Due to the economic crisis, I have been spending a lot of time on the phone with outstanding lawyers who have been left in desperate situations. Many of these attorneys, from junior associates to senior partners, come from top law firms and have excellent academic credentials. The tone of the conversation is one of desperation and frustration. Perhaps the most frustrated are the senior and partner-level attorneys who have a wealth of experience to bring to the table, but have not had any success getting a firm to talk to them. These candidates are disgusted because their willingness to be flexible and take a hit in title or class year in order to make a move is rejected.
When a candidate with many years of experience is told they cannot be presented for a lower-level position, they become angry, very defensive, and often accuse the recruiter and firm of age discrimination. While it may seem like recruiters are discriminating against them for their age, that really has nothing to do with why they express concern over placing the candidate with a firm.
For the recruiter, part of developing a strong relationship with a firm is having an understanding of the type of candidate they want to see. Our job is to save them time and to present candidates who are exactly on point with their needs. Most firms give us guidelines to follow and ask us to stick to them; otherwise, we would not be providing them with a service.