You've spent the last few months updating your resume, working with your recruiter, evaluating firms, and interviewing. Finally, all of the hard work has paid off and what you have been waiting for has arrived: the offer. However, while you may feel a sense of relief, accomplishment, and happiness, you may also feel a sense of anxiety and uncertainty. This is a serious decision to make, and before making it, you should weigh certain factors carefully.
Each of us, of course, is different, and determining what factors are important may vary greatly, depending on the individual. You may attempt to negotiate a higher salary, additional vacation time, and better health benefits. However, these items are often part of a standard package determined by the firm's compensation structure, and you may or may not be able to effectively negotiate them. In addition, other factors, such as a firm's "culture," are also unlikely to change. Determining whether you can accept the offer and the firm for what they are can tend to be as difficult a decision as any you will have to make during your job search. The following factors should be considered when deciding whether or not to accept an offer.
Even if money isn't what gives you the most job satisfaction, no one can argue its importance. Most of us want to make sure we are being paid what we're worth and what the going rate is for jobs similar to ours. This is where your recruiter can be of invaluable assistance. Your recruiter can provide you with information as to whether the offer is in step with the firm's compensation structure, negotiate on your behalf when appropriate, and provide you with information on how your offer compares to what others are making at the same level, in the same practice area, in firms of similar size and status, and in the same geographic region.
Every firm possesses a culture which can range from the traditional and conservative to the entrepreneurial and liberal. This is where the impressions that you formed during your interview will help you determine whether the particular firm environment is right for you. Were people talking to each other when you walked the halls? Were the doors closed or open? Was the staff treated with respect? How did the partners and associates interact with each other? How formal or informal was the interview? How did people dress? Was the office decorated in traditional oak panels, dull colors, or was it modern, with bright art and lights? Finding an environment that reflects not only your personality, but also your ability to effectively develop professionally is a key element in your future success as an attorney. Certainly, many attorneys can be happy and thrive personally and professional in completely different environments. What you need to determine is what environment would be the right fit for you.
Sharing a Common Goal
Firm culture also comprises other factors, including shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize a firm. If you value your time away from the office, a firm with a high billable requirement that consistently requires late hours and weekend sessions may not be right for you. On the other hand, the type of work you seek, the mentoring you require, the opportunities for growth, and the sophistication of the practice may also translate directly into more hours spent at the office. What you need to determine is whether this is a firm that shares your values, goals, and ambitions.
Another factor that you should focus on is whether the people you met when you interviewed with the firm are the type of people you want to work with. You are going to be spending a great deal of time at the office, working very closely with your colleagues, and the ability to get along with them may be critical to your success. The interview will provide you with insight to help you make that determination. This is also where you may want to consult with your recruiter to provide you with additional information about the firm and its particular practice groups. Networking can also be useful, and you may want to call your list of contacts and gather additional information about the firm.
Each of these factors taken alone may not make or break your decision to accept or decline a job offer. Moreover, these are but a few factors to consider when making a decision. You may also need to consider additional factors that are particularly relevant to your job search. Whether you choose to accept or reject a job offer, you should first inform your recruiter about your decision, and discuss these and other factors with your recruiter directly. Then, you should contact the employer who made that offer in a timely fashion. Your rejection or acceptance should be done formally, in writing, as well as by telephone. The legal community is a small one, and you may at some point develop a relationship with that employer albeit as a superior, a colleague, a client, or even your next-door neighbor. Therefore, irrespective of your decision, one of the most important things you should consider when mulling over a job offer is the importance of safeguarding the relationships that were created during this process.
Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. He is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in job searches and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.
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.