A Taxing Situation: Time To Make A Move?

file folder with income tax tab

I recently spoke with an attorney candidate who was considering a corporate associate position at an AmLaw 100 firm in Miami. The candidate lived in NYC and was making $210,000 in her current role. The Miami offer was $155,000. The candidate, like most candidates, was focused on comparing the salaries of the two positions, and, on the surface, the Miami opportunity looked like a huge pay cut. But, when you factor in the amount of state taxes the associate is currently paying in NY, plus a lower cost of living in Miami, the Miami offer is actually a raise for the candidate.  As shown in the image below from CNN’s cost of living calculator, $210K in NYC is the equivalent of a salary of $101K in Miami.

salary in miami

Most job seekers are like the candidate above and concerned with finding the most lucrative position but often overlook how taxes and cost of living impact the quoted salary for a position. In order to really compare competing compensation packages for positions in different states, job seekers must consider the applicable tax rates of the states in which the positions are located as well as whether the state has an income tax.  Jobs in states that have the highest tax burdens are automatically going to mean less take home pay in your pocket. Positions located in areas with low tax burdens and low cost of living mean an instant boost to your paycheck!

For your reference, here are the states with the highest and lowest tax burdens for 2014 as well as the states without a state income tax.

Highest Tax Rates Lowest Tax Rates No Income Tax
New York Wyoming Alaska
California Alaska Florida
Nebraska Nevada Nevada
Connecticut Florida South Dakota
Illinois South Dakota Texas
Wisconsin Washington (State) Washington (State)
Vermont Texas Wyoming
New Jersey Delaware  
Iowa North Dakota  
Maine New Mexico  

Sources:  States Without an Income Tax; What US States Have the Highest and Lowest Taxes?

Additionally, I recommend using a cost of living calculator to evaluate the salaries in two markets.  Finally, check out the following jobs we have available in tax friendly states and contact us to hear more about how you can make more money just by moving!

Legal Jobs in Florida:

Legal Jobs in Texas:

Ready to make your next career move? Contact your local Special Counsel office today!

Legal Market Spotlight: Jacksonville, Florida


Jacksonville, Florida: We all know that Florida conjures up images of sun, surf, and seafood. But did you know that Jacksonville offers all that AND sweater weather, bonfires, changing leaves and brisk fall football games? One of the most diverse cities in Florida, Jacksonville truly offers something for everyone. Home of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (Florida-Georgia football game), the Jaguars, The Players Championship, Jazz Fest, and boasting rivers, lakes and the ocean, Jacksonville appeals to a variety of pursuits and interests. A thriving music scene supports local artists and has produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit, Cold and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

It may also come as a surprise that Jacksonville is actually the largest city in the continental United States by land mass at over 800 square miles, and also the 14th largest city in the US by population. This creates an area that offers big city opportunities with a remarkably small town feel.

The median age in Jacksonville is 36 years old which is younger than all major cities in Florida! A burgeoning number of young professionals have fueled Jacksonville’s growth. Lured by low cost of living, beaches, golf, no state income tax and the opportunity to have a year round healthy lifestyle while still enjoying a change of season, legal professionals are seizing Jacksonville opportunities.

Jacksonville’s economy is growing in strength every year and 2014 is showing an economic rebound that tops the state of Florida. The legal community is one well entrenched with the local community. Corporations continue to flock to Jacksonville because the low cost of doing business. Several AmLaw 100 firms are headquartered in Jacksonville and a number of large, regional firms have offices in Jacksonville as well. In addition, Jacksonville has a plethora of prospering large and mid-sized firms that are unique to the city. The local Association of Corporate Counsel thrives in this market, and the city is proud to have major corporations with operations in Jacksonville such as Adecco North America, Fidelity National Information Services, Bi-Lo LLC, CSX Transportation, Deutche Bank, CIT and Rayonier and PHH Mortgage. Just check out some of Jacksonville’s notable recent accolades:

• #3 on “Ten Best Cities to Find Employment” by Forbes Magazine.
• #1 on “Best U.S. City to Start a Business” by Wallethub.com.
• #16 on “Top U.S. Economies” list by On Numbers Economic Index.
• # 5 in “2013 State Business Tax Climate Index” by The Tax Foundation.

So pack your bags and come see for yourself what this fantastic North Florida city has to offer!

