Listen This Podcast in:
One of the biggest myths out there is that it is impossible for senior attorneys with no business to find positions at law firms. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Are You a Senior Attorney with No Business? You Can Still Get a Job in a Law Firm

I’ve placed hundreds of senior attorneys with no business. I place them every month, and I have for twenty years. I wish other people knew everything I know about getting senior attorneys great jobs—that is why I am going to tell you how it’s done. I hope you do not give up your search for a law firm position just because you are getting some resistance.
  • If you left a law firm position to go in-house and have been out of work for several years, you can still get a law firm position.
  • If you left a law firm to travel, have children, or another personal reason, you can still get a law firm position.
  • If you retired and want to go back to work, you can still get a law firm position.
Every senior attorney can get a law firm position. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

It is a crime that so many legal careers stop prematurely because senior attorneys do not know how to get positions, or people tell them they cannot get positions.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes
  • If a legal recruiter tells you that you are not marketable, what they are saying is that they do not know what they are doing, or do not want to do the work it is going to take to get you a job. Find another legal recruiter.
  • If your peers, another law firm, or someone else tells you that you cannot get a job unless you have business, they do not know what they are talking about.
  • If you personally believe it is going to be impossible for you to get a job with no business, you have been brainwashed by recruiters or others.
It’s time to stop these rumors and focus on the truth.

Six Ways for Senior Attorneys with No Business to Find New Positions

If you are an attorney in this situation, all hope is not lost. In fact, it’s very possible to find a great position that will allow you to continue your legal career. Follow these six guidelines to make it happen:
  • Change your mindset and realize that you are a commodity with value that just needs to find a buyer.
  • Be geographically flexible.
  • Look like a specialist.
  • Have realistic expectations about your job search.
  • Conduct your search aggressively and do things other attorneys will not.
  • Put your ego aside.
  1. If You Are a Senior Attorney with No Business, You Need to Change Your Mindset and Realize That You Are a Commodity with Value That Just Needs to Find a Buyer.
Many senior attorneys give up their search for a new position before they even start. They assume that because they are senior, no one is going to be interested in them. This is ridiculous. If you have been practicing law for five or more years, then you have skills that others do not have and that law firms will pay for. Regardless of what type of work you do, there is going to be someone interested in buying what you do.

You can buy just about anything on eBay. People sell the most ridiculous things. They sell old chairs, rugs, clothing and so forth. I buy all sorts of stuff. Sometimes I think the sellers are amazed that I am purchasing their stuff. Last week I bought a used circuit board for my 20-year-old treadmill. A few weeks before that, I bought someone's used headphones. People will buy anything—websites like eBay and Craigslist, garage sales, and so forth prove it. Right now there is a law firm out there searching for an attorney just like you. You just need to market yourself properly and be exposed to the right market.

It is important to realize one thing: Every law firm is a business. Law firms are businesses that sell the time and work product of attorneys. There are law firms all over the United States that need people to do the work—if you have the ability to do the work, someone is going to be interested in you. I know of an attorney in his late 80s, who wears a hearing aid and needs people to shout so he can hear them. This attorney practices an obscure branch of International tax law, and he just got a new position.

What sort of law firm is going to be interested in you? Here are a few ideas and success stories to get your mind working.
  1. Startups and Newer Up-and-Coming Law Firms
The reason why startups and newer law firms are such great fits for older attorneys is due to the fact that they are (1) often seeking credibility with clients and (2) need people to do senior level work. In addition, they are less likely to be settled in with formal systems like established law firms, where business may be a requirement for partnership. Since startups and newer firms are often being run by first-time entrepreneurs, they are also often extremely disorganized and can be quite easy to get jobs with. I know of one startup firm that hired a couple of people as attorneys—who were not even attorneys—and had them on their payroll for years before anyone found out. Misfits, criminals, non-lawyers—I've seen it all. Startup law firms can be the "Wild West" when it comes to hiring attorneys.

