From the “Tinder of Lateral Moves” to back-alley brokers promising unattainable results, the legal recruiting market has become flooded with shops working new angles. In the long run, integrity and competence win out, but in the short run, firms and attorneys can hurt their lateral prospects and hiring by indiscriminately talking to anyone and everyone.
We unfortunately hear horror stories about some shops floating bios of attorneys without their consent or playing games with both sides promising lateral opportunities that don’t exist. Recruiters ultimately live and die by their reputation. Some new players come into the market touting non-existent loose connections and candidates in their pipeline – essentially the vaporware of recruiting. They enter with a bang and try to cash out as quickly as they came. That’s not to say that there are not legitimate and solid shops – they enter the market all the time – but the ease of entry often attracts those looking to make a quick buck. In my opinion, there are fewer than twenty legal recruiting firms stateside worth engaging. Most of these are small mom and pop shops and boutiques. There are fewer than a handful who actually control the market.
How about from a recruiter’s perspective? When we know that candidates or law firms are engaging multiple shops, we’re less inclined to work with them because the partnership is broken. It’s a two way street. We do not overpromise and underdeliver. You do not want your employment and livelihood resting on your resume maybe finding its way into a law firm decision maker’s hand.
Similar to how law firms may prioritize their best attorneys and the quickest mobilization to service their best clients, typically those with institutionalized business, the firms that engage us meaningfully are the ones to whom we allot a substantial amount of resources.
Exclusive listings and retainers are one way to build a meaningful relationship with a reputable firm. We only take exclusive retainers when we know we can meet expectations. Many small shops push for them knowing they won’t deliver results. These shops pop up and catch the intrigue of the market, and are gone as quickly as they came.
With the right agent, retainers can be invaluable for crafting a cohesive message. A law firm’s image is largely crafted by our conversations in the market. Searching on an exclusive or retained basis allows you to approach the search from a concerted angle while also avoiding the inefficiencies that result from multiple shops fishing in the same stream.
The lateral market is predicated on trust and accountability. As essentially agents and brokers, we work best with clients who operate transparently and who engage us in a meaningful way. As we approach our fifteenth year in business, we’ve seen countless shops come and go, dragging down with them great attorneys and firms with their less than perfect practices. I pride myself on building a company that is predicated on recruiters who can actually service the needs of our attorney candidates and law firm clients. Our recruiters are not only former Biglaw associates and partners, but more importantly, excellent recruiters who leverage their experience to make meaningful connections between law firms and attorneys. If you are an attorney looking for a new position, or a firm looking to bolster their ranks, feel free to reach out to me or my colleagues at Lateral Link.