Tag Archives: Legal Recruitment

AI-Powered Legal Recruitment: Revolutionize Your Law Firm with haistack.ai

Haistack – Law Firm, developed by Michael Heise, in partnership with Lateral Link, Haistack – Law Firm greatly simplifies and enhances the process of sourcing candidates for attorney roles. It also helps firms identify which of their current lawyers are likely to be in high demand in the lateral marketplace, enabling more targeted retention efforts.

Making recruiting and retention more efficient and effective

Traditional mechanisms for sourcing lateral candidates are laborious and slow. Recruiters typically conduct LinkedIn keyword searches and ask contacts in their network to suggest potential candidates. Haistack – Law Firm replaces a process that often takes a couple of weeks with one that requires only a couple of clicks. Firms can manually add jobs, that are not posted publicly, and our AI takes minutes to return a list of best candidates not only for the job but for the firm also. This process would normally take days.

Haistack – Law Firm uses machine learning to identify the best candidates for a specific attorney role. The tool aggregates publicly available attorney, firm, and law firm job data from across the internet and enriches it with proprietary Lateral Link data. The goal is not merely to find candidates who have the necessary seniority in the relevant practice area and geographic market. Rather, Haistack – Law Firm also identifies those likely to be cultural fits by analyzing the profiles of a firm’s current attorneys and highlighting similarities between that current pool and a potential candidate. Where did the candidate go to law school? Did they write for a journal? Did they graduate with honors? Haistack – Law Firm considers factors like these and illustrates specific connections between a candidate and a firm. When recruiters or hiring partners review the Haistack – Law Firm output, they are presented with the estimated strength of fit for each identified candidate and the logic underlying that determination. All these characteristics are badged on a candidate profile and seen by the users of Haistack – Law Firm.

Based on the connections that Haistack – Law Firm highlights, strategies for contacting high-potential candidates who have not yet applied are immediately apparent. A recruiter can turn to a current lawyer at the firm who is connected to a potential candidate both to validate the prediction of a strong match and to help reach out to the candidate and sell them on the role. Not only does Haistack – Law Firm reduce the time to identify candidates, but it also makes the process of cultivating them more efficient and effective.

Haistack – Law firm provides an additional source of insight to assist with retention. Given the tool’s ability to identify external lawyers who would be strong lateral candidates, it equally can determine which members of a firm’s current attorney pool are a likely flight risk, based on compatibility between their profiles and opportunities in the wider marketplace. This early warning will prompt firms to evaluate how much they value at-risk talent, while there is still time for affirmative steps to retain critical team members who are in high demand.

Shorter time to fill vacancies = less foregone profit

Filling vacant attorney roles efficiently makes a substantial difference to a law firm’s profits. As we have previously explored, a single sixth-year associate slot left vacant for 30 days could cost $117,329 in lost profits. The estimated loss escalates to $351,986 if the vacancy remains open for 90 days. With figures like these at stake, the business case for investing in a more efficient recruiting process is obvious.

85% of roles for which Lateral Link is the recruiter are filled within 60 days. With the help of Haistack – Law Firm, we estimate that we can reduce the expected time to fill from 60 days to 50. In the case of a sixth-year associate, this equates to a savings of $39,110.

Let’s imagine a firm with two vacancies: one for a sixth-year associate and another for a fifth-year associate. If we assume that Haistack – Law Firm helps fill these vacancies in 10 days less time than would otherwise be required, the firm will achieve savings of $39,110 (sixth-year) + $37,774 (fifth-year) = $76,884. That savings exceeds the cost of a Haistack – Law firm subscription ($75,000 for up to 5 users).

For law firms, time really is money. Traditional recruitment processes just don’t cut it—especially when your competitors have embraced more sophisticated alternatives. Haistack – Law Firm is the new way to recruit: swift, precise, and effective. Is your firm ready to operate at the forefront of recruitment innovation?

Lateral Search Dos and Don’ts: Tips from Both Sides of the Lateral Coin

Moving firms is a laborious and time-consuming task. Without assistance, your search may sputter and stall. Legal recruiters were instrumental in my two lateral moves, each significantly boosting my compensation and firm prestige. Trying to make these moves independently proved fruitless, underlining the importance of a skilled recruiter.

Choosing the Right Legal Recruiter

As a practicing attorney, I responded to recruiter emails based primarily on the opportunities they presented, often lured by promises of higher compensation, better hours, or work in fields like entertainment, sports, or cyber law. My criteria were simple: (a) an appealing opportunity, and (b) the recruiter graduated law school. Beyond that, I did minimal research.