Having a partner who formerly worked in a major law firm and brings a lot of experience gives the startup law firm much-needed credibility. The larger and more distinguished bench of potential talent the law firm has to do the work, the better. If the law firm is able to use your experience and pedigree to impress clients, then they may have an interest in you—even if you are not expected to do much work!

The law firm may also have a ton of work for you to do. I place attorneys in startup law firms all the time. Start-up law firms are typically started by young, energetic attorneys and often grow very rapidly—they are also started by older attorneys who break off in from established firms. I know of a few Los Angeles attorneys in their mid to late 30s with $30+ million books of business who cannot possibly service all of the work they have. There are startup law firms in just about every city, run by solo practitioners and others with far more business than they can possibly handle—especially if they broke away from firms and took major clients with them.

One recent placement I made was into a law firm just like this that specializes in real estate law. A woman contacted me who had left a law firm after five or six years, gone in-house for a decade, then left for three years to have a child. She had been searching for a position for six months when she found me. Since she had so much experience as a real estate attorney, this law firm practically hired her the minute they saw her resume. The partner who had started this law firm had more business than he could handle and he needed someone senior like her, who also knew how to interact with in-house counsel at the companies that were his clients.

Years ago, an attorney contacted me who had been out of work for three or four years. It had been discovered that he was married to two women at the same time while holding an important government position in Washington, DC. It was a scandal, and he had lost his job, both wives, and gone through a very difficult time. At some point drugs were also involved, although I'm not sure how (I believe there were accusations in the divorces). Regardless, all of this information was online for prospective employers and other recruiters to find. When I met him, he was a nervous wreck—so much so that he had chewed his lower lip so hard that it was bleeding. I had to tell him to stop this nervous habit. Because I had been a legal recruiter for just a few months—and was the only one who would talk to him (an Internet search quickly brought up his scandals)—I had nothing to lose and no idea what I was doing.

I like to read a lot of legal periodicals and get them from all over the country. One day I was sitting in Los Angeles reading the San Francisco Daily Journal and saw an article about a small law firm. A partner in the law firm said something like: "Never in my 30 years of practice have I seen so much work! I do not know what to do!" (Side note: If you want to know who is busy and who is not, just read the news. The stories are everywhere.)

This seemed like an outstanding opportunity for my scandal-plagued attorney to get a position!

I submitted him to the law firm, they hired him, and they could have cared less about his romantic escapades in the past. He knew what he was doing and was a good attorney. Within a year, the law firm merged into one of the largest law firms in the world, and this attorney was suddenly a partner at a major law firm.

There are so many up-and-coming law firms around the United States—it boggles the mind. If you, or a recruiter, know the market and are willing to do the work, you can find these law firms.
  1. Established Law Firms
My very first placement as a legal recruiter was a senior attorney with no business. An attorney in his early 60s who had been out of work for more than five years emailed me his resume. This attorney had decided to start a diaper company in Eastern Europe for some reason. The company had failed spectacularly, taking all of his investment when Procter & Gamble muscled in with better distribution, a better product, and much lower prices.

He came back to the United States with his tail between his legs and tried to find another job, with no success—not even a single interview. He had spoken with probably 30 recruiters before me, and they all blew him off. He had applied to all of the law firms he knew that did the sort of work he did. He had networked with everyone he knew from his years of practicing law in the past. Fortunately, he found me, and I had not been brainwashed by the negative thinking patterns of other legal recruiters or even the market.

This particular attorney was a securities attorney. He believed that he would never work again. But he had a marketable skill. Law firms need people with marketable skills. They always have and they always will.

The attorney allowed me to send him to law firms all over the United States. I spent a solid week doing nothing but researching, contacting firms, and seeing where there might be interest. I ended up getting him a job with one of the 20 largest law firms in the world—as a partner. The head securities attorney in the law firm was leaving to be the personal securities attorney for a multibillionaire, and they needed someone to service his clients. The law firm wanted a partner, with no business, to service an existing book of business of a departing partner. It was a perfect fit.

