The entrance of more and more law firms to the Pittsburgh region has created a balancing act for firms to attract the best lawyers.
It's not uncommon for a year or even two to pass without an out-of-town law firm planting its flag in Pittsburgh. But during the first quarter of 2023, four did so.
Remote or in the office?
Each of these four law firms decided to open a bricks-and-mortar office in Pittsburgh. Others have chosen to take a different route, hiring lawyers in the region who will work remotely.
You won’t see a Pittsburgh office listed on Boston-founded Goodwin Procter LLP’s website, but during the first quarter it hired four Troutman Pepper partners working in three different cities. One among them, Alicia Palladino, was based in Pittsburgh. Goodwin Procter already had offices in New York and Philadelphia.
“At this time, the firm doesn’t have any plans to open an office in Pittsburgh,” a Goodwin Procter spokesperson said. So Palladino works remotely.
The four, by the way, were part of their former firm’s life sciences practice. In 2022, an even larger firm, DLA Piper, hired a trio of Pittsburgh lawyers also from Troutman Pepper’s life sciences practice. DLA Piper doesn’t have a formal Pittsburgh office nor plans to open one, so the three were assigned to its Philadelphia office. They physically remain in western Pennsylvania, working remotely.
Others believe a bricks-and-mortar presence is important because it sends a message.
"I think they want to be taken seriously and committed to the region and are able to attract other lawyers,” said Lori Carpenter, president at Carpenter Legal Search, which is retained by law firms and corporate legal departments to recruit talent.
Availability of downtown office space — and proximity to the courts — adds to Pittsburgh’s appeal. With people working remotely, firms can take less space but have a presence in the market. In fact, Carpenter noted, smaller offices may make it feasible for expansion-minded firms to contain costs and enter more markets.
Law firms were well-positioned for the pandemic necessity of remote work. Many believe the pandemic prompted attorneys to identify more closely with far-flung members of their practice group rather than teammates in an office they pre-pandemic came to regularly if not daily.
“People identify with their groups,” Carpenter said. “I hate to harp on Covid, but it added a new dimension. It was hard to get whole large law firms together for meetings; it was the head of a practice group who’d call the meetings, and the groups became more cohesive.”
Read more: Weighing the options: Several out-of-town law firms establish a bricks-and-mortar presence in Pittsburgh for the first time - by Patty Tascarella, Pittsburgh Business Times