How Long Will It Take before I Hear Back from a Law Firm?

( 320 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Summary: Why haven’t I heard back yet from a law firm after a recruiter has already sent my materials to them?
How long will it take before you get an interview with a law firm?

Question: After my recruiter submits my materials to firms, how long will it take to hear back?

Answer: I get this question from candidates all the time. Unfortunately, the answer is that it depends on several factors: a) your credentials and practice area, b) the time of the year, and c) dumb luck.
  1. It goes without saying that if you are a well-credentialed candidate with a desirable practice area, you are likelier to hear back quickly. For example, general commercial litigation and labor & employment are both very hot practice areas in California, so if your practice centers around one of these two practice areas, you attended a top law school, and you have been practicing for about two to six years (the sweet spot for making a lateral move), you should hopefully get an interview relatively quickly. That said, you are likely to hear back even quicker if you are less picky in approving firms. I recently had a relatively strong candidate who had attended UCLA Law and was at a respectable LA boutique practicing both labor & employment and general commercial litigation. However, he only had one year of experience and would only approve top Big Law firms. I wasn’t able to get him an interview due to his lack of practical experience and his choosiness in approving firms. If you are willing to approve firms of all sizes and “pedigrees”, you are much likelier to get an interview faster. We recommend keeping an open mind when approving firms. A smaller firm may surprise you, and if nothing else, smaller firms will serve as useful interview practice experience for you.
  1. The time of the year can make a big difference in whether or not you hear back from firms quickly. Summer is the slowest time of the year for both recruiters and law firm hiring (candidates and law firms are less responsive, so recruiters work less). A lot of candidates and recruiting coordinators are on vacation for long stretches of time, so it can take longer than usual to hear back. Come early September, recruiting coordinators become more responsive once again, and there is a good amount of activity during the fall until Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, it is very slow, as once again, recruiting coordinators are preparing for the holidays or are on vacation, and candidates are unlikely to want to lateral because they are waiting to receive their January bonuses. January to April is the fastest time of the year for us. If you apply during this period, you are likelier to receive an interview quickly.
  1. And of course, dumb luck plays a role when it comes to getting your first interview. I’ve had a relatively weak candidate receive an interview within a week of my submitting her because she was not choosy when approving firms, she was interested in the OC (many candidates are not), and a particular OC boutique was willing to consider her for a practice area that she hadn’t practiced in for years. I’ve also had strong candidates wait weeks or even months to get interviews because the time of the year is slow, they approve very few firms, or they only approve Big Law firms, where there is more bureaucracy and sometimes several layers of approvals need to happen before an interview gets scheduled.
Overall, you can expect to get an interview anywhere between a day after submission to several months after submission. Even if it does take months to hear a positive response from a firm, do not lose hope! If you communicate with your recruiter and diligently approve firms every week, sooner or later (but hopefully sooner!), a firm will want to interview you.
See the following articles for more information:

Featured Testimonials

I use this site every time I need to find a job. Nothing is as great as Lawcrossing!


LawCrossing Fact #118: The number of jobs we have grows by the day, by the hour, and sometimes by the minute!

Let's Do It!

Only LawCrossing consolidates every job it can find in the legal industry and puts all of the job listings it locates in one place.

  • We have more than 25 times as many legal jobs as any other job board.
  • We list jobs you will not find elsewhere that are hidden in small regional publications and employer websites.
  • We collect jobs from more than 250,000 websites and post them on our site.
  • Increase your chances of being seen! Employers on public job boards get flooded with applications. Our private job boards ensure that only members can apply to our job postings.

Success Stories

I was incredibly happy with the site. I thought it was very easy to use; had significantly more postings than any other site (or combination of sites); and provided a lot of useful information. (the number, and caliber, of job postings). Exactly what I was looking for – I have 5 years’ experience and was looking for a lateral move or an in-house position, and that’s exactly what I found!
  • Sarah E. Potter Louisville, KY