growing state economy behind Colorado; this is no reason to be fearful though. The Columbian, a Washington based paper, recently wrote about just this, with Russell Hancock, President of Joint Venture, saying that, “…unlike 15 years ago when the tech sector spiked and then crashed, this time economists say there’s a solid economic base.”

Law firms tend to agree, that although valuations continue to soar to new heights, this time, “…there are tangible revenue streams and real business models behind the companies… they aren’t just going to collapse.”

Firms, however, are remaining cautious and conservative when it comes to growth and spending, one firm was described as achieving this by, “…not carrying debt, having a small partner buy in, while focusing on strategic growth… and hiring people that can do the work.”

California has reclaimed and rebuilt its booming economy, causing law firm competition for talent to becoming increasingly fierce. California based firms needs for talent are no longer satisfied by the state’s lawyers, leading firms to reach further afield. Targeting cities like New York, Boston, but also Canadians specifically those based in Toronto, and quite often prospective lawyers have not even written the California bar.

We too have seen and felt the reach of California firms looking for lawyers eager to escape the polar vortex of winter, with strong academic credentials, an eagerness to work hard, and the attitude to fit into the Valley’s culture, that one partner equated to “…living in a 3D movie.”  The opportunities are out there, the real question is are you ready for the challenge?

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