Tag Archives: Legal Career

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.

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.

Lateral Attorney Hiring Trends in 2023: Adapting to a Shifting Economy

Trends in the Lateral Attorney Hiring Market in 2023

Certain practice areas have maintained consistent hiring or experienced a modest increase as the economy hints at recovery entering the latter half of 2023.

General State of the Economy and Law Firm Financial Stability

Though foundational components of the U.S. economy, like steady GDP growth and historically low unemployment rates, show strength, depressed corporate activity levels are affecting the demand for legal services. The situation worsened due to law firms over-hiring in 2021, leading to decreased productivity, especially among junior associates. However, certain practice areas remain in demand, signifying an increase in deal activities in some corporate sectors, which, in turn, is boosting law firm requirements and attorney recruitment.

Law firms have seen a rise in demand over the past quarter, aligning with the broader economic recovery. A recent Q2 2023 report by the Thomson Reuters Law Firm Financial Index (LFFI) revealed a 1.5% demand increase for legal services. This was a significant jump from the 0.1% rise in Q1. The study also highlighted an impressive 5.9% surge in client-agreed rates, the most substantial in over a decade. Demand mostly catered to countercyclical areas like bankruptcy and employment and less economically sensitive fields like litigation and antitrust.

However, the path to economic recovery isn’t devoid of challenges. Law firms grapple with overcapacity and efficiency issues. A survey by Wells Fargo’s Legal Specialty Group indicated a 4.4% revenue growth for law firms in the first half of 2023 but pointed out struggles related to an oversupply of attorneys hired during 2021-2022. Additionally, according to a Decipher Investigative Intelligence report, lateral hiring in Q2 2023 dropped by 33% year-over-year. Interestingly, partner hiring dipped by just 4%, while associate hiring plummeted by 43%.

Busy Associate Hiring Practice Areas

Even with many law firms overstaffed, certain areas continue to recruit. These sectors range from those traditionally countercyclical to ones less influenced by economic shifts or aligned with recent economic enhancements.

Labor & Employment

This sector has remained active over the last two years, particularly in employment litigation and counseling. Companies, still navigating a backlog of L&E investigations from the pandemic era, coupled with a rise in class action suits against employers, means L&E associates are highly sought after.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity

The increasing number of corporate data breaches and evolving regulations have created a demand spike for experts in data privacy and cybersecurity.

Restructuring

Aligning with the rise in U.S. corporate bankruptcies, restructuring has seen predictable growth. Yet, it hasn’t reached the spikes typically associated with significant economic downturns.

IP

With courts clearing the backlog of patent litigations from the pandemic period, there’s a surge in hiring patent litigation associates.

Litigation

Litigation, typically less affected by corporate activity slowdowns, has seen consistent demand, especially in areas like consumer protection and public nuisance state attorney general actions.

Corporate and Transactional Practice Areas Experiencing a Rebound

Despite the setbacks in the past year, corporate transactional sectors are witnessing a revival in hiring. Recent data on M&A activity showcases this trend. As more economists predict an upbeat trajectory for the upcoming quarters and with recent firm hiring patterns, optimism surrounds the prospective increase in associate recruitment as we move through 2023 and into 2024.

If you’re seeking insights into the lateral attorney hiring market or considering a move in this dynamic environment, don’t navigate these waters alone. Contact our Managing Director in the Chicago office, Jesse Hyde, for expert guidance and dedicated support. The Lateral Link team is here to assist you every step of the way, ensuring you have the resources and opportunities tailored to your professional aspirations.

8 Essential Soft Skills for Legal Professionals in 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

Fostering Success: Essential Soft Skills for Today’s Legal Professionals

In the rapidly evolving legal market of 2023, legal professionals, both established and aspiring, must go beyond academic laurels and technical prowess. A unique set of abilities, frequently referred to as “soft skills,” is pivotal to success in the legal arena. Drawing from my experiences as a legal recruiter, it’s evident that top firms emphasize these attributes, understanding their significance in interactions with clients, opposing counsel, and fellow team members.

Effective Communication

Effective communication remains foundational in the legal world. It goes beyond the ability to articulate points or draft compelling legal documents. The true essence lies in active listening, clarity in expression, and conveying information with accuracy. Legal professionals are often tasked with understanding intricate issues at a rapid pace and relaying them in an understandable and concise manner to clients, making them feel informed and empowered.

Collaboration and Teamwork

The realm of law is rarely an isolated journey. Actively collaborating, valuing myriad viewpoints, and chipping in toward collective objectives are paramount. Remember, a law firm functions as a cohesive unit; a legal professional’s ability to maneuver within this dynamic, from senior partners to paralegals, sets them apart.

Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, and Understanding

Contrary to the stereotype of the stoic lawyer, emotional intelligence is pivotal. The ability to connect on a human level can shape client relationships and negotiation outcomes.

Organization and Attention to Detail

Navigating the legal sphere means dealing with voluminous data. It’s imperative for professionals to have meticulous organizational acumen and a hawk’s eye for detail. This translates to adeptly handling files, gearing up for hearings, and ensuring even the tiniest data point isn’t overlooked.

Time Management and Patience

Given the weight of projects and pressing timelines, mastering time is a non-negotiable. It’s about setting priorities, adhering to deadlines, and grasping the fine art of delegation. Blending this with patience, professionals can tackle intricate, prolonged matters without undue strain.

Sense of Humor

While it might seem unconventional, humor is a potent tool in law. Not only does it serve as a stress-buster within teams, but it also eases interactions with clients, opposing counsel, and colleagues. A light-hearted jest at the right moment can humanize intense legal discussions.

Leadership Skills

Whether you’re the front-running partner or an associate fresh on the scene, leadership is indispensable. Fostering an environment where all feel inspired and inclined to deliver their best is the hallmark of true leaders.

Acting with Integrity

Topping off the list, integrity remains the legal profession’s bedrock. It’s not just about aligning with professional standards; it’s about earning the unwavering trust and respect of clients, peers, and the judiciary.

In 2023’s demanding legal arena, while technical mastery holds weight, it’s these soft skills that delineate the elite from the crowd. Embracing and honing these attributes is the key to being a well-rounded legal professional in today’s competitive world.

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.