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Four Tips and One Trick for Better Professional Headshots

male-photographer-from-subject-povWith the culture of social media and real-time sharing of photographs through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and most recently, a more prominent positioning on your Facebook news feed, I think it has become increasingly more important to “put your best face forward” so that you can feel confident about the pictures you share (and the ones featuring you that others share).  How many of us have been to a networking event or conference where pictures are uploaded in real time (and occasionally with hashtags) for all to see?  And we all know that a good LinkedIn picture can speak volumes about who you are professionally. 

The most frequently verbalized compliment I have received in the last several years of my life has been, without a doubt, “Chrissie, you are so photogenic!”  After some reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that being photogenic is really more of a learned than an innate trait.  As such, I wanted to share some of the tips I have picked up to ensure you are putting your best face forward in photos, including a trademark “trick” I have come to be known for among my circle of friends and colleagues.

1. Dress the part. 

In a professional headshot, make sure that you wear a color that won’t blend in to the background.  For example, if you know the backdrop is going to be grey, I’d recommend wearing black or a bright color so you don’t blend with the background.  For women, veer away from big, bold or busy prints;  choose a color that compliments your eye color (blues and greens stand out), and keep jewelry simple.  Signature jewelry pieces are fine, but make sure they don’t take over the photo! Simple jewelry always works.  For men, jacket and tie are always appropriate; bring a few tie options to see what looks best.  Layers are a good idea for men; although polo shirts are fine if your business or industry tends to be more casual.  But always make sure your shirts and jackets are wrinkle-free.  And if you wear glasses daily, wear them in your photo!

2. Practice your look

It might sound silly, but practice a few times in front of a mirror (preferably in the privacy of your home) so that you can see what smile and look suit you the best.  Do you have a better angle?  Get to know it, and use it when being photographed!  Make slight adjustments if you need to, including turning your body and placing your arms in different positions and seeing what you like best.

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Lessons Learned: Valuable Career Tips from our President, Laurie Chamberlin

Whether you’re just starting your career or you’ve already been in business for years, there is always something to learn. My career path was anything but ordinary. I started out as a litigation paralegal because I was not certain if I wanted to go to law school. Fast forward 9 years and I was a billing paralegal manager, figuring I should give law school a shot. Fate intervened and Special Counsel recruited me to their DC branch office. Through a series of opportunities including a change in business units, I find myself in my current role. Along the way, I’ve had success, made lots of mistakes, and I continue to learn each day. Here are the top 10 lessons I learned.

1. Take every task seriously.

Although some of your initial responsibilities may seem mundane or unimportant, if you do not take them seriously, no one is going to trust you with more substantial or rewarding work.

2. The easy way isn’t.

Procrastinating on unpleasant tasks takes up far more mental space and time than if you tackle these things first. It makes everything easier in the long run.

3. Own up to your mistakes.

We all will make mistakes. Some are a minor glitch and some are significant. Regardless, own them. Your quick reaction and getting assistance where appropriate will help facilitate learning, mitigate the issue and in the end, garner more respect from your colleagues and superiors than avoidance or finger pointing ever could.

4. Just because it sounds like a good idea on paper, does not mean it will work.

Some of the best ideas simply do not work. It does not mean it is a bad idea, but the reality is that if something isn’t working, the sooner you can identify it and abandon it, the better. Digging in can be a costly error.

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Trends in eDiscovery: Information Management

san diego ediscovery special counsel office

With each passing week, the amount, location, and complexity of data grows exponentially. Employees carry your company’s proprietary information all over the globe by way of laptops, flash drives, tablets and mobile devices.  Your server space dwindles as thousands of emails with Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoints are sent each minute.  Essential older electronically stored data is purged by IT departments looking to create space on servers.  In litigation, the opposition’s counsel continues to turn their focus towards claims of destruction or spoliation when they are not succeeding on the merits. Potential lawsuits and exposure for your company or client are around every corner  and you are constantly trying to save money all the while staying up on the latest trends and case law. Well, I just made one part of your life a little bit easier. In this new blog series, we’ve put together the Top Ten trends in eDiscovery, and why you should get up to speed. To kick things off, let’s talk about Information Management.

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March 2014 Legal Industry Jobs Report

SCI-JobsReport-March175,000 Jobs Added in February

As economists prepared for the release of the BLS’ “The Employment Situation – March 2014” report, they remained cautiously optimistic. After all, in November, total nonfarm payroll employment had risen by 274,000 jobs, one of the highest monthly totals of 2013 and the economy had recovered 5.4 million of the 8.7 million jobs lost during the recession.

