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How to carry out a successful job search in bankruptcy law

published January 01, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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Recruiting, Resumes and More

So your transcript teems with A's and your resume shines with law review and clinical experience. How do you translate that into a job, whether for summer or post-graduation? There are several routes for getting a job straight from law school. First is through your school's OCR - on-campus recruiting - program. Second is seeking out prospective employers yourself. Although these are different roadmaps for getting a job, many of the same basic rules apply to each.

Please note that this section applies for both summer and permanent positions, particularly at law firms. A summer associate position might be a great credential for permanent employment - but first you've got to get there!

Recruiting season usually begins during the fall before the job season in question, whether summer or post-graduation. Don't wait until then to get your recruiting plan in order. Use your summer to prepare for job hunting season, and walk into interviews with confidence borne of solid preparation.

Focus: the key to a successful job search

There are hundreds and hundreds of law firms, judges and other potential employers. How to select the ones where you should seek interviews? The key is to focus. Focus your platform, focus your search.

First, focus your goals, or, as legal recruiter Gavin Rubin advises, "know your platform." Think back to when you were selecting colleges - you looked at geography, size, areas of specialization, opportunities for international experience and quality of life reputation, among other factors. Ask yourself those same questions, and determine your goals.

Then, focus your search to firms and other employers that match your criteria. If you know you're interested in bankruptcy law, for instance, look at firms with strong bankruptcy groups. To figure out which firms match your goals, research as hard as you would for any law review comment. There are plenty of resources from which you can get information about employers, including:
  • Guides to law firms, such as The Guide to The Top Law Firms;
  • Older students at your law school who can tell you about their summer experiences;
  • Professors with whom you've built solid relationships;
  • The Internet, including firm web sites and other legal and news databases
  • The National Association for Law Placement Directory of Legal Employers (the "NALP Guide"), filled with statistics about many law firms throughout the country;
  • Legal publications, such as The American Lawyer and The National Law Journal;
  • Your law school career center, which often has a collection of pamphlets and summer associate surveys about particular law firms; and
  • Law school alumni working at firms in which you're interested. Not only can such alumni give you the inside scoop on their firms, but a good conversation might lead to an interview. Be careful here, though; attorneys are busy, and usually prefer an introductory letter or e-mail politely requesting some of their time to discuss their firm.

Focus is particularly crucial when you are not relying on on-campus recruiting, to find a job. Appropriately, this guide discusses the importance of focus in greater detail when discussing non-OCR job searches. But even in OCR, focus - of your goals and of your search - is a crucial step in preparing for job season.

Getting involved in the community

If you are interested in the legal community in which your law school is located, get to know the local bar. Most city bar associations have student sections through which students can attend receptions and seminars and meet local practitioners. Student members of local bar associations are also usually welcome at bar events.

Students interested in bankruptcy law can become student members of the Bankruptcy Law Institute or the bankruptcy sections of other bar associations and attend local lunches and other events. For these students, a bankruptcy seminar of a local bar association is a buffet of potential employers, and an opportunity to get to know local bankruptcy boutiques and practice groups. Most practitioners are impressed with students who have the initiative to participate in professional activities, and remember them down the road. So join your local bar, go to that bankruptcy seminar and make a few connections that may pay off come recruiting season.

Line up your ducks

Most law firms request copies of your transcripts and at least two references. Speak with your former employers (and, in the case of 2Ls, your IL summer employer) and professors about serving as telephone references well in advance of job season. This is when those relationships with your professors really pay off! Reference letters are usually unnecessary, except for judicial clerkships, where they are crucial.

Prepare a list of references for all employers with whom you interview; this list should be on the same paper, and with the same heading, as your resume. Secure copies of your law firm transcript from your registrar, as well as copies of your undergraduate transcript for good measure.

Get your resume in order

Your resume provides prospective employers with their first impression of you. You might be a brilliant, vibrant, creative individual in real life, but a few typos on your resume will brand you as careless and sloppy.

