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Why Attorneys Need Legal Placement Professionals and Not Legal Recruiters

published May 12, 2022

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Many legal professionals believe that if they want to find their dream job, using the services of legal recruiters is the way to go to have a successful job search. When I was still practicing law and wanted to find a great placement, I thought the same thing. However, I got quickly disappointed after contacting a few recruiters and seeing the quality of their work and attitude. A bad legal recruiter can damage your reputation and legal career. It is always better to seek a legal placement professional rather than a recruiter. Read on to find the difference between the two and how they can affect your career.
 

The Basics of Legal Recruiting

 

Many great attorneys start working with recruiters in hopes of finding a job in some of the most prestigious law firms. Unfortunately, too many of them quickly figure out that the recruiters are not doing what they expected and often come out of the collaboration thinking there are not enough options for them. They should accept the first job offer that comes their way. Some even go to practice settings, such as in-house counsel, or quit practicing law altogether after using legal recruiting firms. And that is a shame because, in most cases, they could have found their dream job in the legal industry with the help of someone skilled who cared about them and the profession.

Legal recruiters generally find out about a job opening from the law firm itself, work out what type of lawyer would fit into the position, and then work tirelessly on contacting the attorneys who fit the requirements by email and phone. If an attorney decides to send the recruiter their resume, the recruiter forwards the resume to the firm and might try to vouch for the attorney, but because they have not taken the time to get to know them, there is only so much they know about them. Also, recruiters can make up to a hundred calls a day when trying to find the right candidate for a firm. So many calls about the same position often bombard many attorneys.

Legal recruiters can be former lawyers who know a lot about the industry and the profession. However, they can also be people who have never worked in the legal industry before. Legal recruiting is often more about sales skills than knowledge of law firms, lawyers, and their needs. Recruiters focus on collecting their commissions and do not care whether the lawyer or the law firm is satisfied long-term. They may sometimes push one or both sides into finalizing the collaboration quickly despite unresolved issues or unanswered questions because their main motivation is money.

A recruiting firm might sometimes be so pushy with how it approaches law firms that it taints the relationships with firms and can put them at a disadvantage. All attorneys working with this recruiting firm feel this setback because they can get limited opportunities. Relationships with other recruiting firms are not much better because the competitiveness between these firms is sometimes unreal. They are fighting for every job opening, hoping that the candidate they bring in will be hired, so they often resort to public shaming and conflicts. All of this results in legal recruiters having less than stellar reputations and unhappy clients on the side of firms and attorneys.
 

Main Reasons Why Lawyers Should Not Trust Most Legal Recruiters

 


The Services of a Legal Recruiter Are Very Limited


A legal recruiter will generally know about a few job openings in top law firms. They send resumes of the candidates to this limited number of positions, and in most cases, that is the end of their work. If the law firm they found the candidate for does not like the attorney, the recruiter usually stops their communication with the attorney and writes them off. They believe that if that one firm does not want the candidate, no one will, so their collaboration is over. That is, of course, not true, and the recruiter would know that if they invested time and effort in getting to know the legal market.

Recruiters are also usually only focused on the requests by firms to find attorneys for specific positions rather than candidates. They deal with the job request at hand. They do not consider cultivating professional relationships with the lawyers that could prove useful for future job orders or opportunities outside of the few firms collaborating with them.
 

Recruiters Are Pushy and Manipulative


A legal recruiter is willing to do almost anything to get their commission. That includes lying, manipulating, and doing other things to get the law firm or the candidate to "close the deal." They may indicate that a firm is more interested than it is in a candidate to persuade them to go in for an interview. If an attorney is not interested in an offer a firm sent them, they will try to talk them into accepting it in any way possible.
 

Recruiters Often Do Not Achieve What Others Expect


As I already mentioned, legal recruiters usually only care about fulfilling the requests of law firms. Their main goal is to send the firms as many resumes that fit the job description as possible to increase the firm's chances of finding the candidate they are seeking. After that, they consider their job done. They do not consider the needs of attorneys because they do not try to get to know them.

A legal recruiter from a recruiting agency will have assigned parts of the legal market in many cases. That means that if an attorney works with this recruiter, they are finding out only about part of the job openings in the market.

Of course, that does not mean that recruiters are useless. They do have their value to law firms with a specific vision for who they want to hire and attorneys on job search who know where they want to get an interview and want someone with a good relationship with the firm to vouch for them. They can help and use their sales skills to accomplish this goal in these cases. However, if an attorney or firm wants to find a good fit with good prospects and does not have a clear vision, a legal recruiter will probably not help them.
 

The Basics of Legal Placement

 

Unlike legal recruiting, legal placement has a completely different foundation based on a deep understanding of the legal market and the needs of both sides of the relationship. Legal placement professionals do not simply respond to law firms' requests like attorney recruiters. Still, they work hard to permanently place attorneys who are currently on a job search into their dream law firm job. They do not focus on a single legal market (or only a part of it as it often is with legal recruiters) but rather search everywhere to find the perfect fit between a firm and the candidate.

This collaboration is not about finding as many fitting attorneys for a job opening as quickly as possible but spending as much time as needed to find the ideal placement that will result in long-term satisfaction for the attorney and the firm.
 

Reasons Why Legal Placement Professionals Are the Ideal Help in an Attorney's Job Search

 
 

Legal Placement Professionals Focus on the Attorney They Work With


While most legal recruiters focus only on convincing candidates to send a resume to the job order they are trying to fulfill, and their collaboration often ends there; placement professionals dedicate their work to finding a law firm job for the attorney they work with. That sometimes means working with them for months or even years, keeping in touch with them, and just having their needs in mind if they come across the perfect opportunity. Placement professionals do not focus on one legal market or one type of firm with job openings in their job search for their clients. They look at different markets and legal employers regardless of whether the firm has an opening. They have their client's best interests in mind and do not stop until they find the new job they want.
 

