The lateral hiring market has improved substantially over the past year. With that improvement, associates are receiving a greater number of cold-calls from recruiters. For many junior associates, these calls are a new phenomenon. Your choice of a recruiter — and the way you manage the process — will have a profound impact on your short-term and long-term opportunities.
There are many good recruiters and many benefits to using a good one. However, not all recruiters are created equal. Jordan Abshire, legal recruiter and Managing Director at Lateral Link, offers some great pointers on handling the cold-calls and selecting a good recruiter, as well as some background information on the recruiting process….
There is a neighborhood in Chicago that smells like chocolate. The reason is due to Blommer Chocolate Company’s Chicago factory. I have never been inside, but according to a documentary I once saw regarding chocolate factories, inside there is a chocolate river, Oompa Loompas, and an eccentric chocolatier.
Much to my surprise, there was an opening at Blommer for over a year. Among other qualifications, the position required the applicant to be able to taste and consume chocolate and other products. Who would not jump at the chance to work there? Admittedly, there were a few negatives to the position (see here), but overall it sounded much better than a typical job wherein one does not get to taste and consume chocolate (at least not as an integral part of the daily routine).
If only there was some professional whose job it was to match open positions like this with qualified applicants….
I spoke on a panel with two other in-house lawyers at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law a little while ago, and I learned two interesting things about lateral mobility. I’m not one to keep secrets (other than client confidences, of course), so I figure I’ll share.
The first item came from a question a law student asked of Steve Beard, who’s the general counsel of Heidrick & Struggles, a recruiting firm. The student asked when the best times are during your legal career to make a lateral move. I didn’t have a clue, and Beard works for a headhunter, so I figured it was time to listen.
Beard said that headhunters will call you most aggressively at three times in your life. First, you’ll get calls when you’re roughly a third-year associate. At that point, the market perceives that you’ve been trained in the fundamentals of being a lawyer. If someone is looking for a competent person still early in a legal career, that’s more or less the time.
You’ll then apparently have to endure a few years of relative silence. The phone won’t start to ring regularly again until you’re six or seven years out of law school. The market will then perceive you as having become a fully formed lawyer, capable of performing most of the tasks in your niche. Corporations figure that they can hire a sixth-year associate, train the candidate about a particular business, and fit the person easily into a corporate structure….
* Ashby Jones asks: Is it time for stricter regulation of law schools and the information they disclose (or don’t disclose)? In other words, “Should Congress gin up the Law Student Truth in Education Act of 2011?” [WSJ Law Blog]
When you read the accounts of recruiters at these firms, you get a sense of why they might choose these metrics. They have multiple stacks of resumes. They meet hundreds of applicants at career fairs. Rather than scrutinizing anyone’s resume it’s easier just to limit the pool to the top three or four universities.
Do you really want to pore over the transcript of that kid from the University of Michigan? Wouldn’t it be easier just to call the Harvard grad? In essence, what they’re assuming is that the admissions offices at the super-elite schools have already picked the best of the best. Why second guess them?
— Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle of Higher Education, writing about a paper by Lauren Rivera, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, entitled “Ivies, Extracurriculars, and Exclusion: Credentialism in Elite Labor Markets.”
The world of legal recruiting is a bit like Glengarry Glen Ross. Like the real estate agents of Glengarry, legal recruiters work mainly on commission, and they get paid when they close deals. Instead of getting paid for selling parcels of land, though, headhunters get paid when they find lawyers — people like you — new employment (most often at law firms, although sometimes in-house as well).
Like Glengarry, the world of legal recruiting features outsized personalities, profanity-spouting hustlers, and smooth-talking salespeople (the folks who cold call you and try to lure you away from Big Firm A to Big Firm B). Given the sheer number of recruiters working today, the fierce competition for deals, and the fees at stake — moving a group of powerful partners from one firm to another can result in a six- or even seven-figure payday — it’s not surprising that the business has a seamy side.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, which has come to light thanks to some recent, non-sealed court filings, one of the biggest attorney search firms out there — Major, Lindsey & Africa — has made RICO claims against an ex-employee.
Wait a sec. RICO — as in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act? Some say legal recruiting can be a dirty business, but it’s not that dirty, is it?
(And are law firm associates going to start getting voice mails from Teamsters? “Hey there, uh, David, my name is Sal….”)
Let’s explore the allegations of MLA’s lawsuit against one its former recruiters, Sharon Mahn….
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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