Not too long ago, I was working with an attorney who had an incredible story. She had been working in a law firm in the Midwest and was a service partner, servicing the work of another female partner. She practiced ERISA law. A few years earlier, the partner she was working for met a man online and had a horrible date—the man shot and killed her. The woman ended up losing her job and started a fledgling solo practice that she had been operating for a few years when she found me. At first, she confined her search to the Midwestern city where she lived. She was in a niche practice area, and I knew that this search was unlikely to go well. I kept telling her that she needed to expand to other markets—but she refused to. She said she owned a house, her child was in school (she was a single mother), and a few other similar reasons.

One weekend, she went to Dallas to visit some friends. I had been sending her articles like this one, trying to convince her to investigate other markets. Every time I spoke with her, I encouraged her to look at other markets. After her trip, she emailed me and told me she might be interested in Dallas, and that was enough for me. I got to work on contacting several law firms in Texas but, sadly, none of them were interested in her initially because she did not have any business.

Then something unusual happened.

The hiring partner of a major national law firm in Texas called me and said that they had passed on her resume initially, but now were interested in her and wanted to interview her. Within a few weeks, she had a new job as a partner of a major American law firm in Texas. She is still there to this day and doing very well. She was also able to negotiate a very attractive salary at her new firm.

I have tons of stories like these (I will tell you more as we go along). But the moral is always the same—it is easy for senior attorneys to find positions, because there is always someone out there with a need.
  1. Law Firms with New Practice Areas
Law firms are adding new practice areas all the time. Typically, a partner in the law firm will have a client that wants to give them a bunch of a particular type of work. If the law firm does not already do this type of work, they need to find someone who can.

I recently worked with a trademark attorney from a major law firm who had been forced to relocate to a relatively remote part of the United States for family reasons. The law firm tolerated this for some time, but after several months they decided they were not interested in having a remote partner and let the attorney go. This senior attorney (early 60s) had no business and still needed to work remotely.

I respected this attorney a great deal because she was a woman, had been the first woman to ever make partner in the office she was working in, had a distinguished career in another field before becoming an attorney, and had overcome many difficulties in her life. I wanted very much to help her, but there were just not a lot of law firms willing to hire remote partners without any business—at least not that I knew of.

One day I had the idea of contacting every law firm in the United States with a simple message: Did they have a need for senior “anything” to work remotely? I mentioned trademark and other practice groups in hopes that something would materialize. I sent over 25,000 emails.

Among the responses I received was from a law firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan that had a significant client that wanted to give them all of their trademark work. They needed a partner with world-class trademark experience who they could plug in and have do the work. They did not care if the partner worked remotely as long as they agreed to travel to Grand Rapids now and then. I got this partner a position—and she was able to work remotely.
  1. Law Firms Opening a New Branch Office
One of the most interesting placements I ever made was for a partner who had ten days to find a new job before he was officially unemployed. He did not have any portable business.

He had been working for a major American law firm in Los Angeles, where he won an enormous contingency verdict for one of his clients and brought in over $100 million to his law firm. While the law firm had helped him staff the case and paid him approximately $650,000 a year for the three years he worked on the matter, he still believed that he was going to get a multi-million dollar payday for bringing so much money into the firm. Instead of giving him millions, the law firm only awarded him a bonus of $250,000—he was understandably upset. In fact, he was so upset that when he loudly voiced his concerns, the law firm told him that he could find another place to work. The two agreed to part ways on Friday of the following week.

I met the attorney in a bar where he was surprisingly well put together, professional, and sharp considering what he had just gone through. He understood that finding a position in a week would be difficult, but I told him that I would try. Since he was coming from a major American law firm, I knew that it would be next to impossible to get him a position with another major American law firm in one week. Major law firms take far longer than that to make hiring decisions—in fact, they can often take six months or more. He told me that it did not matter because he wanted to go to a more entrepreneurial firm for his next position, where the sort of thing that had just happened to him would not happen again.

As I began his search, I received a phone call from a law firm in Minneapolis that was interested in opening a branch office in Los Angeles to service litigation-related work for a major client they had there. This law firm also did contingency-related work and wanted someone with the sort of credentials that would impress their major client and who could do the work well.

I could scarcely believe my luck.

