SeltzerFontaine assesses each candidate’s academic achievement, professional experience, rainmaking potential, interpersonal style, and career objectives. Through our extensive contacts and large database of law firms, attorneys, and corporations, we are able to quickly identify on-target opportunities throughout California and the West. In addition, you have access to a broader range of options through our affiliates in major legal markets nationwide.
Beyond checking with your network of contacts for the names of good legal search consultants, and comparing information gleaned from print and internet directories regarding the credentials and backgrounds of various recruiters, ask the following questions:
Your search consultant is your advocate in the job search process. Therefore, you want to make sure that you and your recruiter are on the same wavelength and communicate fully and honestly every step of the way. Be sure to assess whether the recruiter listens to you and hears what you want to accomplish in making a move. Because this can be such a personal, protracted and important process, you must be comfortable and open in order to maximize the benefits of the recruiter/candidate relationship.
Look for a recruiter who is a member of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC), which is the professional organization for the industry, similar to a Bar Association. NALSC members must comply with a Code of Ethics® which provides, among other things, that a candidate’s resume or identity cannot be disclosed to any third party without the candidate’s specific prior approval. In other words, a recruiter must get your specific permission to contact any potential employer on your behalf. This ensures that your job search is controlled by you, and only those employers you specifically chose are aware of your intentions. See the NALSC webpage for more about the organization and the complete Code of Ethics®.
Choose a recruiter who specializes in searches in your target geographical and practice area(s), or who works with affiliate recruiters in those areas. Ask about the types of clients the recruiter represents, for example, is there a good selection of national, local, and regional firms, “boutiques” as well as general practice law firms, and corporate law departments? Note that most clients of legal search consultants are corporations or business law firms. Recruiters usually do not place attorneys in such areas as public-interest, criminal (except white-collar defense), family law, workers-compensation, or plaintiffs’ personal injury. Generally, placements with governmental bodies or educational institutions are handled by specialized search firms. Although a candidate may use more than one recruiter (as long as the candidate keeps careful track of which search firm is authorized to contact which employers to avoid conflicts) it is best to select recruiters who have a good grasp of your target market.
Understand that the recruiter is paid by the law firm or corporation which has job openings to fill. As such, recruiters are looking for candidates who fit specific profiles.
Almost always, a recruiter’s clients will consider only those candidates who graduated from the top 25 or so law schools and, at minimum, in the top third of their class, as well as having relevant work experience with a well-known firm. Because most large legal employers (which are those most inclined to employ the services of a legal recruiter) have on-campus hiring programs, virtually all job searches require at least one full year of hands-on work experience. Thus, legal search consultants almost never represent law students or new admittees, though they sometimes are be able to place candidates completing a judicial clerkship.
Most job openings listed with recruiters fall into two broad categories: Junior to mid-level associate positions which require one to five years of experience; and searches for partner-level candidates with a significant portable client base. In bad economic times when associates are being laid off, recruiters find that they are virtually excluded from making placements in the associate market.