A senior ERISA attorney in the District of Columbia contacted me seeking a new position. The attorney had been out of law school almost a quarter of a century and was an associate in a well-respected boutique in Washington DC. The attorney had been at the present firm for well over a decade and was interested in relocating to another firm in Washington DC.
One of the benefits of using a good legal recruiter is that we maintain a large database that we’ve put together of the best boutiques in law firms that are likely to be interested in our candidates. Here, because this attorney was coming from a boutique I felt that they would be a good fit for another boutique. In addition, because this attorney was in such a specialized practice area I also knew that there was a strong possibility that some major law firms would also be interested in this candidate. The attorney was very easy to connect with and told me that I could go out in the market and with his blessing try and find firms that seem like the best fit.
A couple of law firms were immediately interested in this candidate. One of these law firms was a major law firm from Boston and the other was a major New York law firm. Both firms very carefully considered the candidate but ultimately decided not to interview him. Major law firms— even when considering highly skilled attorneys in very niche practice areas— are still very difficult places to get into if you do not have a book of business and are a senior. Here, I thought my candidate would be the best fit for a small, highly specialized boutique firm that did the sort of work they did.
One of the first boutiques that we reached out to immediately expressed interest in the candidate and stated that they already knew the candidate and thought extremely highly of his work. When I get phone calls like that I generally know that the law firm is going to be interested in hiring my candidate. Sure enough, shortly after the interview, the law firm extended my candidate an offer and they were hired.
One of the benefits of being an attorney in a niche practice area is that there are often lots of law firms where you can work. These practice areas cater to clients that need very specialized skills and when you have the specialized skills you are a rarity in the market. Here, this attorney did not need business because his skills were so rare and they were able to move into a very high-paying job and be paid for that rare skill set.