Have a Focused Search to Get Better Results for Your Lateral Hires | BCGSearch.com \n

Have a Focused Search to Get Better Results for Your Lateral Hires


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Seventy-five percent of all placement requests are for associates with two-to-four years of experience, largely because firms want lawyers with few rough edges and no immediate expectation of partnership. But the simple rules of supply and demand dictate that having focus is essential, if you want to improve your firm's chances of success. Another necessity: Spell out all expectations to save yourself the aggravation that comes with having to go back and explain to your hiring partner or committee what went "wrong" with a search. Start by asking partners to thoughtfully consider what they want before they ask you to begin the search for a lateral. To help you get them more attuned to actual needs, below are guidelines detailing minimum level requirements you need from partners before you make the first call to a headhunter:
Have a Focused Search to Get Better Results for Your Lateral Hires
  • Advance notice on all searches. Most firms have at least one partner who is notorious for putting out calls to placement firms without clearance from management. This simple safeguard is essential, as you will lose the respect and support of top recruiters if partners constantly put them to work before the firm is ready to commit to the hire.
  • Knowledge of what's needed in a candidate. Even in a market in which supply may outweigh demand, it can still be difficult to get top talent if partners cannot be precise about what they want and what the firm is willing to offer. Partners must be able to explain what their practice is all about in a manner that will attract highly desirable laterals.
  • Candor about the level of expertise needed. Everyone is after the most qualified people, with the very best credentials, who have graduated from a top law school. Do you really expect to find a person of this quality who will be content to search through documents all day long? Remind your partners that some assignments do not require a top level of expertise; you may be able to hire someone willing to work hard, impress the firm, and earn his or her way onto a traditional track.
  • Information on departmental needs. Ask your partners to qualify what they want precisely in terms of experience with the subject matter, the body of law, and the industry. Question how many of the requirements are realistically available at the level at which you're trying to bring someone in. Define competence skills so you know whether you need, for instance, a researcher or someone who can interact well with clients. It also helps to outline the characteristics of success that you've seen in other laterals who've moved up. Put together a list of the kinds of things your firm and the practice values to consider when you're hiring.
  • Willingness to spread the word about their hiring needs throughout the firm. Before you place a call to your headhunter, your home-grown associates should know about the firm's need. Ill-will and resentment about lateral associates tend to arise anyway, so it's best not to fan the flames by allowing junior lawyers to think that the firm will be reluctant to provide them with opportunities for a new career track. The firm may indeed be able to transfer existing associates from slow areas, giving them that chance to pursue new directions. This can be a delicate call; one partner raiding another's practice always engenders hostility. However, experience shows that "good" associates trapped in practice areas where they are unhappy will eventually leave for greener pastures.
  • Insights from the firm's existing associates. Your firm's best referral network is always its existing associate base. Knowing this, one large firm offers a $15,000 "finding bonus" to associates who bring one of their friends on board. The system is structured so that half is paid when the person joins the firm, and the other half is paid at the new hire's one-year anniversary.
  • Willingness to use a variety of means to secure "non-essential" hires. Ideally, your firm should have made a few efforts before going to a placement agency. Targeted classified advertisements, offers of alternative tracks or split status for people who want to earn their way to partnership, year-round contact with law school placement offices, and online recruiting via the firm's Web site are always helpful for last-minute searches.
  • When you've done all these things and still have failed to turn up a prospect, only then should you call in an outside recruiter to identify top attorneys who aren't actively seeking employment.
Interested in Learning More About Legal Hiring? Read the Definitive Guide:

How to Hire a Legal Recruiter for Your Law Firm: How Law Firms Recruit Attorneys Using Legal Recruiters

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, HarrisonBarnes.com, and BCGSearch.com, 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 www.BCGSearch.com.

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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