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The Best Times of the Year to Look For Law Firm Positions for Lawyers

published June 30, 2021

By Author - LawCrossing

( 86 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)

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Many attorneys and law students think that when searching for a job in a law firm, they should wait until the new year because that is the best time to find a position. But that is not true. This article will give you 10 reasons why starting to look for your new legal career in November or early December is the best time of year.

10 Reasons Why November and December Are the Best Time of Year to Begin Looking for Jobs in a Law Firm

  1. No one else is looking at the legal market at this time
  2. Law firms have hiring budgets they have to use by the end of the year, or they lose them
  3. Law firms want to fill out positions that have been open for a long by the end of the year
  4. Law firms are less critical during this time
  5. Law firms want to get hiring out of the way
  6. Law firms are less organized during this time which can help you
  7. Firms often have fewer associates to do the work during this time, so they need to hire lawyers
  8. Hiring can be quicker because firms have more time for it
  9. Many new positions are opening because of the end-of-the-year reviews
  10. If you are the first person to apply, you have a better chance of getting the job

Not a Lot of Other Attorneys Are Looking for Legal Jobs in November or December

Almost everyone waits until January to look for a new job in a law firm. So, why would you want to compete with so many other attorneys looking for legal careers simultaneously? It is much smarter to be looking for a job in the legal market before that, in November or December. At any other time, firms will have many more options for the people to choose from for legal jobs.

When you are applying for jobs in a law firm, you want to find a way to be the best applicant there is. Of course, you might want to do it by having gone to the best law school or having a great resume with perfect credentials and the top law firm on it. But you can also do so by doing your legal job search and applying for jobs before everyone else.

As a legal recruiter with BCG Attorney Search, I make the most placements in November or December while other legal recruiters enjoy their pre-Christmas vacations. During that time, law firms don't get many other applicants, so the people I send usually get the spot. And large law firms don't really vacation at that time either, many attorneys never stop working, so they are ready to take on new lawyers anytime.

Law Firms Have Hiring Budgets They Have to Use by the End of the Year, or They Lose Them

Because of my job as a legal recruiter in BCG Attorney Search, I talk to many law firms and have a bit of intel on how they work. For example, they usually have a yearly or quarterly budget for the recruitment of new employees, and based on how they spend this budget, their next year's one is decided. That means they want to use the budget up fully not to lose a part of it next year.

This means that a law firm is especially eager to hire lawyers before the end of the year. They often have to rush in the recruiting process to make the deadline, so you might be able to start your legal career quicker than is usual.

And sometimes, they do crazy things. You might get a job in a great law firm after just a screening or video call interview. You might be able to secure a spot in a firm you would consider above your experience. You shouldn't rule out any law firm in your legal search and apply everywhere during this time before the end of the year. A law firm might not be that diligent in the hiring process because they are rushed, and you never know when an opportunity might strike.

If a Position Has Been Open for a Long Time, a Law Firm Wants to Fill It by the End of the Year

Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone on the recruiting team. For example, you have had an opening for a few months, the end of the year is approaching, and you still haven't hired anyone for that opening. Whether the candidates turned down the offer or were just too critical and picky when choosing candidates throughout the year does not matter now. The important thing is that there is a spot that needs to be filled in quickly. Otherwise, it would not look good on the recruiter's record and evaluation.

So, if you begin your search for a legal job in November or December, there is a good chance that you will get the spot because not a lot of attorneys are applying at that time, and the recruiting personnel needs to fill in the jobs quickly.

Law Firms Are Less Critical of the Applicants During November and December

This tip is based on the same principle as my old and tried advice always to try to interview on Friday. On Fridays, people are less critical, more energetic, and happier overall because they are excited for the weekend and some time off. Based on my experience as a recruiter, your chances might grow even by 30% because you were interviewed on a Friday.

When you apply for a spot in November or early December, people are in a better mood and much less critical because they are looking forward to the approaching holidays and time spent with their close ones. They are in a giving mood, which means they are much nicer, and they also want to finish what they started before the end of the year, which means filling out all the open spots. Therefore, their focus is on the upcoming time off, not on critiquing the applicants. They might even feel generous and want to hire someone currently without a job.

Law Firms Want to Get Hiring Out of the Way

Usually, lawyers don't enjoy interviewing. It doesn't count into billable hours and takes away the time they could spend with their clients. And at the beginning of every year, there is always a swarm of candidates that takes days to interview and process. They have to sit in the office and ask questions to one applicant after another while the hours they could spend with the clients pass by.

The attorneys making the interviews know that if they suggest hiring someone they really liked in November or December, they won't have to sit through as many interviews in January and February, leaving them more time to spend with their clients. Your chances of getting hired are therefore higher before the end of the year.

