Tag Archives: Christine Berger

Engaging with a Legal Recruiter: Key Insights to Become a Priority Candidate

Initiating your job search might start with a conversation with a legal recruiter. After all, your inbox is likely filled with messages from recruiters hoping to get you on the phone. This initial conversation will direct the trajectory of your search. While a simple conversation may not seem like an important milestone, the quality of your initial conversation with a recruiter can significantly influence the outcome of your search. This article will describe how you can maximize this crucial interaction to get the best results and also explain how you can position yourself to become a priority candidate.

Understanding Your Motivations and Circumstances
First, legal recruiters want to know why you are job searching or why you may be open to new opportunities. Your motivations for seeking a new opportunity provide much-needed context to your search. Future employers crave this insight to help understand how their firm can best support you and your needs.

To position yourself as a high-priority candidate, explain your pain points at your current firm and describe issues that could be improved with a lateral move or a new firm. Don’t hold back – it helps to be as honest as possible. A skilled legal recruiter will frame your reason in the best light, which will help future employers understand why you are considering a lateral move.

The second reason that understanding your motivations and circumstances is so important is because it allows your recruiter to direct you to a firm that excels in your current pain point. This will ensure that you are matched with a firm that solves your problems resulting in a meaningful career move.

In sum, articulating why you’re looking to make a move and what you wish to improve from your current situation enables us to more accurately identify positions that not only align with your career objectives but also enhance your professional satisfaction.

Timeline Considerations
Timing is everything – especially when it comes to your job search. Life events and professional milestones can greatly impact the timing of your career move. On the personal side, maybe you have a vacation planned or are expecting a baby. On the professional side, perhaps you expect an upcoming bonus payment or maybe you have recently been informed of layoffs. To become a high-priority candidate, share your personal and professional timeline and let your recruiter know when you would ideally like to make a move. Sharing these details ensures that a transition is seamless and timely.

Highlighting Your Achievements
Your skills and accomplishments paint a picture of your professional capabilities. To position yourself as a priority candidate, tell us your achievements and what you are proud of so that we understand how capable and advanced you are. This information is crucial for us to advocate on your behalf effectively and also connect you to opportunities that value your specific skill set.

Rationale Behind Career Moves
Understanding the reasons behind your previous transitions provides valuable context to potential employers. Employers are extremely interested in why you moved from one firm to another. This helps them understand how your moves served to advance your career.

To position yourself as a high-priority candidate, explain the reason behind each transition to your recruiter. This insight helps us better understand your career as a whole and how a new opportunity can complete the picture. If the reasons behind your moves are logical, we are well-positioned to present you as a candidate with a clear, strategic career path, enhancing your attractiveness to prospective firms. If the reasons behind your moves were less strategic, we can help you frame the reasons in a way that paints a logical picture. Sharing this information will help your recruiter tell your story in a way that provides valuable context to your career.

Salary and Compensation Expectations
Don’t be shy about money. It’s an important factor in your job search and may be one of the driving forces in your search. An open dialogue about your compensation expectation is essential for matching you with appropriate opportunities. It also ensures that the roles we focus on align with your professional worth and financial goals. To position yourself as a priority candidate, share your target salary with your recruiter. An informed recruiter will explain whether your target is appropriate for the market.

Your Academic Credentials
Your educational background and significant academic achievements are key factors in the recruitment process. Law firms care about your law school GPA and class rank. This often times holds true regardless of how long ago you graduated from law school. To position yourself as a priority candidate, know your GPA and class rank. This academic information guides us to opportunities where your specific qualifications are valued and respected.

Who You Are Beyond the Resume
Now that we’ve spoken about your motivations, circumstances, timelines, achievements, career moves, salary expectations, and academic credentials, we want to experience your personality and understand who you are outside of the office. Getting to know you on a personal level enables us to find a firm culture that fits you and career aspirations. This holistic approach to recruitment is central to ensuring not just a job placement, but a fulfilling career move.

At Lateral Link, our mission is to facilitate meaningful career transitions by leveraging our industry insight, extensive network, and a personalized approach to recruitment. By partnering with us, you gain an advocate dedicated to positioning you for success in the dynamic legal landscape.

For a tailored consultation and to take the next step in your legal career, reach out to Christine Berger at .

Lateral Link Announces 2024 Promotions

Lateral Link is pleased to announce the promotion of several outstanding members of our team this year. These professionals have exemplified unparalleled expertise in legal recruiting, demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, and contributed greatly to helping maintain Lateral Link’s collegial and collaborative culture.

Jon Kahn: Managing Principal, New York

Jon Kahn, one of the co-leaders of Lateral Link’s partner practice group, is now a Managing Principal in Lateral Link’s New York office. With over 25 years of legal industry experience, Jon brings a unique understanding of lateral hiring, having been a partner at major law firms in New York and founding his own executive legal search firm, JEK Partners. His background in capital markets transactions, high-yield offerings, IPOs, and M&A transactions enriches our team’s capabilities. Jon holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Amy Savage: Senior Principal, Washington, D.C.

