There has been a lot of talk about how the economy is affecting hiring in the legal market. I’ve seen a lot of articles about the potential effects of the sequester specifically, but my colleagues and I noticed long before the sequester began that although the economy appears to be picking up, employers are scrutinizing potential hires harder than ever.
The good news is: even in the face of the sequester, we are seeing many, many more job openings for lawyers, especially in areas such as corporate, commercial real estate, and hard IP. Every day exciting new opportunities are coming across my desk, and I immediately inform any attorneys I’m working with of those opportunities. Law firms do have increased needs and are seeking to grow. The bad news is that although employers appear eager to interview, they remain reluctant to pull the trigger and actually make the hire. It is true that the sequester isn’t helping; there is a decent amount of talk that employers are waiting to see what impact the sequester may have on the economy before continuing their plans for growth. Those employers who are currently prepared to move forward with candidates are interviewing them five, six, even seven times before making a decision. Some will interview candidates to their satisfaction, but will then sit on the candidate and not make a decision for 2-3 months. This is incredibly frustrating for the attorney, making them feel like perhaps the firm doesn’t really want them.
If you find yourself in this situation, know this: it isn’t you. Firms are especially cautious of overhiring post-downturn. If they didn’t make the mistake themselves, they watched other firms overhire, resulting in financial disaster. Many firms had associate layoffs, some had to de-equitize partners. Some firms folded entirely or were forced into unhappy mergers. Firms are simply trying to avoid repeating past mistakes, and for good reason.
If a firm is interviewing you to death, hang in there. If they keep bringing you in, they are still interested. They are just trying to make sure that hiring you is a sound business decision.
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