When preparing your resume, keep in mind the following:
  • Focus your credentials. Add to "focus your goals" and "focus your search" a third focus: focusing your credentials. When preparing your resume, focus on the experience, coursework and skills most relevant to the firms in which you are interested. If you are interested in firms with clients in the entertainment industry, for instance, play up your own industry experience, if any, and membership in any entertainment law journal or student organizations. If you're interested in bankruptcy, of course, play up any ties to bankruptcy law, such as a published comment about an area of bankruptcy law, or that one bankruptcy law assignment you performed in your previous summer internship.
  • Map it out. Matching your resume to a firm's location is particularly important. Law firms have historically been wary of extending offers to candidates with no ties to their location. This is especially true for summer programs; law firms don't like to waste their money on candidates angling for a free summer in the big city. Recruiting is expensive, so firms like to invest their money in candidates who will stay for the long haul. You're in fine shape if you grew up in or attend law school in the city of the potential employer; if not, play up any connections to the area in question as best you can.
  • Headline the best. Think of that first entry on your resume as your headline, and place the most important credential first, advises Gavin Rubin. If you went to a top-tier law school and Ivy League college, place your education first; if your academic credentials are shaky but you had a prestigious summer clerkship, move that to the top. And if your first job was more prestigious than your current position, don't be shy about not listing your experience in chronological order.
  • Mind the gap. Rubin also recommends that experienced attorneys minimize gaps in resumes. You can sometimes fill gaps by listing only the years, not months, you began and ended jobs.

            Also, remember these points:

  • Hold thy tongue. Limit your resume to one page, no matter how impressive you think your experience is; employers don't have time to go more than one page, and you don't want to risk burying important information on page two.
  • Embrace the past. Play up your pre-law school work experience. Many legal employers prefer job candidates who worked between college and law school to ones who went straight through. Gregory Willard, former hiring partner at Bryan Cave LLP, has "always been significantly impressed by full-time work experience between college and law school - the value of that experience and corresponding maturity is incalculable." So don't hide that work experience - give it a prominent place on your resume.
  • Simplicity is key. Keep the resume crisp and clean. Ignore all the fancy font options in your word processor; use the Times font and don't use anything smaller than 11 point. Bypass the thick cardboard-like stock, and save gray or other colors for your suits and ties. Stick with white or light cream resume bond paper.
  • Don't hold back. Include any and all law review or journal experience, comment publication or other honors, as well as legal clinic experience and other unique experiences, in your law school section.
  • Flash the green light. If you were a summer associate, indicate that you received an offer for permanent employment by stating "Permanent Offer Extended." This will quickly answer potential employers' first question about your last summer.
  • Don't waste space. Take out unnecessary statements like "References Available Upon Request."
  • Be exciting! Let employers know how well-rounded and just plain interesting you are. Include a section on "Interests," with a list of your hobbies. This will not only make you look more interesting, but will also provide some fodder for interview conversations;
  • Remember that it's a global village. Note any foreign language fluency, as well as any truly significant foreign travel (Eurorailing around the continent doesn't count) and experience.
  • Proofread. Then proofread some more. Have your friend proofread your resume. Then proofread it one last time.

On-Campus Recruiting at Law Schools

One of the unique aspects of law schools, particularly schools that are more prestigious or in cities with thriving job markets, is on-campus recruiting. For several weeks each fall, law school classrooms, underground interview complexes, and nearby hotels are swarming with law firm attorneys and law students. On-campus recruiting, or "OCR," is a case study in efficiency, allowing law students to meet as many law firms as possible in as short a time as possible (ditto for law firms meeting students). The challenge is to interview with five law firms in a row without resembling a zombie.

OCR operates in three phases: On-campus interviews, callbacks and offers.

The first round: On-campus interviews

The lottery

Law schools determine who interviews with what law firms through a lottery system. Typically, each student submits a resume to his or her career office, along with a transcript and list of OCR firms with whom they are interested in interviewing. Students often submit this material at the beginning of the fall semester, or even during the summer, depending on the OCR schedule.

The school then assigns the students their slots. Each school has its own approach to determining the interview schedules; some choose by random lottery, others by weighing the students' choices in order of preference; still others allow the firms to do the choosing, based on students' resumes and transcripts. Eventually, the slots are filled, and the students pick up their suits from the cleaners for their interviews.

The on-campus interview

OCR is an orgy of small talk, with each student attempting to make a case for herself in 20 minutes before being funneled to the next room to do it all over again. It's truly a bizarre process, set in any labyrinth of rooms on which the law school can get a hold, ranging from a floor in the local Sheraton to the law school's own maze of interview rooms. On any given day during this two or three-week period, dozens of law firms send their most charming attorneys to sit in a small room for eight hours a day to interview an endless stream of chipper, smiling students.

This is a grueling process for students, often taking place just as classes are beginning for the semester. The timing varies from city to city - New York City law schools typically stage their interviews before the start of classes, while Boston schools tend to conduct OCR in October. On any given day a student might have up to five interviews, spread throughout the day. Class attendance becomes secondary.

