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Other staff job openings in law firms

published January 07, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
Published By
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There are a variety of administrative and supervisory positions available in law firms, especially the large ones, which offer intellectually challenging work and a great working environment. As attorneys discover that their talents lie in practicing law, not in running the operational aspects of their law firms, they have delegated these tasks to experienced administrators. And as clients continue to demand efficiency in the legal services performed on their behalf, this trend should continue.

WHAT'S OUT THERE


Many people aren't aware of the variety of administrative positions that exist in legal America. The following is a sampling of the jobs that are found in many law firms:
  • Administrator or office manager
  • Controller or accounting manager
  • Facilities or office services manager
  • Personnel or human resources director
1 Note that these positions may be titled differently in various law firms.
  • Recruiting coordinator or director
  • Marketing director
  • MIS director or director of computer operations
  • Law librarians
  • Economist or trade analyst
While you may not find these positions in every law firm, many law firms now employ individuals in some of these positions.

LEGAL ADMINISTRATORS

A legal administrator can be thought of as the office manager, the chief executive officer, or the chief financial officer of a law firm. A legal administrator runs the daily business operations of a firm under the guidelines established by the firm's partners or board of directors. The legal administrator often supervises the rest of the administrative staff and manages the budgetary process as well as the other routine administrative functions such as billing and collections, computer and information systems, human resources and benefits administration, facilities management, and so on. Administrators must wear many hats, are quite versatile, and are usually excellent managers.

The Job Requirements

The job requirements for a legal administrator vary, depending on the size of the firm. In very small firms, legal administrators are often former legal secretaries who have been with their firm for many years and were promoted into the position as the firm grew. These positions are similar to that of an office manager. At the other extreme, in very large firms, administrators are often certified public accountants with law degrees or M.B.A.s, or even both. In these firms, administrators are highly paid and may have a full staff working with them.

Where to Look for Positions

Finding an entry-level legal administrator position is very difficult. Usually you need five to ten years of solid administrative experience under your belt before you can even be considered for such a position. Getting into a large firm without an advanced degree and previous law firm experience is increasingly rare. Some firms go outside of the legal field to find talented administrators but look for administrative experience in a professional services firm, such as consulting, accounting, real estate, and so on, along with a strong educational background. If your goal is to eventually work in legal administration, it's useful to possess law firm experience, either as an attorney or as another member of the administrative staff before obtaining an advanced degree. Having a strong background in finance or accounting is also mandatory for these upper-level positions.

For further information on a career as a legal administrator, I suggest that you contact the Association of Legal Administrators, known as ALA. ALA was founded in 1971 "to provide continuing legal education for professionals who manage the business activities of law offices." ALA sponsors meetings and seminars and publishes a monthly magazine for its members. Many firms advertise for legal administrators through the national magazine or through the local chapters, many of which have monthly newsletters. Membership in ALA is also useful to legal personnel directors, MIS directors, and facilities managers. For more information, contact ALA at the following address:

Association of Legal Administrators (ALA)
175 East Hawthorn Parkway
Suite 325
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
708-816-1212
708-816-1213 (fax)

CONTROLLERS OR ACCOUNTING MANAGERS

There's almost always someone in a law firm who heads or supervises the firm's accounting department. All firms have accounting departments, but their structure and size vary tremendously, depending on the size of the firm. The individual who manages the accounting department might be a promoted legal secretary or an experienced accounting professional who is a licensed C.P.A. or has an M.B.A. Some firms delegate responsibilities of this position to the administrator or office manager. Like many administrative positions in law firms, many options exist for how this work is delegated.

The controller or head of the accounting department has a tremendous responsibility in any law firm. This individual oversees the revenue side- the inflow and outflow of funds, which enables a firm to keep its doors open. This is the area where the bills are paid and the money for legal services is collected. Payroll, if not outsourced, may also be handled in this department. It's safe to say that if the accounting department fails to do its job, everyone is very unhappy. The controller frequently works with the administrator in preparing budgets and working on projects that require an analysis of the firm's balance sheet.

Requirements for the Position

The person in this position often has previous legal experience. It is very difficult to come into this position without some prior knowledge of how law firm accounting departments work. In smaller firms, the controller often has worked his or her way up into the position, sometimes starting out as an accounting clerk. In the larger firms, where this department may be quite large, the director usually has a very strong accounting background, perhaps an advanced degree, and previous law firm experience. It is also becoming more important to possess above average computer skills, since the accounting departments are completely automated, even if the firm has a large computer staff.

