Legal Market Spotlight: Houston, Texas

houston texas skyline

Houston is Texas-sized big and has a booming economy to match! It is the fourth largest city in the United States and the biggest city in the Lone Star State. In 2013, Houston was identified as the #1 U.S. city for job creation by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics after it was not only the first major city to regain all the jobs lost in the preceding economic downturn, but after the crash, more than two jobs were added for every one lost.[1] Twenty-six Fortune 500 Companies are based in Houston, including Exxon Mobil (#1) and Phillips 66 (#4).

Houston is considered the world’s energy capital – all of the world’s “Big Oil” or “supermajors,” the world’s six largest publicly owned oil and gas companies (ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Total S.A) have a major presence in Houston. Other major sectors of Houston’s economy include biotechnology and healthcare (Texas Medical Center and the MD Anderson Center), aerospace (NASA), higher education, banking and financial services, manufacturing, tourism, retail, and trade (largest exporter across the United States). Not surprisingly, its size and dominance across several industries equate to an outsized percentage of top-rate legal jobs involving both high-level legal firms and prominent in-house departments. Forbes predicts that by 2023, Houston will be the next great global city. Here are a few reasons why those in the legal profession may want to give Houston a try:

If you are in Houston and looking for a way to sample the city, here are some of my favorites to explore:

Where to Stay:

Hotel Zaza is a ritzy hotel option in the Museum District. I recommend taking advantage of the poolside cabanas if you visit Houston in the summer.

The Sam Houston is a modern, yet historic option located in the heart of downtown Houston. Bonus: It is within walking distance of the courthouses

If you are looking for a modern option in the Galleria area, Hotel Derek is a modern choice that is easy on your pocketbook. Feeling charitable? The Lady Pink rooms benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Where to Eat:

For those out-of-towners who like to explore a new city through their palate, Underbelly promises to show the diner, the “story of Houston food.”

Triniti is the perfect locale for a luxurious dinner. This spot offers swanky cocktails and delicious food. We tried the steak special one night—it was the best steak I ever tasted, which says a lot coming from a Texas girl.

Pondicheri’s Indian café may just become your new favorite casual lunch spot.

Lovers of the chicken wing and waffle combination will delight in the soul food offered at Breakfast Klub. Another local favorite is the catfish and grits.

Where to Drink:

Anvil Bar & Refuge offers craft cocktails and beer that will be sure to delight everyone in your group. This is the locale to enjoy the efforts of a savvy mixologist.

Beer enthusiasts will enjoy drinking their way through the impressive tap list at The Hay Merchant. The rotating tap list can be viewed on their website.

Java lovers can get their caffeine fix and beautiful latte art at Blacksmith, located in Montrose.

What to Do:

If you live in Houston, you’ve definitely been to Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Country stars descend upon the city and a big name artist is on stage every night throughout Rodeo.

Looking to get out of the office and stretch your legs? Houston’s Memorial Park is one of the nation’s largest urban parks. This gem in the Memorial neighborhood offers tennis courts, miles of running paths, a swimming pool, an arboretum and botanical garden, and even a golf course.

Explore Houston’s acclaimed Museum District with 19 museums within a 1.5 mile radius of the Mecom Fountain. The Menil Collection (my favorite in Houston) is free and offers amazing rotating exhibits. Rothko Chapel is a very peaceful non-denominational chapel designed by the famous architect, Renzo Piano. The Museum of Fine Arts has a wonderful permanent collection and traveling exhibits. A child-friendly spot that’s also adult-friendly is the Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Places to Live:

If you’ve decided to make a move to Houston, here are some more insights on your new home:

Houston’s “inner loop” (inside I-610, which encircles central Houston) is home to many of the city’s most affluent and beautiful neighborhoods, including River Oaks, West University and Bellaire. Other popular inner loop areas that are home to young professionals include The Heights, Downtown, Midtown/Fifth Ward, Montrose, The Medical Center, and Rice Military. The inner loop can be a desirable area to live because it has a significant amount of nightlife, is close to many of Houston’s primary business centers (Downtown, the Medical Center, and the Galleria), and houses cultural gems like the Museum District.

However, many choose to move out of the loop to get away from the busy city and be in a more family-friendly suburban environment. In addition, homes tend to be larger and more affordable the further out you go. Some popular, family-friendly areas with great schools and that are within a reasonably commutable distance to central Houston include Spring Branch, Katy/Energy Corridor, Sugarland, Pearland, and The Woodlands.

Hint: www.har.com is a great resource to explore neighborhoods, schools, and homes.

[1] Derek Thompson, “Houston Is Unstoppable: Why Texas’ Juggernaut Is America’s #1 Job Creator”, The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group (28 May 2013).

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This is the fourth part in a series exploring Texas and its largest legal markets. The next post will cover East Texas. Visit http://www.specialcounsel.com/legal-jobs/job-listings/ for a sampling of Houston job openings. Note: Not all jobs are posted, so please contact Jennifer Clifton at Jennifer.clifton@specialcounsel.com with questions about the Texas legal market.


[1] Derek Thompson, “Houston Is Unstoppable: Why Texas’ Juggernaut Is America’s #1 Job Creator”, The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group (28 May 2013).

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