Lateral Link

Hiring of attorneys by corporate legal departments has picked up in recent months. As companies became more cost-conscious during the recession, they began reducing legal expenditures by keeping more legal work in-house and relying less on outside counsel with their high billing rates. This has resulted in an increased workload, and thus a need for more legal staff for manyin-house legal departments.

So if you’ve been thinking about looking for an in-house job, now may be the best time to make a move. In today’s Career Center Tips Series, Lateral Link’s recruiters discuss which practice areas are in the highest demand for the in-house job market. However, since practice area activity can be very region-specific, the following are general trends observed in the in-house legal sector nationwide….

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It’s that time of year again when the Career Center is taking your nominations for the top Biglaw partners to work for. Last year, we highlighted 69 exceptional partners from all over the country who are not only great at what they do, but who are also great to work for.

Now we’re looking for some new names to grace the pages of Above the Law. So if you know a phenomenal Biglaw partner who associates truly enjoy working for, take our short survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and go ahead and lavish the praise on him or her.

Check back in the coming weeks as we reveal the results in a multi-part series.

In this week’s Career Center Survey, we asked you to predict how Biglaw’s 2011 year-end bonuses will stack up against bonuses based on 2010 performance.

Of the more than 700 responses we received, 28% of respondents think (or is hope the better word?) that the 2011 year-end bonus will be bigger than the combined 2010 Cravath year-end bonus, plus the 2011 Cravath spring bonus.

If those bonus numbers weren’t already forever etched in your mind, here’s a quick reminder of what those totals were….

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We’re about a month or so away from the arrival of the 2011 year-end bonus season. You know what that means: time to start freaking out. And maybe make a prediction while you’re at it. Take our short survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and give us your best guess as to how Biglaw’s 2011 year-end bonus market will compare to 2010.

As always, responses are kept completely confidential. Be sure to check back later in the week to find out where everyone else thinks the bonus market is heading.

In today’s Career Center Tips Series, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, legal recruiter and former hiring partner, discusses the challenges that new attorneys face in today’s world.

No matter what the differences will be a decade from now, it is safe to say that young lawyers will always have similar personal and professional concerns as they jump the hurdle from education to practice. Those concerns will be similar without regard to the school attended, the corner of the profession chosen, whether you are the first or one of many lawyers in your extended family, and whether you are “going home” to the city where you were raised, or moving to a city you have never lived in before.

But that being said, this generation of law school graduates is quite different from my generation….

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Today’s Career Center Tips Series, focused on the billable hour, is brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former hiring partner.

Students and new associates are concerned about hours. So are firms. You will hear anecdotes and twice-told tales about monstrous hours. You will hear that Smith & Jones is a sweatshop, but that Arnold and Baker is a laid-back place. Most lawyers are hardworking by nature, and will work hard no matter where they practice. You will work many hours beyond client hours to manage the practice, be trained and train others, stay current in your field and market, and manage the firm.

The differences among firms’ expectations have never been as great as law students believe (and hope). In the wake of the 2000 and 2007 compensation avalanches, expectations on billable hours changed forever….

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This fall you will be invited to attend pre-interview receptions, post-OCI dinners, and various meals and receptions during and after callback interviews. How you handle yourself during these events can have an impact on whether you receive an offer and your reputation in the firm.

Follow these sensible rules, courtesy of Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, former hiring partner and expert recruiter, and you’ll never get yourself in trouble….

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It is crunch time for 2Ls and 3Ls. You’re awash in information — some of it concrete — but much of it ambiguous, amorphous, and second-hand, at best. The dissonance of hearsay collides with the harmony of recruiting. This year, perhaps more than any in the past ten years, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, has heard stories of “negative” recruiting.

A lawyer with Jones and Brown disparages Johnson & Smith. While any professional recruiter worth his or her grain of salt would never condone such a tactic, several attorneys consider it an effective manner of recruiting. Word to the wise, if the best feature of the firm is the interviewer disparaging other firms, run away!

Negative recruiting takes many forms, but usually appears in one of the following forms….

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Think back when you were five years old and learning how to swim. A parent or an older sibling probably took you to a pool or pond, told you to hold your breath, and then pushed you in. Your head went underwater, you flailed your arms, and swallowed enough water to fill a gallon jug. Eventually, you made yourself learn how to tread water and keep your head above water.

Hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane; if you are a law student, you will be learning how to swim on your first days at work — and fast.

There is no substitution for learning on the job, but there are some things future associates should consider before taking the plunge into the deep end. Check out the following tips, courtesy of Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, and use them as your flotation device during your first few days as a law firm associate….

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Can you name the Biglaw firms with great lifestyles, supportive and friendly partners, lots of mentors, a commitment to parenting, salaries high enough to pay off your debts in 6 years with no pressure to develop business, and a guarantee of partnership (and frequent sabbaticals)? This tough question cannot be answered. There is no perfect law firm — and despite the warm fuzzy noise of recruiting, every law firm has strengths and limitations.

You have chosen a demanding field where clients expect the best advice from the best lawyers. The explosion in associate compensation caused significant and permanent changes in law firms’ expectations for new associate performance, the tolerance for slow starters, and the likelihood of promotion. This generation of new lawyers will work harder, compete harder, and be under greater pressure to contribute (produce business) than was ever present in the past. That’s the reality of practice in the new millennium. But the desire to find the best law firm in an imperfect world is a legitimate quest.

Before deciding on which firm to join, consider these tips, provided by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former hiring partner….

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