Where to Locate These Positions

So how do you get into this area of a law firm? My first bit of advice is to plan to work your way into one of the top positions. You'll probably have to pay your dues for a little while and learn the ropes, especially if you have limited work experience. You will need an aptitude for accounting and numbers, which is often demonstrated by a college or technical school degree in accounting or previous work experience in accounting. Just don't expect to be able to walk into a director's position without some solid law firm accounting experience.

Firms frequently advertise for this position in the local newspapers or in local legal presses. If the position requires previous legal experience, you'll probably have better luck in the legal press or through a local chapter of the ALA. The salary ranges for law firm controller positions are usually good, and since all firms have accounting departments, finding these positions is not as difficult as for other administrative jobs.

FACILITIES OR OFFICE SERVICES MANAGERS

Facilities managers are responsible for maintaining the physical plant of a law firm-the buildings, grounds, individual offices, furniture, security, and equipment (other than computers and sometimes telephone systems)-as well as purchasing, maintaining, and overseeing supplies. This individual also oversees such functions as office moves, relocation, and remodeling and is called on to tackle space requirements associated with client needs such as rooms and equipment for document production, the storage of legal documents, leasing temporary space for cases, and so on. The facilities manager also has to jump through hoops, see in the dark, and land on speeding trains. I'm just kidding, but this is not an easy job. However, the duties of this position are sometimes delegated to other administrative positions in firms, often the legal administrator or office manager in small firms.

The Requirements for the Position

Like many administrative positions in law firms, individuals fall into facilities managers' positions through different paths. Because there is much heavy lifting and moving involved in this position, the individual found in this job is often, but not always, a man. A college degree is not mandatory, and many individuals found in this position have a military background. Strong organizational skills are required, as well as a general knowledge of building and mechanical systems. This is also an excellent job for someone who took early retirement but no longer wishes to stay at home.

The facilities manager often is responsible for supervising the "clerks' office" or mail room staff. This includes overseeing large copying projects, the delivery and receipt of all mail, and fax services. This aspect of the position demands strong supervisory skills and the ability to work with all types of people at all levels. Often, mail and fax rooms are staffed around the clock and on weekends. Facilities managers may find themselves working many nights and weekends, when duty calls. In other words, this isn't a typical nine-to-five administrative position.

How to Locate Positions

There's no secret recipe to locating a facilities manager position. If advertised, firms generally use the local legal press, the local ALA newsletter, or the Sunday newspaper. Promotion from within is not uncommon, especially if the facilities department is large. In many instances, this position is filled through word of mouth. Since the skills needed for this position are so varied, firms look for a certain "type" of person. You may even find it necessary to work in a large department and work your way up to the head position.

PERSONNEL OR HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTORS

Law firm personnel directors are similar to personnel directors in other organizations in many respects. The personnel director typically hires people to fill staff positions, evaluates employees, disciplines and terminates individuals with unsatisfactory work performance, trains and orients new employees, administers the organization's benefits program, and completes and maintains the paperwork that accompanies these job responsibilities. A good personnel director, especially in the unforgiving environment of a law firm, requires strong counseling skills as well as a bedside manner. You must be able to counsel employees on how to perform to the best of their abilities, instruct them on how to get along with their peers, and counsel employees who may be laid off, fired, or promoted over their peers. Much of any good personnel director's day is spent behind closed doors, one-on-one with the staff members.

In a law firm, the personnel director has the added burden of keeping numerous partners happy, who often expect the same level of dedication from their staff as they do from their associates. This is a tough assignment in any environment.

What's Needed for the Position

You may think that working in personnel is an ideal job because of the large amount of human interaction involved. Strong communication skills are an absolute must for a position in personnel, but it takes much more than good listening skills. A good personnel director is usually not well liked, but is well respected by the staff. You must constantly discipline inadequate workers, while rewarding the superstars, keeping within the confines of the law. Knowing how to be assertive, not aggressive, and fair and impartial is paramount to the position. And possessing a thorough knowledge of employment law-well, that goes without saying. Even if your firm is lucky enough to have a labor law department, the personnel director must know the law well enough to function daily without that department looking over your shoulder. There's no typical path to obtaining a personnel position in a law firm. Individuals arrive at this destination through many different avenues. Having law firm experience is important. If you look at newspaper advertisements for personnel directors in law firms, most require previous law firm experience. Many personnel directors were promoted through the ranks, starting out as secretaries or administrative assistants, working their way up by demonstrating loyalty, perseverance, and the drive and ambition to do more. Others started out as secretarial assistants to the director of personnel. Employment agency experience with an emphasis on legal hiring is another avenue you might consider. College degrees are now mandatory for these positions if coming in from the outside, but advanced degrees typically are not. An undergraduate degree in human resources is also beneficial and may demonstrate your interest in the field.

