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The Origins of LawCrossing

published February 02, 2016

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left

( 57 votes, average: 4 out of 5)

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Summary: The founder of LawCrossing explains his motivations and aspirations in building the largest legal job portal site on the web.
The Origins of LawCrossing

What could I do?

When I first shared the idea about LawCrossing with the legal recruiters who worked for me, one of them gasped in disbelief and then left my office. I then received the following email:
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

“Why, Harrison? WHY? Why would you release this kind of information to the public? I mean, I know you want to help people, but why release THIS kind of information? You already get thousands of attorneys jobs each year and everything works just fine the way it is.”

I ignored him and went on to spend a full year and well into seven figures working on LawCrossing. Months before we even launched the site, over 20 people were reporting to work each day to work on a site that did not even yet exist. This sort of thing—on this scale—had never been tried before. Who would be crazy enough to start a job board that was not supported by employers being charged to post jobs? I was, however, determined to do it. After he saw the site (before we had even started gathering jobs), the same recruiter sent me this email:

“Harrison, again, I strongly recommend that you not release this information to the public. Isn’t information worth more to you if you keep it to yourself? Think of how many placements you could make with this information. This site will reveal where all the jobs actually are. People will no longer need legal recruiters—anyone will be able to have access to virtually ALL THE JOBS in the country. More importantly, imagine what other legal recruiters could do with this information? You need to protect this kind of information at all costs. Keep this information to yourself.”

I disagreed and, despite all the protests to the contrary—and even my better judgment at some points, I launched LawCrossing. This is the story of why I started LawCrossing. I hope you will take the time to read this because you are part of an effort that seeks to elevate us all. This story is not meant to be self congratulatory or anything of the sort. Indeed, without the help and inspiration of everyone I work with LawCrossing never would have come into being. What this story is meant to illustrate is why LawCrossing is the natural evolution of the legal profession’s desire to find the best possible access to employment. We are all in this together and, in my opinion, it was about time we all got together and solved the problem of all of us really knowing what’s going on in the job market.

As an Attorney, I Found That the Way People Searched for Legal Jobs Did Not Make Sense

Finding a job in the legal field can tend to be quite a challenge. As an attorney, I found myself going through the process several years ago. My job search, like that of many professionals seeking a new position, included perusing job boards to find out who was hiring. As anyone who has ever undertaken a job search involving job boards would probably know, I quickly found myself searching multiple job boards for positions. This was by no means an easy task. I soon caught on that law firms and corporations also posted their openings on their websites. Accordingly, my job search very quickly took on epic proportions and I started keeping a spreadsheet with all of the positions on it that I had applied to on the various job boards.

In addition, I was also using a recruiter for my job search at the time. Since I was using a recruiter, he knew of positions that were not advertised on job boards, as well. With so many different sources of positions out there, I very quickly became somewhat exasperated. My exasperation ran on several levels, but it boiled down to the fact that I was frustrated with the legal hiring industry—there was no central source, no unifying theme in the way that legal professionals could go about finding a position. What is so surprising about this is that there are so many highly intelligent people in the legal industry. Why hadn’t any of these people found a way to efficiently centralize all the positions?

I Started a Search Firm to Get Attorneys Jobs

As I investigated all this it occurred to me that I actually enjoyed looking for a job, searching job boards and speaking with law firms and recruiters. I spent several months investigating the recruiting industry and eventually quit my job at a large law firm to become a legal recruiter. This was not an easy decision to make. I had recently purchased a home, had a large car payment and gotten married. To make matters worse, I had no savings. My new wife, to say the least, was not happy. I was making close to $200,000 a year as an attorney, had gone to a top college and law school, clerked for a federal judge and was even teaching law school a couple of evenings a week. Making a decision to become a legal recruiter meant leaving most of these externalities behind and becoming someone completely different. Anyone who has ever changed their focus like this can relate to the difficulty of starting anew. I am sure you too can relate from some of your own life experiences.

