LexInsight Blog

The Ups and Downs of Starting a Life and Legal Career in a New City

Jun 11, 2018 4:00:00 AM / by Marisa Bayless


Whether it’s starting a legal career fresh out of law school or transferring to a new city after years in the field, starting fresh has its ups and downs.

Starting new happens for a variety of reasons. Work changes, life changes, and sometimes these changes require you to make a switch in venue. While this change can be exciting, switching cities, especially moving to a different state, creates unique challenges for those in the legal profession.

It can be a hectic time, but taking the time to consider the ups and downs you might have to face is crucial to making the move as easy as possible.  

  • Down: Can I practice law?

This question must be answered soon. Many of those who have been practicing law for some time can use a state’s on-motion process. Still, reviewing the requirements for that process early on is helpful to avoid any mistakes. For those newly licensed, even a year or so into being a licensed attorney, the process may be more difficult. For many, the emergence of the Uniform Bar Exam and the transferable aspect of this exam is extremely helpful. However, it is not a simple transfer. To transfer your score on UBE, many states will require another character and fitness screening before admittance. This process can stake several months depending on the state. An individual must also score high enough on their original bar exam for the transferring state to accept. States vary on the score they will accept. Also note the cost. Many states require a similar bar application fee, but tend to increase the fee for UBE transfer.

In general, transferring your license is much easier than previous times. However, the process takes time. Being aware of this time gap will help you make the decision on budgeting time and money in the interim of waiting for a transfer.

  • Down: Building a New Network

Have you noticed that it’s a bit harder to make friends when you do not have the common denominator of school to bring you together? Like making friends, starting to build a business network in a new city is also difficult. Again, it might be easier if you are a more established attorney who has some network acquaintances in the city you are moving to. But starting with a clean-slate is daunting. First, hit up your school’s alumni network. If they have a wide reach, they may have a chapter, whether it be law alumni network or general alumni network. Reach out and go to that happy hour. Join the bar associations that you are interested in. Go to the events. While some thrive in the network environment, many of use hate the social small-talk. But to break through, you will likely have to overcome the inevitable.

  • Up: Starting a new Path

Starting over can be refreshing. Sometimes family, love, or work takes us to a new place. Whatever that reason may be, change can be a jumpstart to your life. Embrace it. It’s a new city or state to explore. It may be starting new relationship or new career. You may be switching legal fields. As nerve-racking as change can be, we grow from the experience. In the end, this change will only enhance your life and legal career.

  • Up: Boosting the Resume

The legal workforce is expanding right alongside other professions. Work is becoming transient and interconnected. So too are the employees. Being aware of how other states and organizations work is useful to employers who are wanting to expand. Being licensed in more than one state is only going to be an increasing need for law firms and legal organizations who want to expand their reach. The bullet point of working in different locations will strengthen your resume and boost your potential for future employers.

Topics: For Contract Attorneys

Marisa Bayless

Written by Marisa Bayless

Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas but now a transplant to the Denver area. Working in public policy.