Tag Archives: Legal Expertise

Government Attorneys: Strategies to Elevate Your BigLaw Prospects

Government attorneys are in demand, and several prominent law firms have recently hired former government attorneys. If you are a government attorney considering a transition to the private sector, understanding how to leverage your background to strengthen your candidacy is crucial. Here are a few tips to strengthen your BigLaw prospects.

Develop High-Level Expertise

Many attorneys are drawn to government practice not just to serve the public, but also to take on high levels of responsibility earlier in their career than attorneys in private practice. The higher the level of responsibility you have handled, the more attractive you will be to most law firms. Seize opportunities to lead projects, appear in court, negotiate settlements, craft new rules, attend training sessions – your advanced skills will set you apart from the competition.

Also, seek out an experience that gives you a unique insight into government policies and priorities. Firms and clients appreciate that insight because you will be able to help them more effectively navigate (what seems to be constantly evolving) legal frameworks.

You may also be able to leverage your expertise to earn promotions, which may make you more appealing to potential firms, especially at the partner level. Senior positions also enhance your credibility with future clients.

Build Relationships

This is one of the most rewarding aspects of practicing law for many attorneys. It is also crucial for government attorneys who are interested in partnership options. Firms appreciate your relationships in part because they demonstrate that you are thinking ahead about developing business, and that you are honing the soft skills needed to build a successful practice. 

So where do you build these relationships as a government attorney? While you are not in a position to wine and dine potential clients, you still have a universe of options. Start by fostering relationships with your government colleagues. If your colleagues leave they may become clients if they move in house, or referral sources when they join other firms. You also have opportunities to build relationships with professionals you meet at government events, departmental training sessions, and conferences. Consider joining the ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division to meet even more people. Even working across the table from opposing counsel presents the opportunity to get to know key players in your space.

Focus on Relevant Practice Areas

If your long-term goal is a move to private practice, focus on a practice area that not only inspires you but also aligns with the kind of firm you want to join. You will have more options if you are interested in areas where top firms have thriving practices. For 2024, we predict that litigation, antitrust, white-collar, corporate, energy, and intellectual property will continue to thrive. In contrast, specializing in niche areas like First Amendment law may limit the range of options available to you. That said, you will ultimately commit to one firm. Therefore, the volume of exit opportunities might be just one factor for you to consider.

Plan Ahead

Strategically planning ahead increases the likelihood of a successful search. Not only does it take time to craft persuasive application materials, but you also need to take the market for government attorneys into consideration. This year, for instance, it is important to be mindful of the electoral cycle. A surge of government candidates after elections can lead to heightened competition. Positions may also be limited at that point; historically, many firms complete their searches for government attorneys well before an election. 

You also need time to find the firms that align with your practice areas, work style, and personal and professional goals. A legal recruiter who has deep relationships with firms can help you on that front; they will know which practices are thriving, which firms are hiring, and can play a pivotal role in guiding you to the firms with platforms that best match your aspirations. The earlier you reach out to a recruiter, the better they will be able to help you with your search.

For personalized guidance and insights specific to your career path, connect with me, Amy Savage, at asavage@laterallink.com. Your next career move awaits, and we are here to support you every step of the way.

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.

Mastering Lateral Hiring Interviews for Your Legal Career: Essential Strategies and Insights

Understanding the Importance of Lateral Hiring Interviews

Navigating the complex web of the legal profession often leads to lateral hiring interviews, a key component of legal career progression. As a managing partner of a prominent Houston law firm highlights, the lateral hiring market remains exceptionally strong. Consequently, mastering these interviews is crucial for those looking to achieve notable advancement in their legal career. These interviews markedly differ from entry-level or on-campus interviews, requiring distinct preparation strategies to maximize success.

Prioritizing Practical Legal Expertise in Lateral Interviews

During these lateral hiring interviews, your practical legal expertise takes center stage. As one Houston law firm managing partner shares, “The deal sheet gets more attention from us than the resume.” However, there’s no need to fret over intricate legal questions as these are seldom asked. Instead, the focus shifts to your professional background, predominantly your legal resume and your past legal experiences, or case history. A thorough review of past cases and clearly articulating your unique role and contributions becomes a fundamental preparation step.

Crafting an Effective Deal Sheet for Lateral Interviews

Assembling a well-structured list of past cases, also known as a “deal sheet” in legal terminology, can significantly enhance your professional profile. Drawing insights from a corporate and securities partner from a renowned New York law firm, focus on three essential aspects when crafting this list: format, substance, and length.

  1. Format: Interviewers often favor case lists arranged by transaction type rather than chronological order. Use this preference to your advantage by placing your most notable legal cases at the top of each category.
  2. Substance: Replace generic terms such as “client” with more specific descriptions, as advised by legal professionals. Highlight aspects that align with the interviewing law firm’s key practice areas and elaborate on your role and contributions.
  3. Length: A comprehensive list that reflects the wide scope of your legal work is typically more appealing than a limited selection of cases.

Upholding Professionalism During Legal Interviews

Despite the evolving workplace norms and a casual attire trend, a formal approach is generally expected during law firm interviews. As one Houston-based law firm partner points out, “Most law firm hirers still expect professional attire because their clients still expect professional attire.”

Conducting Thorough Background Research

Performing background research about the potential law firm employer is another critical preparation step for lateral hiring interviews. Familiarize yourself with the firm’s unique strengths, its distinctive attributes, and the specifics of the department or group you’re interviewing with to leave a positive impression.

Harnessing Effective Communication Skills

Clear and concise articulation is a vital skill that interviewers assess during the hiring process. This skill is especially valued in law firms where associates are expected to interact with budget-conscious clients early in their careers, as per insights from a New York-based law firm partner.

Explaining Your Interest in the Firm

When asked about your interest in the firm, well-thought-out answers are appreciated. Possible reasons may include the desire to specialize in a domain not available at your current firm, the aspiration to diversify your client base, or positive feedback about the firm’s culture.

Evaluating the Prospective Law Firm

Lastly, remember that a lateral hiring interview also provides you with the opportunity to assess the law firm and its professionals. The prospect of mentorship, which is particularly important for junior attorneys, should be part of your evaluation. A partner from a Houston law firm points out that this doesn’t just mean a formal mentorship program, but also assessing whether the interviewers seem supportive of junior colleagues’ professional growth.

Choosing the Right Law Firm for You

Different law firms have unique selling propositions. A partner from a prominent Texas law firm suggests considering firms that emphasize their growth trajectory, entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to nurturing junior attorneys. Others, as a partner from a renowned New York law firm highlights, may accentuate their unique culture, molded by their client base, and the opportunities available to associates. Recognizing these unique traits and the growth potential within such firms can aid in your lateral career progression in the legal profession.

Making the Most of Your Legal Career

Ready to take the next step in your legal career? Leverage this guide on lateral hiring interviews to make a positive impression and increase your chances of success. For more resources on lateral hiring and to explore potential opportunities, connect with a Lateral Link industry expert today.