When the BLS released its most recent jobs report on March 7th economists were surprised yet again. Rather than remaining stagnant or declining further, total nonfarm payroll employment actually surged in February, rising by 175,000 jobs. The nation’s civilian labor force also continued to improve, increasing by 264,000 and total employment rose by 42,000 jobs.

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Legal Market Spotlight: Atlanta, Georgia


Atlanta, Georgia: known affectionately as “the ATL” and “Hotlanta;” home of the Braves, Falcons and Hawks; and – with the eighth-largest economy in the country and a metropolitan area of roughly 5.4 million people – the cultural and economic king of the South!

Atlanta’s growth, fueled by highly-educated professionals, low costs of living and doing business, and of course the spectacular weather, shows no signs of slowing and Atlanta’s legal market is no exception.

Atlanta continues to be one of the country’s fastest growing legal markets and has emerged as one of the best lateral associate markets in the country.  Many AmLaw 100 firms are headquartered in Atlanta and a number of others have offices in Atlanta.  Atlanta is also a popular home to the headquarters of numerous Fortune 500 companies, such as Home Depot, Coca-Cola, UPS, and Delta Airlines.  In fact, only New York and Houston have more.  Just check out some of Atlanta’s notable recent accolades:

Interest piqued?  If so, here are a few suggestions to help you best savor Atlanta’s renowned southern charm whether you’re interested in making Atlanta home or just soaking it in for a weekend away.

Where to Stay

The St. Regis Atlanta stands out as the crown jewel among luxury Buckhead hotels.  Located just a few miles from downtown Atlanta, the St. Regis is an impeccably groomed “in-town” resort with a gracious, residential feel. The remarkable hotel bar and outside patio area make the St. Regis one of the best people watching spots in Buckhead.

Loews Atlanta Hotel is a trendy, vibrant and contemporary option in the heart of Atlanta.  The corner suites on the higher floors are large, quiet, and provide a nice panoramic view of the city.

If you’re looking for something unique, the Artmore Hotel in midtown Atlanta (in the middle of Atlanta’s Cultural Arts District) is an independent boutique hotel that prides itself on delivering a personalized guest experience.  The Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta is another boutique option for those looking for an alternative to cookie cutter chain hotels.  Historic and intimate in size, yet sleek, the Ellis is within convenient walking distance of restaurants, major corporations, must-see attractions and athletic arenas.

Where to Eat

Bacchanalia offers the city’s most memorable dining experience.  Featuring a seasonal menu of mostly-organic contemporary cuisine, the experience doesn’t come cheap, but is consistently spectacular.  Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House (in Grant Park or West Midtown) offers delicious fare, casual ambiance and a cool crowd.  Not to mention the best outdoor dining views in Atlanta. Ask a locale Atlantan where to find the best Mexican food, and you’ll undoubtedly be pointed to the Nuevo Laredo Cantina, a hole-in-the-wall joint in the industrial district off of Chattahoochee Avenue that has become the stuff of Atlanta legends.

If you love brunch – and who doesn’t! – try Park Tavern near historic Piedmont Park.  The large park-side dining area serves a simple menu of breakfast favorites like eggs and southern biscuits and is also dog-friendly.  Cafe 458 serves a gourmet brunch prepared by guest chefs from all over the city with all the proceeds going directly to support the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, a nonprofit agency whose mission is to help homeless men and women achieve self-sufficiency.

Where to Drink

Article 14 is a favorite Midtown establishment and the perfect place to meet up with a business associate or colleague for an after work cocktail.  The Brewhouse sits in the heart of Little Five Points, one of Atlanta’s most eclectic neighborhoods, and is the ideal spot for watching games and people.  Red Brick Brewing (formerly Atlanta Brewing Company) is a local brewery that bottles Atlanta’s favorite local beers and opens its brewery doors for public tastings each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (5pm-8pm), and Saturday (2pm-5pm).

Finally, if afternoon tea is on the agenda, check out the traditional afternoon tea at the The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead featuring seasonally-inspired tea sandwiches, pastries, and warm scones along with tea in the English tradition.