How to Find a Position

Legal personnel positions, if advertised, are usually found in local ALA newsletters, local legal newspapers, and the Sunday papers. But like so many jobs in today's market, many are never advertised and are filled through networking or word of mouth.

If you're interested in finding out what it takes to work in legal personnel in your own particular market, I would suggest that you contact several legal personnel directors for informational interviews. Ask them how they got to where they are, and ask them to advise you on a path to take in your market. Even the busiest personnel director does not mind taking time to talk with an ambitious aspiring personnel director. You may also want to inquire about the possibility of obtaining an unpaid internship to learn more about the field and to make contacts that may ultimately assist you in securing a position in the field.

RECRUITING COORDINATORS OR DIRECTORS

Many people believe that recruiting coordinators have one of the best jobs in legal America. In many respects, popular opinion is right. There are numerous perks inherent in this position. But what does a recruiting coordinator actually do, and how do you go about landing one of these prized positions?

What the Job Entails

First, let me explain what recruiting coordinators in law firms do to earn their keep. Again, these jobs vary from firm to firm, and some recruiting coordinators have much more responsibility than others. Some firms have large recruiting staffs, while others delegate this position to the legal administrator or personnel director. Nevertheless, I'll give you a general idea of the common responsibilities of an experienced recruiting coordinator.

The primary responsibility of a recruiting coordinator is to manage the attorney hiring function in a law firm. This involves receiving, reviewing, tracking, and answering inquiries from attorneys and law students for attorney employment and running the fall interview program. There is a cyclical nature to the legal recruiting process in law schools so that all on-campus interviewing takes place in the fall. Attorneys are sent on-campus to interview students, some of whom are then invited back to the firms for interviews. Recruiting coordinators run this process, and in some cases, they do the on-campus interviewing. This process starts around Labor Day and runs until Christmas. During those months, most recruiting coordinators can only be reached at work.

Recruiting coordinators are also responsible for running the law firm's summer program for law students. This summer internship program is the primary vehicle firms use for hiring associates. Recruiting coordinators set up and run these program. Some firms have very elaborate summer programs, with twenty-five to fifty students. Other firms hire only a few students for the summer. The recruiting coordinator, in essence, plays "den mother" or "cruise director" during the summer months, supervising this group of students. The students are put to work and are closely evaluated, but they are also elaborately entertained at some firms. Again, recruiting coordinators, or members of their staff, plan and supervise the social events that are an integral part of this program.

So what do recruiting coordinators do during the rest of the year? Some recruiting coordinators have other responsibilities tacked on to their job descriptions. Some hire and supervise paralegals, some hire staff members, some have marketing responsibilities, some are involved in associate training and evaluations, and so on. The possibilities are endless, and you'll find all sorts of combinations in firms.

While it is true that the work of recruiting coordinators is quite cyclical-they are very busy from May to December-their primary responsibilities also occur all through the year. Legal hiring takes place twelve months a year. Lateral and first-year hiring can take place at any time. And planning a large summer program can take months, even if you have a staff in place to assist you.

How to Land a Position

So how does one obtain one of these unique positions? And where does the best market exist for these jobs? There is no magic route to becoming a recruiting coordinator. People with all types of backgrounds have landed these positions, but there are some tips you can use to help your search:
  1. Go to the large metropolitan areas. Recruiting jobs are more abundant in the big cities, where there are more large law firms-New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so on. The larger the firm, usually the larger the recruiting staff. Many small firms don't have recruiting departments, delegating these functions, if they are needed, to other members of the administrative staff. Your best bet is to target firms with more than thirty attorneys for these jobs. I'd recommend relocating to a large city if your primary goal is to become a recruiting coordinator in a law firm. In smaller metropolitan areas, only a few jobs may exist. For example, in North Carolina, where I once worked as a recruiting coordinator, mere were only five or six recruiting coordinator positions in the entire state! Even today, only a handful of these jobs exist in this market, and they don't turn over often.
     
  2. Work as a recruiting assistant first. One route, which many people take, is to work as an assistant to a recruiting coordinator or as a secretary to the recruiting staff. Promotion from within is common in these jobs, if you first possess some basic credentials, such as a college degree. Pay your dues for a few years, and then wait to get promoted.
     
