Thursday, December 17, 2009


Some of my readers have *ahem* politely encouraged me to move away from dealing with the recent news stories and related criticism. I agree. I would like to get back to the focus of this blog a bit more. I'm not sure why so many people read a blog they don't like - in the words of Lisa Simpson "Why would they show up just to boo us?" - but in any event, thanks for the constructive criticism.

Today, I'd like to to discuss working with recruiters -sometimes known as headhunters. One decent piece of advice I did receive from my career services office is that entry level graduates from law schools really can't make use of recruiters. The reason is that as recent graduates we "don't have heads to hunt".

This is reasonable advice. There's little value to recent graduates (of any institution) aside from their degrees and whatever honors or achievements they earned while seeking those degrees. Therefore, a firm or company doesn't really need a middleman to help determine if a recent graduate will be right for the job. The employer can just evaluate the applicants course of study, internships, etc. It's also fairly easy to advertise an entry level position and have a number of recent graduates apply for it.

For those of us with pre-law, professional backgrounds, however, there may be some benefit to working with recruiters. You see, while the path to becoming a first year associate is a narrow one (you either get recruited at OCI or your don't), there are a number of different avenues people with some substantive work experience can take to get into different fields. For example, I recently spoke with someone with only a few years of work experience who was looking to relocate, she spoke with a headhunter who was able to get her a bunch of interviews (which led to a job).

One thing to keep in mind is that recruiters usually make their money by collecting a fee from the company which hires their recruit. This makes it more expensive to hire a recruited candidate rather than one who applies to the company directly. In this economy, with so many people seeking work, this could put you at a disadvantage.

On the other hand, given the volume of applicants, head hunters may be a good way of sorting through unqualified candidates and zoning in those who reliable head hunters have recruited.

If nothing else, if a head hunter is willing to work with you, it seems like there could be other benefits besides possibly landing some interviews. A recruiter is likely to offer you significant advice on both your resume and your sales pitch. After all, the more marketable you are, the more likely he is to place you and collect his fee. He may also be able to help spin your law degree with employers in ways that you are not able.

I'm going to speak tonight with a guy who's going to put me in touch with some friends who are recruiters. I'll let you know how things work out in later posts.

Readers, have any of you worked with recruiters/headhunters in the past? Any advice or information you'd like to pass along? Please post in the comments below.


  1. Recruiters and Headhunters on the east coast won't even speak to you unless you went to Harvard or Yale and have 3 to 5 years of work experience. So, no... I haven't spoken to the them. Even in the good times, they weren't helpful to someone outside the top 14.

  2. Without the magical 3 years experience, recruiters will only talk to you about doc review positions.

  3. Ah, I guess I didn't make it clear that these were for non-legal positions. I know people with limited exprience who had some luck in other fields, but it'll be interesting to see if simply having the J.D. will hurt my chances even outside the legal world.

  4. One of the famous NY Legal Recruiters is Ann Isreal. You probably read an article from her in her NYLJ column or in your OCI Library. To paraphrase Ann," her job is to take the top candidates from top lawschools to positions in the top firms." When you read her articles; you can tell most of her advice is for the BIGLAW candidates. Recruiters don't deaL with TTT grads.(period) There is no money in it!
    I dealt with Recruiters in I.T.. I frimly believed they ruined the industry and helped the exodus of I.T. jobs overseas. I have not a good word to say about them. Reading anti-Recruiter posts (plural) from "Tom the temps" site I don't see Recruiters changing. On the contray, I see Recruiters are getting worse. Unless you are a BIGLAW candidate don't waste your time. If you use them for doc review, then watch your back!

  5. Dear Esq Never

    I really like your blogs and I found this one to be particularly interesting. I have a friend in the small/midsize law firm recruiting business and he told me that there is a whole lot more beneath the surface than meets the eye. He told me that the recruiting business is meant to shuffle associates around with the purpose of eventually pushing them out of the legal profession. He also told me that a very small part of his job actually involves finding employment for people. He said that most of his time is spent "investigating" people who are about to be laid off or people who are already laid off in order to determine whether the employee intends to defames their employer. Essentially, what he was getting at was that recruiters have a behind the scenes relationship with law firms to facilitate terminating associates employment.

    What do you make of this?

  6. Thanks for reading. That's interesting. I didn't even know smaller firms would bother with recruiters.

    I've heard that the trend among biglaw associates is for them to eventually (at least during good times) get picked up by a corporate headhunter for an in house or even non-legal executive position.

    I don't know that much about legal recruiting (or recruiting in general), but as some of the above commenters indicate, they do engage in some questionable practices.

    After re-reading my post, I realize that it's not as clear as I thought that I'm looking to work with non-legal recruiters. I don't think I'd glean any benefit from working with legal recruiters. I'll see how it works out for me. (I have known a few people who have had success.)


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