It should go without saying that attorneys are not very likely to get great results in their job searches by going with any random recruiter that just happens to call them.
Attorneys should treat their valuable careers the same way their clients treat their businesses. They should actively seek out and retain only the best recruiters. Cost is not an issue, so why not the best? Yet, I sometimes see attorneys working with mediocre (or worse) recruiters. As with doctors and lawyers, the damage that can be done as a result of using a bad – or even just less mediocre -- recruiter can be serious.
The following are some ways to effectively distinguish the great recruiters from the not-so-great (or worse) ones. A common attribute of top recruiters is exceptional credentials, just like with top lawyers. Such credentials include attending “top 25” (or better) law schools and a prior legal career as an associate (or even better but more rare, also as a partner) in a top firm. Of course, not every great recruiter attended a top law school and/or practiced at a top firm. There are always some exceptions. Nevertheless, the fact remains that – as with attorneys -- the few recruiters who do possess such stellar credentials are much more likely to be in the highest ranks of their profession. This is because – again as with attorneys -- stellar credentials are very strong indicators of exceptional knowledge and ability in the legal industry.
Another key factor is the amount of the recruiter’s relevant knowledge and experience. Clearly, working with someone who is just a beginner or a “dabbler” in the complex legal market is asking for serious trouble. The very best recruiters will have about 10 or more years of experience at the highest and most challenging level of their profession (namely, working with partners with business at top firms, as well as being a valued advisor to such firms).
Specialization can also be very important. For example, a recruiter who specializes in highly credentialed attorneys will be much more valuable to such attorneys than a recruiter who does not. Similarly, because the issues involved with partners with business are usually much more complex than with associates, such partners should seek out one of the few recruiters who specializes in advising such partners.
Finally, you should consider the size and reputation of the recruiter’s firm. Although size does not always equate with quality, it is often seen as a major factor. For example, while there are certainly exceptions, the law firms that are considered the “best” are usually among the largest firms, or so-called “Big Law.” So it is with the big recruiting firms. In addition, the few top national recruiting firms (such as BCG ATTORNEY SEARCH) are much more likely to employ the most well-credentialed and highly skilled recruiters, just as the biggest and best law firms are far more likely to have the most well-credentialed and highly skilled attorneys. Moreover, by definition the big recruiting firms will also have much deeper resources and stronger established relationships with far more law firms of every size than a small recruiting firm.