When I speak with candidates, I really believe that honesty is paramount. After a conversation with a recruiter, a candidate should know his/her chances of success in the market and should have an assessment of the timing of the search, etc. Sometimes it is hard for candidates to hear the truth.
I was recently speaking with a first year litigation associate who had excellent credentials. The potential candidate came to me in her second month of practice and said that she had to leave her firm. She couldn’t stand it. Really. I am sure it wouldn’t surprise you to know that looking for a new position in the second month of your first year might set off a few red flags in a law firm’s recruiting department. Even though I had explained every one of the associate’s “negatives” to her, she insisted upon a job search against my admonition.
Fast forward a few months. I was right. This associate doesn’t have a new position. Why not? Well, the associate couldn’t understand the reality of the situation – the overall economy, her lack of experience, the non-existent litigation market. It was a confluence of many negative factors. According to the candidate:
I should have been marketable on the basis of my credentials alone, no matter what my seniority or the state of the economy.
That statement might be accurate when you are interviewing for a summer associate position but it is very different in the lateral hiring context. Some associates get the wrong idea about lateral hiring because their only experience involves interviewing for a summer position as a law student. It’s not like that in the “real world” – the post-graduation, first year associate world. I had a teacher in high school who would always reference a utopia called “the land of the bunnies.” Would that all job searchers could live there!
If only this associate could accept the reality of her situation. Some factors are beyond anyone’s – even an associate with excellent credentials – control. Sometimes it is best to wait on a job search until those factors lessen a bit.