What to Do

Atlanta is certainly not lacking in entertainment options.  For sports enthusiasts, the Braves, Hawks and Falcons all put the “Hot” in “Hotlanta.”  The Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest aquarium with a ridiculously varied collection of creatures in 6.3 million gallons of water.  Piedmont Park, located in Midtown is Atlanta’s most iconic green space and offers basketball, tennis and bocce courts, a dog park, green market, an aquatic center, playgrounds and a fishing lake.  Centennial Olympic Park, a legacy of the 1996 Summer Olympics, is the centerpiece of the city’s tourist district.  The Tabernacle, an intimate church-turned-concert venue and the outdoor Delta Classic Chastain Park Amphitheater are both unforgettable settings to catch a night of music.

Where to Live

Relocating to a new city is an exciting, but nerve-wrecking time.  But good news! Whether you’re searching for great schools, accessible transportation or a happening restaurant or entertainment scene, Atlanta is brimming with dynamic communities that have plenty to offer. A few of my favorites include: College Park, Collier Hills, Decatur, Duluth, East Atlanta, East Point, Inman Park, Lawrenceville, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Peachtree City and Smyrna.

Please contact Brian Weyhrich at brian.weyhrich@specialcounsel.com if you have any questions about the Atlanta legal market.

Generational Diversity in the Workplace: Generation X

special counsel generational diversity in the legal workplace generation x Generation X, born 1965-1979, is the first generation to demonstrate a substantial shift in priorities in comparison to previous generations. While their parents lived to work, Gen Xers value work/life balance. When faced with a task, they strive to find the most efficient way to get the job done in order to get on with life. They are typically individualistic, technologically adept and very flexible. These traits tend to make them more focused, relaxed and happier employees.

Education & experience

Approximately 60 percent of Generation X has some college education, and current surveys estimate that 30 percent of Gen X has earned a college degree. At this point in their careers, Generation X employees should be performing jobs at a highly skilled level. Gen X is convinced real job security comes from possessing and developing knowledge and skills, so their resumes tend to be among the most expansive and impressive.

Generation X qualities

Generation X is well-educated and highly motivated. They know that their future is in their hands. They are self-reliant, pragmatic, informal, fun-loving and technologically connected, and they value new learning opportunities.

Recruiting Generation X

Generation X is online and tuned in, works well in groups and is well networked. Finding them should be easy. When conducting a job search, they will submit their resumes directly to employers, contact recruiters, network, use social media to spread the word, post on job boards and search listings. They are not lifetime employees. They are mobile, adaptable, cynical and less likely to be lured by promises of retirement because they’ve seen too many companies, and pensions, fail. They are interested in personal savings options that they can control and take with them if they leave, performance-based incentives, and flexible schedules that allow more time to attend important family functions.

To lure Generation X, focus on your company image. Generation X wants a company that aligns with their beliefs and philosophies. As carefree as they may seem, they want a stable company they can believe in, free of ethical issues — a company they can feel good about working for and where they feel valued.

Special-Counsel-MultigenRetaining Generation X

Generation X members have young families, and they value flexible schedules and financial stability. Offer them team-building exercises to engender a family atmosphere. Provide small rewards in the form of stress-relieving perks such as gym memberships. Health- and budget conscious Generation Xers appreciate in-house gyms, nearby parks and on-site eating facilities where they can interact with colleagues. Integrate family with work via a daycare or after-school care facility, and Generation Xers will be very unlikely to turn elsewhere.

Inspiring Generation X

Generation X works best as part of an integrated team. They prefer informal, rapid communication. They also like to be openly recognized and given rewards that they can use outside of the office. Gen Xers value flexibility, many would refuse a promotion if they feel the quality of their home life will be compromised. Give them a relaxed work atmosphere where ideas can flow freely and a work area that facilitates communication.

For more information on how you can recruit, retain and inspire a multigenerational workforce, request a free copy of our white paper. In our next Generational Diversity blog post, we will discuss Millennials (Generation Y). For more insight or to add new talent to your workforce, contact your local Special Counsel branch.

Generational Diversity in the Workplace: Baby Boomers


As discussed in our first Generational Diversity in the Workplace blog post, there are now four distinct generations working side-by-side in the workplace. Each one is different, and understanding how to recruit, retain and inspire each generation is key to success. In this post, we address the Baby Boomer generation.

Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964, were born after World War II and reached adulthood in the tumultuous 1960s. They are full of vitality, leadership skills and conviction.

Infused with their parents’ solid work ethics, Boomers tend to be career-focused and status-conscious. They were raised in a time when events such as the human rights movement and the Watergate scandal caused many to question authority. As a result, Boomers tend to be more inquisitive. These individuals are very independent, goal-oriented and focused on their career. Many Baby Boomers that retire early find themselves eager to return to the workplace.