The importance of OCR interviews varies from firm to firm. At some, they are no more than resume drops, with only the abysmal or stellar interview making a difference. For others, they are indeed crucial, conducted by a managing or hiring partner. You should always assume that you're in the latter situation, and follow the interview tips outlined later in this chapter.

The second round: Callbacks
Interested in these kinds of jobs? Click here to find Bankruptcy jobs.

Invitations and ding letters

Now comes the waiting game, as students wait for phone calls and letters announcing their fates at each firm. The lucky students get called back for interviews at the firm's office. The unlucky get polite letters, affectionately known as "ding" letters, all generally reading as follows . . .

"We were very impressed with your academic record and achievements. But, unfortunately, we will not be able to extend an invitation for you to visit the firm."

...with no explanation as to how happy sentence A resulted in sad sentence B. Some students having a particularly rough season have been known to paper their apartment walls with "ding" letters. Those students have the appropriate attitude towards callback season - maintain a hearty sense of humor and stay focused on making the best of a tense situation.


Eventually, students schedule their callback interviews, visiting anywhere from one to a dozen firms. Each callback follows a similar pattern - meet with four attorneys, ranging from junior associates to managing partner, one after the other. Before, after or in the middle you will be taken to a nice local restaurant for lunch - a chance to catch your breath and get to know junior associates, usually the hosts of the meal, in a more casual setting. The goal of these intense sessions is for the attorneys to get a full picture of your personality and intelligence, and for you to get to know the firm with greater intimacy than 20-minutc OCR interviews permit.

Callback season can be fun: for many students, this is their first time enjoying the benefits of corporate travel, complete with food budgets, luxury hotels and business class airplane tickets. But it can be even more hectic than OCR. It is not uncommon to schedule five callback interviews over three days, which means two days with back-to-back sessions. Many law schools acknowledge the reality of the season and schedule callback days on which all classes are cancelled. Finals often seem like a relief after the stress of callbacks.


With a little bit of luck, some of these callbacks will result in offers to join or spend the summer at the firm, followed by a courtship of attorneys calling to sing the firm's praises and answer your questions. Some students have follow-up visits at their "finalist" firms, trying to meet as many attorneys as possible. Eventually a match is made, and the student calls one firm and utters those blessed words: "I accept."

FCR: The World Outside of OCR

OCR is only one avenue for finding a job. Many schools do not have thriving OCR programs. Even in schools with active OCR schedules, many students conclude the process with no acceptable offer; some students have no luck in OCR even in the best economy at the most prestigious law school. And OCR is often of no use for students interested in smaller firms, given OCR's slant towards larger law firms. Ultimately, many of you will have to be a bit more creative in your job search, and rely on Off-Campus Recruiting, or FCR (since the "O" was already taken).

FCR largely mirrors OCR; candidates still progress from initial interview to callback interview to offer. The primary difference between FCR and OCR is securing the initial interviews. OCR is like a personal shopper for jobs; it brings the firms to you. In FCR, you've got to introduce yourself to the firms. No one's going to play matchmaker for you.

So a good chunk of FCR is about getting your resume in front of the hiring partner's desk and securing an initial 20-minutc interview. How do you get into the dance? Remember focus. Focus your platform, focus your search, focus your credentials. Important in any job search, focus is particularly critical to FCR.

Focus your platform

In OCR, you have the luxury of dabbling and looking at all sorts of different firms, with so many firms coming to visit you and your law school doing all the footwork. In FCR, though, you need to marshal your resources towards firms in which you are really interested. The first step towards this is figuring out the qualities you are looking for in a firm. As with any job search, start your job search by determining your list of "wants" - firm size, geography, rotation system, areas of expertise. It's not that you shouldn't "know your platform" going into OCR; it's simply that the dearth of window-shopping in FCR requires a more concise shopping list right from the start.

Focus your search

Once you know exactly what you're looking for, find firms that have those qualities, using the same research methods outlined above. In FCR in particular, there is a strong temptation to cast your net wide and contact as many law firms as possible. Papering every law firm in the city with your resume, however, is probably the least effective method of getting an interview. Law firms get hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes every recruiting season. Time constraints allow hiring partners and personnel directors to cull only a few candidates for every available position, with decisions made from a cursory look at resumes.