This approach was too simplistic. A good recruiter acts as your agent, providing practical advice and actively advancing your career goals, rather than merely seeking a quick placement. Essentially, recruiters are brokers, introducing you to firms potentially interested in hiring you. This is a crucial perspective to maintain.

Recruiters sometimes need to temper your unrealistic goals, while other times, they make your dreams a reality, depending on the situation.

Dos and Don’ts from My Experiences

From my journey as an associate using recruiters and now being one, here are some key dos and don’ts:

  • Do review your recruiter’s LinkedIn, website, and articles. A quick check can reveal much about their resources and approach.
  • Don’t choose a recruiter solely for their pedigree. While pedigree can indicate industry knowledge and competence, some of the best recruiters at Lateral Link, for example, don’t have a law school background.
  • Do collaborate with recruiters who align with your career aspirations yet remain realistic about your goals. They should be knowledgeable about the market and provide insightful guidance. That means knowing when to go for it and when to ground expectations in reality. 
  • Don’t work with recruiters who are not solution-focused or try to push you into roles they’re trying to fill. Your lateral search should be a collaborative effort with a recruiter who supports your journey and guides you through the process.
  • Do be judicious about sharing your application materials. A reliable recruiter only submits your application to firms you’ve approved, avoiding potential issues and application conflicts.
  • Don’t engage with too many recruiters simultaneously. This can lead to confusion and difficulties in managing submissions, as well as weakening your position in offer negotiations.
  • Do choose a responsive recruiter who keeps you regularly updated. Navigating job changes is challenging, and a good recruiter will ensure you’re well informed throughout the process.
  • Do work with recruiters who take the time to understand your practice area, history, and preferences, and who prepare you effectively for interviews.
  • Do ask recruiters about their motivations. Some are genuinely passionate about their work, while others may be primarily driven by financial gain. Make your choice accordingly.

Having been both a lateral associate and a recruiter, I’ve gained valuable insights into the process. Moving firms is challenging and stressful, but with the right recruiter, it can be as seamless and stress-free as possible. 

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.

Biglaw Compensation Trends: Milbank Pioneers with Associate Salary Increase

In a landscape of cautious optimism within Biglaw, Milbank has announced an increase in first-year associate salaries to $225,000, setting a new benchmark in legal compensation. This move reflects a confident outlook for 2024, despite the previous year’s volatility in client demand and transactional work. The adjustment, which represents a $10,000 increment, establishes a precedent in a market that has witnessed only conservative financial growth in recent years.

The upward salary revision, effective from January 2024, spans across the firm’s hierarchy, reaching up to $425,000 for more tenured associates. This decision coincides with the announcement of year-end bonuses that echo the figures from the previous cycle, asserting Milbank’s commitment to maintaining competitive compensation in a changing economic climate.

These developments, indicative of Milbank’s resilience and foresight, may serve as a bellwether for the sector’s financial health and the strategic positioning of legal talent. As firms navigate this evolving terrain, the need for astute career management and market readiness becomes increasingly apparent.

Within this context, Movers, Shakers, and Rainmakers provides a platform for legal professionals to understand the shifts in the compensation landscape and to anticipate future trends. The podcast’s latest episode offers a nuanced discussion on the potential ripple effects of Milbank’s salary structure on Biglaw’s ecosystem.

While the series enlightens on market trends, Lateral Link offers a complementary suite of services that facilitate strategic career moves. The insights gleaned from the podcast, coupled with Lateral Link’s expertise in legal recruitment, can empower attorneys to make informed decisions in a market where advanced knowledge translates to competitive advantage.

Tune into Movers, Shakers, and Rainmakers for a discerning analysis of Biglaw’s current state and future outlook. For those contemplating their next career phase, Lateral Link provides the market intelligence and strategic support essential for navigating the intricate legal landscape.

Maximizing Law Firm Profits: The Impact of Expert Legal Recruitment Strategies

Recognizing the pivotal role of legal recruiters is a game-changing strategy for law firms. No longer just an operational necessity, we at Lateral Link understand that our role as legal recruiters makes us profit-making catalysts. Our value in increasing productivity, lowering turnover, and elevating customer service underscores our critical role in boosting a law firm’s profits.

Enhancing Productivity: The Advantage of Experienced Legal Recruiters

Productivity in a law firm correlates directly with billable hours. With the right attorney matched to the perfect role, productivity skyrockets, significantly driving up the firm’s profitability. This is where our deep expertise comes into play, an eighth-year attorney, leveraging their skills, can generate a daily profit of $4,510. A fourth-year attorney, at $3,469 per day, isn’t far behind. Pinpointing such talent and connecting them with the right roles contributes meaningfully to a law firm’s daily profitability.

