Salt Lake City Legal Market? Forum

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Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:03 pm

My SO just was admitted to a graduate program in Salt Lake City, and we are potentially relocating from NYC to SLC next fall. Does anyone have any insight into the Salt Lake City litigation job market? I know a few larger firms say that they have an office in SLC (e.g., QE), but what other firms should I look into if I am interested in litigation? Obviously, my NYC v10 firm does not have a satellite office in SLC so transferring is not an option.

*Please don't quote.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:17 am

Other than QE, I know Greenberg Traurig just opened up an office but I don't know if they are doing litigation. Some regional firms with offices in SLC include Snell and Wilmer, Dorsey, Holland and Hart, Stoel Rives, and Ballard Spahr. Some local shops include Jones Waldo, Snow Christensen, Ray Quinney, Parr Brown, and Kirton McConkie.

Hope this list helps.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:18 am

I'm not entirely sure how the lateral market works for Salt Lake firms. On the one hand, I'm sure they're happy to hire T14s, but it's a competitive market because there are a lot of people (re: Mormons) who practice for a few years out of state then try to move back to Salt Lake to be closer to family, raise kids, and get a bigger house. If you were transactional I would say you would have a bit more of an edge because you likely would have worked on more deals and bigger deals than people in Salt Lake firms, but that isn't the case; you may get a bit of pushback from people thinking you just did doc review your whole time in NY.

If you have IP or patent experience, that would be a good thing to highlight in your applications. That has tended to be the fastest-growing practice area in Salt Lake because of the growing Lehi "Silicon Slopes" tech scene. Salt Lake firms are also starving for diversity (but also kind of afraid of it), so if you're not a white man it could help you get through the door (but may ultimately make it difficult to become partner)

Anyways, as far as major players to look into, I'd prioritize regional firms but also apply to the larger state firms. Quin Emanuel is the one V50 firm with a presence in Utah, but its presence is miniscule--I believe it has four attorneys in SLC and they all do IP. But I've also heard it's expanding and that it allows for inter-office work, so could still be worth sending an application to.

Regional Firms
Stoel Rives
Holland & Hart
Snell Wilmer
Dorsey & Whitney
Ballard Spahr

Good Midlaw Firms
Snow, Christensen & Martineau
Parsons Behle & Latimer
Parr Brown Gee & Loveless
Ray Quinney Nebeker
Kirton McConkie (in a conservative legal market, this is probably the most conservative firm. They do a lot of legal work for the LDS Church)

I'm probably forgetting some and I'm unfortunately light on the details of what actually differentiates each firm from another, but hopefully this should be a good start. I believe starting salary at all the firms I mentioned is around 120k and, at least for the midlaw firms, the billable requirement is between 1500-1800 hours.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:00 am

The regional firms bumped starting salaries to 135k last year. The local firms vary from 120k-130k. I imagine that salaries will increase again since the COL is increasing due to an influx of people moving here. The housing market is going crazy right now.

Law firms in Utah are doing a lot of hiring right now, but it is mostly for corporate. The lateral market is pretty competitive for corporate but I don’t know the litigation market very well. It seems like a lot of the commercial litigation is done by boutiques made up of a few former biglaw attorneys.

I’ve noticed that Utah firms use LinkedIn so that could be a good resource to gauge the lateral opportunities.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Mar 28, 2021 10:58 pm

required billables are all between 1750 and 1900. Starting salary at top tier firms here was bumped to $135k and they probably won't bump for another year or two, the market is conservative and they know there is a lot higher supply than demand. Worth noting that only Ballard Spahr is lockstep all the way, the rest are blackbox and increases tend to be $2.5k to $5k.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:04 pm

Anybody know what GT's office is like in SLC and what their starting pay is there?

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:17 pm

I interviewed with GT's SLC office last year. At that time, it was just bankruptcy, and I don't think they've added any other practice groups, looking at the website.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:27 pm

I suspect they will get more people as WFH becomes a thing but curious if they are paying local market rates ($135k first year) and whether their salary bumps are on the compressed intermountain scale of $3,000 to $5,000 or the coastal $10k. Im surprised they dont have more people yet because it would make sense in terms of lower costs for firm.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 6:58 pm

Anyone think Utah firms are going to bump base salary soon?