So you need to make an extra effort to sell yourself and prove you are the right match for the firms for which you want to work. If you contact 100 firms, you'll only have the time and energy to provide each with generic resumes and cover letters. If you focus on a dozen, you'll have the resources to target them more effectively. Research their client base, cases and deals in which they've been involved, as well as pro bono and community programs in which they participate. Find out if any attorneys at the firm are alumni of your law school or college, or are from your hometown. Move in on your targets, so you know the firms and their attorneys inside and out.

Focus your credentials

Once you've focused your search, focus your resume to match those firms. Again, firms receive hundreds of resumes each season. So in FCR, it's even more important that your resume and cover letter match the firms in question - and because you've focused your search to a narrow universe of possibilities, you have the time to really focus your credentials for each particular firm. What makes you a perfect fit for each of the firms? Your resume and cover letter need to answer that question.

Maybe the firm is well known for its pro bono representation of a client on death row. If so, make sure your resume reflects your interest in anti-death penalty matters, such as a law review comment you wrote about the death penalty. If the firm has a significant number of French clients, highlight any of your French connections, such as your knowledge of the language and that college semester you spent in France. If the firm has won the inter-law firm citywide bowling contest for the past three years, feel free to mention in your resume that bowling is one of your hobbies (that is, if bowling is indeed one of your hobbies).

Don't overdo it, of course; no one likes to be pandered to. But don't be hesitant about showing that you've done your homework about the firm, and that you think that you'd be a perfect fit.

Focus your efforts

Add one more focus for FCR: focus your efforts on the firms in which you are interested. Again, OCR gives you the huge advantage of having access to every firm in town, allowing you to be lazy. But if you are part of FCR, as an adjunct to or substitute for OCR, you need to work to get the interviews you want, and focus your efforts on the firms you want. Of course, you start by submitting your focused resume, accompanied by a polite and error-free cover letter, to the personnel director or hiring partner. Popping that resume in the mail, however, is just the start of your efforts.

This phase is where all your hard work at attending local bar association meetings and developing relationships with
professors pays off. You should have developed an array of contacts and mentors and have a bunch of people in your corner who are willing to give you a hand. If these networking efforts have led to your knowing members of the firms in which you are interested, contact them directly, and submit your cover letter and resume to them. Ask professors, mentors and other contacts if they are friends with anyone at one of your target firms, and if they can put in a good word for you, perhaps even put you in touch with one of its members. Contact alumni from your law school who work at the firm. Attend local seminars conducted by the firm's members, and introduce yourself at its conclusion (after you've asked a substantive question or two during the seminar).

Bottom line: Networking is the most effective job recruiting method, especially in FCR (and when you think about it, OCR is simply a concentrated form of networking). You don't want to be a stalker, so pushy and aggressive that you make a bad impression. But if you focus your energy on developing a connection to people at your target firms and are polite, interested and informed, you'll likely make a good impression. This will hopefully lead to a conversation, then an interview and, ultimately, a job.

Tips for Interviewing

For OCR or FCR, the same rules apply. Most law firm interviews arc focused on personalities. This is different from job interviews for many other corporate arenas, such as consulting, which often focus on substantive knowledge, complete with skill assessment tests. By contrast, many legal interviews focus on personality and general communication skills, often without much discussion of the law. "We look for someone who has a personality that gels with the rest of us," notes Florida-based Brian Behar of Behar, Gutt & Glazer, RA. It is not uncommon for a good interview to consist of 25 minutes of discussion about world travel, followed by a mere five minutes of questions about the candidate's legal interests and the law firm.