  3. Work in an employment agency. Some have entered the recruiting field after working in a legal employment agency first.
     
  4. Work in a law school placement office. Some firms will consider you if you have experience in a law school placement office, too. Law school placement personnel usually know the recruiting coordinators in law firms. This is an excellent springboard into law firm recruiting.
The governing organization of the legal recruiting industry is the National Association for Law Placement. Based in Washington, D.C., NALP offers its members, primarily recruiting coordinators and law school placement directors, educational opportunities, excellent publications, and a job listing service in its monthly newsletter. NALP's staff is extremely helpful. For more information, contact NALP at the following address:

National Association for Law Placement (NALP)
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 325
Washington, DC 20009-1039
202-667-1666
202-265-6735 (fax)

MARKETING DIRECTORS

Law firm marketing directors are a relatively new phenomenon in legal America. These individuals have appeared on the legal scene only during the past ten years or so. As law firms have become more marketing oriented, attorneys have realized that they know little about selling their services to clients and have thus delegated the marketing function to nonlegal marketing and public relations experts.

Like many legal administrative positions, the best opportunities for legal marketing experts exist where the big firms are located-the large metropolitan areas. Most large law firms in any part of the country now have a marketing director, but these positions open up infrequently, so your best bet is to go where the most jobs exist. Consider the Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles markets, for example.

How to Find a Position

Like recruiting coordinators' positions, it's tough to obtain a marketing director's job without marketing or legal experience. Ideally, you should have both. But since marketing positions in law firms are relatively new, there aren't too many people out there with a lot of experience. That's great news for those with the experience, and it's good news for those with marketing, but not legal experience. Firms almost have to consider individuals with non-legal marketing experience because those with both are somewhat rare and expensive. So if you have solid legal marketing experience with a reputable firm, you can almost write your own ticket.

But if you don't have legal marketing experience and you are unfamiliar with legal markets, what's the best avenue to take to find one of these positions? Many who are in law firms got there in one of two ways-either they worked their way into the job from another position within the firm, or they did work for a firm first as an outside consultant. Those who worked their way into marketing positions were once working in administrative areas such as recruiting or personnel. Sometimes you find assistants who worked their way into the head position.

What happens more frequently, however, is that the individual did freelance work for a law firm and ended up being hired by the firm for the marketing position. Plenty of legal marketing directors once worked as outside public relations consultants, writers, advertising administrators, and so on. They had experience on the outside that could be transferred to law firms on the inside, but they had to learn how law firms operate, much to their dismay.

You Need Marketing Experience

The fact is, though, that you really need marketing experience, preferably in a professional services environment, to be a viable candidate for a legal marketing director's position. A college degree is absolutely necessary, and firms like to see master's degrees, preferably an M.B.A. I suggest that if you want to work in the field and have little experience, contact experienced marketing directors in law firms for advice. They can help guide you in your particular market.

The legal marketing field today reminds me of the legal recruiting industry about ten years ago. Back then there were few people around with real experience. People fell into the field and developed expertise. Now, it takes limited legal experience to get into the field. It takes some marketing experience to get into legal marketing, but not like it will be in a few more years.

As you might expect, legal marketing directors are a networked group, and their connections are used to help one another. The National Law Firm Marketing Association is an excellent resource for information on this field. There are many local chapters as well. The national organization can tell you where the local chapters are. You don't have to be a law firm member to join. Contact them for more information:

National Law Firm Marketing Association
60 Revere Drive,
Suite 500
Northbrook, IL 60062
847-480-9641

MIS DIRECTORS AND RELATED TECHNICAL STAFF

Like many administrative and technical positions in law firms, MIS director positions and the support positions that often go along with them vary tremendously among firms. Usually, the larger the firm, the larger its technical staff. And an MIS position in a small firm is often very different from one in a large firm. Many people familiar with law firms would agree with me when I say that law firms have typically lagged behind corporate America in terms of their efficient and cutting-edge use of technology. But as the world becomes more automated, the use of technology and the technical staff necessary to keep systems up and running in law firms should become even more important than they are today.

In all but the smallest firms, you'll usually find an MIS director or someone who is in charge of the firm's computer system. These positions are now evolving into a highly skilled, technical, extremely important function in a law firm. But what you often find, a remnant from the past in many cases, is someone who has little formal technical training who was promoted into the systems position. As technology advances, these individuals, no matter how dedicated they are, often lack the skills necessary to keep up with the changes in the field.

