published October 22, 2014

By Harrison Barnes,
Managing Director

What Characteristics Should I Look for in a Legal Recruiter?

What characteristics should I look for in a legal recruiter?

Being a good legal recruiter is very difficult work. If you take the average graduating class at a law school of 500 people, I would estimate that 70% of the graduates could be outstanding lawyers if they apply themselves. Conversely, I would estimate that only 1% of the people who graduate from law school could be good legal recruiters (i.e. 5 of the 500 people could potentially be good legal recruiters).

A good legal recruiter needs to:
  These qualities (and these are only a few) are the qualities which distinguish good recruiters from poor ones. But it goes far, far beyond this. A good legal recruiter needs to be genuinely excited, deep down, about their job and have a 100% commitment to what they are doing. Nothing less. This is fundamentally important and no legal recruiter can be great without this.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

The best legal recruiter will get out of bed each morning so excited about the job they are doing that they cannot wait to get to work. The best legal recruiter will spend their weekends excited for the coming week so they can get back to work. The best legal recruiter will probably find themselves working during the weekend. A final point is that the best legal recruiter is excited about their candidates and is interested in their lives. They are interested in the employers they are working for as well as the people who work for the employers. The best legal recruiters read about the legal industry and see opportunities everywhere they turn for their candidates.

Genuine, deep down and natural commitment is incredibly important. Because attorneys are so conditioned to believe that practicing law is the only thing an attorney should be doing, there is a perception that anytime an attorney steps out of the practice of law there must be something wrong with them. I would submit to you that this is often true. Yes, there is often something wrong with the people who leave the practice of law.

Attorneys who leave the practice of law often do so because:
  • they have a poor work ethic and do not want to work as hard,
  • they cannot get along with others,
  • they cannot concentrate for long periods of time,
  • they have drug or alcohol problems,
  • they have no interest in the legal profession,
  • they do not know what they want to do,
  • they want to spend more time with their family,
  • they want to be "independent" from a working environment.

You name it. There are a lot of negative reasons people leave the practice of law. Some people have horrible legal pedigrees and simply cannot get hired once they leave. Others have a myriad of personal issues and cannot find another job for one reason or another. Personally, I do not care why people leave the practice of law. This is their business, but I want to be clear about one thing: I sure as hell would never want to hire a legal recruiter who is leaving the practice of law for any other reason than that they know they are suited for legal recruiting. This is the only reason to become a recruiter.

When I hire the right legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search who knows they should be recruiting and wants to recruit because they get excited about it, something miraculous happens. The recruiter changes peoples' lives and enriches the law firms they work for. More people get better jobs, people find jobs that make them happier, lawyers end up working where they should be working. Tons of great things happen. I am proud of this. As the CEO of a legal recruiting firm, I run a recruiting firm that does not hire tons of legal recruiters. Instead, we have the absolute best legal recruiters possible. It is no easy task making sure only the right people are part of our team. In fact, we even run psychological tests on all prospective recruiters to make sure they are cut out for the work.

When a legal recruiter enters the profession or recruits for the wrong reasons, you will not benefit. What is true for many professions is no less true for legal recruiting. There are a lot of people in the profession that should not be there.

Many people believe that the best legal recruiter is the one who went to the best law school or worked at the best firm. In my experience, the opposite is more often than not true. It does not matter where your recruiter went to school or where they worked when it comes down to their ability to get excited about you, understand you and love what they are doing. This is what everyone needs when they are being represented by a legal recruiter. Certainly, the intelligence of your recruiter is important, but what is most important is a recruiter whose heart and soul is in the work. They know they are doing exactly what they should be doing with their career and life. Most likely, this recruiter will tell you from the heart how their life was changed by becoming a legal recruiter. They knew it was the profession for them, and they cannot get enough of it. Find a recruiter like this, and they will change your life too.

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