Tag Archives: Legal Career Advancement

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 cberger@laterallink.com.

Maximizing Career Potential Through Pro Bono Work: A Lawyer’s Guide

In the fast-paced legal world, finding time for pro bono work can be challenging, but the benefits are well worth it. The need for pro bono services is great, and those who lend their expertise free of charge to serve the greater good often find the work rewarding and satisfying, both professionally and personally.

In fact, it’s for these reasons that pro bono hours have been on the rise in the past several years. According to a recent study, overall pro bono hours have been on a steady climb, with 4.2 million hours in 2015 rising to 5.45 million hours in 2020​​. In 2022, the AmLaw 200 firms contributed about 5.01 million hours of pro bono work, a slight decrease from the 5.45 million hours in 2020 but an increase from 2021​​. This trend underscores the importance of pro bono work, and below we discuss in detail exactly why providing pro bono services can enhance one’s professional and personal development while also serving those in need.

Pro Bono Work: It Makes Us Happy
There is a Chinese saying: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” Throughout history, the greatest thinkers have suggested that happiness is found in helping others. This notion is supported by scientific research, including a study by Titova and Sheldon (2021) in The Journal of Positive Psychology, which found that efforts to make others happy can increase personal happiness more than focusing on oneself​​​​​​. Helping others may be the key to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.

Expanding Legal Expertise Through Pro Bono
Beyond serving the greater good, pro bono work is an opportunity for lawyers to diversify their experience and improve their skill set. It also gives lawyers the chance to pursue an area of law they are passionate about. Doing so will not only make you a more well-rounded attorney, but it will also better serve your existing clients by having an understanding of different types of matters and the different walks of life they come from. What’s more, pro bono work often gives younger attorneys more hands-on experience than their primary (paying) practice. For example, a litigator who has never argued in the courtroom or a corporate lawyer who has never directly drafted or negotiated contracts can take on pro bono cases to gain practical, first-hand experience. These experiences are crucial for skill development, especially for lawyers early on in their careers.

Networking and Team Building
Pro bono work is an effective strategy for building stronger bonds with colleagues and for broadening professional networks. Collaborating with colleagues from other practice areas/departments on pro bono matters can forge new relationships and strengthen camaraderie within an organization. Pro bono work can also connect lawyers from different organizations, expanding one’s professional network, which can prove invaluable for career development down the road.

Enhancing Brand Recognition, Law Firm Culture and Recruitment
Many lawyers today tell me they are looking for employers that prioritize corporate responsibility – which is the notion that a firm makes a concerted effort to operate in ways that enhance rather than degrade society and the environment. Pro bono work is one of the prime ways firms can achieve this. In fact, when evaluating law firms and attorneys to hire as outside counsel, many clients look favorably at those who have actionable social responsibility initiatives in place.

Leadership and Pro Bono
Strong pro bono involvement often leads to leadership opportunities. This is evident in the growing number of dedicated pro bono partner roles in law firms globally. As reported by the International Bar Association, there are now 66 examples of dedicated pro bono partner roles across 55 law firms worldwide​​.

The nature of pro bono work has evolved significantly over the last decade, with pro bono practices expanding in size and complexity, often operating across multiple jurisdictions and connected to humanitarian emergencies. This growth in pro bono partner roles reflects these trends and provides another avenue for leadership opportunities within firms​​.

Elevate Your Legal Career with Pro Bono Insights
In sum, providing pro bono services is not just the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do – for your career, your community, and your happiness. To truly excel in this profession, strategic choices are crucial. For personalized guidance on leveraging pro bono work to enhance your legal career, reach out to Lateral Link. Our team of experienced legal recruiters specializes in aligning lawyers’ career trajectories with their professional aspirations and personal values. Engaging with our experts offers a unique opportunity to explore how you can improve your professional development. Please reach out to us anytime for seasoned insights on how you can define and achieve your ideal career path.

The Rising Wave of Associate Salaries: Analyzing the Impact on the Legal Industry in 2023

An insightful recent examination of associate remuneration has unveiled a striking surge in first-year associate pay packets since 2021. As of the onset of 2023, the median base salary for a first-year associate touched the landmark of $200,000, a noteworthy escalation of $35,000 (+21.2%) from 2021. The figures also underscore the diverse effects of these raises across various firm sizes, geographical regions, and legal markets. This swell in associate remuneration carries wide-ranging ramifications for the legal industry, encompassing issues related to talent retention and acquisition, fiscal strains on smaller firms, and potential changes in client billing rates.

