Can you help me move?
September 5, 2009 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Where do I go? Can you recommend your city / town / country based on what you like about it?

I'll be graduating from law school in May. The law school isn't very highly ranked, but my grades have held steady around a 3.5 GPA. I've got experience doing academic legal research as well as small (one lawyer) office experience. All I really know is that I don't want to stay and take the bar here (it is COLD).

Please, tell me a little about where you live or have lived, and why you like it. Can mefis recommend places that they like that:

1. Need (and hire) new lawyers like me.
2. Have no winter (rainy seasons OK...but no snow!).
3. Maybe have a little ocean front.
4. Are a little like Chattanooga, TN or Charlottesville, VA (but aren't actually those places).
5. Are pretty liberal, even if the state is red.

If you're a lawyer, why did you go where you are? Do you like it? Or, if you're an expat American with a J.D. .... how did you get there?

I know this is pretty broad, but I'd like input from real people, rather than a brochure in a career office! Thanks!!
posted by motsque to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
With the caveat that it is expensive to live here, I always recommend the SF bay area. We don't have snow unless you want it, and drive to get it. We DO actually have seasons, but rain is as bad as it gets and really only happens in any sustained way in the late winter / early spring.

You have beaches within 30 minutes, skiing within a four hour drive. It is decidedly liberal. I can't speak to the hiring of lawyers, but I don't know any unemployed lawyers here, so there is that. Also, you can't beat living in the middle of silicon valley for neat new companies for which to work.

The only other place I have visited in the U.S. and thought I could live was Austin, TX. It's like a tiny liberal bastion in the middle of Texas.
posted by Edubya at 10:02 AM on September 5, 2009

Your options are pretty limited with no winter and ocean front. Florida or California, neither of which are states I would recommend for any other reasons. Mayve Oregon or Washington, but I have not been to either of those places, so I cannot speak for them.
posted by Palerale at 10:04 AM on September 5, 2009

The only other place I have visited in the U.S. and thought I could live was Austin, TX. It's like a tiny liberal bastion in the middle of Texas.

This was my first thought, too. I have not idea what the market for lawyers is in Austin, but it definitely meets your criteria for 2 and 5 (I lived there from 99-04 and I think I saw it "snow" maybe twice, and that is usually gone the next day). There's no ocean in Austin, but there is a river that is dammed up in several places to form "lakes," an of course, in a few hours you could drive to the Gulf.

Austin is in the Hill Country of central Texas, so while there are not mountains like Chattanooga, it does have some interesting topography, and the area in general is, IMHO, the prettiest in Texas.

My personal caveats: Austin summers were way too hot for me (30+ straight days of 100+degrees temps is just too damn hot), but that's a personal preference. I did find that the humidity was pretty bearable, esp. compared to places I've lived in the midwest.

Also, many, many people I knew (including myself) suffered HORRIBLY from allergies in Austin. I've lived in several other "high allergy" places, but I have never been as sick as I was there. Every. Damn. Day.

But it's a really interesting, vibrant city, and the cost of living is certainly lower than SF, for example.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:05 AM on September 5, 2009

*no idea
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:06 AM on September 5, 2009

I have no idea what the job market is like for lawyers, but Gainesville, Florida sounds right up your alley--small city, HOT (it gets in the thirties in the winter sometimes, but no snow--our rainy season is actually in August), a nice mix of culture (decent restaurants) and nature (there's a prairie with real live buffalo not far from the center of town!). Very liberal, and the beach is about a 1-2 hour drive away--not terribly close, but doable.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:52 AM on September 5, 2009

Give New Orleans a look. There's no ocean, but there's plenty of water, and it's one of the more liberal southern cities. Great food, culture, and snow is a non-issue. I lived there for a few years during graduate school, and had the best time of my life.
posted by tryniti at 12:23 PM on September 5, 2009

It might not meet your other criteria, but Houston has a pretty open legal community. Although getting licensed in Texas will certainly help, there are plenty of small shops that might hire you otherwise. If you have any interest in criminal defense: the Harris County District Attorney's office sure does create a lot of work.

Houston is bigger than the examples you provide (by a lot) but the Montrose neighborhood is a) very open-minded and b) totally approachable as a community within a city. In fact, most urban areas in Texas (Austin, as a college town and seat of government for sure, Dallas, Houston, and San Anotonio less so) are much more progressive than the suburban and rural parts of the state. Mind you, no one will compare them to San Francisco.
posted by GPF at 1:05 PM on September 5, 2009

Palo Alto, CA is my favorite place. There is a ton of VC money and a gazillion start-ups, so if you're the sort of lawyer who handles financial things, corporate mergers, patents and IP, or whatever, then you'll probably find a job down here. I just spoke with an attorney friend who was telling me how shocked they were that firms are still hiring in the down economy. There is no winter to speak of: I play golf Feb -> Nov and there are year-round farmers markets. The area is beautiful, tons of ocean front areas to explore, the people are liberal (or libertarian) and you have all the benefits of being near SF. The down side is real estate ain't cheap.

Seattle or Portland are a decent compromise between real estate and your other issues. They're both very liberal, beautiful in the summer and have pretty mild (though rainy) winters. Snow once a year in Seattle, maybe. The Portland-Seattle-Vancouver triad will keep you entertained. Portland is pretty granola, Seattle less so than it used to be. Lots of traffic issues in Seattle.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2009

San Diego! 75 degrees and sunny year-round, beautiful beaches, and, even though it's a big city, feels small and close-knit. It is fairly conservative, however. The legal market there is small, but if you're into biotech and/or IP and patent law, then it'd be a great place for you.

Also, don't go to San Francisco, at least not now. The legal market there right now is *terrible*.
posted by shannonigans at 7:24 AM on September 6, 2009

How are you with humidity? Because I am seeing high humidity (New Orleans) vs. low humidity (Palo Alto) in the choices offered. Humidity can make a big, big difference in your level of comfort. Neither Gainsville, Florida nor San Diego, California have snow in the winter but they are at opposite sides of the humidity scale.

Florida: Buggy, especially mosquitoes. Bad for arthritic joints. Harder to cool off in the heat. Opressive feeling. Hurricanes possible.

California: Water shortages in the future could become serious. Dryness can stress eyes and noses. Smog is no joke. Santa Ana winds are unpleasant. Wildfires (and earthquakes) possible.

I would definitely give it a two week trial before committing to either extreme.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:56 AM on September 6, 2009

I'm a lawyer. I relocated from the New York area to Portland three years ago and I can't think of any place I'd rather be.

It's a midsize legal market, but one that's open to people coming in from the outside. Finding a legal job anywhere in this economy is tough. Portland isn't hurting for lawyers, but I'm guessing not so much harder to find a job here than other cities these days.

The city otherwise fits your criteria. Most winters there's very little wintry weather, although occasionally, like last winter, there will be a few weeks of wintry weather, and an even more occasional real snowstorm. Still, most of the winter is wet, not frozen.

In the summer, there are swimmable beaches along the Columbia River, and the ocean is only an hour away.

I've never been to Chattanooga or Charlottesville, so I can't comment on that.

Portland is as liberal a city as you'll find. The state is solidly blue because of more urban centers west of the mountains, but the entire eastern 2/3 of the state is as red as anywhere else you'll find.

I came here because of the endless outdoor opportunities, cool people, and thought it would be a great place to raise a family. I haven't been disappointed.
posted by saladpants at 8:32 AM on September 6, 2009

I'm in Seattle. I moved up here to be with my husband. I like the natural beauty of the area, the food scene, the farmer's markets, the generally mild weather (though it does snow occasionally and people aren't very good at handling it when it does), and the proximity to Portland and Vancouver. I like the sheer number of interesting book readings, plays, and concerts that the area has to offer.

Seattle is a pretty tough market for entry-level attorneys, unless you want to practice criminal defense or family law. UW and the University of Seattle keep churning out graduates, and there are lots of people like me who start off somewhere else, and move to Seattle for lifestyle reasons. If you get your heart set on Seattle, you might be better off getting a few years of experience somewhere else first.
posted by creepygirl at 12:27 PM on September 6, 2009

« Older Free degree or let loose passion?   |   Can I bleach my curtains white? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.