I regularly receive questions from my candidates regarding the various stages of the ''recruiting process,'' meaning the various steps of applying to and interviewing with (and hopefully receiving offers from) major law firms. This article seeks to summarize the primary stages in this process, and to hopefully answer many of the “process” questions that arise with candidates. This summary is of based on a typical recruiting process from initial meeting to offer for a patent agent candidate aided by one of our recruiters. Of course, much (although not all) of this summary would apply to associate candidates as well. There is also some overlap with the typical process that partner candidates go through, but to a significantly lesser extent. Partner recruiting presents a number of unique characteristics that are not covered here. Lastly, it should be emphasized that only the most major steps are broadly described, and many details are necessarily left out (or covered elsewhere).You should confer with your recruiter for additional information. Also, although the processes for major firms do often share some basic characteristics, each firm’s process is unique. This means that your experience as a candidate at a particular firm may differ substantially from what is generally described here. For purposes of our summary, there are 10 primary steps, each summarized below.
The first step is the introduction and evaluation stage. When I first introduce myself to a candidate, I also go through an initial evaluation to determine which openings, if any, are viable opportunities for the candidate. As I have written elsewhere, to be a strong patent agent candidate with the broadest array of opportunities, you must have: (1) an advanced degree (preferably a PhD) in a technical area that is in demand in the patent agent market, such as electrical engineering or chemistry; (2) registration with the patent bar; and (3) at least 2-3 years of patent prosecution experience. Candidates that are lacking in either requirement (2) or (3) will be limited to a handful of opportunities that do not expressly seek the missing requirement. Candidates that lack both of these requirements are essentially impossible to place in any major firm, so I must regretfully explain that I cannot help them on their job search. After the initial evaluation, I obtain more information from the candidate so that I can prepare a list of firm opportunities that fits both their credentials and their interests. I call this the “Firm List.”
- See also A Comprehensive Guide to Working with a Legal Recruiter for more information.