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Using a Legal Search Firm/Recruiter?

I'm a 4th year attorney trying to lateral from a small firm muaddib08/24/16
I work in estate planning and probate law. It's very niche a tulip08/26/16
Wow, interesting insight. I'm also in a niche area--land us muaddib08/31/16
Where? I am a senior associate in a mid law land use group. retard05/11/17
which geographic location? I might be able to help you out dingbat05/12/17
When it comes to shadiness, your instincts are generally rig loser1208/27/16
My first question is what market are you looking in? Even th smishsmash08/30/16
not OP but if you have an recs for NYC I'd love to hear them bingojackson08/30/16
I'm looking in LA and it seems like the market is just super muaddib08/31/16
while I think there's some value in being persistent and eve bingojackson09/01/16
Uhg. I was expecting three months... Time to buckle up I gue muaddib09/01/16
Although I'm sure there are several reasons why jobs don't o pauperesq09/01/16
FYI BCG owns Lateral Link dingbat05/29/18
Absent some high-value niche, a recruiter won’t help you g midlaw05/31/18
I’m in your area with similar background and had more succ ipesq06/01/18
With rare exception, recruiters only work biglaw to biglaw. onehell06/01/18
Idi Admin, please close this thread. Onehell has said al williamdrayton06/01/18
180. Perfect answer. midlaw06/01/18
muaddib (Aug 24, 2016 - 9:03 pm)

I'm a 4th year attorney trying to lateral from a small firm into mid-law. I've been searching for almost two months (and had several interviews) but decided to start using a recruiter.

Over the past few weeks, I've had wildly different (and sometimes, strangely unpleasant) interactions with several different search firms/recruiters.

Does anyone have any:

(1) opinions on the general usefulness of a search firm/recruiter;
(2) recommendations for a good search firm/recruiter;
(3) insight re reputation of BCG attorney search, Swan Legal, Lateral Link, or any other search firms?

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tulip (Aug 26, 2016 - 9:20 pm)

I work in estate planning and probate law. It's very niche and therefore difficult to find a job so I've tried recruiters. I've used Robert Half and 2 small local companies. Robert Half was awful, the people I met with were nice and knowledgeable but they never followed up. Never gave me leads. After discussing my job goals in depth, I got 1 call from someone at Robert Half asking if I would like to interview for a doc review job (no). I also get emails from them about job hunting or potential leads that have nothing to do with law or my skill set. And on top of it, they don't validate parking! The two smaller local recruiters worked well, one really knew the estate planning market, revised my resume, did mock interview with me and set me up on a few interviews. The other local recruiter was also super thorough and sent me on interviews. She helped me compare the firm's that I was offered positions with and helped me decide. And the firm's we were comparing were 2 that she didn't even arrange for me.

I would recommend using local recruiters but constantly check in with them so you are fresh in their mind. Also, keep looking yourself don't rely only on a recruiter.

Don't use BCG, terrible reviews and totally shady.

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muaddib (Aug 31, 2016 - 6:06 pm)

Wow, interesting insight. I'm also in a niche area--land use & environmental litigation--and I had a similar experience with Lateral Link. After I talked to them about my goals, they kept sending me doc review positions (or staff attorney nonsense). Most recently they tried to get me to submit for a "e-discovery specialist" position in another city that would've been a 30% pay cut... I don't know what recruiters like this are thinking...

I also instinctively thought that using a local recruiter would be more fruitful, but I've had a pretty negative experience with them so far. They generally seem to have fewer recruiters, and thus are very focused on finding "glossy" candidates so that the recruiter doesn't have to work too hard to get them positions.

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retard (May 11, 2017 - 7:24 pm)

Where? I am a senior associate in a mid law land use group. Openings are rare at the associate level, very few associate candidates are even qualified to get an interview. It's a very partner heavy practice area.

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dingbat (May 12, 2017 - 9:27 am)

which geographic location?
I might be able to help you out

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loser12 (Aug 27, 2016 - 3:46 pm)

When it comes to shadiness, your instincts are generally right. BCG is also shady. You wind up getting spam email because they add you to like 30 email lists after you reply to them. It reminded me of craigslist scams from back in the day.

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smishsmash (Aug 30, 2016 - 12:22 pm)

My first question is what market are you looking in? Even the national recruiting companies vary greatly from market to market.

IMO, a good recruiter needs to not only be knowledgable, but persistent without being aggressive. And, a while a recruiter always has some sort of value if they have relationships at firms with the hiring parter(s) or head or HR, they have the most value when they can bring you unposted positions.