Within one day, the partner was on a plane and meeting with the law firm in Minneapolis. Within a few days, he had an offer to join the law firm. The law firm seemed to think that I walked on water and was the best and most effective recruiter who ever lived.

Before you start thinking how amazing I am though, the attorney ended up not taking the offer! Instead, he ended up going to a small law firm where he had a few friends from law school. Nevertheless, this could have been a very quick placement. Law firms open branch offices all the time—and when they do, it is often a great opportunity to get a position there.
  1. As a Senior Attorney without Business, You Need to Be Geographically Flexible.
It is very important that you are geographically flexible. The more flexible you are and the more markets you are interested in, the better. If you are only interested in one market, you are going to have a much more difficult time getting a position than if you expand your horizons. If you can look at numerous markets, the sky is the limit.

In California, for example, there are individual pockets of activity for various practice areas that make little sense. For example, it is difficult for senior litigators without business to get high-paying jobs in most of the state. Yet for the past few years—for reasons I do not entirely understand—litigation has been very active in Orange County, California, and law firms are aggressively hiring senior litigators there. I've placed countless senior litigators in good, high-paying positions in Orange County over the past few years.

Another reason to be geographically flexible is that there are often very few people interested in someone with your exact skill set. Therefore, geographic flexibility can drastically improve your odds of finding a position. The attorneys I work with who are geographically flexible almost always get positions. I am sometimes amazed at how easily they are able to do so.

I recently made one of the most bizarre placements in my career—a healthcare attorney in Colorado. A woman who had worked in the legal department of a large hospital in Ohio was looking for a position anywhere in the country. She had no business and almost no law firm experience. There was nothing particularly notable about her education or work history.

Nonetheless, she was flexible geographically. When she interviewed with the Colorado law firm, her first interview was over the phone. She insisted on putting her husband on the phone—her husband was a retired high school science teacher—so he could ask the law firm questions as well. To my astonishment, the law firm brought the woman out to Colorado after this and ended up hiring her. That is the beauty of being geographically flexible—when you do this, you can find great places to work.

I have made more placements than I can count of senior attorneys who are willing to be geographically flexible. All over the United States, there are openings for senior attorneys in virtually every practice area.

I recently placed a tax partner from Florida in upstate New York. This woman had been unemployed for over a year and had never been to upstate New York when I got her an interview there. She ended up taking the job and could not believe how lucky she was. The law firm also felt lucky because the job had been open for quite some time.

Not too long ago, I also placed a senior international arbitration attorney in Dubai with a major UK law firm. This attorney had been unemployed for a few years and was so frustrated after trying to find a position that he had gone back to school! His willingness to apply to law firms in Dubai instantly changed his career trajectory.

Early in my career, I placed a senior project finance attorney from Texas in Hong Kong. At the time, there were no openings in the United States for senior project finance attorneys, and the only ones I had were in Asia. He applied to firms there, and it ended up saving his career.

If you are willing to be geographically flexible, then you are going to have far more options. In every city there are hundreds of law firms—and every one of these firms represents another opportunity for you to get a position. The more opportunities you consider, the better off you will be.
  1. If You Are a Senior Attorney without Business, You Will Have an Easier Time Getting a Position If You Look Like a Specialist.
Your best odds of finding a position are if you look like a specialist. There are far fewer specialists than there are generalists.

I place patent attorneys with no business all over the country on an ongoing basis. I recently worked with a patent attorney in his late 60s who had lost his job with an Am Law 100 law firm in Denver. He had no idea what he was going to do. I reviewed his resume carefully and saw that he did a certain type of patent prosecution involving a very specialized type of circuits. I searched the database at BCG Attorney Search and found a list of the law firms that had openings for someone who worked with those types of circuits over the past 20 years, and discovered that there were only four law firms that regularly hired people to do that sort of work. I submitted the attorney to all four firms, and two of them ended up offering him a job. The firm he chose was in a city in Texas that he had never even been to! He and the law firm that hired him were extremely excited because they would never have found each other without my involvement. Instead of ending his career in Colorado, he is now busy and practicing law in Texas.

