Q&A: My Partner’s Employer is Moving Us Across the Country! How do I Find an Associate Position in a City where I Don’t Know Anyone?

Scenario:  You are settling into associate life at your law firm and you are just getting some traction – partners are beginning to come to you with projects, and you are becoming a “go-to” associate . . . .  Just as you are developing a solid reputation of being a heavy-hitter in your current law firm, you are faced with an unexpected challenge – your fiancé tells you his/her employer is moving him/her across the country in three months!  Although you are happy for your partner’s professional success, you are now faced with a new job search in a new city because of family/life circumstances.  And, even though any new job search can be time-consuming and frustrating, you begin to imagine the additional stress in finding a new position in a city where you don’t have any contacts . . . .  Ack!!  So, what do you do? Panic, panic, panic . . .

Answer:  No!  No need to panic!!  Granted few things are scarier than finding your way in an entirely new place, it is exciting and can be done!  Sometimes these situations come unexpectedly, and with no other solution in hand, we have to face the challenge and resolve to succeed. So, if your fiancé is moving to another city/country, you are going with him/her as well.  How do you get yourself ready and face this new venture with courage?!!?  It is always good to do your homework before the big move comes. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your big adventure!


Once you know where you are going, research that place. Start by researching jobs in that country, city and area. Try to research its economy. Which job or practice areas are in demand?  Remember, you have to relate your research to the particular city you would be living and your career.

Take time to research the economic, political and cultural conditions of the local economy you’re considering. Moving across the country makes you think about the cultural differences, norms and etiquettes that you should consider. You will need to understand the corporate culture of your new city. Will you be expected to work 12 hours or more a day? What is the work/life split? What are the means of commute? Remember, research is the first and most important key for your future success.

Know yourself:

As you research about the country/city where you are moving, try to figure out what your challenges may be and break that challenge down into smaller pieces.  If you are moving to a different country – maybe your challenge is a new language.  Do you need to take language classes to learn the local language?

However, language might not be the only obstacle.  Your challenge may be different.  Maybe you’re a corporate attorney who loves working on big deals, and you find yourself moving to a small town.  You may need to find your way to local business associations to find out where and what kind of “deals” or transactions there are. Whatever the challenge is, approach it systematically to break it down into is small pieces.  Smaller pieces can sometimes make your challenges more manageable.

Ask your current employer:

Sometimes, the best possible place to start a job search is right from your current employer. If you are already working in a multinational law firm or company, your current employer is the best resource to start your job search. Inquire at your company about any opportunities in your new locale and what it might take to qualify for them. Ask for any contacts that would be helpful to you in your job search.

However, don’t panic even if your current law firm is not multinational or it has no business in the where you are moving.  Your employer or mentor likely will still help you find contacts in your new locale.

Social Network:

Social networking sites prove quite resourceful in these kind of searches. There are many sites available where you can post your queries, and experts answer your question. This way, you might also be able to build your own contacts. However, don’t blindly follow their suggestions. Do your own research before moving ahead.

Ask your friends and colleagues:

A friend in need is a friend indeed!  Ask your friends if they know someone or have ties to the companies where you are moving.  Once you spread the word to friends and colleagues, you might be surprised at how many tips and suggestions you’ll receive.

Take courses:

If your practice is too specialized or is not supported where you are going, consider taking CLE classes or getting certified in a new practice area. What courses can you take?  If feasible, would an LL.M. add to your repertoire?  If so, find out best universities. Start contacting admissions offices.

Look into yourself:

Ask yourself is if you’re personally and psychologically ready for the move. Although it sounds glamorous from afar, how will you really feel thousands of miles away from your family, friends, and familiar cultural context?  Be prepared for a transition period, in which you’ll need to adjust to some culture shock. Try and focus on the exciting newness of the place, of being able to experience life through a wondrous new prism.

Being prepared for such a huge change will ease you. Give yourself some time. Once you are familiar with the new place, you will definitely find new opportunities. At first it might seem intimidating, but as you move ahead, you will realize your inner courage, your new personality. After all, adventures make life worth living.

Good luck!

Jacqueline Hill, Esq.

This post was written by .

Jacqueline Hill is a partner at Lexacount Search, where she places top senior-level and other legal talent with law firms and corporate legal departments across the United States. She has been writing about careers, lawyers, attorney professional development, and the legal industry for more than a decade. She can be reached at jacqueline.hill@lexacount.com or 215-740-0104, extension 101.

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