This is the second of three essays regarding why attorneys should use a good legal recruiter rather than “go it alone” when seeking a new job. The first essay explained that the primary reason you should use a good recruiter is the need for expert assistance. The legal market is highly complex, and just as your clients rely on your expertise in legal matters, so should you rely on a good legal recruiter’s expertise in the legal market. This essay will focus on the second major reason why you should retain a recruiter – the need for the recruiter’s expert experience in the legal market. It is assumed in all of the essays in this series that the searching attorney is in a situation in which using a recruiter would be both appropriate and advantageous. As will be explained further in a follow up fourth essay, this is not the case for every attorney.
The good recruiters will have years of experience with the legal market, preferably at least five (or more for the top recruiters who specialize in assisting partners). The most qualified recruiters will have additional years of experience as an associate (or even better, also as a partner) at top firms. From all of this experience, they will have built up strong relationships and credibility with the local firms, including the most elite ones. This means they can not only help attorneys find which firms are the most likely to be the right firm for them, they can also help the attorneys get in the door. This is especially true if the recruiter works for one of the few large, national recruiting companies like BCG that have been around for years and established a stellar reputation (and often a personal relationship) with numerous firms across the country.
Thus, the best recruiters will be able to use their experience as both a recruiter (and often as an attorney as well) to fully understand the candidate’s particular practice, needs and preferences. This understanding will in turn allow the recruiter to better identify which firms are most appropriate for the candidate – i.e., are a better “fit.” The candidate will then be better able to narrow down the firm choices and construct a more efficient and effective search. For attorneys who have limited time and/or need to move quickly, this ability is invaluable.
Finally, the experience of a good recruiter allows them to better “maximize the odds” with respect to application process, even with the most elite firms. The law firm hiring process is both long and challenging, especially for the most prestigious firms and especially for partners. In addition, the competition in today’s legal market is fierce. In many practice areas, the supply of lawyers exceeds the demand for their services. Even attorneys with generally strong credentials must often find some way to “stand out” from the competition, or they will most likely be rejected at the application stage without any real opportunity to “make their case” to the firm. Experienced recruiters, however, can better “market” their candidate in such a way as to maximize their chances of ultimately having their application accepted and receiving an initial interview. The third essay will explore the need for a good recruiter’s knowledgeable and objective advice through the deeper parts of the process, including interviews and offers.