YOUR LEGAL WRITES: Firm matchmakers

By Kathryn E. Brown | Jan 8, 2008


The start of a new year sparks great motivation to improve the condition of one's life, from health and wellness to financial stability and employment security. The quest for perfection in the legal field may not be possible, though, without calling in a search team.

The Esquire Group is a national legal recruitment and consulting firm headquartered in Minneapolis. The company specializes in locating the best attorneys, legal assistants, litigation support staff, and administrators to fill vacancies in firms throughout the country and abroad.

It seems logical for a firm or company in need of in-house counsel to retain a headhunter to conduct a candidate search, but what does it say about the individual lawyer who needs the help of a recruiter to get attention? Is a resume not enough in today's legal marketplace?

"A lawyer with an impressive resume and background can be greatly helped by a knowledgeable and well connected recruiter," began Timothy P. Mahoney, executive director of The Esquire Group. "Just as a lawyer is a professional in their field, an experienced legal recruiter knows law firms and companies, the key contacts, the culture and the work environment, and many other important attributes that someone looking for a new job may not be aware of."

If a lawyer is interested in relocating to a new city or region, trying to find non-traditional career options, or looking to make a lateral move from a firm to a corporate setting, the thought of researching job vacancies can be so overwhelming that it keeps him or her from following through. A recruiter eliminates this strain, wading through law firm openings to uncover matches according to a candidate's list of preferences.

For young lawyers or associates lacking a comprehensive resume, recruiters offer the much-needed advice and counseling that is often missing in their professional lives.

"The key element for a successful job search if you're a brand new law school graduate is to conduct a strategic search," Mahoney said. "If you don't have any experience, and you don't have any job prospects, then a great option is to explore contract and temporary opportunities which will allow you to gain some real legal experience and make valuable contacts."

Legal recruiters often know of these particular opportunities, many of which are not advertised in industry trade magazines or on the Internet.

A lack of professional experience may cause problems for associates in a different way, especially if they aren't familiar with the headhunting process. Before entering into an agreement with a search firm, the lawyer needs to ensure that he or she is working with a reputable organization, one that will help them find a job rather than continue without one.

If a recruitment firm is not a member of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants, the agency that sets the standards for the entire industry, then it may be best to look elsewhere for someone to act as their employment agent. After all, choosing a recruiter means allowing a salesperson to talk on the candidate's behalf.

"At Special Counsel (the parent company of The Esquire Group), we do several things for both clients and candidates that make the process of searching for talent and the perfect job easier," Mahoney said. "We spend a good deal of time really understanding not only the job and job description, but also in learning the personalities that this position will interact with and the attributes of others who have succeeded in the organization.

"On the candidate side, we help them prepare not only a good resume, but also help them prepare for interviews."

Mahoney stated that his agency shares its knowledge of the client and the decision makers with whom the candidate will be meeting. The company's goal is to make the best use of people's time during the job search process, something that everyone in the industry knows is vital when it comes to the billable hour.

Brown is the Managing Member of The Write Word LLC, a professional writing and editing agency based in Charleston.

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