Working with a recruiting firm that offers kickbacks is one of the most harmful possible things you could do for your career.
At BCG Attorney Search we do not bribe candidates to take jobs and we cannot possibly understand why anyone would possibly offer a kick back to a candidate for taking a job. We do not do this. Working with a recruiting firm that offers kickbacks is one of the most harmful possible things you could do for your career. Notwithstanding, we can understand both points of view in terms of why people would want to get kickbacks from recruiters and why recruiters would offer them.
You should understand that there are business and other implications of recruiting firms that do this and also, candidates that take these kickbacks. Finally, you should be aware of some of the ultimate penalties and benefits to your career that could come about from your taking kickbacks from recruiters.
We can understand why a candidate would want to use a recruiting firm that gives them $10,000.00 or whatever it is when they place them. That's a lot of money anywhere. It would be a lot of money to me. When you get that $10,000.00 it's almost like a justification for moving. It's a bonus of sorts from the firm that is hiring you. It makes you feel important. It does all sorts of positive things. So I understand why people would want to work with a recruiting firm that does that.
Likewise, I understand why recruiting firms would want to offer it. It is a great way to drum up business; especially if you advertise it. You can advertise that you pay money to people when they are placed. That's something that certainly will draw in lots and lots and lots of candidates. People are attracted to money - even if the prospect of taking this money means they are taking a huge risk with the course of their lives. For example, people become actresses in pornography movies and prostitutes - most often for money. They do not realize that this one simple decision to do either of these things could have devastating implications for them for the rest of their lives.
There are essentially two issues with taking kickbacks from recruiters if they place you. One of them is a business issue. The other one is an ethical issue--sort of a baggage that you are going to have to carry with you when you walk into a law firm and the partners and everybody there will know what you did. Also, the firms that are interviewing you may base part of what they know about you on the fact that you work with a recruiting firm that pays kickbacks.
The first thing is from a business standpoint. I really think you need to understand that running a solid, research-oriented recruiting firm, for example like BCG Attorney Search, takes an incredible amount of money. It's more than a significant portion of the placement fee. It's a heck of a lot of money.
We have costs of research. We have programmers. We have data bases monitoring firm openings. We have researchers monitoring firm openings. We have proofreaders going over letters from us making sure we are making a good impression on our clients. We are going to conferences. We're holding meetings and conferences with each other to talk about the legal recruiting industry. We're doing lots and lots of things. We're entertaining law firms consistently and on an ongoing basis. We have managers that are managing the process and overseeing. We're providing reviews. We're screening recruiters.
It's probably not millions, but thousands of things that are done to run a recruiting firm--a solid recruiting firm that endures. The issue is that running a recruiting firm that endures takes a lot more than a small amount of money. It takes a lot of money. It takes a lot of money to subscribe to all the legal publications and to make sure we are on top of the jobs that are advertised in there and on top of the news that is happening with law firms. That is a significant, significant thing when you are working with a recruiting firm; all that work that is done behind the scenes.
If you take a $40,000.00 placement fee, and out of that placement fee $10,000.00 goes to the candidate that doesn't leave the recruiting firm with a lot of money to pay its recruiters. More importantly, it hardly leaves it any profit margin if it is operating itself effectively. If it's a fly-by-night operation or an operation that is not emphasizing those things then it doesn't matter. For the most part, 10% is 25% of $40,000.00. Very few businesses in this world have 25% profit margins; hardly any of them do. Maybe some software businesses do but very few that involve humans doing research and work have 25% profit margins.
So that is something for you to think about when you are using a recruiting firm that is paying you a kickback--the money to run the firm is coming from you. You are paying for the work that normally would be done by not having the work done because you are really sacrificing something. That is a very, very important thing. Every candidate wants to know what is in the market. There are small firms that pay huge salaries and there are big firms that pay huge salaries. But you need access to every single one of them and that's extremely important. Being on top of that information is extremely important. Having quality control in a placement firm is extremely important. All of this stuff iswhat makes a solid recruiting firm. That's why our firm has made thousands and thousands of placements. That's why it endures as an institution is because the work that we do is very, very good.
