The first step is for me to help the candidate to better define their law firm needs and desires. They should evaluate the many different possibilities with law firms, such as with regard to size of the firm/office, available practices, reputation, billing rates, financial condition, compensation, full service v. boutique, home office v. satellite, culture, potential for client conflicts, opportunities for business development, etc. Ultimately, the candidate comes up with an “ideal firm” for their search. The next step is for me to prepare an initial list of target firms that come closest to this “ideal firm.” This helps focus the search on the firms that are most likely to be a good fit, so as to both be more effective and to not to waste valuable time.
The next step is for me to evaluate the initial target firm list to determine which firms are realistically in the candidate’s “market range.” That is, I identify the firms in which they have at least some reasonable chance to obtain an interview based on their credentials and state of the present market, and I eliminate the firms that do not meet this description. I then send the final list of my recommended target firms to the candidate for final confirmation. Having gone through the proper analysis, candidates generally do not reject the recommended firms at this point absent good reason.
Of course, in confirming which firms should go on the final target firm list, the candidate should use the proper criterion. For example, I recently had a candidate reject a law firm that I had recommended on a final target firm list on the grounds that he believed he “was not the candidate they’re looking for.” I reminded him that this is not something that he was really in a position to determine. He clearly met the firm’s basic requirements of an associate with excellent credentials and commercial litigation experience. Beyond that, whether or not he is the “candidate they’ve been looking for” can only be decided by the partners of the firm. Inany event (and more importantly), the issue he should be considering is not whether he is right for the law firm, but rather whether there is at least a reasonable chance that the firm is right for him. Based on this proper criterion, he agreed to confirm that I should apply to the firm so that he would have the opportunity to more fully investigate whether or not the firm was truly right for him.