We resume our series of open threads on career alternatives for attorneys. If you have a law degree, but can’t get into / aren’t interested in Biglaw or contract attorney work, what are some other good options?
One of you snarkily suggested manager at Legal Sea Foods (which, by the way, has excellent clam chowder). But in an effort to cabin the universe of possibilities, we’re going to focus on fields where a law degree adds significant value or is at least somewhat relevant.
Thus far we’ve discussed working as a law librarian or for a major accounting firm, two fields popular with holders of J.D. degrees. If you have a suggested alternative career path, please email us (subject line: “Career Alternatives”), and include some basic info about the field that you’re nominating (e.g., how to get into it, pluses and minuses, salary data, etc.).
Today we’re going to focus on the people who bring you aboard in Biglaw: law firm recruiting coordinators (or, to use the NALP terminology, “legal recruitment and attorney management professionals”). They’re the law firm employees who work with law schools to set up the fall interviewing process, coordinate on-campus and callback interviews, run summer associate programs (read: plan awesomely fun events for aspiring pro wrestlers), and generally oversee the process of hiring and recruiting qualified attorneys at major law firms.
(Note: Also falling under the broad terms “legal recruiter” or “recruiting professional” are people who work for legal search firms / headhunters — e.g., Kinney, Lateral Link, Mestel. We’ll discuss them in a future post.)
If you’re curious about opportunities in law firm recruiting departments, read more, after the jump.
As in the past, we had a tipster to guide us through the field. We’ve restructured this as a Q-and-A.
What is the typical track for a law firm recruiting coordinator? What does the job ential?
The career track is: assistant (typically non-JD), coordinator, manager, director. To get a sense of job responsibilities, look at these job descriptions from NALP. Here’s an excerpt from a sample job description for the post of Director of Layer Recruiting:
Manage firmwide Recruiting Department. Provide day to day work direction and professional development, conduct periodic performance evaluations and annual reviews for the department. Responsible for hiring, training and evaluation members of the department.
Formulate, administer and maintain recruiting policies, operational procedures and practices consistent with the goals and objectives of the firm….
Develop and manage annual recruiting, diversity and attorney functions budgets. Investigate, analyze and budget for new recruiting initiatives; develop and analyze expense reports.
Oversee summer associate and fall recruitment programs in all offices. Work with Managing Partner annually to determine summer associate capacity and fall associate capacity.
What is the compensation like?
Pay varies from market to market and depends on firm size/duties/etc. Generally speaking, average salaries averages are around $45K for an assistant, $60K for a coordinator, $95K for a manager, and $150K for a director. It’s not a gig that you take for the money, but the work-life balance is good and it’s a pretty fun job.
Update: For detailed data about salaries in the law firm recruiting area, see here (gavel bang: commenter). Note that directors of recruiting at large firms in New York can earn as much as $450,000.
How can people get into the field?
Getting into the field should be easy for attorneys who use their networks. Those interested in recruiting should check out NALP and any recruiting organizations in their area (e.g., DC – WALRAA, NYC – NYCRA, Bay Area – BALRA, Chicago – CALPA).
What are firms looking for in recruiting coordinators?
Ideal candidates are social/outgoing, work well under pressure, possess a high level of professionalism, have excellent organization skills, pay careful attention to detail, and have strong communication skills.
[Ed. note: Based on our (admittedly anecdotal) experience interviewing with law firms, it seems that hotness doesn’t hurt. Rather attractive women are well-represented in the ranks of top law firms’ recruiting departments. We’re not saying this is a good or bad thing; we are merely making an observation, with which you are free to agree or disagree.]
Sample Legal Recruiting Job Descriptions [NALP]
Salary Survey: Legal Recruiting Professionals [Wisnik Career Enterprises]