How Laterals Can Overcome the Relocation Challenge

It can be frustrating when you’re an attorney looking to relocate to a new city. Employers tend to gravitate towards local candidates for a number of reasons, from the cost of relocation to the timing for a start date. Beyond that, many of them have probably been burned in the past by attorneys who were eager to move to a new city and then found out the grass wasn’t actually greener.

If you’re a lateral attorney who needs or wants to relocate, however, don’t get discouraged. While there may be some prospective employers who will not consider out-of-state candidates, there are also many employers that are happy to consider relocates, and there are some common objections you can anticipate and use a proactive approach to overcome. Do the following five things, and you can level the playing field between yourself and local candidates:

Make your case

Don’t simply hope the recruiter won’t notice that you live 1,500 miles away. Instead, address your reasons for relocation and any ties you have to your future city in your cover letter. If someone is passing along your resume for you, make sure they know why you’re relocating and can advocate on your behalf.

It’s easy if your spouse is getting transferred or you have a family reason for relocating. The tougher situation is when you’re relocating for a change in scenery or because you hate your current location.

You’ll want to go beyond simply saying something that amounts to, “I’ve always loved visiting Chicago, and I think it’s time for a change.” You might be viewed as someone with wanderlust who never puts down roots. Instead, show that you’ve done your research about the city and have solid reasons for believing it’s the right place for you long-term. If you have any ties to the city – family in the area, you attended college nearby, you spent every summer in the city – those are good things to mention as well.

Shoulder the cost

From the outset, you should make it clear you’re willing to relocate yourself at no cost to the employer. Sure, you’d love to get a relocation bonus, but it can significantly increase your odds of landing a job in a new city if you reduce the financial burden on the law firm or company.

Make yourself available

By the same token, you should also be willing to foot the bill to travel for the interview. Ideally, you should offer dates when you’ll be in town in your cover letter (even if you don’t really have plans to visit), increasing the odds that the prospective employer will be willing to interview you.

Don’t make timing an issue

One advantage a local candidate will have over you is that they can likely start sooner. Although you’ll both give notice to your current employers, the local candidate won’t need time to move and get settled. Remember that you want to eliminate as much risk and burden from your potential employer as possible. If that means you have to move over a weekend, start on Monday, and deal with unpacking over several weekends, so be it.

Since you might get a question about this during your interview, do your research in advance and know where you want to live in the city. Being able to show you’ve done your research and know exactly where you’re going to live will go a long way in relieving any concern the firm might have about your ability to move and get started quickly.

Do the paperwork

If you’re moving to a new state, you’ll either need to complete the paperwork to waive into the new jurisdiction or register for the bar examination. Go ahead and get that process started to show your future employer that you’re not only serious about the move, but also you’re being proactive in preparing for your relocation.

If you can walk into an interview and make the prospective employer feel like you’re moving – with or without an offer from them – you can help cultivate a sense of confidence that hiring you brings no additional risk or burden to the firm compared to hiring a local candidate.

Follow these five easy steps and hopefully you can overcome the relocation challenge and be on your way to an exciting position in a new city!