Tag Archives: Law Firm

Legal Career Growth: Why Continuous Engagement with Legal Recruiters is Key

It is a common misconception that recruiters are only useful during an active job search. While it may be surprising, engaging with a legal recruiter while you’re still content in your current role can bring tremendous value. The help of a skilled legal recruiter can positively impact your career development and set you on the path to a successful and lucrative legal career. Here’s where an informed legal recruiter can help you maintain a competitive edge even if you are not actively job searching:

Unearth Exclusive Market Insights

Lawyers often wonder about the market and how they fit into it. Legal recruiters know the legal market and can provide you with detailed market insight. This can help you conduct periodic career evaluations, irrespective of any immediate intention to lateral. Questions that your legal recruiter can help you answer may include:

  • Is my compensation competitive?
  • How does the future of my practice or niche look?
  • Which legal market resonates best with my expertise?
  • Should I lateral now or later?

Recruiters’ guidance on the market, practice areas, and timing of a career move can ensure that you make transitions at the opportune time and at the peak of your marketability.

Receive a Customized Career Consultation

Lawyers want to do what’s best for their careers, but often find themselves without a knowledgeable professional to guide them. Recruiters recognize that your career is an evolving narrative and understand that your circumstances are unique. Your pressing questions may include:

  • Are you on par with the milestones typical for someone with your experience?
  • Are you strategizing appropriately to increase your odds of becoming a partner?
  • Is your current specialization what you want for the remainder of your legal career?
  • Are you well-positioned to transition to an in-house role?

Every individual’s situation is different and distinct. Recruiters offer targeted guidance and connect you with the best resources tailored to your needs.

Cultivate Connections and Prepare for the Unexpected

Gone are the days when employees stayed at the same company for the duration of their careers. While many attorneys might stay with a firm for a considerable time, a transition is often inevitable. A need for a lateral move may arise from layoffs, economic downturns, non-competitive compensation, a change in firm leadership, or some other occurrence. By nurturing relationships with seasoned legal recruiters, when the unexpected happens, you’re primed with a trusted ally to navigate the shift seamlessly.

Help Your Network

Being content with your firm doesn’t mean your network is. Engaging with recruiters and knowing what is going on in your market positions you to refer someone in your network who may be looking for their next opportunity. Recruiters welcome referrals and you may be able to connect your colleagues, friends, and peers to new and exciting legal opportunities.

Position Yourself for the Golden Opportunity

Perhaps the most enticing reason is the unforeseen “golden opportunity.” Without active searching, irresistible and exclusive opportunities may be brought to your attention — whether it’s an unparalleled work-life balance, an attractive compensation package, or the chance to work at a prestigious law firm. Legal recruiters can connect you to these serendipitous opportunities and it may be exactly what you didn’t know you are looking for.

While your instinct might be to approach recruiters only during active job searches, astute attorneys foster this relationship throughout their careers. Doing so not only provides a competitive edge but also primes them for future legal opportunities. Consider recruiters not just as gateways to new roles but as lifelong partners at every step of your career.

Ready to elevate your legal career? Christine Berger at Lateral Link is a seasoned director with deep insights into the legal profession. Whether you’re considering a move now or in the future, her expertise can be invaluable. Connect with Christine at and position yourself at the forefront of legal opportunities.

7 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Law Firm: A Comprehensive Guide for Legal Professionals

The legal industry has evolved significantly, and selecting the right law firm requires careful consideration of various factors. In this comprehensive guide, we present an updated and detailed analysis of the 7 key factors to consider when choosing a law firm in the competitive legal and recruiting market, supported by relevant data and statistics to help you make an informed decision.

Firm Size: Assessing the Work Environment and Opportunities

When evaluating a law firm, size plays a crucial role in determining the work environment and available opportunities. Large firms (Am Law 100 and 200) typically offer a broader range of practice areas and represent 81% of total revenue generated by the top 200 law firms in the U.S. However, they may also involve longer hours, with over 60% of associates working more than 50 hours per week on average. Smaller boutique firms and regional firms may provide a more intimate work setting, focused expertise, and better work-life balance. Consider your preferences and evaluate which size firm aligns with your legal career goals.

Practice Area Focus: Identifying Firms with Strong Practice Groups

Certain practice areas are experiencing significant growth. For instance, the global data privacy market is expected to reach $158.2 billion by 2027, and intellectual property filings have increased by 10.2% in recent years. It’s crucial to identify law firms with strong practice groups in your area of interest, as this can impact your professional development and long-term career prospects. Research each firm’s reputation and track record within your chosen practice area to make an informed decision.

Firm Culture: The Importance of Diversity, Inclusion, and Work-Life Balance

Firm culture has become increasingly important, as law firms recognize the value of a healthy work environment in retaining top legal talent. According to a survey by the American Bar Association, firms with diverse and inclusive environments report higher retention rates and overall satisfaction. Investigate the firm’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and work-life balance, and assess whether the firm’s values align with your own. Speak to current and former employees and attend legal networking events to get a feel for the company culture.

Compensation and Benefits: Evaluating Competitive Law Firm Salaries

Compensation remains a critical factor when choosing a law firm. The median salary for first-year associates at large law firms is $190,000, while smaller firms may provide competitive compensation based on their niche expertise or regional market strength. In addition to base salary, evaluate benefits such as bonuses, retirement plans, and health insurance to make a comprehensive assessment of the firm’s compensation structure.

Location: The Impact of Geographical Presence on Your Legal Career

Remote work has become increasingly common in the legal industry, with 74% of law firms offering flexible work arrangements. However, a firm’s geographical presence still plays a significant role in shaping your career. Major legal markets provide access to prestigious clients and high-profile cases, while smaller markets may offer lower costs of living and a better work-life balance. Consider your personal preferences and long-term goals when evaluating a law firm’s location.