Year1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th
Daily Profit$3,113$3,312$3,411$3,469$3,777$3,911$4,041$4,510
Yearly Total$1,136,250$1,208,750$1,245,000$1,266,250$1,378,750$1,427,500$1,475,000$1,646,250

Turnover Reduction: A Profit-Saving Strategy

Turnover brings financial burdens, particularly for the legal sector. Every day a role stays vacant, profits drop. For example, a fifth-year attorney role left unfilled for 20 days could cost around $75,548 in lost profits. Using our skills in quickly identifying and retaining long-term attorneys, these losses can be mitigated.

Customer Service Enhancement: A Revenue Driver

Superior customer service in law firms directly impacts revenue. A sixth-year attorney role vacancy over 30 days could lead to around $117,329 in lost profits. Prolonged vacancies can escalate losses to $351,986 over 90 days. Our team at Lateral Link can help stem these losses by promptly filling these positions with apt attorneys, ensuring high service standards and client loyalty.

The Financial Impact of Effective Recruitment

Examining the financial implications of unfilled roles, the strategic role of a legal recruiter is clear. A 180-day vacancy for a fourth-year attorney could lead to a potential $624,452 loss, escalating to $832,603 over 240 days. We at Lateral Link aim to prevent such losses. By trimming an average of 20 days from the recruitment process, the financial gain can be substantial. For example, expediting a second-year attorney placement could lead to $66,233 profit recovery. Even after recruiter fees, the net profit stands at $21,233.

Days Job Open v. Lost Profits

Days1st Year2nd Year3rd Year4th Year5th Year6th Year7th Year8th Year
10$31,130$33,116$34,110$34,692$37,774$39,110$40,411$45,103
20$62,260$66,233$68,219$69,384$75,548$78,219$80,822$90,205
30$93,390$99,349$102,329$104,075$113,322$117,329$121,233$135,308
60$186,781$198,699$204,658$208,151$226,644$234,658$242,466$270,616
90$280,171$298,048$306,986$312,226$339,966$351,986$363,699$405,925
120$373,562$397,397$409,315$416,301$453,288$469,315$484,932$541,233
150$466,952$496,747$511,644$520,377$566,610$586,644$606,164$676,541
180$560,342$596,096$613,973$624,452$679,932$703,973$727,397$811,849
210$653,733$695,445$716,301$728,527$793,253$821,301$848,630$947,158
240$747,123$794,795$818,630$832,603$906,575$938,630$969,863$1,082,466
270$840,514$894,144$920,959$936,678$1,019,897$1,055,959$1,091,096$1,217,774
300$933,904$993,493$1,023,288$1,040,753$1,133,219$1,173,288$1,212,329$1,353,082
330$1,027,295$1,092,842$1,125,616$1,144,829$1,246,541$1,290,616$1,333,562$1,488,390

Resilience through Rapid Hiring: A Profitable Formula

Faster hiring is key to profit recovery. If a firm could expedite the placement of two fifth-year attorneys by 20 days each through our efforts at Lateral Link, it could recover an estimated $151,096 in profits. Even after accounting for recruiter fees, the net profit stands at $13,096.

Navigating the Legal Talent Market: Our Data-Driven Approach at Lateral Link

In the highly competitive legal industry, our data-driven insights at Lateral Link can provide a crucial edge. These insights highlight the significance of speedy hiring and low vacancies to a law firm’s bottom line. Equipped with such knowledge, firms can better appreciate the invaluable role that skilled legal recruiters like us play.

Legal recruiters are essential components of a law firm’s financial strategy. Our role at Lateral Link in reducing job vacancies, cutting turnover, and boosting productivity can significantly impact a firm’s profitability. In a rapidly evolving legal landscape, our contribution is key to a firm’s financial stability and growth.

Ready to maximize your law firm’s profitability? Start a conversation with us today and discover the profound impact our expert legal recruiters can have on your bottom line. Don’t wait—your firm’s profitability boost is just a call away.

Adapting to Market Shifts: U.S. Law Firms in Hong Kong Rethink COLA Strategy

At least three top-tier US law firms in Hong Kong are currently planning to phase out Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) allowances within the next two years, and others are discussing doing the same. The plan is to reduce the payment by 50% in 2024 and to zero by 2025. At least one firm has announced the change internally office-wide, while two others have apparently made the decision internally but have yet to announce to their associates and counsels in Hong Kong.

Will this work? Time will tell, but history suggests these firms are facing an uphill battle to phase out COLA in Hong Kong. This isn’t the first time firms have made moves to rein in COLA. Similar plans have been deployed during previous down cycles. The problem is that unless every firm in the market ends the practice, associates will simply move from firms that reduce COLA to peer firms that maintain it.

