Contract Attorneys, Headhunters / Recruiters, Job Searches

Are Contract Attorneys Getting Blacklisted?

During this recession, there have been a lot of would-be Biglaw associates that have been forced into taking temporary contract work. People have to do what they can to pay the bills.

But in so doing, are they harming their chances of ever getting a full-time job? One recruiting firm thinks they are.

A tipster received a disheartening letter from a legal recruiter:

I submitted a resume to [You Suck] Atty Search nearly two months ago and received this response today. I have passed three bars and have prior firm experience but I am currently working in a contract position. This is the response I got – all I can think is that does this guy really understand what the job market is actually like and how many talented and smart attorneys are currently stuck in contract positions due to the changing market and economics?

Found it to be incredibly condescending.

After taking two months to respond, the recruiter essentially told this candidate that law firms are prejudiced against contract attorneys, notwithstanding the terrible economy…

After some opening pleasantries, the “You Suck” (hereinafter: YS) recruiter gets to the heart of the matter:

First, there is no doubt that you have an outstanding record. Your record since graduating from law school appears quite strong in all respects. We feel privileged that attorneys in positions such as yours contact us on an ongoing basis.

However, I note that your recent experience has been on an hourly/contract basis. In our experience as the top legal recruiter in the U.S., I’ve found that law firms typically look to hire attorneys who’ve come from full-time, permanent positions in other law firms. They accept nothing less from us. This is in no way meant to downplay your abilities as an attorney; it’s just a fact I’ve encountered year after year. Law firms simply are not eager to hire attorneys whose background consists of contract work.

Potential employers will tend to view your history as an hourly/contract attorney as possibly suggesting that you might not be interested in a full-time position. While I do not necessarily believe that is the case, law firms see it that way unfortunately. And for that reason, firms are very reluctant to take on a contract attorney, especially through a recruiter like YS Attorney Search.

It sure sounds like YS Attorney Search is more concerned with placing easy candidates than doing hard work.

But is the recruiter right? Are law firms really discriminating against contract attorneys? We’ve already seen evidence that laid-off attorneys have been blackballed by Biglaw. Is the same true for people who have been forced into contract jobs because of the economy?

If so, what the hell are young attorneys supposed to do? Sit on their couches (sorry: their mothers’ couches), waiting for full-time associate offers to fall out of the sky?

We can’t be living in a world where not working is the best way to get a job.

Earlier: Bad News for Laid Off Associates: Your Résumés Are Not Welcome

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