An underrated value a good recruiter can provide is prepping you for the interviews and providing background on the partners you'll interview with. While a lot of people may think they either know what they're doing or can handle an interview, in my experience, there are very specific answers most of these firms want from their potential lateral associate hires. If your recruiter is a good one, he can help you with your answers by roleplaying the right questions.

With all that being said, this time of year specifically positions don't come up often (which is one of two reasons why you may not be getting the follow up you want). The other reason, may be your not an attractive candidate for mid-law firms based on your education or the firm you are currently with. While it sucks, the higher up the food chain you go the more factors like where you went to school, how well you did in school, and/or the reputation of the firm you are currently with matter.

As far as specific recommendations, I have worked with recruiters in two different markets and had two good experiences and a bunch of lousy ones. Let me know what market you're in and I can try to point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

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bingojackson (Aug 30, 2016 - 3:30 pm)

not OP but if you have an recs for NYC I'd love to hear them

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muaddib (Aug 31, 2016 - 5:59 pm)

I'm looking in LA and it seems like the market is just super dominated by BCG search here.

Interesting comment re "positions don't come up" this time of year. Is that because the firms are focused on doing OCI? I had a recruiter say that to me as well, but I honestly never know whether I should believe anything they tell me.

Waiting for the follow up from firms has been maddening so far. I did average at a top 20 school--don't know how different types of firms would perceive this. But you are right, I am not getting the response I am looking for...

I've had two interviews that went almost absurdly well. Good chemistry with the interviewers; long chats that went well over an hour; one guy said "you are an extremely impressive candidate"; another interviewer said "I think you would fit in very well here"... No response from either firm a month later... No idea what's going wrong.

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bingojackson (Sep 1, 2016 - 12:01 pm)

while I think there's some value in being persistent and even a bit pushy (without being annoying, it's a fine line), everyone I've spoken to has told me that a job search, from start to finish, will likely take ~6 months, even if you're using a recruiter.

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muaddib (Sep 1, 2016 - 3:17 pm)

Uhg. I was expecting three months... Time to buckle up I guess.

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pauperesq (Sep 1, 2016 - 3:59 pm)

Although I'm sure there are several reasons why jobs don't open up this time of year, I believe the primary reason is no one wants to leave before receiving their year-end bonus.

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dingbat (May 29, 2018 - 5:16 pm)

FYI BCG owns Lateral Link

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midlaw (May 31, 2018 - 8:55 pm)

Absent some high-value niche, a recruiter won’t help you get into midlaw. But if you had valuable experience in a niche area, you’d probably already know the midlaw players.

Recruiters are useful for big to big. Otherwise, not so much.

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ipesq (Jun 1, 2018 - 3:57 am)

I’m in your area with similar background and had more success with smaller recruiters such as mckelvy and Kim, Lucas group and to some extent Robert half.ultimately I didn’t get a job through an agency but they set up a lot of interviews and still stay in touch even though I was able to find a job on my own. I really think you start having value at 5th-7th year when you work in small law because you truly have substantive experience that bigger firms look for and other lawyers have washed out at that time.

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onehell (Jun 1, 2018 - 12:23 pm)

With rare exception, recruiters only work biglaw to biglaw. That's what "lateral" means. Using one to go small firm to medium firm? I don't see how that could work. Medium-size firms don't want to pay the large fees associated with hiring someone brought to them by a recruiter, and big firms aren't interested in people coming in from small firms. Even if they might've liked your credentials they don't want the conflicts associated with the smaller size companies and other clients and such that you probably represented working at a small firm.

Heck, they aren't even interested in other biglaw people except during a very narrow window where you're senior enough to know what you're doing but not so senior that you would've been expected to make partner/have a book of business/etc. Unless of course, you are a partner with a huge book, but that's a whole different ballgame. People I know in biglaw know this game well, the phone starts ringing with all kinds of recruiters in like years 3-5, but before or after that not so much. And if you go off the track, e.g. by leaving biglaw and going in-house or to the government or to some boutique, or getting canned before you hit the magic window, that phone is likewise not likely to ring.

I can't really fault the recruiters for this. The large law firms they bring recruits to are their customer, not you, and the customer is very clear about what they are and are not interested in. If the recruiter starts pitching resumes that don't fit the customer's clearly-established criteria, then they won't have that customer for long. They'll take your resume in case something comes up where the criteria aren't so rigid, but I wouldn't expect to hear back about much other than doc review.

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williamdrayton (Jun 1, 2018 - 3:51 pm)

Idi Admin,

please close this thread. Onehell has said all that needs to be said.

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midlaw (Jun 1, 2018 - 6:05 pm)

180. Perfect answer.

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