If the current hiring downturn lasts for an additional two full years, it is conceivable that no firm would see an advantage in maintaining COLA, while others are phasing it out over two years, and using that policy to attract lateral talent. But a downturn of that length, with both soft and hard hiring freezes going on for three total years, would be unprecedented. It is more likely that the hiring market will pick up in due course at some point in 2024, reestablishing the tight supply dynamics that led firms to offer significant COLA allowances in Hong Kong in the first place. If that happens, firms will have a strong incentive to use COLA as a recruiting tool. And the firms now planning to stop paying it may find themselves reconsidering, especially when their star associates may consider moves next year as their COLA begins to be phased out.

Around ten years ago, two top US firms in Hong Kong made plans to have a three-year tail on their COLA for their US associates, whereby COLA would only be in effect for an associate’s first three years at those firms’ Hong Kong offices. However, around seven years ago, when the scheduled end to COLA for their star associates was looming, both firms quietly continued providing COLA after the three years. One of these two firms completely abandoned the idea of the three-year tail.

Unsurprisingly, firms would rather not make substantial COLA payments, especially in the current down market. There are presently very few associate openings in Biglaw offices in Asia—a major deviation from the norm. Some firms perceive this rare hiring downturn as an opportunity to implement change.

Cost of Living Adjustments: Why Biglaw Offices in Asia Pay US Associates More Than Any Other Region

The market for US-qualified Biglaw associates in Asia has long been unique. As in other regions, Biglaw firms are looking for candidates with top academic credentials and deal experience. But in addition, they look for local language skills—most commonly, fluent Mandarin. This combination of attributes shrinks the eligible candidate pool, and under normal market conditions, competition for the relatively limited number of associates who check all the boxes is intense.

That’s why firms have for many years paid so-called Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) to US-qualified associates working in Asian offices. Describing these payments as COLA is a misnomer, in that they bear no particular relation to cost of living (which is typically in Biglaw Asian markets roughly the same or slightly lower than in New York). Further, there are substantial tax windfalls for associates who land in tax havens such as Singapore and Hong Kong. This is true for both US taxpayers and non-US taxpayers, although the latter’s tax windfall is much larger than the former’s.

Instead, COLA is more accurately understood as simply an increase in base pay, rather than being tied to any cost of living adjustments or living expenses in general.

How much COLA do firms pay?

Before getting into the numbers, allow me to offer some context about my background. I recently joined Lateral Link, but my close association with Biglaw offices in Asia goes back nearly two decades, and over 500 attorney placements have been made in Asia, mostly at top-tier and second-tier US firms.

The table below presents the typical range of annual COLA (in US Dollars) in Hong Kong. To keep things simple, I have listed a Low, Medium, and High value, along with the number of firms paying at that level, among what we consider to be the top 20 US and UK law firms in Hong Kong. Please note that these COLA numbers are basic and do not include additional COLA allowances paid to associates who have children (a minority of firms in Hong Kong do this). Further, it is likely that by this time next year, there will only be one firm in the “High” range, with one of those firms considering lowering COLA a bit and one of those firms planning to phase out COLA. Outside of the handful of firms considering to phase out COLA, there has been no move to lower the COLA below the current low-end range ($60,000 to $95,000) in the Hong Kong market. This has been the range of COLA for the top 20 firms in Hong Kong for more than ten years.

LocationLow (11 Firms)Medium (6 Firms)High (3 Firms)
Hong Kong$60,000 – $70,000$75,000 to $85,000$90,000 to $95,000

One might assume that COLA is for Americans moving to Asia as expats. In the mid-2000s when the COLA system was more basic and the US law firm offices in Asia were very small, that was basically true. But the picture today is more nuanced, especially in Hong Kong—the most competitive market for associate hiring.

COLA is typically offered to attorneys that are in a “US team” (e.g., US Capital Markets, M&A, FCPA, etc.) usually (but not always) led by US-trained and qualified partners. Keep in mind that members of such teams are not necessarily Americans. Many associates are native to the region but are qualified as US lawyers. So a native Hong Kong citizen with an American JD (and with no obligation to pay US taxes) will earn COLA despite living in his or her home jurisdiction.

There are also numerous UK and Australian qualified associates at US firms in Hong Kong that work on US teams and get COLA, regardless of whether they are admitted in any US state.

Interestingly, a minority of US law firms in Hong Kong provide COLA to all or most of their solely Hong Kong-qualified associates. These lawyers are admitted to practice only in Hong Kong and typically grew up in Hong Kong, or at least have been living in Hong Kong their entire legal career. They work side-by-side with US-qualified colleagues who receive COLA, and their firms want to retain them. Accordingly, at these select offices, COLA has effectively transformed into increased base pay for all associates across the board.