In the large law firms, you often find large technical staffs. For example, one well-known East Coast firm has a nineteen-person computer staff. While this group of people services branch offices, to a degree, from the home office, its importance to the daily functioning of the firm cannot be overemphasized. As an example, this particular staff consists of the following personnel:
  • Three to four trainers
  • Training manager
  • Network manager
  • Three to four assistants to the network manager
  • Hardware manager
  • Manager of the UNIX-based accounting system
  • Help desk personnel-four to five people
  • MIS manager and assistant

In each branch office of this firm, there is an MIS director and several assistants, depending on the size of the office.

What the Job Entails

What does an MIS director and the related staff do in a law firm? In a firm like the large East Coast firm just mentioned, the director is largely an administrator. I hate to use the term "paper pusher," but often in larger environments, the MIS director prioritizes and delegates to others on the staff. The director makes the big decisions about what needs to be done when and by whom. In smaller firms in which the staffs are smaller, the MIS director will delegate if and whenever possible, but he or she will actually do some of the technical work or hire outside consultants to come in.

A normal day (if there is such a thing in a law firm) might consist of duties such as fielding calls from users, routine network maintenance, performing or supervising cabling work when computers are moved or added, telephone maintenance, training new users, training current users on new software, working with attorneys in supplying technical support for specific cases, preparing budgets, monitoring expenses, working with outside consultants to assist with work that can't be done in-house, and so on. It's a busy, never-ending job.

What Firms Look For

It's apparent that there are numerous opportunities in the larger firms for individuals with an interest in computer technology. This is also an area in which previous legal experience is not always necessary. In fact, many people have told me that they would prefer to hire people for these positions who have never worked in a law firm in order to gain real-world technical experience. Firms sometimes hire away from the consultants they bring in to do the work that the staff can't handle!

How to Find a Position

Where should you look to find these positions? Read the newspapers and local legal press. Contact law firms directly once you narrow your focus on a particular geographic area. Like many computer-related positions, there is more demand than supply at the present time, so if your skills are good, you shouldn't have trouble finding a position. But unlike some computer-related positions where you may be able to lock yourself away in a room for days on end, in a law firm you will probably have to interact more with people at all levels. The attorneys want to be involved in the decisions that affect their firm, and this often includes how the computer system works. Your problem-solving skills should be excellent, as well as your ability to work well under pressure with all types of people.

LAW LIBRARIANS

Many law firms have librarians on their staff. This resource is often a necessity in law firms, since attorneys and other staff personnel perform research on a daily basis. Getting the information they need quickly is vital to the operation of a law firm. The size of the library staff varies from firm to firm. Obviously, large firms will have bigger staffs than their smaller counterparts. The head librarian usually supervises any additional library personnel.

What the Job Entails

The librarian often acts as a go-between-between the attorneys and whomever has the written information they need. The attorney tells the librarian what he or she wants, and the librarian knows where to find it. A librarian also instructs the attorneys on where to search for their own information. After a while, a good law librarian learns to anticipate the needs of the attorneys and has the information they routinely want even before they ask for it. An experienced librarian who is familiar with the law firm's practice areas knows what information is routinely useful to the attorneys. Since attorneys are in the business of selling their time, an experienced librarian is worth his or her weight in gold.

Other duties that come under a law librarian's domain include budgeting, routing materials to the proper attorneys and staff members, shelving books, keeping the library clean and organized, training, and performing computer research for attorneys and staff members. An assistant may also perform some of these functions.

The Skills Needed for the Job

Many, but not all, law librarians possess master's degrees in library science. In the larger markets where there is more competition for jobs, you may find that you have to possess an advanced degree. In some jobs, such as legal academia, law librarians may even have law degrees. You definitely need an undergraduate degree, even for an assistant's position. But others get in the field by working as assistants and eventually work their way into the head position.

It's becoming increasingly important to have strong technical skills for this position. Familiarity with Lotus Notes, Dialogue, Dunn & Bradstreet, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and other databases is becoming more the norm than the exception.
Also keep in mind that a librarian is in a helping profession. Nurturing and problem-solving skills are absolutely necessary. You also must like working with people.

