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Reasons Attorneys Do Not Get the Law Firm Offers They Want

published July 29, 2021

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It is prevalent for attorneys and law students not to get hired into the law firms of their preference. They might get offers they are not satisfied with, or they might not get offers at all. But it does not have to be like that! The bottom line is they are not getting the offers they want, and it often discourages them from the legal profession altogether.
 

There are a few common mistakes attorneys make if they are not getting hired to the positions they want. By asking yourself the following questions, it might make you realize the mistake(s) you are making and what you can do to combat it.

 

Are You Doing Everything in Your Ability To Get the Law Firm Offers You Want?


If you do not hear back from your preferred law firms, you need to ensure you are doing everything you can to get these offers. Even though you might think you have done everything right, chances are you are making a mistake somewhere in the process of applying or interviewing for jobs.
 

The Mistake of Not Applying to Enough Law Firms or in Enough Markets


Most attorneys experience problems getting jobs they want because they are not applying to enough firms and are not looking for jobs in more legal markets. The key to increasing your chances of getting hired is increasing the number of places you apply. Because the number of law firms in one legal market is limited, you can always increase that by applying to more markets. Under-marketing yourself is just pointlessly setting yourself back.

It is always best to apply to every possible place you can. Do not rely on applying to firms that fit you best because you might be waiting for an offer forever. Applying only to big law firms, for instance, puts you at a big disadvantage as there is a lot of competition. Therefore, you typically have to be one of the best attorneys at your level to get a position there. Widening your search to smaller, more specialized firms and more markets gives you a great advantage over the attorneys that only stick with big law firms in one major market.

As a legal recruiter, I know how under-marketing yourself can sometimes destroy your career. Some of these attorneys stay employed in places where they are unhappy, not getting the compensation they want, and not advancing to higher positions in their careers. Others decide that practicing law is not as they imagined it, so they try their luck in a different industry.

Whenever I work with attorneys, I always push them to widen their search and not focus only on publicly posted positions in big firms. Most placements our legal recruiting company BCG Attorney Search makes are to law firms without any openings. Opportunities are everywhere around you; you have to look properly to find them.

A firm always needs someone exactly like you; they don't realize it yet. Or they know that they would benefit from someone like you. However, rather than focus on a time and money-consuming recruiting campaign, they focus on other important aspects of their business. You can make it easier for them (and you) by sending them your resume and letting them know that you are there and you can earn them money. They will never pass on an opportunity to earn more money.

If you are searching on your own, you have to really identify your strengths. This means knowing what you can offer and what types of firms will benefit the most from your skills. Then you need to find all of those firms and let them know you are available. You can, for example, use our site, LawCrossing that offers a better and more complete overview of law firms and their jobs than public job boards. Yes, it is a paid service, but you should be willing to do anything that gives you an advantage over other attorneys. Your research into firms where you can apply has to be very extensive. You should apply to all open positions and proactively contact all firms without openings that fit your practice area and expertise. It would help if you looked everywhere for opportunities, and sometimes you need to create them for yourself by being proactive and reaching out to firms on your own.

You can also use the services of a legal recruiter, such as BCG Attorney Search, who already has established relationships with firms and can perfectly match your skills to a firm's needs. People in this industry often have unique intel into firms and know about positions before they are posted anywhere. A good recruiter can get you an interview at a time when you have almost no competition and your chances are very high. Since they know about big and small firms from all around the country, they can also steer you in a direction during your search you would not think of yourself, but that works perfectly for your experience and skills.
 

The Mistake Of Applying to the Wrong Types of Legal Jobs


The reason why you are not getting the job offers you want might also lie in the fact that you are not applying to the right positions based on your background. That means your law school, academic results in law school, practice area, previous employers, seniority level, etc.

When you are a law school student, the things law firms look at the most are the rank of the law school and your academic results. If these are not the best of the best, you will probably not be able to get a position at a top law office straight out of law school.

