And while both cities offer great opportunities for legal professionals, there are definite differences between the two legal markets.
For some people, Baltimore just isn’t going to cut it. When I was a tour guide at the University of Maryland School of Law, there was more than one prospective student who said that they applied thinking the school was in College Park. These students weren’t sold on the idea of going to school in Baltimore.
Despite my love of Charm City, I do see their point. Washington has more large firms to offer, and D.C. is often viewed as more metropolitan; there’s more to do, you can rely completely on public transportation and the city draws transplants from all over the county.
But the transition from D.C. to Baltimore can be really difficult to make. Washington has thriving practice areas Baltimore really doesn’t have: immigration, intellectual property and defense contracting. There are also more opportunities to work with the government and nonprofits in the D.C. area. Not to mention salaries in Washington can be up to 20 percent higher than in Baltimore, although the cost of living in Baltimore is much lower. Baltimore law firms could be hesitant to hire someone if they think they are really set on D.C.
For new law school graduates, it’s important to think about where you want to live, what you want to practice and how those two things are going to meld together. Law schools offer lots of opportunities to work in different cities and practice areas while in still in school through internships, externships and law clerk positions. This is a great way to figure out what you want to do without the commitment.