Professionals Providing Placement Assistance Are Experts in the Legal Industry

 

While a recruiter works mostly as a salesperson, which can be done by people who did not attend law schools, this does not apply to legal placement. Finding the perfect placement and being invested in someone else's legal career requires someone knowledgeable in the law industry. Placement professional needs to connect with the candidates and understand their needs and struggles in the job search. They also need to be able to advise their clients and give them tips to ensure that the work they are doing will result in a positive outcome. That cannot be done without a true interest in the legal profession.
 

Placement Professionals Have a Database of More Jobs Than Most Recruiters


Because recruiters fulfill specific job orders, they generally know only about a few of them as they would not be able to handle too many orders at one time. On the other hand, placement professionals are trying to place specific attorneys actively seeking a new position. That means that they keep databases of most law firms that are on the domestic and international market to be able to present them with enough opportunities. They actively work every day to expand this database and always have access to the most current information and job opportunities.

This is also why this job site, LawCrossing.com, and our legal placement company BCG Attorney Search are so successful in helping our clients pursue jobs they want. We have one of the biggest databases of legal jobs in our country because we are gathering information from the several thousands of law firms we have in the United States.
 

Legal Placement Is Not Focused on One Location

 

Recruiters are generally trying to find candidates for a specific position, usually in one location. They focus on jobs in a single market. Thus, the options they can offer to these candidates are very limited. Placement professionals are focused on finding positions for specific attorneys, and they do not concentrate on their location.

They can help attorneys with relocation not only domestically but also internationally. They can help lawyers struggling to find a good fit in one market relocate somewhere where they will be able to thrive. They can help lawyers who are fed up with the big law firm world relocate to a wonderful boutique firm or a firm in a smaller market where they will be able to find what they were lacking before. Attorneys in practice areas that are currently slow can use placement professionals to relocate somewhere where their practice area still has some opportunities. This would be almost impossible even with a good recruiter as they do not have access to this information.
 

Data and Technology Are an Important Advantage of Legal Placement

 

Because recruiters only deal with a limited number of job openings and use cold-calling to contact candidates, they do not utilize complex technical solutions for their daily tasks. Placement professionals are dealing with thousands of law firms and jobs, so they have to find sophisticated ways to make their job more efficient. High-level databases and new sophisticated technology are an important part of that.

These technological solutions allow placement professionals to find out about openings among the first. It is a huge advantage because employers almost always recruit candidates who apply within the first day or two.

Another sophisticated advantage databases bring to placement professionals is the ability to watch trends in the industry and, to some extent, predict when practice areas will get active or which firms might be in their period of onboarding. This helps candidates get into an even better position because they can apply sooner than the position gets published.
 

Placement Professionals Care About How They Present Their Clients


When I worked with legal recruiters while still an attorney, I was shocked when I read the documents and emails they sent to companies in my name. They were riddled with typos, mistakes, and incorrect information and looked very unprofessional. Something that would not go through in any of the firms I wanted to work in.

On the other hand, placement professionals understand how important it is to represent clients in the best light possible. They know that high-quality written work and any communication are required in law firms, so candidates have to present themselves accordingly. They know how important a deep understanding of the situation is and how it must be presented. Several rounds of checking and proofreading everything that gets sent to firms is a matter of course in legal placement.
 

Creating and Maintaining Connections With Many Law Firms Is Essential for Legal Placement

 

Recruiters generally focus on one location where they have two groups of firms. Those with which they have a good relationship because they find candidates for them, and then those firms with which they have a very bad relationship because they lure attorneys away from them to send them to the first firms. That can be problematic for candidates who want to have more options.

Placement professionals want their clients to have as many options and open doors as possible, so they invest a lot of time and effort in cultivating relationships with all firms in all markets. These firms also know that people working in legal placement do not want to lure anyone from them and place them somewhere else, so the good relationship goes both ways.
 

Only People Genuinely Interested in Placement Assistance go into Legal Placement

 

As I already mentioned, many recruiters are only in the profession to earn money and do not care for the legal industry or lawyers. They are salespeople looking to collect their commission. Some firms and candidates might be completely okay with that; however, those looking for a permanent placement somewhere where they can grow probably appreciate it if their recruiter cares about and is interested in the subject matter. Legal placement professionals are in this industry because they truly care about lawyers finding the right firms and firms finding the right employees and are willing to invest a lot of resources.
 

Placement Professionals Work Hard on Improving and Staying Up-to-Date With the Industry


Recruiting is mostly about sales, which means that those recruiters who want to grow usually educate themselves in the sales skill set and how to close deals. That is something that does not help their clients. Motivated placement professionals know that if they want to help their lawyer clients successfully, they have to keep learning about the legal industry, changes in markets, trends in practice areas and firms, and other important news.
 

Conclusions


Many attorneys looking for a new job seek out legal recruiters to find someone who can help them find the perfect position for them. Unfortunately, many of them came out of this collaboration disappointed. Following a few law firms' rejections, the recruiter gives up on the lawyer and moves on to a more marketable candidate. Recruiters are mostly focused on collecting their commission by sending out as many resumes fitting the job description to a law firm as possible. They do not care about the needs of the attorney or the law firm.

On the other hand, the legal placement professionals spend years studying the legal market and learning about the legal industry to be then able to help attorneys find their perfect long-term jobs. This collaboration might take months or even years, but they are dedicated to finding the best fitting placement for every client that seeks them out. They care about the industry and the people in it.

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