Amy Savage, the leader of our Government Transitions Group, is promoted to Senior Principal in our Washington, D.C. office. A recognized expert on legal career issues, Amy has made significant contributions to the D.C. legal market over 15 years, particularly in placing associates and partners with top Am Law firms. Amy earned her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.

Lauren Smith: Senior Principal, Washington D.C.

Lauren Smith, now a Senior Principal in our Washington, D.C., office, specializes in partner and group placements nationwide. Her diverse legal experience as both an Am Law 100 law firm litigation associate and in-house counsel provides a broad perspective beneficial to her recruiting expertise. Lauren graduated with a double major from Cornell University and later obtained her J.D. from William & Mary.

Christine Berger: Senior Director, New Orleans

Christine Berger is promoted to Senior Director, focusing on attorney placements in Texas and Louisiana. Her in-house, law firm, human resources, and resume writing experience offer unique insights into the recruiting process. Based in New Orleans, Christine’s outstanding dedication and drive has played a pivotal role in our expansion in the region.

Lateral Link continues to uphold our commitment to excellence in legal recruiting. These promotions highlight our dedication to valuing leadership and expertise within our team. We pride ourselves on understanding the complexities of the legal market, ensuring tailored and strategic solutions for both our clients and candidates.

We invite talented individuals who share our vision of excellence and collaboration to consider joining our dynamic and forward-thinking team. For those seeking opportunities in a highly-regarded recruiting firm with access to unmatched resources, a collaborative and collegial culture, and above-market compensation, Lateral Link is the ideal destination.

How to Help Recruiters Alert You to Relevant Opportunities on LinkedIn

It won’t come as a surprise to you that virtually every recruiter uses LinkedIn to source candidates. You’ve likely received at least a few unsolicited LinkedIn messages from recruiters. Chances are, some of those messages were for positions that do not align with your practice area. This can be a source of frustration, leading some lawyers to become pretty jaded about the general notion of recruiter outreach.

But here’s the thing. If your LinkedIn profile doesn’t clearly communicate your skills and specific experience, recruiters are left to guess. The best way you can improve the quality of recruiter outreach is to maintain an informative, up-to-date profile. This gives recruiters quick and valuable insight into your background, enabling us to contact you if there’s a strong match and, conversely, to move on if you’re obviously not the right candidate. I can’t promise that a more informative profile will entirely solve the problem of messages for irrelevant roles, but it will definitely help.  

Introduce yourself effectively

The “intro” portion of your LinkedIn profile (the top section) is in many ways the most important. This is your opportunity to communicate crisply who you are and what you offer. The best way to enable a recruiter to find your profile is by inserting informative keywords into the “headline” (the line immediately below your name). Describing yourself simply as an “Attorney” is a missed opportunity: instead, tell us what type of attorney you are. The more specific, the better. For example, “Litigation Attorney” is better than “Attorney.” But the best is  a headline like “Litigation Employment Attorney Specializing in Discrimination and Retaliation.”

Double check that your location is current. Many lawyers moved cities during the pandemic, and some have neglected to update their LinkedIn profiles accordingly. It only takes a moment! While you’re at it, consider selecting the “open to opportunities” setting that is only visible to recruiters. This will confidentially communicate to recruiters that you’re receptive to relevant outreach.

Photos are another critical element of an effective intro section. Adding a photo increases the likelihood that a potential contact will accept your connection request by 9x. In addition to uploading a professional profile photo, make sure to include a background photo. Your background is a visual representation of your personal brand and is one of the first things recruiters will see when they visit your profile.

Fill in the details

A basic rule: if it’s there, fill it in. The more complete your profile, the better. Obviously, you have to fill out Experience and Education. But beyond that, add some content to Skills (in case recruiters are filtering on those keywords) and your licenses & certifications (you’re a member of a bar, right?). Other optional sections can help give your profile a more personal touch. Are you bilingual? Fill out the Languages section!

Ensure that your Experience section is more informative than a simple list of titles. The nice thing about LinkedIn, in contrast to a resume, is you don’t have to worry about fitting all the content onto a printed page. So go ahead and include a couple of bullet points about each of your past positions to indicate specifically what you did and what you achieved. Naturally, this will change over time as you advance in your career and accomplish new things, so don’t just fill in the Experience section once and forget about it — be proactive about keeping the description of your current role up to date. As a matter of style, note that it’s perfectly appropriate to write in the first person on LinkedIn, in a way that would be uncommon on a resume. Using “I” statements helps to humanize you.

Education should be fairly straightforward, but do keep in mind that this is not the place to be modest. If you graduated with honors, say so. You may also wish to list your GPA and/or class rank, especially if you’re early in your career, with limited work experience.

Stay active

At a minimum, you should log into LinkedIn weekly to check your messages. If you aren’t in the habit of logging in regularly, you can also put your contact info (personal email and/or cell phone) on your profile, enabling recruiters to contact you through those alternative channels.

As an optional bonus, consider creating content on LinkedIn. This will boost your ranking in search results and can be a great way to get noticed — not just by recruiters, but maybe even by law firm partners directly. Being active on the platform builds credibility, demonstrating that you know your area of law and are comfortable speaking about it publicly. This is by no means required, but when you do it well, it certainly helps!

