What is the division of labor between an attorney and a legal recruiter in the job search?

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Robyn Ginsberg

Q: I am interested in working with a legal recruiter but would like to get a better sense of the division of labor, as between myself and any potential recruiter I use, so I can better understand what my responsibilities and my recruiter’s responsibilities will be throughout the process. Can you shed some light on this?

A: There are numerous potential advantages to using a legal recruiter. Recruiters can often provide you with opportunities you would not otherwise know about. They can make your life easier by taking much of the work of applying to jobs off of your plate. They can advocate on your behalf with prospective employers, essentially serving as your cheerleader. And, importantly, they can help counsel you throughout the job search process and assist you in making good long-term decisions about your career.

But the benefits of working with a legal recruiter are only realized if the recruiter is performing the duties expected of him/her. While there are always exceptions, the general division of labor throughout the process is as follows:

  • Typically, after establishing initial contact with a recruiter, you will send him/her your resume and law school transcript, in confidence (i.e., for their confidential review). If you decide to work with one another, your recruiter may request additional documents. For example, many firms want to see writing samples from all applicants, as well as deal sheets for corporate attorneys, sample patent applications or even advanced/undergraduate degrees from patent law candidates, business plans for partner level candidates, etc. Your recruiter will be able to guide you with respect to these additional items.

  • Once you have provided your recruiter with your resume and transcript, along with any other requested materials, you will generally meet with one another, in person or by phone, to review your resume and to discuss potential attorney job opportunities. During this meeting your recruiter will typically also provide any suggested resume revisions he/she might have and, most importantly, will also ask you a series of questions intended to learn more about your accomplishments, career objectives and short and long-term goals. In other words, your recruiter will be gathering information about you which will allow him/her to effectively advocate for you and guide you towards opportunities that are a good fit for you. After this meeting, your job is to focus on making any necessary resume revisions, gathering accompanying documents, and reviewing any job opportunities your recruiter sends to you.

  • Once you have selected specific job opportunities to pursue, your recruiter will use the information he/she gathered in your initial meeting, and any subsequent meetings, to draft a cover letter on your behalf. It is your recruiter’s job to draft the cover letter, which is another perk of working with a legal recruiter! Generally this cover letter will not be duplicative of your resume. Instead, a good cover letter will provide additional details about your background and experience which may not be ascertainable from your resume, will explain why you are a fit for the position, and will concisely detail your reasons for seeking to make a move. It will also explain any gaps in your resume and will provide other relevant information that cannot be garnered from your resume or other accompanying documents (e.g., if you are applying to a position in a different city then the cover letter would highlight any ties you have to the geographic region and your interest in returning to the area).

  • Finally, once submissions are made, your recruiter will follow-up on prior submissions, will schedule any interviews and prepare you for them, and eventually will help you negotiate offers and navigate the hiring process. You should make sure that you adequately prepare for all interviews and that you keep your recruiter informed regarding any changes to your status throughout the application and interview process.
Hopefully the above framework will save you some time and effort. If you are working with someone who is not meeting your expectations, than you should consider working with a different legal recruiter. Best of luck with your job search!

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