Education and Experience

About 29 percent of Baby Boomers have college degrees and an additional 30 percent have attended some college classes. Baby Boomers prefer to learn in formal, structured and hierarchical environments, so in-person classroom training and instruction is typically most effective.

Boomer Qualities

Baby Boomers are happy to mentor the next generation, a fact that will help close the huge management gap that will result from 78 million Boomers eventually leaving the workforce. Boomers possess unparalleled management skills, pragmatism, decision-making skills, and a commitment to work that keeps them at their desks 60 hours a week. They can seem a little demanding to younger employees who value a better balance of life and work.

Recruiting Baby BoomersSpecial-Counsel-Multigen

Baby Boomers are not aggressive job seekers. However, companies can find them through recruiting services, job boards and on more professional and passive networking websites like LinkedIn. Referral programs and telephone sourcing strategies are also effective means of recruiting Baby Boomers. Because many Baby Boomers are homeowners, they are likely to be reluctant to relocate. However, they will respond to an offer of financial security, retirement benefits and health incentives.

Retaining Baby Boomers

Many Baby Boomers are likely to be workaholics, defined by their career status, and willing to push boundaries in the workplace. They are social and optimistic by nature, but the tumult in the economy threatens their retirement and has left them nervous about the future. Offer short-term financial rewards and incentives, part – or full-time work depending on their needs, and the opportunity to mentor younger workers. Job autonomy is a huge factor in job satisfaction for Baby Boomers.

Inspiring Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers like to be acknowledged through raises and promotions. They pace a lot of value in – and put a lot of money into – relationships. They are accommodating of technology and prefer formal communication styles and in-person meetings. Boomers respond well to coaching and look for learning opportunities. Give them respect and autonomy and they will reward you with hard work. To inspire them, put a problem on their desk and walk away. They are imaginative problem solvers and they don’t care to be micro-managed. Give them the power to make decisions, listen to their ideas and respect their opinions.

In our next Generational Diversity blog post, we will discuss Generation X. For more insight or to add new talent to your workforce, contact your local Special Counsel branch.

Generational Diversity in the Workplace: Traditionalists

traditionalist legal professional man special counselExperience is a true differentiator in the legal industry. However, for the first time in history, four distinct generations – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials – are working side by side, each one defined and shaped by very different experiences themselves.

As a business leader, it’s imperative to understand what separates members of these distinct generations – their challenges, their desires, their expectations and their work styles – in order to effectively bring everyone together and strengthen your team as a whole. In this blog series inspired by our white paper, we will be addressing how to recruit, retain and inspire each generation to strengthen your workforce.

Traditionalists, born 1925-1945, were raised in a time marked by the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, the Korean War and the FDR administration. They endured many financial challenges and were taught to be frugal, to work hard and to sacrifice. These important factors help explain why Traditionalists are among the most loyal in the modern workforce.

Education and Experience

Because higher education was not readily available to everyone (due to factors such as financial hardship and the draft lottery), Traditionalists may have less formal education than their younger peers. However, their commitment, diligence and tenure make them rich and unequaled in experience.

Traditionalist Qualities

Traditionalists value respect and community and they will work hard to facilitate the development of these ideals in the workplace.

Recruiting Traditionalists

Special-Counsel-MultigenNinety-five percent of Traditionalists are retired from the workforce. However, those that remain active can be recruited through traditional mediums, such as newspaper advertising and traditional referral programs, as Traditionalists are less likely to use the Internet to aid in a job search. If local companies are beginning to downsize, they may be letting their most seasoned an tenured employees go, representing an opportunity for you to add them to your firm or department. Although they will be less eager to relocate, Traditionalists can be lured by financial security and company stability.

Retaining Traditionalists

Traditionalists grew up during WWII, when patriotism was championed and valued. Therefore, they tend to place unyielding faith in institutions and desire to remain with one company throughout their entire careers. If you show them respect, Traditionalists will likely remain with your company for many years.

Inspiring Traditionalists

Traditionalists believe in the value of hard work, loyalty, sacrifice and respecting the rules. Members of this generation are heavily motivated by attaining and maintaining respect. Traditionalists like to be acknowledged for their depth of knowledge and for a job well done.

In our next Generational Diversity blog post, we will discuss Baby Boomers. For more insight or to add new talent to your workforce, contact your local Special Counsel branch.