If your resume makes it look like you are a generalist, it will likely be more difficult for you to find a position. If you have unique and rare skills, it is going to be easier—the more specialized you look, the better.

It is also easier to find a position as a senior attorney without business if you are in a transactional practice area such as patent prosecution, real estate, corporate, ERISA, and so forth. Clients are willing to pay for transactional specialist skills, but not very many attorneys have them.
  1. As a Senior Attorney without Business, You Need to Have Realistic Expectations about Your Job Search.
There are thousands of partners in major law firms all over the United States making from $500,000 to over $3 million a year—with no business. Yes, it really is possible to have a position in a major law firm making a ton of money without any business. I cannot believe how much money some of these partners make. I know of one firm where most of the partners have no business, and most of them make at least $3.5 million a year. There are many major American law firms with huge institutional clients that pay their partners without any business $850,000 a year or more.

The problem with this, however, is that it rarely lasts. When a partner’s compensation starts to go north of $1 million a year, most law firms eventually realize that it is inefficient to pay attorneys this much money to service the clients of other attorneys. They also realize that there are plenty of people in the market who will do the work for far less money and work even harder—senior associates, for example. Furthermore, law firms always go through recessions and when these occur, the law firms typically have long compensation-related meetings where dead weight, salaries, and the financial contributions of different partners are discussed at length. People are let go, or salaries are cut.

I frequently speak with partners with no business who have lost, or are in the process of losing, positions with major American law firms who are used to being overcompensated. Their expectations for what they should be paid are widely inflated, and they will often refuse positions if they do not feel the other law firms will pay them properly.

For example, I was recently working with a partner from a large New York law firm who was being paid $975,000 a year and had no business. I managed to find him a position with a mid-sized law firm that was willing to pay him $420,000 a year. The law firm thought it was a very generous offer and took him out to dinner with his wife to present the offer letter. However, the partner who received the offer was not happy at all. He called to tell me that he had a lovely dinner and asked me to thank the law firm for their graciousness, but said to me in no uncertain terms that the offer was unacceptable.

The offer was very acceptable. This attorney did not have any business. The law firm was taking a considerable risk bringing him in without any work. For a law firm of that size, it was also a very generous offer.

If you are seeking a position inside of a law firm and do not have any portable business, it is essential that you have realistic expectations. Law firms that bring in senior attorneys are taking a risk, and it is important to understand the risk from their point of view.
  • Risk: You may not be productive or have other issues that caused you to be looking for a position in the first place. There is always a risk that there might be something wrong with you. You could have mental health issues, substance abuse problems, productivity issues, and more. You could also be a troublemaker. The law firm simply does not know, and hiring you is a risk—and law firms get burned all the time. In addition, when law firms let people go, they often cover up for them and do not share the real reasons why they were let go. You could have some real skeletons in your closet. Law firms just do not know.
  • Risk: They may upset senior associates and others who would prefer to be given the work they are giving you. The work given to a more senior attorney could be given to senior associates, counsel, and others in the firm who may want the hours. If the work is given to you, they lose potential hours, experience, and even advancement potential. Law firms are organisms where things need to be just right to function as they should. If this organism is disturbed, it can negatively affect morale and firm functionality at a high level.
  • Risk: It is expensive to give you work. If someone gives you work to do, this means they are not doing the work themselves. Most compensation systems in law firms pay partners more money for doing their work than giving it to others.
  • Risk: You could be a liability for the law firm if you do not work out. Law firms get sued for age discrimination all the time. If a law firm hires you and it does not work out, they risk an expensive lawsuit that may be costly and drag down morale.
The bottom line is this: If you are in a position where a law firm has been paying you exceptionally well due to inefficiencies in their compensation system, you are unlikely to find a similar situation in the future.
  1. If You Are a Senior Attorney without Business, You Need to Conduct Your Search Aggressively and Do Things Other Attorneys Will Not.
I hired my most recent in-house counsel—an older, senior attorney without business—because she walked into my office, said she had seen an advertisement I put online months ago, and wondered if I was still hiring or if the person I hired hadn’t worked out. This was a gutsy move, and very few people would have done it. It just so happened that I had not hired anyone for this position, so I ended up hiring her.