The practice area you have experience from is also vital in whether you get an offer or not. If all of your experience comes from one practice area, such as corporate law, you will have a tough time getting offers from positions in other practice areas, for example, litigation. Firms have tens if not hundreds of candidates with experience in that particular line of work for these positions. Why should they choose someone who will have to learn everything from scratch?

Big law is a precise setting that is not for everyone. At first, you have to do many things without recognition, as senior partners will often take credit for your work. The environment is also extremely fast-paced. You have to deal with various types of clients, which you can only learn in another large law office. The same principle applies when hiring in a major firm if you come from a different practice setting. If you apply from a smaller firm, as an in-house counsel in a company, or any other setting that is not a major firm, big law firms might go for another candidate with training from such a firm.

Applying in a major legal market, like New York or Washington, D.C., without being already established, might also be a reason why you do not hear back from the firms you want. These markets are very competitive, with countless talented attorneys applying to every job. If you are not an exceptional talent, it might not be easy to hear back from law firms.

Many law practitioners apply to jobs that do not correspond with their skills, experiences, and background. That is a big mistake as they are handicapping themselves and setting themselves back. If you want to increase your chances of getting the job offers you want, you have to apply to the right jobs that fit you and your background.
 

The Mistake of Having a Bad Resume or Cover Letter


If you are not even getting invited for interviews in the law firms you are applying to, your resume or cover letter might be to blame. Your resume and cover letter are the first things law firms see about you, and they decide your fate from there. Hence, they must show you as the perfect candidate for which the firm is looking.

Understandably, we all are proud of our accomplishments in life. If you have served in the military and got many honors there, you want to mention it in your resume to let people know about how determined and dependable you are. If you have started a successful business, you also usually want to let your future employer know about it to see that you are good at what you do. However, mentioning anything unrelated to the job position you are applying to can do more harm than good.

Employers want to hire experts for their openings. Those people who are focused on the line of work they are recruited will spend all their energy getting better every day. If they are hiring a law student fresh out of school, they want to see that they are committed. But when they receive resumes loaded with many different ventures in someone's life, they only see someone who is not focused, committed, or determined enough to be a good match for their firm.

Both your resume and your cover letter have one main task: showing your potential employer that you have the skills and are ready to do the job you are applying for. These instruments are not the place to talk about your many accomplishments in life. They are the place to show law firms that you are what they need. Even if you were not committed to one job or one practice area in your life (many people are not), it is better to focus your resume on the experience related to the job you are applying for. There is nothing dishonest about omitting things that are not related to what is marketable for that position. The same applies to listing out all your accomplishments from law school. Employers do not care about your grades, the courses you took, or all the journals you have written. Focus your resume and your cover letter on things that illustrate how hiring you will benefit the law office. You can find several articles and webinars with great tips on how to write winning resumes and cover letters on our BCG Attorney Search and LawCrossing websites.
 

Making Mistakes During the Law Firm Interview Process


The interview part of the recruiting process is the most important thing once you get over the initial selection via your resume. Some lawyers are born with natural interview skills, and other lawyers must successfully handle this situation.

Stress and nervosity can play a big role in this; however, the more interviews you take part in, the better you will get at it. Also, learning how to connect with the person interviewing you is a game-changer.

Just as your resume and cover letter should be about what you can do for the employer and not about your accomplishments, your interview should follow the same principle. It would help if you convinced the law firm why you are the right lawyer for THEM. You have to make the interview about the employer, talk about why that particular law firm spoke to you, why you are excited about what the firm is doing, how you fit into the firm's grand scheme, and what you can do for them to support them in their goals. Throughout your interview, the employer must feel interested in them and commit to working for them.

If you are getting invited to interviews but do not get job offers, the problem might lie in the way you are interviewing. Thankfully, it is something you can work on. If you identify this as your main mistake, you can find tips on our site.
 

Getting an Offer You Are Not Excited About: Take It or Not?


When you are sending out a lot of job applications (as you should), it can easily happen that you get a job offer from a firm that was not on your "top employer list." When you find yourself in such a situation, you have to make the hard decision whether to take the offer even though you know that you do not want to stay in the firm long-term or wait for something you will be more excited about but risking that another offer will not come anytime soon.
 