A few tips for a successful interview - and to make sure you make the right impression afterwards - follow:
  • Dress for success. Your hair should be in place, your shirt crisp, your pantyhose without runs (always carry a spare), your suit recently pressed. Conservatism is the rule of thumb - conservative colors (charcoal gray and navy blue for men, neutrals for women), conservative styles (knee-length skirts and low heels for women, pinstripes for men), conservative hair and make-up, conservative everything. For many firms, this is practically mandatory. If you are neat, you might be able to get away with a touch of personality - a colorful tic, a bold-colored suit. Some firms might applaud your individualism; others might write you off immediately.
  • Be yourself. The goal of interviews is to enable both parties to get to know each other. "Look for common ground, and talk about it," points out California practitioner Roger Friedman of Rutan & Tucker LLP LLP, even if that common ground as something as non-legal as martial arts.
  • Send thank you notes. For some reason, to send or not to send a thank you note is one of the more controversial questions in the recruiting game. Some practitioners counsel against sending thank you notes, considering them as just one more opportunity to err through grammatical mistakes or other embarrassing boo-boos. Other attorneys, though, consider a thank you note an absolute requirement, no ifs, ands or buts. Legal recruiter Gavin Rubin has seen law firms drop candidates from consideration if the postman is empty-handed. "There's no downside, only upside, in sending thank you notes - everyone appreciates polite behavior," adds Rubin. A thank you note will only reaffirm someone's positive opinion of you, or improve the opinion of someone on the fence.Rubin recommends sending short handwritten notes to each of the attorneys you interviewed with, or, at minimum, the recruiting coordinator. He also counsels against two mistakes. First, do not send thank you notes to some attorneys and not others. Second, be careful when using a computer to write thank you notes or address envelopes. Rubin has seen job candidates' chances plummet when they forgot to change the law firm's name or address when using computer templates - it would be somewhat inappropriate to send attorneys at Smith & Smith thank you notes addressed to Jones & Jones.
  • Don't be a pig. The easiest (although most entertaining) way to make a bad impression is to take advantage of the firm's good nature and order the most expensive entree at lunch or charge the firm for room service champagne. Feel free to use the budget the firm allows you for out-of-town interviews, but always, always, always stay well within it.
  • Be on time. Always factor in extra travel time, presuming that the subway will trap you or the plane will be delayed. If you know you'll be late, call and update the recruiting office as soon as you realize this.
  • Be prepared and do your homework. Before each interview, take some time to learn about the firm - from their web site, from classmates who already worked there and, of course, from The Guide To the Top 100 Law Firms and 's regional guides to law firms. Not only will interviewers be impressed and flattered that you know a little bit about their firm, but you will be in a stronger position to maximize your interviews by asking more specific and informed questions.
  • Plant the seeds for the future. It's easy to get discouraged when OCR is not going your way because of mediocre grades. But a good interview can set the stage for better days ahead, when you have more impressive credentials. Interview like you're a champ even if you have mediocre first-year grades. You might not get the callback this year, but you will likely be remembered next year, when you've gotten your grades up.
  • Stay sane. Job hunting is always stressful, and each type of recruiting is distinct. FCR is stressful because of its lack of structure, the discipline and hard work required, and its uncertainty. OCR is stressful because of the all-intensive atmosphere that it creates, with students eating, breathing and drinking interviews. OCR in particular often brings out the competitive streak of law students, with the class divided between the haves, with their dozens of callbacks and offers, and the have-nots, who end up with few, if any, offers. For many, this is the roughest time in law school.

    Keep your perspective, and you'll survive. Remember two things. First, job hunting is not the be-all and end-all of your life. You will ultimately get a job, you will ultimately have a thriving career, you will survive it all. So take a break, see a movie, go for a run. Remind yourself that the outside world continues to exist.

    Second, remember your focus. You're not in it to get the most callbacks or the most offers, but to get one offer from a firm that offers the qualities you are looking for. If you stick with that focus, you might very well end up with a far more satisfying first job than the classmate who ran around bragging about his full dance card but ended up miserable at a prestigious firm that was all wrong for him.

Finding The Right Jobs - Tips from a Legal Recruiter

Fresh out of law school and looking for a job? Downturns, upturns, unexpected turns, turns for the better - whatever turns you may face in your career, it is up to you to be ready for them. This does not mean you have to read tarot cards, become clairvoyant or otherwise predict the future. It is more a matter of effectively managing your career so you are prepared to respond quickly and strategically regardless of whether you are just starting out, receive a great opportunity, or forced to make a change because of unforeseeable events. If you are a recent law school graduate, currently employed or simply unemployed, seeking a new position or not, you can always take steps to control your career as much as possible. It all starts with knowing what you want.

Career management starts with taking stock and reflecting upon what you want from your life. For both aspiring and practicing attorneys, that means establishing and defining your personal platform for practicing law. This vital process is often neglected for many reasons. You simply do not know where to start. If you're a new graduate, you feel you must first pass the bar exam. You are too busy at work to think about your platform. You think the process is too hard. Your career has gone so well so far you can imagine no reason to engage in the process of defining your platform. Perhaps the whole idea is just too overwhelming, depressing or confusing.

Bottom line: Reality dictates that you cannot effectively land the job you want without knowing what you want. Understanding and defining your platform for practicing law, whether you are a recent law school graduate or senior partner, centers around four basic principles:
  • Choosing a setting in which to practice, ranging from a large law firm or a smaller public service organization.
  • Selecting a field of law to practice, and/or a particular industry in which to focus.
  • Describing in some detail the duties and responsibilities of the position you want.
  • Defending those three choices in terms of your basic values as an individual.