Being aggressive means looking at lots and lots of law firms. Your pride should not be an issue, and you should not care if you are rejected or not.

My mailbox is stuffed with junk mail every day, and I throw most of this mail away. I doubt the advertisers care too much that I rejected them. I do not pay much attention to most of the advertisements I hear on the radio or see on television—I couldn’t care less. These advertisers do not care that I rejected them either.

Be Aggressive

When you are looking for a job in a market that may not be that inviting, you need to get out there and market yourself. You need to apply to as many law firms as you possibly can to find one that needs your skills. You should apply to every law firm you can in your city—visit LawCrossing to find law firm profiles and reviews.

You should apply to large law firms and small law firms as well. The more you apply, the more likely you are to find the right opportunity. Understanding the value that you can bring to a law firm will be good for you. Law firms are selective, but it is not too hard to find one willing to hire you if you know how to look correctly. Far too few people are willing to let themselves get out there and take the actions they need to in order to be successful. Getting out there and being aggressive will change things for you.

Let LawCrossing Work for You

You should apply to every opening you can find. Join LawCrossing and you will find opportunities you could never find on your own. LawCrossing consolidates job posts from every law firm website and online ad. Don’t want to do the work of applying for positions yourself? You can use a service like LawCrossing Concierge that applies to the positions on your behalf.

You should also look at every old law firm opening, because the past has a way of repeating itself. Visit LawCrossing Archives to find millions of old law firm openings. This is an extremely effective tool and something that I use to search for and locate jobs all the time.

Whether it is networking, applying to more jobs, sending out resumes cold, or simply walking into a law firm office to express interest in a job personally—you need to do things that others will not.

Far too many older attorneys do things like pay for expensive resume revision services or seek advice from career coaches. What you really need to do is take action and get yourself out there. This boldness is lacking in most job searches by senior attorneys, which is why the myth that it is so difficult to get new positions without business continues to perpetuate.
  1. As a Senior Attorney without Business, You Need to Put Your Ego Aside When Searching and Interviewing for Law Firm Positions.
The single biggest issue that prevents older attorneys from getting law firm positions is not the unwillingness of law firms to hire them—it is their ego. There are two types of ego that get in the way of these attorneys finding a position: (1) ego that is bruised by rejection and (2) ego that comes out during interviews.
  1. Fear of Rejection
If an attorney has worked for major law firms for most of their career, or has never had a difficult time searching for a position before, they do not want to feel rejected by law firms. Most believe that getting rejected by these law firms is somehow a judgment on their self-worth. They see themselves as an attorney of a certain caliber—not someone getting rejected by a law firm they might consider beneath them. This sort of thought pattern is ridiculous.

First, let me tell you what most often happens to attorneys who hold on to this sort of belief system. As a general rule, they do not get law firm positions. They end up getting rejected by a few firms and then they give up. Instead of continuing their search, they start their own law firms (as if being employed alone is better than working for a law firm) and rent offices and create websites to make themselves look important—and then they wait for work. Nothing much ever happens to these attorneys, and they are rarely heard from again. Sometimes they find a former friend or two (or a few more) and they all band together to feel self-important doing nothing. How do I know this? Because I have seen older attorneys do this more times than I can count.

Building a wall to protect your ego and fear of rejection by starting a law firm that is unlikely to go anywhere is insane. You are not proving anything to yourself or to the world. Just because you worked in a big law firm before—or used to have a powerful job when you were younger—does not mean that you are immune to rejection and need to protect your image.