Wife and I have looked into moving back to the market but really turned off by the compensation I was seeing. Pretty ignorant for firms there to continue to take the position that Utah is "such a cheap place to live" that they can justify $130s for starting salary and then black box comp. you for who knows how long. Im not saying its as costly as SF and NY (we are living that cash burn now) but its definitely not some fly-over state anymore.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:05 pm

NY V50 and moving back to Utah, but I'm staying with my firm on a remote basis for this very reason. Sure they have a lot of grads from BYU and Utah there but none of those firms will get experienced attorneys from out of the state with that scale. Short sighted too in my opinion because other firms are going to start opening up shop in Utah and all it will take is a small increase to the "local" base salary to recruit any high performers and the existing firms won't be able to keep their talent. I see this happening more on the transactional practices since the firm can pay an associate in Utah 2/3rds of their big market salaries and bill them at big market rates since it doesn't matter where your team is located for transactional (other than RE). Litigation will still have a local-focus and that will matter. All of this and the WFH trends will be interesting to see how they affect secondary markets.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:14 pm

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:05 pm
NY V50 and moving back to Utah, but I'm staying with my firm on a remote basis for this very reason. Sure they have a lot of grads from BYU and Utah there but none of those firms will get experienced attorneys from out of the state with that scale. Short sighted too in my opinion because other firms are going to start opening up shop in Utah and all it will take is a small increase to the "local" base salary to recruit any high performers and the existing firms won't be able to keep their talent. I see this happening more on the transactional practices since the firm can pay an associate in Utah 2/3rds of their big market salaries and bill them at big market rates since it doesn't matter where your team is located for transactional (other than RE). Litigation will still have a local-focus and that will matter. All of this and the WFH trends will be interesting to see how they affect secondary markets.
Obviously if you can make NYC biglaw salary in Utah, that's way more than secondary/tertiary market comp, but that's an unusual scenario. 135 in Utah is still significantly more than 190 in NYC after a COL adjustment. There are tons of T14 grads in Utah for a state of its size despite the "low" comp. And SLC is much too small for real biglaw firms to seriously enter except maybe as a satellite for arbitrage (which is unattractive to associates for other reasons) because local billing rates are too low.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:54 pm

2L here, why would a satellite office of a biglaw firm in SLC be unattractive to associates? It seems like the idea of getting to do work for bigger market clients from the comfort of Utah (while probably getting paid more than associates at local firms) would be ideal. What am I missing?

I agree with you tho that 55k is not even enough to cover living in NY. Is it still 55k when you're a 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th...? Based on what I hear from my classmates, the difference gets up to 130k or even 150k as a mid-level associate.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:54 pm
2L here, why would a satellite office of a biglaw firm in SLC be unattractive to associates? It seems like the idea of getting to do work for bigger market clients from the comfort of Utah (while probably getting paid more than associates at local firms) would be ideal. What am I missing?

I agree with you tho that 55k is not even enough to cover living in NY. Is it still 55k when you're a 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th...? Based on what I hear from my classmates, the difference gets up to 130k or even 150k as a mid-level associate.
It may be unattractive to some (not all) because of the following examples:

1. client emails on Saturday around noon while you are out w/ your big mormon family asking for a call to discuss the latest turn of the purchase agreement:

a. In biglaw you need to have seen and responded to the email w/in an hour (at very least) that you will revert on availability, then poll your working group for their availability. You will have the call whenever your partners are available, regardless of what you are doing, and it will be that afternoon. You will have work to do afterwards.

b. At your SLC "midlaw" firm, your partner says "let's do it on Monday".

2. It is 9PM, you just pushed out a purchase agreement and you are tired, you have a backlog of terrible work from junior associates to review.

a. In biglaw, you continue to work until the backlog is done. Go to bed maybe before midnight if you are really lucky.

b. In SLC midlaw, you call it a night and no one cares.

3. You are junior associate who just gave your senior associate a terrible work product at 3 PM. You have been waiting for comments since then. You have given up on receiving comments. At 10:30 PM you receive a passive aggressive email from senior associate with a markup and a number of soft comments to your doc. Associate asks you to make the changes that night, send to associate for one more quick eyeball, and then send on to partner.

a. In biglaw, you do it that night.

b. In SLC midlaw, you do it tomorrow morning.

