In my extensive experience within the legal industry, particularly the legal recruiting sector over the past seven years, a glaring issue has become increasingly evident: traditional legal recruiting is plagued by problems. The prevailing approach can only be described as “spammy” and “recruiter centric.” It’s time for a transformative shift.
Allow me to illustrate the typical scenario. Recruiters initiate contact with attorneys. If engagement is achieved, the ensuing conversation often unfolds as follows:
“I represent an esteemed AmLaw 200 law firm and would like to discuss your practice and career progression. I cannot disclose the firm’s name, but are you open to exploring new opportunities?”
This is what I refer to as the traditional “fishing expedition” employed by many recruiters in their daily operations. They search for promising candidates and present them to multiple firms, maximizing their chances of securing a placement fee, while their primary allegiance lies with themselves rather than the law firm. Naturally, this approach is inherently “recruiter centric,” but this is not the sole issue at hand.
Following the recruiter’s presentation of a candidate to various firms, the candidate often commences interview processes with several of them. The law firm, presumably the “client” in this scenario, remains oblivious to the fact that their chosen candidate has been proposed to other firms. Consequently, two problems arise:
- Each firm invests valuable time and resources in interviewing the candidate, only to discover during the offer stage that the candidate has accepted an offer elsewhere.
- The recruiter’s presentation of the candidate to multiple firms fosters the potential for a bidding war among these firms. This outcome benefits the recruiter but not the law firm(s), once again placing the emphasis on the recruiter rather than the client’s interests.
Moreover, traditional recruiting practices suffer from a lack of transparency. Consider the law firm that either posts a job on their website or engages multiple traditional recruiters to address their specific hiring needs. Since recruiters are primarily driven by their own financial incentives (placement fees), they may not prioritize challenging positions, leaving the law firm unaware that their urgent needs remain unaddressed.
And because most law firms are not in the AmLaw 100 or 200, they do not rank high on the priority list of most traditional recruiters. These are the law firms that need a dedicated and proactive recruiting partner that can deliver on specific needs and not just “float” candidates to you that may or may not align with your firm objectives.
Given the present state of legal recruiting, law firms must ask themselves three crucial questions when considering recruiting partners:
- Can we trust that our lateral hiring needs will be genuinely addressed?
- Do we retain control over the candidates we recruit?
- Is our recruiting partner transparent in their operations?
In most cases, regrettably, the answer to all three questions is a resounding “no.”
The legal recruiting industry, along with the broader recruitment sector, requires a fundamental change. Recruiters must reimagine their value proposition to clients, assuming they even consider them as genuine clients. Are your “active” recruiters merely supplying you with resumes and profiles of potentially interested lawyers, or are they actively working as an extension of your team? Do they assist you in achieving your recruitment goals and broader firm growth objectives?
Are you tired of the “hope and pray” strategy of traditional recruiting? Perhaps it’s time to think about a more proactive and strategic approach.
Perhaps it’s time to consolidate recruiting partners into one trustworthy entity committed to addressing your specific lateral hiring needs–one that grants you control over candidate selection.
Perhaps you need a partner that maintains transparency regarding their activities, market feedback, and even competitive intelligence.
Perhaps it’s time you work with OnBoard Legal.