Law Firms Are Less Organized During This Time Which Can Help You

Law firms tend to be very disorganized in November and December when it comes to interviewing. And it really is something that can work to your benefit. Any recruiter can tell you crazy stories about their attorneys getting hired for jobs they wouldn't think they could achieve.

When I was in law school, I experienced the snowstorm of the century right when I had an interview with Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Not thinking about the consequences of the snowstorm, I drove to Washington despite the weather. There was only one attorney in the whole office; everybody stayed home due to the storm. He probably felt bad that I drove there in such weather, so he made a few calls to double-check that I really had a scheduled interview, and then he conducted it himself. It took no longer than half an hour, and a few days later, they called me that I got the job. Apparently, the attorney thought I would be a great fit. I suspect that their embarrassment of not showing up to the office might have had something to do with it as well. But the important thing is that I got employment that is usually quite challenging to get with a lot of competition because I was lucky and disorganized.

The last two months are when many associates take personal leave or aren't at the office, which leads to less organization and oversight within the recruiting process. At this time, you might be interviewed by someone without enough experience and confidence to ask hard, tricky questions. The recruiting team might be less critical or underestimate checking your background thoroughly. The company wants to move faster with the hiring process, and sometimes they lack their usual workforce, so they can often be careless and less diligent.

Law Firms Often Have Fewer Associates to Do the Work, So They Need to Hire Lawyers

Law firms usually have a lot of work that's not getting done in November and December, so they want to recruit new associates to help them finish everything by the end of the year. But the job still needs to be done, so the firm has no other choice than to hire someone new and quickly. A law office may hire young associates or law students fresh out of law school to fulfill their hiring needs.

Even though large constitutional firms are operational at this time, many of their employees or temporary workers take out personal leaves or don't show up at work during this holiday-heavy time. Many attorneys also use up all their built-up vacation days if they plan to quit or don't want to lose these vacation days. The colder weather might also force the employees to take out sick days when they come down with a cold or flu.

When attorneys or the hiring team look around, sometimes there really is almost no one to do the work in November or December. This makes them want to recruit new attorneys quickly because they cannot afford to have the work stand there. This might make them less critical and more willing to want to hire.

The Hiring Process Can Be Quicker Because Law Firms Have More Time for It

A legal firm of any size can move quickly with hiring during November and December because there are usually only a handful of people on the legal search for the positions. As a result, the recruiting administrators inside a law firm have more time to consider you, and instead of choosing from a hundred applicants, they may only be choosing from five or six attorneys.

The instinct is always to pick at least one or two people to interview for an opening rather than not picking anyone at all. However, when hundreds of applications might come throughout the year, the hiring personnel usually only looks at the first 20 applications before getting overwhelmed. Then, in November or December, they have enough time to go through all the resumes and often invite everyone for interviews, making your chance to get hired much higher.

When I refer my applicants to legal firms in November or December, I noticed that they often get responses instantly, which doesn't happen any other time.

Many New Legal Positions Are Opening Because of the End of the Year Reviews

Many law firms have their annual performance reviews in November and December. Unfortunately, that means that many attorneys are told that they didn't make a partner and are asked to leave, are asked to leave because of their poor performance, or are not satisfied with their bonuses and quit on their own. Whatever the reason is, many law firms are experiencing a higher turnover at this time or are anticipating one very soon, which means they have to begin interviewing and recruiting attorneys.

If you apply when the law firm is still only finding out that there will be an opening that needs to be filled and has not yet started the official recruiting process, you might be the first applicant who is always a big advantage in your job searching. You have zero competition and, if the law firm likes you, they might not interview anyone else.

If You Are the First Person to Apply For a Position, You Have a Better Chance of Getting the Employment

Law firms often have new positions in November and December and announce them right away. But many attorneys do not pay attention to job boards at this time and look only at the beginning of the new year.

So, when you apply at this time, you know you are among the first people to respond. And among the first ones to get interviewed. People have a cognitive bias to remember and return to the first information they were provided. If you are interviewed first, you will become the "anchoring point" for the recruiting administrator, and your chances of getting hired are much higher than if you applied later on. If a law firm considers recruiting someone they interviewed earlier, they are much less likely to pay attention to the applicants they interview later. The initial bond is already created, and their attorney search is unofficially over. Early bird gets the worm.

Not a Better Time of the Year for a Job Search

Many attorneys might think that January is the best time of the year to scan the legal job market for a new placement. This is because there might be more law openings in January than at other times of the year. Still, your odds of getting an interview or getting a placement offer are much higher in November and December than at any other time of year. Law firms realize their hiring needs at that point, and other related business practices make them eager to hire. Their guard is also down with the upcoming holidays, which can help you in your job search.

The end of the year is my busiest time as a legal recruiter, telling you something. There is no better time of the year than November and December for your legal search. So, please take advantage of it as an attorney, find your dream legal career, and help law firms fulfill their hiring needs.

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