This is why you get paid less in SLC - to be clear, you get paid wayyyyy less (I took a nearly 200k hit when I came). This is also why your billables are so much lower - first year at Latham is not worth $600/hr because he is so brilliant, it is because first year at Latham is always on call.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:52 pm

Aside from hours, structurally it’s very, very hard to make partner at a biglaw satellite in a small market. Your billing rate, and thus the value of your book of business, will be smaller than the partners in larger markets, so they won’t want to split the pie with you. At the same time, you often won’t be working on local work, which limits your relationships and thus your book of business. That problem also carries over to other firms, who have no use for a lateral partner or senior associate with no local business.

Satellites also often get the stuff to work on that the major market offices don’t want to do.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 02, 2021 12:38 am

I do wonder how the legal market there will respond to the housing shortage and COL increases. I’ve been passively looking and it feels (I’m sure there is data) like everything is either overpriced or sold within 2 days.

Will firms increase billing rates (and salaries)?

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 07, 2021 3:54 am

GT office in SLC seems to have grown but just partner laterals and the focus seems to be bankruptcy and lending.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:32 pm

What’s going on with salt lake salaries? I’ve heard rumblings about base salaries moving to $150,000. Can anyone confirm?

And any insights on likely salary for a 4th or 5th year lateral to the market?

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 29, 2021 11:04 pm

[/quote]

Obviously if you can make NYC biglaw salary in Utah, that's way more than secondary/tertiary market comp, but that's an unusual scenario. 135 in Utah is still significantly more than 190 in NYC after a COL adjustment. There are tons of T14 grads in Utah for a state of its size despite the "low" comp. And SLC is much too small for real biglaw firms to seriously enter except maybe as a satellite for arbitrage (which is unattractive to associates for other reasons) because local billing rates are too low.
[/quote]

Can confirm that this is not unusual and know of several non-partner attorneys who work remotely for true big law firms. It’s less than 10 but in this market that’s a significant number as most corporate practices here have 4 or less associates.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 30, 2021 11:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:32 pm
What’s going on with salt lake salaries? I’ve heard rumblings about base salaries moving to $150,000. Can anyone confirm?

And any insights on likely salary for a 4th or 5th year lateral to the market?
Dorsey & Whitney just raised salaries in SLC by $10k for 4th/5th year associates and $15k for 6th year associates and higher.

Snell & Wilmer just raised salaries for SLC associates across the board (1st years to $150k and 6th years to $180k).

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 30, 2021 2:33 pm

What about Greenberg? Surprised that Utah doesn't have more big law satellite offices. Maybe that's because I view it in a similar light to Denver which has a much larger big law presence.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 11:53 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:32 pm
What’s going on with salt lake salaries? I’ve heard rumblings about base salaries moving to $150,000. Can anyone confirm?

And any insights on likely salary for a 4th or 5th year lateral to the market?
Dorsey & Whitney just raised salaries in SLC by $10k for 4th/5th year associates and $15k for 6th year associates and higher.

Snell & Wilmer just raised salaries for SLC associates across the board (1st years to $150k and 6th years to $180k).
lol this is ridiculous. midlevels/seniors from former v10s at the hometown utah firms getting paid less than a first year at Snell.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 30, 2021 10:14 pm

What are the mid and seniors at homegrown Utah firms making these days?

Is Snell really the only firm who has moved their starting first year salary to $150k?

I figure Ballard will have to move but not sure what position that puts Dorsey Whitney in.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 01, 2021 10:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jun 30, 2021 10:14 pm
What are the mid and seniors at homegrown Utah firms making these days?

Is Snell really the only firm who has moved their starting first year salary to $150k?

I figure Ballard will have to move but not sure what position that puts Dorsey Whitney in.
As one data point, I am a 5-7 year at a hometown firm and getting ~140k. Our firm is somewhat lockstep, but not all hometown firms are, some are more JD blackbox style.

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Re: Salt Lake City Legal Market?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 01, 2021 2:41 pm

Stoel Rives just raised associate salaries across the board by $10k. Think that puts first years at $140k in SLC.

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