Professional Development and Mentorship: The Key to a Successful Legal Career

Law firms that prioritize professional development and mentorship tend to have higher retention rates and more satisfied attorneys. A study by the NALP Foundation found that firms with structured mentoring programs have a 20% higher associate retention rate after three years. Investigate each firm’s commitment to training, continuing education, and mentorship programs to ensure a supportive environment for building a successful legal career.

Partnership Prospects: Assessing Your Long-Term Career Trajectory

As you advance in your legal career, partnership prospects may become increasingly important. According to the American Lawyer, the average time to partnership at large law firms is approximately 8.2 years. Assess each firm’s partnership track, including the average time to partnership, the firm’s expectations for partner candidates, and the overall partnership structure (e.g., equity vs. non-equity partners). A transparent and well-articulated partnership track can impact your long-term career trajectory and financial success.

In Conclusion: Navigating the Legal Landscape with Confidence

Choosing the right law firm requires thorough research and consideration of various factors. By evaluating firm size, practice area focus, firm culture, compensation and benefits, location, professional development and mentorship, and partnership prospects, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your personal and professional goals. The legal landscape is continuously evolving, and understanding the nuances of each firm can help you navigate your career more effectively.

As you embark on your legal career, remember that selecting the right law firm is just the first step. Staying up-to-date with industry trends and developments, networking, and continually reassessing your goals will help you remain adaptable and successful in the ever-changing legal market. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from industry experts and peers, as they can provide valuable insights and support throughout your career journey. If you’re looking for personalized assistance in finding the right law firm or making a strategic career move, consider reaching out to Lateral Link. Our experienced legal recruiters can provide invaluable advice and connect you with opportunities that align with your professional aspirations. Visit Lateral Link’s website today to learn more about how we can support you in navigating the complex legal landscape and propel your career forward.

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.

Dreaming of an In-House Gig? Don’t Make the Jump Too Soon!

In-house counsel positions sound like the promised land for many Biglaw attorneys. A better lifestyle and no billable hours, plus decent compensation. Who wouldn’t want that? To what extent the in-house grass is in fact greener is a matter of debate though. Experiences vary greatly from one company to another. But for many lawyers, the in-house track can be a good long-term fit.

However, as I discussed on a recent episode of Movers, Shakers & Rainmakers, there is tremendous risk in making the switch too soon. Risk that many law firm associates don’t realize when they jump at the first in-house role they can get. A premature exit from the law firm track can severely stunt an in-house counsel’s career growth. When companies make in-house offers to relatively junior associates, they tend not to warn candidates that entering at a junior level will probably prevent them from being on the General Counsel track in the future. Armed with this knowledge, associates must educate themselves about in-house career trajectories. If they do accept an in-house role, they must do so with correct assumptions.

Different learning curves

At a top law firm, the knowledge you gain is on the cutting edge of your practice area. You work for clients who bring their most pressing issues to you to solve. Whether handling novel issues in bet-the-company litigation or providing counsel on eye-popping deals. Clients rarely pay expensive outside counsel billing rates for routine matters. In-house attorneys, by contrast, work for a single client. The matters are more often routine and more cost effective if done on the company payroll. They can provide the allure of a broader range of subject matters than your experience at a law firm. But when cutting edge issues do arise, the company will tend to send them to external counsel.

The upshot is that the knowledge base you bring with you from law firm work will be critical. It can be the key ingredient in your competitiveness for in-house leadership roles. Companies promote attorneys who can more cost effectively solve problems in-house. The more high-end experience you have the more problems you can solve. But a third-year associate moving in-house will have a smaller knowledge base than someone more senior. You will churn out relatively easy and repetitive work on a small number of problems. That is more akin to a staff attorney, and staff attorneys are not on track for internal advancement. Worse yet every minute you do not realize this it hurts your long term career. Should you decide you would be better off back in private practice you may find returning to the law firm track challenging. Firms do not value in-house and private practice experience as the same. You will be behind your class year. A class year cut is a possibility, but firms prefer not to deal with that — they would much rather hire a lateral candidate from another law firm.

When to make the switch

So when is the optimal time to make the jump? It depends on your practice area and the company in question. As a general rule though, five full years practicing is a good benchmark. As a sixth-year associate, you will bring real substantive experience to the table. You will have put in your 10,000 (billable) hours. You will have dealt with clients, taken on leadership roles, and be able to tackle more problems. Most important, you will more likely hit the ground running at the company. Your in-house leadership will have confidence to assign you greater responsibility. Your position on the GC track will be more secure. In certain transactional fields where in-house work is very similar to outside counsel work — tech transactions, for example — you can make the switch a year or two earlier. But even in these niches, you will want to wait until you have solid mid-level associate experience.

There is also a silver lining in waiting. You will have a greater appreciation for the various legal career paths. Not only will you have a clearer sense of what law firm partners do (and don’t do). You will also have worked directly with clients and seen the realities of in-house work. This increases the likelihood that you will make the right decision for you. Whether that means shooting for the partnership or joining an in-house team. It also gives you greater optionality in case you make the wrong decision. A former sixth-year associate can pivot back to the law firm track after spending a year or two with a company easier than a third year. Lawyers with this profile are often strong candidates for law firm counsel positions.

In-house careers can be a great option for many attorneys. But if you’re eager to trade law firm life for an in-house gig, make sure you understand the tradeoffs. You may not relish spending an extra couple of years in the Biglaw grind, but that investment is likely to pay real dividends when you finally make the in-house switch. Measuring your career in decades you would be smart to take a long-term view.