Working in different size markets, like we do here at SASS, is revealing how remote work due to the pandemic can exacerbate an issue smaller markets have in retaining and recruiting top talent. In the past decade, it has become increasing harder to relocate someone working in a large market to return home to a smaller market even if they can land an offer with the largest firm in their hometown. The salary gaps are widening, student debt is rising, while cost of living isn’t making up the difference. Candidates who do return to their small hometown markets have to pay a hefty price and it almost serves as its own internal litmus test on how committed they are to returning home to build out their practice.
In our new post-pandemic work-from-home normal, smaller markets firms have even a much bigger issue. With the increased flexibility firms are now willing to provide top performers, many lawyers have jumped on the opportunity to have it both ways. They can relocate home to a smaller market while they continue to enjoy the higher compensation and sophisticated matters that are more plentiful in a larger market. Law firms in smaller markets are now in a particularly vulnerable position and will need to find new ways to compete for talent coming from big markets. Attorneys and other professionals working in certain states will face challenges surrounding state income tax payments that have already started to hit the courts. These are some of the many issues that we are following closely, and we will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves.