The Attorney's Guide to Relocating and Thriving in Chicago

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Are you an attorney looking to relocate to Chicago? Well, you couldn't have picked a better destination! Chicago is a wonderful place to live and work keeping in mind that it is one of the fastest growing business hubs in the country. That said, relocating to a new city or place is a significant decision from a personal and professional perspective and we are here to help make that transition easy for you.

This guide will tell you everything you should know about relocating to Chicago as an attorney:

Understand Chicago’s Legal Landscape

Chicago boasts a robust legal landscape. It is home to numerous law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. The city is a major hub for various practice areas, including corporate law, finance, intellectual property, and litigation.

So, before making the move, it's crucial that you research and understand the legal landscape in Chicago and look into firms or organizations that are aligned with your expertise and professional goals.

Additionally, you should identify the prominent practice areas, key players in the legal market, and the types of cases that dominate the courtrooms. You can look into online job boards, legal recruiting agencies, and professional connections to explore potential job opportunities.

Ensure that you tailor your resume to showcase relevant experience and skills that align with the local legal market in Chicago.

Look into Bar Admission and Licensing

It is important you keep in mind that for you to practice law in Chicago, you must first be admitted to the Illinois State Bar. In this regard, Lawyers relocating to Chicago from other states are expected to initiate the process of transferring their bar admission.

The Illinois Board of Admissions provides information on the requirements and procedures for admission to the Bar. It's advisable that you start this process well in advance of the move to ensure a smooth transition.

Also, Chicago has a diverse range of bar associations that cater to specific legal interests and demographics. Consider joining associations such as the Chicago Bar Association, the Women's Bar Association of Illinois, or the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois to enhance your professional connections and engage with like-minded individuals.

Choose the Right Neighborhood

Chicago is renowned for its diverse neighborhoods, each offering a unique atmosphere and character. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of downtown living or the more relaxed atmosphere of residential areas, there's a neighborhood to suit every lifestyle. When selecting a place to live, it is vital that you consider factors such as proximity to your workplace, public transportation options, safety, and the local community atmosphere.

You can do your research on the rental and real estate markets in the different neighborhoods to find a balance between your budget and desired amenities. Importantly, consider consulting with a local real estate professional who can provide you with valuable insights into the current market conditions and help you make informed decisions.

Popular neighborhoods for professionals include the Loop, River North, and the West Loop, offering a mix of convenience and a vibrant urban lifestyle.

Evaluate the Transportation and Commuting Options

Chicago has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including buses and the iconic "L" train, that makes commuting around the city convenient. It is vital that you understand the transportation options that will help you navigate the city efficiently. Attorneys working in the Loop, where many law firms are located, often find public transit to be a time-efficient option. 

Additionally, many professionals in the city prefer using biking and walking as viable commuting options, especially during the warmer months.

Network and Focus on Professional Development

Building a strong professional network is vital for success in any legal community and Chicago gives you an upper hand as it offers a plethora of opportunities to connect with fellow attorneys, judges, and legal professionals.

Make sure that you attend local bar association events, legal seminars, and networking functions to connect with fellow attorneys and potential clients and help you to stay updated on legal trends.

Furthermore, Chicago will also provide you with numerous opportunities for professional development, including continuing legal education (CLE) programs and specialized workshops.

Embrace Chicago’s Cultural Scene!

Now, beyond the professional business side, make sure you also play hard! In fact, Chicago is also well known for its rich cultural scene. From world-class museums like the Art Institute of Chicago to the vibrant theater district and music festivals, the city offers a plethora of cultural experiences. Ensure that you take time to explore and appreciate these cultural offerings as they can enhance your overall quality of life in Chicago.

Wrapping up

In a nutshell, Relocating to Chicago as an attorney presents an exciting opportunity for both professional growth and a wonderful personal life. However, the legal profession can be demanding, thus it’s also essential to strike a balance between work and personal life. The beauty is that Chicago offers a diverse range of recreational activities, parks, and lakefront amenities. It is one of those cities where you can work hard and play even harder!


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