Check your search appearances 

Be sure that you are getting noticed by the right audience. To do this, go to your profile page, look under the Analytics heading, look for the magnifying glass icon, and click on “search appearances.” This lets you see how often you appear in search results. In addition to the number of search appearances, it also shows you the keywords you were found for. If these do not align with your current practice area or industry, consider adjusting your headline and intro section until you are appearing in more targeted searches. 

Have fun 

Finally, have fun. Networking and being open to new opportunities can be intimidating, but LinkedIn makes it relatively simple and stress-free. Treat it as a no-pressure environment for you to be yourself and engage with like-minded people.

An In-House Reality Check: The Grass May Not Be Greener

As a legal recruiter, one of the most common things I hear from law firm associates is that their goal is to go in-house. Law firm associates often can’t wait to leave behind the billable hour.

On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that — in-house roles can be a good fit for many lawyers. But the way law firm associates idolize in-house counsel positions often indicates an incomplete understanding of the realities of these jobs.

Having spent the majority of my legal career working in-house, I am deeply familiar with the tradeoffs associated with working in-house and can tell you it is not what you’ve been led to believe.

A lengthy interview process

If you land an interview, buckle up because it’s a long road.

You’re likely to get your first taste of the differences between law firms and companies during the in-house interview process.

Law firm interviewing tends to prioritize efficiency: you interview with some partners, meet a few associates, go to lunch, and get an offer. The whole process takes about a month and sometimes much less. 

For in-house roles, you typically apply online, send your resume into the ATS abyss, and hope for the best. If you are one of the lucky ones, you will advance to a recruiter phone screening. Once that is complete, expect to wait at least a week to meet with the hiring manager. After interviewing with the hiring manager, you will be scheduled to meet members of the legal team. If all goes well, you’ll be introduced to the functional leaders you would support. Finally, you may meet with the Chief Legal Officer. The time between rounds is usually about a week. In the interim, you may be expected to complete a take-home assignment or a case study, which you then may or may not present to your potential future colleagues. Overall, expect this process to take four to eight weeks or longer. 

From profit center to cost center

As a lawyer at a law firm, you are part of the profit center: you bill hours and directly generate revenue. You are paying for staff salaries and keeping the lights on. In contrast, an in-house legal department is a cost center, supporting the revenue-generating parts of the business, but not bringing in revenue independently. 

When you go in-house, all eyes are no longer on you, and you are somewhat less important. This shift affects every aspect of your job, including resource allocation, leadership focus, and budget.

No longer the profit center and no longer keeping time, in-house counsel must find ways to add value to the business and develop creative ways to measure those contributions. Adding value and measuring it is doubly important in times of economic uncertainty, when companies move to cut costs.

A change of pace — but not necessarily slower

Whoever told you that in-house counsel enjoy a well-balanced 9-to-5 was wrong. Let’s be clear: the typical in-house role is far from the relaxed 40-hours-a-week you’ve been pitched. In reality, 60-hour weeks are not uncommon for many in-house lawyers.

First, the decision to hire in-house counsel is made for a reason: there is a lot of work to be done. You are expected to take on the work of outside counsel independently, and to do so with fewer resources.

Remember that hearing you went to 30 minutes away or the time you spent sitting in court waiting to argue? As an associate, this counted as productivity. As in-house counsel, when you spend time on activities where your presence turns out not to have been necessary, you’re the one who bears the cost. You still have to get your work done, and frequently that means putting in time in the evenings or on weekends to catch up.

Finally, businesses move at an incredible pace. You’re likely to find that timelines are extremely short. Gone are the days when you had two weeks to complete a memo. Now you need to do it in 30 minutes. Your internal clients need quick answers, and if you don’t weigh in immediately, the business will take action without you.

Juggling many responsibilities

Private practice is all about specialization. But at most companies, especially smaller ones, every in-house counsel has a much more diverse range of responsibilities on their plate. That can be exciting, but it’s also time-consuming and stressful, especially when you are given responsibility for an area unrelated to your prior law firm practice.

Startups take this to the extreme. Not only will you be one of the few lawyers in the company (perhaps even the only one!), but you will also probably be one of the smartest people in the room. People will recognize that, and they’ll want to tap you for projects that aren’t squarely within the legal domain. Being involved in non-legal subject matter might sound fun, but it can be exhausting when combined with the legal work that forms the core of your portfolio.

Be realistic about the tradeoffs

There’s no denying that law firms can be a tough environment, and a long-term career in private practice isn’t for everyone. But it’s easy to take for granted the benefit of being surrounded by smart and well-credentialed colleagues. Not to mention resources like immediately responsive paralegals and subscriptions to any database you desire. Or a well-defined career progression with material increases in compensation every year. As an in-house counsel, you can’t expect a luxury building in a prime location, a private office, an assistant, a paralegal, or even Westlaw.

You may be more than happy to make those tradeoffs. But do think it through carefully. The grass isn’t always greener.