I have heard the ad messages many times: “hire a veteran, hire an older person, hire the handi-capable.” (First commenter to get that last reference wins). As someone who went through a period of “transition” — read: “you’re not going to make partner, you might want to start looking,” I know all too well the difficulty of a job search. And this was before the current down times in hiring. I would say that one of the worst aspects of such a job search is sending off the application packet to unknown, faceless people who likely have a pile of hundreds of such packets to sift through. It’s the faceless part that is the focus of today’s column.
As an in-house attorney, I am fortunate to be on the buy side in one aspect of my job — hiring outside counsel. Firms clamor for our attention (and dollars) and it is nice to be on this side of that fence. Business development is hard. And it sucks. But in our community we have a perfect storm for the idea I am proposing today — we have a large pool of “in transition” attorneys and we have several firms of moderate to large size all wanting business from my company. So I propose the following: we have an event where a pool of these in transition folks are in a room with representatives from the firms, and where face-to-face networking can take place and résumés can be left with actual people…
Maybe a firm has a need, maybe not. But down the road when they do require the expertise in a specific practice area, they have a handful of résumés of experienced and qualified people to call in for interviews. I can hear the naysayers to such an event already. But I don’t care. When you are looking for work, the psychological good that can come of meeting someone face-to-face can far outweigh the statistical improbability that you’ll land a specific job. And for the firms, they can talk with some folks face-to-face, and in the event they need someone, they will already have a meeting to put with a résumé. It can be a win-win. And for firms that don’t want to participate, especially as we head into the holiday season, that is certainly their (wrong/bad/mean/incorrect) choice.
Look, there but for the grace of God go I. I interviewed at one of the major corporations that now ceases to exist across the street from my office. It was a major provider of legal employment for our region, and no one would have guessed five years ago that it would today just not be here. Or that nearly 200 attorneys would suddenly be looking for work. My thought is that membership has its privileges, and since I am lucky enough to count myself among the employed in-house attorneys in this region, we ought to do anything we can to help those of us who are in need.
Next week is Thanksgiving, and I wish all of you a safe and thankful day. And if you celebrate Chanukah, well, you get to eat good food for two very good reasons. And the confluence won’t happen again for 71,000 years. I will also try to attend the party on the 5th, it would be great to meet those of you who can attend.
After two federal clerkships and several years as a litigator in law firms, David Mowry is happily ensconced as an in-house lawyer at a major technology company. He specializes in commercial leasing transactions, only sometimes misses litigation, and never regrets leaving firm life. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.