The average placement fee that a recruiter charges is typically 25% of your annual salary. However, in some cases law firms that are not as selective with candidates will negotiate this fee downward. If the law firm negotiates enough and if a recruiting firm is offering you a $10,000 kickback, there may be nothing left at the end of the day (or hardly anything left) for the placement firm. This means, essentially, that the firm offering you a kickback will not be able to get you a job at the firm because there will not be enough money involved.
There is another point we'd like to bring to your attention. That is the fact that when you are taking these kickbacks from firms, think about the fact that the firm that is getting a resume from a placement firm that does that knows that if they hire you they are giving you a kickback in order to hire you. That raises serious, serious ethical concerns.
We are in the legal profession. The legal profession is very staid. It is changing certainly, and there are firms that aren't staid like that. But for the most part it's very staid. Because the legal profession is so staid, you have to understand that when a firm gets a resume from a recruiter that is giving a kickback to you, that makes a lot of them very, very uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that they may not be willing to hire you or they might not be willing to interview you. That’s a major thing. I would say that more than half of the firms know that and are uncomfortable with it; almost all of them know it.
Think about the fact that when you are going to work in a new firm or trying to interview with a new firm, you may have a harder time getting an interview if you are working with a recruiter that doesn't necessarily have resources to go out and spend time with the firm, or who is paying you a portion of the placement fee because the firm may not like the fact that you are getting that. So you may get fewer interviews; think about that.
On the BCG Attorney Search website we have hundreds if not thousands of law firms that we made placements at. That placement number iswhat it is for a reason. The placement number is as high as it is because we go out and do a lot of work; we develop relationships. When a firm is seeing our candidates, they are seeing someone that they know is coming to them because they have chosen their firm. They know that our firm has provided them research and done lots and lots of work. So, that is just another thing.
Just think about that when you're in the firm, you've probably gotten a kickback. That's something that is going to raise serious concerns. That may actually lose you the interview. Frankly, I don't care how good the market is; even if the market is on fire, you are still not going to get a lot of interviews in places you should or could. If the market is poor, that is going to hurt you even more. Many of the best attorneys out there may want to work at one or two firms. If those one or two firms aren't going to use you because they view what you are doing as an ethical problem, you have a serious concern..
Now, there is another issue that we need to bring up that is very important: When you take these kickbacks from the recruiters, you are putting yourself in a situation where you'll go into a firm and they may think, "Well, this person will leave for a little bit of money, $10,000 or $15,000.00. This person will take this amount of money in order to leave."
That's a lot of money. Don't think that isn't, and don't believe the firms don't think it is. That raises serious concerns too. It raises concerns about your loyalty.. It raises concerns about your judgment. Those kinds of concerns are the ones that prevent you, in a lot of cases from making partner or may foreclose that altogether if firms have loyalty concerns. If you can be prodded away for $10,000.00, or whatever the amount is, that is a major, major concern..
So, in summary, we do not believe it is a good idea for anyone to take kickbacks from recruiters and especially recruiters that go out there and advertise the fact that they are doing it. You are short changing yourself. You are making a deal with the devil. You are probably going to get interviews with fewer firms than you possibly could because a lot of firms will think it is unethical and won’t interview you or hire you.
Also, you are going to go into the firm with the idea that you could be prodded away shortly with a short amount of money and it’s going to raise questions about your loyalty. You have a career that is potentially worth millions and millions over the course of your career. Maybe even tens of millions of dollars if you do it right; probably tens of millions of dollars and that is a serious concern. All these things raise major concerns about using a recruiter that takes and gives kickbacks. You probably won't even know there are jobs out there because they won't have resources to do it.
We urge you. Use your head and think about these things. It's not in your best interest and not being in your best interest, why would you risk your career and aspects of your career that are potentially worth tens of millions of dollars for a little short blip on the radar of 10 or 5 or whatever thousands it is? Don't make that mistake. You could end up penalizing your career forever.