If you're considering getting into this field, talk first to some experienced law librarians for advice. They may guide you in your job search. If you possess a master's degree in library science, your school placement office is an excellent place to begin your job search. Many firms post their jobs with area schools. Also check out legal trade publications in your market. If a firm needs an experienced librarian, this is where they may advertise. Also look in your Sunday newspaper, especially if you are looking for an entry-level or assistant's position. Another excellent resource is the American Association of Law Librarians. Contact them at the following address:

American Association of Law Librarians
53 West Jackson Boulevard
Suite 940
Chicago, IL 60604
312-939-4764

The Future for Law Librarians

The law librarian as we know the position today is also likely to be altered as technology continues to change the way we receive information. In the near future, look for books to be put online instead of being housed in a firm's library. Information, which today is received on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis, will appear every morning on our computer screens. Since we can't look into our crystal balls to determine how radically technology will change the law library as we now know it, we can anticipate that technology will make a noticeable impact. Keep these future changes in mind as you look at this profession in particular.

ECONOMISTS AND TRADE ANALYSTS

Some law firms hire economists or trade analysts to assist attorneys with dumping and countervailing duty cases, common areas of an international trade practice. It's more likely that you'll find these positions in areas of the country such as New York, Washington, D.C, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, where import, export, and regulatory trade-related activity routinely takes place. Many individuals, especially entry-level candidates, lack a clear understanding of what economists and trade analysts do in law firms. Let me start by discussing the role of a trade analyst in a law firm.

What a Trade Analyst Does

In some law firms, a trade analyst performs the same functions as an international trade paralegal, while in other firms, a trade analyst may have years of experience and does much more substantive work. Generally, trade analysts keep abreast of the regulatory changes taking place within government agencies such as the Commerce Department, the International Trade Commission, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, the White House, and on Capitol Hill so that they are then able to keep the attorneys abreast of policy developments.

Additionally, a trade analyst may monitor events in the Court of International Trade in New York or at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. International trade cases are first appealed to the Court of International Trade. Further appeals take place in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, better known as the CAFC.

Other duties that are routinely performed by trade analysts include incorporating trade-related data into briefs for the attorneys, simple preparation of data, and general research. Trade analysts need to be well connected on Capitol Hill as well as plugged into the various trade-related government agencies. The connections needed to obtain this information are crucial and cannot be overemphasized. Many law firms supply trade-related information to their clients before it hits the newspapers and trade journals. Having this inside edge is critical.

What an Economist Does

Economists are often brought in to complete the economic analysis inherent in dumping and countervailing duty cases. Dumping takes place when a U.S. industry alleges that a foreign company is dumping its products in the United States below what it costs to make it in their home country. Companies "dump" to establish a foothold in a new market or to sell more products in a market. Countervailing duty is when a country subsidizes an industry. For example, the United States subsidizes the American steel industry.

In dumping and countervailing duty cases, there is an enormous amount of economic analysis to be done. While some of this work is performed by trade analysts, the complex work is often handled by economists, many of whom possess master's degrees or doctorates. Since the Commerce Department uses SAS programming for these cases, those working on the law firm side need to be thoroughly familiar with this computer program.

How to Land a Position Firms hire trade analysts and economists in a variety of ways:
  1. Entry-level positions. Entry-level analyst positions or international trade paralegal positions are frequently filled by recent college graduates who possess an interest in trade. The competition is fierce for these positions, and in the larger markets, often only Ivy League graduates are hired.
     
  2. Experienced analyst positions. Trade analysts usually possess more experience, often from a government agency. An accounting or economic background is always helpful due to the technical and precise nature of the work. Possessing a purely political science or foreign service background can take you only so far in this field. The government agency connections, however, are critical. There are individuals who have managed to create the relationships needed for these positions from scratch, but that's tough to do, and it may take several years to solidify the connections you need.
     
  3. Economist positions. There are few substitutions for the background needed to become an economist, even in a law firm. The educational background has to be there—at minimum a master's degree in economics and preferably a Ph.D. Strong technical skills are also necessary, and Capitol Hill or agency experience is extremely helpful, although not mandatory. Many who possess these skills leave the government only to become highly paid consultants to law firms. They're the smart ones.
Where to Look for Openings

There are numerous trade journals that firms advertise in. Consider looking at Inside U.S. Trade, International Trade Reporter, Congressional Monitor, or Daily Report for Executives. Your Sunday newspaper is another source, and sometimes you'll find these positions advertised in local legal newspapers. The trade world is a close-knit group in which everyone seems to know everyone else, so you may find that word of mouth is your best source for finding employment. I would highly recommend talking to experienced trade analysts or economists for their insight into their particular market before you begin your job search.

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 07, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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