Attorneys who obsess about their “brands” and how getting rejected by law firms is demeaning are making a huge mistake. They are so in their own heads, so oblivious to the way the world works and business works, that they might deserve to not be working. This level of risk aversion makes absolutely no sense.
  • Every business out there faces rejection as it tries to sell its products. Some products are easier to sell than others. Businesses that succeed are good at marketing and able to sell their products. Businesses that do not effectively market their products end up failing. 
  • Politicians get out there and campaign and face hostility from the people they are trying to sell their policies and ideas to. They get knocked down and get right up again and try to sell their policies some more. They couldn’t care less if some people do not like them. That is part of the game.
When a law firm rejects a candidate, they do not obsess over it and pass judgment on the person. They look at a resume and make a quick business decision of whether or not that attorney would work for them. If the attorney is not a match for what they are seeking, they move on. They may look at a resume no longer than 10 seconds. The law firm certainly does not sit around and say negative things about you. They just look at a resume and then move on.

If you are going to get a position in a law firm, you need to realize that the best way is to get yourself out there to a lot of people. If your resume is rejected, take a cue from the law firm—move on.
  1. Setting Ego Aside
When a law firm is interviewing senior attorneys, they are asking themselves a few questions: (1) can you do the work, (2) can you be managed, and (3) will you do the work long-term?

For many senior attorneys, the answer to these questions is no. They cannot do the work because they believe that certain types of work are beneath them. They get upset when they are doing work that associates, even secretaries, may do in larger firms. Their egos are too big to do the work asked of them. I've placed senior attorneys in small firms who ended up quitting because they felt that they did not have access to proofreaders, quality secretaries, and more. If you are a senior attorney without business, you need to express a willingness to do all sorts of work—regardless of whether you feel it is beneath you. If you want to have others do work for you, get a book of business and then you can ask your new law firm to hire you secretaries, paralegals, and others.

One of the biggest hurdles of finding senior attorneys positions in law firms is that they often cannot be managed. These attorneys are used to calling the shots. As an older attorney, you are often going to have much more experience than others in the firm and may have many opinions about how work should be done and staffed. You may be used to giving orders, getting your way with other attorneys, and being the primary contact that clients report to. You may know more and be a better attorney than most of the people interviewing you (and potentially hiring you) to do the work.

If you are a senior attorney without business, the odds are very good (but not certain) that you are being hired to be a soldier—not a general. A soldier's job is to carry out orders and do what is expected of them. Soldiers make the generals, officers, and other leaders feel important and get the work done. They respect the people above them and, for the most part, keep their opinions about things like battle strategy to themselves. If they are told to dig a hole, they go dig a hole and do not question it.

While not every law firm that hires senior attorneys without business is seeking soldiers, most of them are. If you want to be a general, you need to go get some clients so you can run matters yourself. When law firms are interviewing you, they are looking to see if you will be affable, happily take orders, and not undermine those around you—especially your superiors. They expect you to put your head down and work hard.

As a senior attorney, you need to be seen as someone who will make those above you feel important and valued. It is not your role to feel like a big deal—you need to make the young attorneys hiring you and giving you work feel important. If that is too much for you, again, go get a book of business. Until then, you need to realize your place, do what you can to make others feel good about themselves, and happily take orders.

Finally, you want to give law firms the impression you will do the work long-term. This means that they believe you are not looking to work as a "hobby," but are interested in applying yourself and committing to your next employer. Law firms are businesses and they take their work seriously. The people hiring you want to know that you are someone worthy of introducing to their clients and integrating into their business.
I was speaking to an attorney recently whose wife had divorced him. I imagined that it must have been very difficult for him to meet new people after working long hours and having to start his dating life again. He explained to me that he had joined several dating sites and had been out on an astonishing 75+ dates in the last six months. He was meeting women all over the country. He said there were so many people interested in dating him that each date for him was an interview and he was looking for reasons to eliminate women. He said he had to tell several women they were too young for him, made too much money for him, and more. I found it funny, but at the same time, it reminded me of the job market and the incredible number of opportunities there are here as well for people willing to put themselves out there.

The biggest problem that people have who are alone and unemployed is under-marketing themselves. If you have a good product, then you should have no issues getting a new position. Businesses with good products that do not market themselves properly fail all the time. Musicians, actors, writers, and similar talent that do not market themselves properly also fail. Proper marketing of yourself is critical if you are going to be successful. You need to either market yourself, or find a recruiter and services like LawCrossing Concierge to do it for you. And then get ready to sell the best possible product—you.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. Harrison 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