These days it is a common occurrence for Texas residents to visit their local news website and read a headline touting population growth in their city. Regardless of what corner of the state you reside in, chances are a family from California or the Northeast is moving into your building or down the street. A recent headline that caught my attention: Austin is the 11th largest U.S. city, according to latest Census Bureau estimate. Another reads that almost 70 individuals are moving to Austin every day. Between 2011 and 2012 five of the ten fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were located in Texas. Even our friends across the pond are taking notice.

Such growth in Texas is now being trumpeted, studied, marketed and celebrated. Just a few weeks ago President Obama and Air Force One touched down in Austin as part of the White House’s “Middle-Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour”. The president visited with high school students, entrepreneurs and businesses in Silicon Hills’ ever-growing technology sector searching for the elements to replicate such success in other states. In early May, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, made a recruitment trip to Illinois to offer Prairie State businesses an “emergency exit” from the Midwest to the safe and warm business climate of Texas. The economic engine in Houston has been in the headlines ever since the price of oil recovered in 2010. DFW recorded the largest population increase for any metropolitan area between July 2011 and July 2012. San Antonio and El Paso are credited with a quality of life, growing list of Fortune 500 headquartered companies and a cross-border proximity that makes Mexico a closer neighbor and trading partner than Oklahoma. Midland has risen from the oil patch ashes once again and is in the throes of an historic boom. As a byproduct of all this growth, real estate prices in these major cities are sharply increasing. Unemployment in Texas remains at 6.4 percent, a full point below the national average (whilst Midland continues to maintain the lowest unemployment rate in the state at comparatively infinitesimal 3 percent).

We see the effects of this growth daily on a micro level. Texas freeways, restaurants, airports, public spaces, schools and universities are bursting at the seams. In our business of legal recruiting, candidates are contacting us from around the globe with interest in moving to the Texas legal market (many who have never visited the state before). It is not altogether dissimilar to the Red Wave we experienced as Asia’s largest legal recruiting firm (see: between the years 2003-2008 when numerous talented attorneys from every major US market moved to the growing legal markets of Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore to stake their claim. What is clear is that talent always follows areas of opportunity and the Lone Star State is now that symbol of opportunity.
National law firms continue to see Texas as a key market for expansion. My colleagues, Chris Miller and Robert Kinney, were recently visiting the Alabama headquarters a large law firm about the firm’s expansion plans in North Texas. Paul Hastings, Sidley Austin, Latham & Watkins, Reed Smith and a host of other prestigious law firms have opened offices in Texas in the past few years. Just this month we have been petitioned by two national insurance defense firms about spearheading their growth in the Lone Star state and surrounding areas.

How does all this growth affect our state’s legal industry? This will be discussed in next month’s entry.


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