Erisa Attorney position in Boulder, Co?
November 21, 2007 9:00 PM   Subscribe

My SO and I are contemplating fleeing California for Boulder. Co because of the high housing prices. I am an ERISA attorney who represents large traditional pension funds. I like my job. I think my chances of finding a firm with an ERISA practice in Boulder are slim to nil. I've googled, etc., but I thought I'd ask here in case anyone knows of anything. Denver is out of the question because of the long commute. Also, I've seen some corporate / transactional practices in Boulder. Could I make the transition from ERISA to corporate work (it's not something I ever even contemplated until now)? Any help is much appreciated
posted by bananafish to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Search the job first. Legal recruiters are your friend here.
posted by caddis at 9:27 PM on November 21, 2007

I think real estate in Boulder is pretty expensive too ... are you sure it will be cheap enough to justify the move?
posted by mccxxiii at 9:48 PM on November 21, 2007

Boulder is certainly cheaper than CA, but don't expect a huge housing price drop, especially if you're looking to buy. There are areas of northern Denver close to Boulder that are quite a bit more affordable.

It seems like being an ERISA attorney is a pretty specialized practice and honestly, Boulder is not a big town. It's about 90K people, ~32K are students, staff or faculty at CU. Specialized professions that aren't related to any of the big organizations in Boulder (CU, NCAR, etc) aren't going to be easy to come by. If you really want to be in the area, I'd consider look at Denver. Good luck!
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:42 PM on November 21, 2007

First, a thought of concern about Boulder. Law firms and big corporate legal departments are continually consolidating -- getting bigger, eliminating branch offices, etc. Why this should be so in the internet era, I don't know, but it is absolutely happening. High-end lawyering must be the only profession where there are proportionately more core major metro vs. minor metro vs. suburban/exurban jobs now than there were 10 or 20 years ago, but it's true. Not only does this raise a concern about Boulder, but also about Denver.

Second -- could you transition? Yes. And given that forced career transition is regularly the lot of narrowly-specialized lawyers (for example, a change in the tax code 20 years ago abolished the practices of many thousands of real estate lawyers) it might not be a bad idea to try.

I see two directions to try.

Consider another area of regulatory law. It's the same basic practice toolkit, believe it or not. There's lots of interesting opportunities in energy, land-use, environmental, water resources, etc. If we see crude stick in the $90s or higher Colorado will become the epicenter of oil shale mining.

Also -- you could try to become a broader employment lawyer. Lots of exciting things to learn and do, and plenty of business opportunity, if you can add to ERISA a knowledge of wage and hour, discrimination, executive compensation, management-side or union-side labor relations, etc. Lots of successful employment lawyers have multiple functions, and this is particularly true of those who work in house.
posted by MattD at 5:42 AM on November 22, 2007

If you work for a large firm now, have you considered asking them if you can tele-commute off partnership track? Because in my experience, ERISA attorneys are hard to come by and difficult to replace. They may be willing to work with you -- and you won't know if you don't ask.

Also, there are lots and lots of other places you could go to be an ERISA attorney -- why Colorado, exactly? What are you looking for?

At our firm, the ERISA attorneys are part of the corporate group, and while they work with the employment group, they universally would not want to do that full time. I would think the transition to corporate would be easier.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:58 AM on November 22, 2007

I would also recomend checking on working with an insurance company or brokerage firm. Well versed ERISA attourneys are key to providing top notch service. I work for a major national insurance corporation and we have an attourney in each sales office.

Also, a lot of municipal governments need attourneys versed in this specific legal category, so don't discount them. I work with City governments and County school boards both. Each of them deals with multiple unions and contractors, any of which might require a legal review.
posted by slavlin at 9:30 AM on November 22, 2007

Denver is out of the question because of the long commute

I used to live in Denver and commuted to Boulder every day for work, it is not that big of a commute, really. There are lots of nice suburbs between Denver proper and Boulder, like Arvada and Westminster. I would move back there in a heartbeat if I hadn't fallen in love with San Francisco.
posted by goml at 9:54 AM on November 26, 2007

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