Please note that these principles are not, and need not be, defined in particularly complex terms. A third-year law student's principles are usually defined in very basic terms, and inevitably develop as her career evolves.

For example, Mary Smith is a third-year law student. She has always been a good student and is interested in helping people. She defines herself as politically liberal, and is involved in her law school's clinics helping low-income members of the community. Mary has a very independent and creative personality, and a wide variety of interests outside of law. She enjoys legal writing and received an A in two such classes. She also did very well in contracts and enjoyed the subject matter in several contract law courses. Mary has also developed strong mentor-mentee relationships with some of her contracts and legal writing professors.

Now, let's apply our principles to Mary Smith:

Setting: Your basic large firm with its bureaucracy, rules, large corporate clients and long hours is probably not the best setting for Mary. She would likely fit in better with a smaller firm or organization that will afford her the opportunity to both practice law and develop her outside interests the law. She should also investigate public interest-type settings that often call for direct client contact with individuals. Mary should note that large firms' high salaries, while appealing, come with the expectation of long hours and specifically designated tasks that allow for very little creativity and flexibility in the first few years of practice.

Field or industry within the setting: Practices like insurance defense, for example, would probably not be a good fit for Mary. While there is the potential for exposure to writing in insurance defense, the writing required in such a field tends to be very limiting with little diversity of issues. Furthermore, insurance defense would not provide Mary with an opportunity to develop any of her skills in contract law. Mary needs to focus on a field that takes advantage of her writing skills and her ken for contracts.

Mary would probably be suited for a position in general corporate work and real estate. Such fields would allow her to utilize both her writing skills, given the focus on drafting documents, and knowledge of contract law. Mary would also probably enjoy representing smaller start-up companies, which would appeal to her desire to help others, rather than larger institutional clients. An optimal position for Mary might be with a public service organization representing first-time business owners in transactional matters.

Duties and responsibilities: Mary would probably do best in an atmosphere where she receives supportive mentoring and is allowed a certain amount of freedom to get her tasks done. As previously mentioned, a rigid environment where responsibilities are based on seniority, not capability, is probably not the best fit for her. These values are often present in large firms. Again, a smaller firm or public service organization would more likely share Mary's attitude towards duties and responsibilities.

Basic values: Last but not least, Mary must defend her choices in terms of her basic values. As such, implicit in steps 1-3 must be an analysis as to how Mary's identity and her beliefs tie into the setting in which she wishes to work, field of concentration and duties and responsibilities. For example, if Mary is environmentally conscious, she is eventually going to get put off representing alleged polluters no matter how much money she makes or how nice the people with whom she works are. Employment opportunities conflicting with an individual's basic values are all too often short-term.

The same analysis also applies to Jim Johnson, a senior partner specializing in bankruptcy with an estimated portable book of business worth $1,000,000. The current legal marketplace has a huge demand for attorneys like Jim, but it is even more important for him to understand his personal platform for the practice of law and determine whether his current situation fully supports that platform.

If not, he needs to gather information that helps him analyze whether there are cultures and environments that better embrace his platform. Potential suitors need to be scrutinized. Jim needs to educate himself about their people, culture, political system and history. For each suitor, Jim must ask: What type of client does it service? What billing rates are in place? What is its formula for partner compensation? Does the setting offer him freedom to develop further business? Does the firm offer him an attractive exit strategy? Is the firm compatible with his basic values as a person?

Look closer at this analysis. It ties directly to three of the core principles discussed above - setting, duties and responsibilities, and basic values. The other principle - field of practice - usually requires less focus for most senior attorneys because they are already practicing in a given field. Senior attorneys who already have a certain way of practicing and a certain type of practice are ultimately looking for a place that best relates to these two elements.

In short, a lawyer, whether new or seasoned, will not develop, or continue to develop, as a professional unless he or she is in a professional setting where he or she can effectively pursue professional and personal goals. The converse to this statement is also true. You must know what you want - have clear professional and personal goals - to even begin analyzing the right job for you.

The process of understanding your platform might seem complicated, but it's actually very simple. Your career is like a car; it does you no real good unless you know where you want to drive it. So look after yourself and remain in control of your career. If you are a new lawyer interested in real estate, don't take an insurance defense job. Likewise, if you are a senior attorney possessing a portable book of business, realize that you are in the driver's seat. Firms want you. Evaluate potential suitors in terms of what works for you - for what is compatible with your platform - so you end up going down the road appropriate for you.
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Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

published January 01, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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