Tag Archives: Career Advice

Lateral Search Dos and Don’ts: Tips from Both Sides of the Lateral Coin

Moving firms is a laborious and time-consuming task. Without assistance, your search may sputter and stall. Legal recruiters were instrumental in my two lateral moves, each significantly boosting my compensation and firm prestige. Trying to make these moves independently proved fruitless, underlining the importance of a skilled recruiter.

Choosing the Right Legal Recruiter

As a practicing attorney, I responded to recruiter emails based primarily on the opportunities they presented, often lured by promises of higher compensation, better hours, or work in fields like entertainment, sports, or cyber law. My criteria were simple: (a) an appealing opportunity, and (b) the recruiter graduated law school. Beyond that, I did minimal research.

This approach was too simplistic. A good recruiter acts as your agent, providing practical advice and actively advancing your career goals, rather than merely seeking a quick placement. Essentially, recruiters are brokers, introducing you to firms potentially interested in hiring you. This is a crucial perspective to maintain.

Recruiters sometimes need to temper your unrealistic goals, while other times, they make your dreams a reality, depending on the situation.

Dos and Don’ts from My Experiences

From my journey as an associate using recruiters and now being one, here are some key dos and don’ts:

  • Do review your recruiter’s LinkedIn, website, and articles. A quick check can reveal much about their resources and approach.
  • Don’t choose a recruiter solely for their pedigree. While pedigree can indicate industry knowledge and competence, some of the best recruiters at Lateral Link, for example, don’t have a law school background.
  • Do collaborate with recruiters who align with your career aspirations yet remain realistic about your goals. They should be knowledgeable about the market and provide insightful guidance. That means knowing when to go for it and when to ground expectations in reality. 
  • Don’t work with recruiters who are not solution-focused or try to push you into roles they’re trying to fill. Your lateral search should be a collaborative effort with a recruiter who supports your journey and guides you through the process.
  • Do be judicious about sharing your application materials. A reliable recruiter only submits your application to firms you’ve approved, avoiding potential issues and application conflicts.
  • Don’t engage with too many recruiters simultaneously. This can lead to confusion and difficulties in managing submissions, as well as weakening your position in offer negotiations.
  • Do choose a responsive recruiter who keeps you regularly updated. Navigating job changes is challenging, and a good recruiter will ensure you’re well informed throughout the process.
  • Do work with recruiters who take the time to understand your practice area, history, and preferences, and who prepare you effectively for interviews.
  • Do ask recruiters about their motivations. Some are genuinely passionate about their work, while others may be primarily driven by financial gain. Make your choice accordingly.

Having been both a lateral associate and a recruiter, I’ve gained valuable insights into the process. Moving firms is challenging and stressful, but with the right recruiter, it can be as seamless and stress-free as possible. 

Charting Your Course: An In-Depth Resource for Law Students Navigating Multiple Job Offers

Embarking on the journey of a law student entails numerous critical choices, of which, selecting among multiple summer associate or first-year associate propositions stands paramount. At Lateral Link, we appreciate the significance of this decision. Our crew of seasoned legal talent finders, many of whom have trodden the path of summer associates themselves, impart a profound knowledge base and guidance, empowering you to make an enlightened choice.

Assessing Law Firm Offers Beyond the Facade of Rankings

Though rankings may shed some light on a firm’s accomplishments, they can inadvertently offer a skewed perspective. Abby Gordon, co-director of our Northeast associate recruitment division and a past summer associate and associate at Cleary Gottlieb, articulates this concept as, “Choosing a firm transcends mere rankings. While the prestige of your first firm undeniably paves the way for future career opportunities, there is more to it. It equally revolves around identifying the perfect alignment for your ambitions, interests, and ethical values.” Scrutinizing a firm’s work environment, stability, and resonance with your career aspirations is indispensable. For further insights on firm selection, refer to Abby’s counsel in a past ATL piece.

Holistic Evaluation of Influencing Variables

“Approach your opportunities with a comprehensive perspective, taking into account your immediate and long-term personal and professional objectives,” recommends Matt Bennett, a California-based Lateral Link recruiter, USC Gould School of Law graduate, and previous summer associate at Snell & Wilmer. “I consistently encourage candidates to strategize their thinking, to not just fixate on whether they fancy a firm’s current practice, and this mindset can be immensely beneficial to newly minted attorneys fresh from law school. Delve into the firm’s culture, geographical presence, practice domains, mentorship programs, benefits, work-life equilibrium, partnership prospects, hourly obligations, remuneration, and incentives. Consider the professional relationships that you can cultivate in the firm and their potential trajectory. These are critical considerations, especially when you are just initiating your legal career and lack the foresight that experience gifts. Extend your thinking beyond macro-level professional objectives: contemplate how the attributes of a firm might facilitate your short and long-term personal and lifestyle objectives. Endeavor to envision your evolving work and life aspirations as time progresses,” Bennett elaborates. Scrutinize whether the firm champions diversity, nurtures a collegial atmosphere, and offers pro bono opportunities, particularly if these aspects are valuable to you.

Tailored Guidance from Lateral Link Recruiters

Our recruiters understand the intricacies involved in choosing between multiple offers. “Lateral Link’s team consists of past attorneys and law firm recruiters. We can offer personalized advice drawn from our market knowledge, firm-specific intel, and industry connections,” shares Amy Langan, Manager of Professional Development & Law School Relations. To encourage a comprehensive dialogue about your career trajectory, Lateral Link extends a complimentary 15-minute discussion to address law students’ queries and offer direction.

The Impact of Your First Law Firm

Your inaugural law firm can exert a substantial impact on your legal career’s trajectory. To demonstrate this, Gloria Cannon, our Managing Principal, recites her experience from her law school OCI tenure:

“After deliberating offers from numerous Am Law 200 firms, I chose to spend my 2L summer at Milbank’s LA office, where I was exposed to corporate, real estate, litigation, and bankruptcy/financial restructuring practices. After my law school graduation, I joined Milbank’s financial restructuring team due to its esteemed reputation, cordial culture, and the size of the group, which allowed me to swiftly take on significant responsibilities with extensive client interactions.

One of our primary clients was Oaktree Capital Management, a distinguished Los Angeles-based asset management firm, for whom I executed a considerable amount of work. Consequently, during my 5th year, Oaktree’s General Counsel directly invited me to join their in-house legal team. I wouldn’t have encountered this fantastic in-house opportunity had I not been a summer associate at Milbank.”

This anecdote underlines the delicate dynamics involved in deciding between multiple offers – the decision transcends the work type and encapsulates firm culture, training, and long-term career opportunities.

Deciding on Your Legal Career’s Initial Steps

The decision should reflect your career ambitions, personal values, and lifestyle preferences. While mentors, professors, and recruiters can extend guidance, the ultimate decision rests with you. “Refrain from focusing on prestige or peer choices. Prioritize the decision that best aligns with your future goals. Apart from the numerous variables to consider, trust your intuition when assessing firms and the lawyers you have interacted with during interviews or over the summer,” advises Langan, a former recruiter for multiple Am Law 200 firms.

Perceiving the Broader Career Landscape

The path to a triumphant legal career comprises diverse opportunities. Each decision you make contributes to your comprehensive career evolution. While the choice of your first firm is unquestionably critical, it is merely one of the many vital decisions that will sculpt your legal career.

Lateral Link recruiters are dedicated to assisting law students in navigating multiple offer decisions. We are at your side throughout this journey, ensuring your choices align with your career objectives and personal ethics, enabling you to make the most advantageous choice for your future legal profession.

If you wish to connect with one of our recruiters to discuss your offer options, please contact Amy Langan at or via LinkedIn.