For an experienced attorney with a proven track record, using a legal recruiter to help with a lateral move or new job might be a smart move.
But for a new lawyer just out of law school? Not so much.
The fact is, there are more lawyers looking for work than there are good jobs to go around. That means hiring firms can pick and choose. And recruiters want to work with applicants who are highly marketable – meaning the cream of the crop.
“In reality, less than three percent of attorneys will ever be qualified to be placed by a legal recruiter in a permanent law firm position,” writes this recruiter. “You are in the three percent if you are a partner and you have a significant roster of clients – generally more than $500,000 in a smaller market and over $2,000,000 in larger markets. To add insult to injury, less than one percent of attorneys at any one time are ever going to be qualified to be placed by legal recruiters.”
Do you meet most or all of the following criteria?
- You were an associate at a highly-regarded firm.
- You went to a top law school or did exceptionally well at a lesser school.
- You have one to five years of experience.
- You want to work in a market where there are other top firms, which generally means a big city.
- You have not changed firms too many times.
- You are in a desirable practice area where jobs are available.
- You bring a solid book of business with you.
If you don’t fit this profile – or if you have practiced longer than five years, regardless of your background – you are less desirable in the eyes of recruiters.
Two Dozen Ways Recruiters Try to Hook You
Because the market is so tight – and because recruiters only get paid when their recruits get a paying gig – the competition among recruiters to snag the most marketable candidates is fierce. Some may resort to sales tactics that are heavy-handed at best, and unethical at worst.
Here are 24 tricks a recruiter might use, courtesy of BCG Attorney Search:
- They spend more time boasting of their own credentials than learning about you and your qualifications.
- They hound you with cold calls, incessant emails or LinkedIn alerts.
- They advertise non-existent jobs that are suddenly “filled” when you ask about them.
- They lure you in by promising to connect you with firms that offer signing bonuses, generous lifestyle concessions and easy partnership tracks.
- They boast that they know of available in-house positions, when in reality these positions are rarely filled by recruiters.
- They offer you a bribe, which may come in the form of a percentage of their fee for placing you.
- They emphasize their legal experience – or the great law school they attended – rather than their recruiting experience.
- They talk more than they listen.
- They don’t appear to understand the market where you want to work.
- They ask you to send them your resume and other information merely to bolster their stable of recruits.
- They send out your information without your permission.
- They entice you with “exclusive” opportunities and “limited-time” offers.
- They represent that they have a special relationship or inside track with a firm.
- They say bad things about your current firm.
- They attack and demean other recruiters.
- They tell you others in your firm are looking to jump ship.
- They encourage you to make a move without fully discussing the merits of staying versus leaving.
- They pretend to be your friend.
- They withhold negative information about the firm you are targeting.
- They try to push you into a position without fully evaluating the pros and cons.
- They try to guilt you into accepting an offer by saying how much time they have put in or that their reputation is on the line.
- They try to scare you into taking an offer by telling horror stories of what will otherwise happen.
- They try to portray a job opening as more competitive than it actually is.
- They discourage you from negotiating on salary, benefits and other terms in order to rush you into accepting an offer.
The best legal recruiters have good social skills and show empathy. They get to know you so that they can match your unique skills with an available job. They are good at researching the marketing and selling your skills. Above all, they are straightforward and honest.
What are your experiences with recruiters?
Source: BCG Attorney Search – Harrison Barnes, Los Angeles Managing Director