Instead of joining an established recruiting firm, I decided to start my own. One of the main reasons I did this was because I was unhappy with the existing state of the legal recruiting industry and knew that I could make a difference there. Having worked with legal recruiters when I was practicing law, I was very unimpressed with the business practices of the majority of them. The one driving force that made me so interested in the legal recruiting business, however, was the fact that all the legal recruiters seemed to have different leads. It seemed like no two recruiters were able to give you access to the same jobs. It was my firm belief that in order for a legal recruiting firm to be really good and fully able to represent their candidates, they would need to have access to all of the jobs.

This may not sound all that significant to you. To me, though, the fact that some legal recruiters had certain jobs and others did not was something that was quite fascinating. When I started my solo recruiting firm, before I worked with a single candidate I spent several months gathering jobs. I started a database on a basic software program and just kept working on it. When I started working with candidates, I am confident I had more positions than any other legal recruiting outfit in my hometown of Los Angeles.

The research involved to get positions in a legal recruiting firm, if it is done right, is profound. Shortly after making my first placement, I began hiring people to work on my database and get more jobs. Soon the commercial database application I had developed was not good enough and I began hiring programmers to develop my own database for me. Then, I started bringing programmers in house. These programmers are here to this day.

The legal recruiting firm I founded was BCG Attorney Search. We now have nine offices in the United States and, in my opinion, are the best in the world at getting positions. The largest reason this search firm expanded, in my opinion, was due to the research we do. At BCG Attorney Search we have made research our biggest objective and consistently have more positions than any other American legal recruiting firm. In order to make sure that our research is as well focused as possible, we only do law firm placements.

The issue with running a legal recruiting firm, though, if your objective is to have the most positions, is that only the top law firms use recruiters. Therefore, no matter how well you do your job of gathering positions, at most we never have many more than 2,500 law firm positions. In the United States alone, I knew there were more than 2,500 law firm positions. Nevertheless, because BCG Attorney Search could only work with the law firms that used recruiters, this number has only inched up slowly year after year.

Early on in my legal recruiting career, I wanted to make sure of one thing: That the sole objective of my career was to get attorneys jobs. Whether this was done through a legal recruiting firm, or otherwise, the goal remained the same. As a word of advice, I believe that having one single goal is one of the most important things anyone can do for themselves. If you have a single goal that you can focus on, everything else sort of falls into place to help you achieve it.

I Started a High-End Company to Get Attorneys Jobs

One day I was sitting in front of my computer at BCG Attorney Search and a resume came over the email from a student of mine when I had been a law professor. While the law school I had taught at was ABA approved, it was fourth tier and not considered the best law school in the United States. This student was at the top of his class and, like virtually every other student in his law school, had been unsuccessful in securing a position with a law firm when he graduated. I was frustrated because, as a legal recruiter, I knew I could not help him.

I called this student and invited him in, anyway. I rewrote his resume for him and helped him do a cover letter. Then I allowed him to send himself out to the 300 or so law firms in the BCG Attorney Search database that were in Los Angeles. Prior to this point, this student had simply applied to the law firms in the NALP guide and also had applied to the occasional listing in his law school’s career services office. The most that had ever resulted from this was an interview with a two person law firm.

Out of the 300 applications he sent out, this student got several interviews and secured a position with a mid sized law firm where he made close to $100,000 in his first year. He is enjoying an excellent career today.

Around this same time, the economy was beginning to go into a tailspin. Many of the corporate attorneys I had placed during the boom began to get laid off and, remembering the lesson of the law student, I started inviting them into my office and helping them redo their resume and cover letter as well. Because there were so few corporate openings (and law firms simply would not pay recruiting fees for corporate attorneys) I helped these same attorneys send themselves out to the firms in the BCG database at no cost.

All of these attorneys got jobs.

Word soon spread that I was helping corporate attorneys do this and corporate attorneys and others soon sought out my service to such an extent that I soon had no time for legal recruiting. We ran a “war room” of sorts out of BCG’s Los Angeles offices and attorneys came in and assisted each other in building a massive database of every legal employer in California. Things were really crazy and we were operating 24 hours a day out of that office helping attorneys get jobs. The printers were going like crazy all the time.

