Choosing a Legal Recruiter is like choosing a doctor. You don’t want to be scrambling for one when you need one. And you want to be judicious in determining which one is right for you. Five questions to consider:
1. Does the Legal Recruiter Have Access to Key Decision-Makers: This is particularly important for in-house searches. Some clients that I have worked with have reported getting up to 1,000 resumes for a single in-house opening. Pitching your resume into an internet “black hole” can result in it being stuck in a pile on the desk of an HR assistant who knows nothing about the legal profession or industry. If your Legal Recruiter has access to the key decision-makers – including the attorney to whom the role directly reports – this can result in much more meaningful feedback and interactions, and advance your candidacy along. This also means that the client and the Legal Recruiter have a strong relationship and the client is heavily relying on the recruiter to assist with vetting candidates. Your resume, attached to this recruiter, will carry that much more weight with the client. When the relationship is value added to the corporation, the Legal Recruiter will be able to give you much more detail on the culture of the organization and the personalities of particular team members.
PROTIP: Don’t just assume that a Legal Recruiter who is calling about a particular job opening has the relationship. Ask about recent searches and placements the recruiter has made with the client, and how the relationship originated. This is much more crucial for in-house than for law firm searches.
2. Does the Legal Recruiter Have Experience in Your Particular Market: Some Legal Recruiters have expertise in a specific geographic region. Other Legal Recruiters have gained experience within a certain industry, such as pharma/life sciences, or financial services. Others focus exclusively on either associate or partner recruiting. You want to find a Legal Recruiter that has deep knowledge of (and relationships in) your particular market, especially if it is a niche or highly specialized market.
PROTIP: Go on the recruiting company’s website and check for patterns. Many recruiting firms tout certain geographic or industry focuses, but some do not. If a recruiting company seems to have made a large amount of placements in your particular niche, ask the Legal Recruiter about it. If the recruiter can speak in depth as to his or her relationships and placements made within your industry, this is a recruiter to keep.
PROTIP: You want to make sure that you are working with a Legal Recruiter who specializes in the placement of attorneys whether in house, law firms or possibly in the not for profit market sector. You may want to clarify whether the Legal Recruiter that you are working with is an attorney at a minimum and has recruited in the industry or practice area that you are targeting.
3. Ethics Matter! How committed is your Legal Recruiter to ethics and professional responsibility? Does their company have a Code of Ethics? While there may not be a recruiter’s equivalent of attorney-client privilege, you want to see whether a recruiter prioritizes integrity.
PROTIP: Ask if the Legal Recruiter is a member of the National Association for Legal Search Consultants (NALSC) and abides by its Code of Conduct. Also listen for language – does the recruiter make it very clear that he or she will never submit you anywhere without your express prior consent?
4. Involvement in Legal and Professional Networks. Is the Legal Recruiter active with In House Counsel groups, bar associations, and other professional organizations? While you may not think this is directly applicable to recruiting, this shows the company’s reputation in the general legal community.
PROTIP: Participation in legal and professional organizations showcases a recruiter’s ability to network and build relationships – a crucial component in acquiring attractive in-house opportunities.
5. Connection: Has your recruiter made an attempt to meet with you or at least spend some time on the phone with you getting to know your practice and career objectives? Does your Legal Recruiter know the ins and outs of your practice area? Has the Legal Recruiter represented many attorneys with similar credentials (or even from your practice area or law firm)?
PROTIP: Treat your relationship with your recruiter like your relationship with your doctor. You need to feel comfortable sharing personal information that you may not share freely, as the best recruiters are trusted advisors on both the candidate and client side. Plus, it’s a great time to ask the recruiter the questions above! The next time a Legal Recruiter gives you a call, spend some time vetting the professional to determine if he or she is your trusted advisor.