Why You Should Take an Offer, You Are Not Excited About


There are a few obvious reasons you might want to accept an offer that is not your ideal fit. Most lawyers cannot afford lost wages for any period of time because they have families, mortgages, and other necessary expenses they have to pay. Taking a less-than-ideal offer will help them survive. This is an excellent reason to take a job you are not excited about or don't necessarily want.
 

What a Gap in Your Resume Says About You as an Attorney


Another good, pragmatic reason to take the offer is that it looks much better on your resume to have a job you were not so sure about than not have a job at all. Employers do not like to see gaps in candidates' resumes (apart from valid reasons, such as having a child, serious illness, etc.). It often causes doubts in the minds of employers about the skills and abilities of the candidates.

When an employer sees unemployed attorneys for a period of time, they usually assume a serious issue that led to them losing a job or preventing them from getting hired. Employers often think that such a lawyer had issues with their previous employer and might come up if they hire them. They also often believe that when other law firms did not want to hire someone, there is a problem the attorney may have that will pose a problem in their work abilities. It is very similar to what is happening in the real estate business. If a house is listed on the market for a long time, everyone assumes it has serious issues, and its market price goes down significantly.

Even if potential employers do not automatically assume that there is something wrong with you, a gap in your resume shows the employer that you are not committed enough to the practice of law. It tells them that you did not try hard enough to find a job or are not flexible enough to take a job that does not 100% correspond with your requirements. And law firms avoid lawyers like this.

So, if your choice is either taking a job offer you are not excited about or being unemployed, it is in your best interest to stay employed and not have a gap in your attorney resume. Most attorneys understand that once you get into the practice of law, you are expected to work constantly until you retire.
 

Why You Should NOT Take an Offer, You Are Not Excited About


Just as there are reasons to take a job offer you do not really want, there are very valid reasons not to take it. One of the main ones is that you will become a negative weight for your employer and peers when you accept an offer you do not really want and are unwilling to overcome this negative attitude.

When you are working at a place you do not like and are not really interested in, you usually automatically have a negative attitude. You complain about the work you do, how much money you earn, you feel angry, and that negatively affects you, other legal practitioners around you, and the whole firm. With such an attitude, you probably even work less than other lawyers on your level, even though your employer pays you the same. It is just a bad experience for everyone. You may have already experienced it in your work-life, or maybe you have met colleagues who acted like this about their law firm jobs.

Many places will hire almost any attorney when they have no other choice. These are positions, such as a job in a low-paying personal injury firm, offering legal services and legal advice to individual consumers under a solo attorney, working as a lawyer in a public or non-profit organization looking at their legal options, and answering their or their clients' legal questions. These are usually low-paying jobs not many lawyers specialize in, and the attorneys generally do not stay in them very long. An attorney may take such a job when they are trying to avoid unemployment and do not have any other offer lined up. However, the chances are they do not remain there.

I have found out in the years I have been working as a legal recruiter, and as an employer, if you take a job you do not really want and do not try to make the most of this opportunity, it does not end up well for anyone. You are miserable in your job, and your actions make everyone around you feel the same way.

Another reason why you might want to decide not to accept an offer you are not excited about is if this offer does not correspond with the direction you want your career path to take. If you really want to work in intellectual property law, it is probably not a good idea to accept a job that has nothing to do with this line of work. If your goal is to work in a large law firm, accepting a government offer or an offer from a company as an in-house counsel will not help you with your larger goal. You want to have the resume of a determined and committed lawyer if you want to make it far in your career. Therefore, you must make your decisions based on that.
 

Conclusions


Many lawyers have problems with getting the law firm offers they want. They either do not get any offer at all or get ones they are not excited about. If this is happening to you, the fault might be in how you are searching for jobs, which jobs you are applying to, or you might be making a crucial mistake somewhere in the recruiting or interviewing process. The key is to find out where you are making mistakes and focus on improving yourself to get the job offers you really want.

See also:
 

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