What ended up happening, though, is that it all became too much, a lot of it due to the overwhelming costs involved. Soon, this mailing service was getting calls for help even though no formal business had been organized. With the help of some really dedicated people, I soon started Legal Authority (which is no longer in operation). During this company's operation, it never made a dime. Nevertheless, this company was the embodiment of my goal to get the most attorneys jobs. During its operation, Legal Authority has gotten thousands of attorneys jobs and got more attorneys jobs than any other similar service in the United States.

Unlike job boards, or legal recruiters, Legal Authority helped attorneys find both open positions and also jobs where none existed. Firms often actually create jobs for attorneys once the attorney has expressed interest in potential employment by simply sending a resume and well crafted letter. Better yet, because there are so many job boards out there and even unadvertised openings, Legal Authority helped attorneys find those as well. Legal Authority was truly an outstanding service and if there was one thing I did in my life to “make a difference,” this was it. The success stories from this business were nothing less than remarkable.

In order to run a business like Legal Authority, we needed a lot of people. At one point during the company's operation there were over 40 people working there, updating our data literally 24 hours a day. Legal Authority had contact information (we knew exactly who is in charge of hiring) for virtually ever American legal employer.

The problem with Legal Authority was that the cost was expensive—and it was therefore quite exclusive and high end. While the attorneys who counsel people on their job search consider their work like public interest work (and are paid similarly), the costs of gathering data, rewriting resumes and cover letters, printing, shipping and so forth were substantial. Accordingly, from an attorney’s perspective, the cost of Legal Authority was considered expensive. In most cases, attorneys spent over $500 (most often more) to get a position through the service. It is not a lot of money to get several jobs; however, it is still a lot of money to most people.

My problem with Legal Authority then was that it was somewhat exclusive given the money issue. My problem with BCG Attorney Search is that it too is exclusive because there are very few attorneys we can work with because recruiting firms, by their nature, have very high standards for the types of attorneys they will work with. Another problem with BCG Attorney Search is the number of jobs we can recruit for.

The Idea for LawCrossing Was to Provide a Low Cost and Super Efficient Way for Attorneys to Get Jobs

More than two years ago I realized that all this enormously expensive Legal Authority data that was being worked on and updated 24 hours a day could be used to get attorneys jobs in other ways besides doing a mailing. My thought was that employers in this massive database could all be contacted to learn of their jobs. Since LawCrossing would not charge anything to post these employers jobs, the employers would all willingly provide their openings and allow LawCrossing to advertise them. (I was right, by the way.) (LawCrossing now charges employers to post openings, but still continues to find thousands of additional openings and still allows employers to include their jobs for free on the site using an XML feed.)

In addition, I knew that with the multitude of other job sources out there, I could centralize jobs in one place. That was how the thinking for LawCrossing went. I also knew that I could charge far less access to these jobs than I have to charge for Legal Authority and I also knew the service would not have to be so exclusive like BCG Attorney Search. That is how the idea for LawCrossing came about.

Without getting into specifics, starting LawCrossing was just about the hardest thing I have ever done. Over 40,000 hours worth of work went into the site before it was ever launched. Who knows if it will ever pay off. Who cares, though? It works.

I hope you can see that LawCrossing combines the best of what I learned to do at BCG Attorney Search (get jobs for attorneys) and at Legal Authority (provide access to the most jobs). There is nothing else like LawCrossing out there and there most likely never will be. I am certain there is room for improvement at LawCrossing and always will be as well. We need to get more jobs and we will continue to make that our first priority. We want to get you your next job. In the interim, LawCrossing will provide you with the most knowledge about the market of any provider—anywhere.

I am really looking forward to showing you LawCrossing and appreciate you taking a look at what we are doing. If there is anything I can do to improve your experience with the site please let me know. As you know, I mean it when I say I want to do everything I can to make your job search go as well as possible.

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