How to Keep Your Job in a Tight Market |

How to Keep Your Job in a Tight Market


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The days of absolute job security are gone for the time being. Many large law firms continue to lay off associates, and some are even demoting equity partners to non-equity status. However, litigators with top academic credentials and with major law firm experience continue to be in demand, and patent lawyers with a background in electrical engineering still manage to get more than one job offer.

If you are a corporate or e-commerce transactional lawyer, and you still have a job, you must do what you can to keep it in this turbulent economic time. Even though you may keep your eye on other opportunities, you must not lose your focus on maintaining excellent working relations with the partners at your firm, particularly those in hot practice areas. This is especially true if it is your intention to remain at the firm after the market improves or you have a long-term goal to become a partner at the firm.

What should you do to make yourself indispensable to your firm, so that even if lay offs are announced you will be spared? This article will discuss how you can hold on to your job even in a tight market.

Be A Team Player. Always show an energetic and welcoming demeanor at the firm. If your workflow is slow, ask for additional assignments. Some associates do not ask partners for work because they find it demeaning or fear rejection. In most cases, because those associates are perceived to be aloof and not willing to work, they are the first to be laid off. If the work in your practice group is slow, volunteer to assist in matters that are outside your practice area. Be willing to help out and assume responsibility in tasks that might not normally interest you. Not only will you raise your billable hours, the firm's partners will appreciate your initiative and commitment to the firm.

In addition, volunteer for various firm activities and business development matters without expecting something in return. Offer to help partners and senior associates in their pro bono cases or in writing an article. Writing articles benefits your firm as well as your professional development. Not only will it enhance your resume, you also will become known in the legal community.

If you are asked to help out on a project, accept it unless you have a very good reason not to do so. If you must refuse, apologize and explain to the partner that you would be able to assist to a smaller degree, such as by completing specific legal research pertaining to the project or by writing some part of the article. Never refuse outright, and always put a positive spin on declining assignments.

Doing Excellent Work Is Only One Part Of Your Value To The Firm. Of course, doing excellent work, having an in depth knowledge of your practice area, and billing well above the minimum required - especially if the work exists - are very important for your success at a firm. Obviously firms are less forgiving of unproductive associates in slow economic times, and you should not give decision makers reasons that you should be asked to leave.

But seniority and relationships with key lawyers at the firm are factors that are vital when a firm has to make a decision as to who should be laid off. Associates must develop relationships with key partners and associates to enhance their longevity at the firm.

You should go to every firm social event that you can. Don't be overbearing, but you should try to have conversations with key lawyers at the firm. Be subtle in your approach, and try to show them that you are an interesting and likeable individual. Do not talk about yourself too much, and be a good listener. Follow their lead in the discussion, and ask relevant questions showing them your interest in what they are saying. If you do get a chance to speak with them one-on-one, you can be more direct and volunteer to help out on a matter they are handling.

Keep Abreast Of The Legal Job Market. With some exceptions, people who have been laid off have ignored warning signs. Perhaps there are rumors at the firm, or in the legal community. This does not mean that your resume should be in front of other potential firms at the first sign of rumors. Rather, you should begin to gather some intelligence at the firm regarding the rumor, and who may be affected if the rumor is true. There is always some associate at the firm who is well informed of confidential deliberations by the firm's leaders. Be very careful, however, and make sure you do not fuel the rumor. You do not want any attribution to a rumor, because if there is anything that offends firm leaders, it is the person who infects the associate pool with negative news about the firm regardless of whether what is being said is true. You also should look around to determine who is sought out by partners to handle matters and who is being ignored. You should also ask yourself if you are being passed over for assignments.

After gathering the intelligence, if you conclude that you may be a victim of a lay off, be proactive. You are more than welcome to contact us so we can advise you on the current legal market, the likelihood that you will find employment, and how to best approach your search so that you will have started the process before the hammer comes down.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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