Escalating Salaries Across the Spectrum

The 2023 Associate Salary Survey has indicated a rise in first-year salaries across all firm sizes since 2021. Intriguingly, smaller firms, housing 100 or fewer lawyers, recorded the steepest growth in median first-year salaries, showing a 29.2% increase from $120,000 in 2021 to $155,000 in 2023. This trend suggests that even compact firms are feeling the heat to augment salaries to remain competitive in the race for legal talent.

Firms employing between 251-500 lawyers saw their median first-year salaries climb by 21.9%, from $160,000 in 2021 to $195,000 in 2023. Likewise, firms housing 701-1,000 lawyers witnessed a 20.6% increment, with median first-year salaries growing from $170,000 in 2021 to $205,000 in 2023.

The most substantial dollar rise was observed in firms with 501-700 lawyers, with median first-year salaries soaring from $155,000 in 2021 to $200,000 in 2023 (+$45,000), a 29.0% augmentation. This data points out that mid-sized firms are also making noteworthy adjustments to their salary structures to keep pace with the dynamic legal market.

In the case of the most sizable firms, those hosting more than 1,000 lawyers, the median first-year salary touched $215,000 in 2023, a 23.3% rise from $174,000 in 2021. While these firms were the sole entities to report such elevated median salaries, their sway over the rest of the market is substantial, as they account for 75.0% of all first-year salaries in this firm size category.

Overall, the salary augmentations in large firms, paired with rising inflation, have exerted pressure on smaller and mid-sized firms to amplify their salaries as well. This pattern illustrates the extensive effect of the “talent wars” and the market’s reaction to the escalating demand for proficient legal professionals.

Geographical Influence on Salaries

Geography continues to significantly influence salary variations across regions, cities, and states. The 2023 Associate Salary Survey provides analyses for 26 individual cities and additional states and regions, revealing a wide spectrum of law firm compensation. Median first-year salaries by city oscillate between $145,000 and $215,000.

Eleven cities now boast a median starting salary of $215,000: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles/Orange County, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and the Washington, DC area. These cities are spread across different regions, reflecting the flourishing legal markets in these areas.

In locations outside of the 26 major cities featured in the report, the $215,000 starting salaries are found less frequently. The highest median first-year associate base salary in these smaller U.S. cities and towns was in the Northeast ($170,000), trailed by the Midwest and West, both at $165,000. The South reported the lowest salaries, with a median first-year salary of $135,000. This regional disparity underscores the necessity of considering local market dynamics when setting salaries.

Moreover, the most commonly reported first-year associate base salary across all firm sizes was $215,000, accounting for 42.7% of all salaries. This further underlines the influence of major legal markets and large firms on salary trends throughout the industry.

The Ripple Effect on Summer Associates

The escalation in associate salaries also cast a significant impact on second-year summer associates. Their median weekly salary witnessed a robust growth of 13.4%, elevating from $3,075 in 2021 to $3,550 in 2023. This indicates that law firms are revising their compensation packages not only for full-time associates but also for summer associates to maintain a competitive edge in the legal talent market.

Furthermore, the rise in summer associate salaries could potentially sway law students’ decisions when choosing firms for their summer internships. Consequently, firms offering higher summer associate salaries may attract more high-achieving law students, further fueling the competition among law firms.

Beyond salary adjustments, some firms may also enhance the overall summer associate experience by offering unique professional development opportunities, networking events, and mentorship programs. These non-monetary benefits could serve as differentiating factors for firms in the eyes of law students, helping them attract and retain top talent amidst rising salary expectations.

Rippling Effects on the Legal Industry

Talent Retention and Acquisition: The rapid salary increases reflect the fierce competition for legal talent. Law firms must continue to offer competitive compensation packages to attract and retain the best talent.

Financial Strain on Smaller Firms: The salary increases in large firms and rising inflation have created financial pressure on smaller firms to boost their salaries. Smaller firms may need to explore alternative strategies, such as offering non-monetary benefits, to stay competitive in the talent market.

Regional Disparities: The geographical influence on salaries underscores the need for firms to consider regional cost of living and market factors when determining their compensation packages.

Impact on Clients and Legal Services: The increased salaries may lead to higher billing rates, which could affect the affordability of legal services for clients. Law firms may need to look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs to maintain client relationships.

The notable increase in associate salaries since 2021 underscores the fierce competition for legal talent and emphasizes the need for law firms to adapt swiftly. As the legal industry continues to evolve, firms must meticulously consider their compensation strategies and maintain flexibility to attract and retain top-notch professionals. If you’re seeking a more personalized understanding of these industry shifts and how they can potentially impact your legal career trajectory, connect with a Lateral Link industry expert. We are poised to provide you with tailored advice and guidance, helping you navigate your career in this ever-changing landscape and ensure you secure exactly what you’re looking for in your legal career.