There’s an old saying in the business world that: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” For any attorney out there who’s gotten their feet wet in the legal profession, you’ve no doubt found that adage to hold true. For lawyers looking to make a career change and possibly transition from one firm to a more promising opportunity at another, being in-the-know when a coveted position opens up is crucial. And sometimes a trusted fellow attorney friend at another firm has the inside scoop.
So how do you proceed in pursuing that attractive opportunity at another firm while using your friend as a resource, or is that really the best approach? Again, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, right? In this case, your lawyer friend could serve as a referral source and tell one of the partners about you. Job referrals are important in any industry, including the legal profession, and especially if they come from credible sources. But in some instances that might not be as prudent as it seems.
If you’re an attorney looking to make a career change and insider contacts are essential, you actually have a couple of viable options to choose from. The first is to ask your friend to put in a good word for you at their firm. Option two is to employ the services of a legal recruiter to step in and guide you through the recruitment process. Which is the better avenue to take? The answer may surprise you.
Legal Career Change Scenario #1: Rely Upon a Lawyer Friend
Okay, over a couple of cocktails one night an attorney friend from law school informs you about a possible opening at their firm. They know one of the partners there pretty well, well enough to approach them with your name and resume. What could go wrong? Actually, a few things could put some flies in your legal ointment, so to speak. Those are:
- The partner at your friend’s firm might know one of the senior partners at your firm that could open up a can of worms when: 1) Your friend’s contact refuses to consider you for that reason, and 2) They notify their partner friend at your current job that you’ve been shopping your services. Ouch!
- Will your friend even pass along your resume and information? For example, they may see you as a potential threat at their firm, and just pretend they’re trying to advance your career while not passing along your resume.
- What if the partner at the potential firm asks your lawyer friend how much money you’re seeking and they just make up some (low) number? That won’t bode well if they decide to interview you and the numbers are way off.
- Your attorney friend may not be well-respected at their firm. What if your friend is actually on thin ice regarding their job performance, and the firm is actually looking to replace them with a new associate. And, what if you are the proven attorney they pursue to do just that? Talk about uncomfortable!
In any event, you might come across as desperate and as if you’re trying to jump ship from your current position, while using a personal friend to facilitate the process. The legal optics simply aren’t good. Partners aren’t dumb, and they’ll smell a rat. Perhaps they’ll conclude that you’d do it to them too if a better opportunity came along. And, no matter how this scenario plays out, it may place a strain on the relationship you have with your friend when the dust settles, job or no job.
Legal Career Change Scenario #2: Use an Experienced Legal Recruiter
Ask any legal recruiter worth their salt, and they’ll relate that the most-coveted open legal positions within prestigious law firms or corporate counsel departments are not posted to online job boards. A good legal recruiter knows how to network nationally and even globally, while tapping into their numerous contacts strategically placed within the legal profession. When you decide to work with a top legal recruiter this is what to expect:
- They’ll conduct an initial screening interview to determine your strengths, law specialties and schooling (3 S’s).
- Next, a good recruiter will discuss your experience, career aspirations and desired compensation.
- A recruiter will then get in touch with their sources in the industry specific to the niche(s) you are seeking employment within.
- The recruiter will help you put together a list of your most credible referral sources outside of your circle of friends.
- Modern recruiters utilize the most advanced technology to facilitate a seamless and time-efficient, recruitment-to-placement process.
- Finally, the recruiter will begin contacting potential new employers with openings that best match your qualifications/background. Usually that leads to getting you in the door for an interview.
As this entire recruitment-to-hiring process unfolds, an in-the-know legal recruiter understands that confidentiality is king, and professional recruiters strictly abide by that rule.
Top Legal Recruiters have the Know-How to Guide You Through
No disrespect to your lawyer friends, as we all appreciate those relationships. However, why put them in an uncomfortable position as an unqualified legal recruiter when there are myriad “real McCoys” out there, poised and ready to begin enhancing your legal career? In the end, your law career objectives might be better served when the “who” you know is an in-the-know, reputable legal recruiter. Place your next career move in the reliable hands of an elite legal recruiter today.