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You are viewing 24 posts by the author Diane Rifkin

FINDING A JOB; BLEND THE OLD AND THE NEW

Recently I read an article that counseled job-seekers to skip some of the traditional methods of finding a job, such as having business cards and actively networking.  Instead, this author insisted that the internet was the sole effective venue to connect with others, thereby enhancing your job potential. I strongly disagree!

We are fortunate to live and work in an age where we have the opportunity to connect both personally and electronically.  While the message may be similar, the methods of communication are very different!  Accordingly, our messages and strategies should accommodate and incorporate these differences.

I’m a firm believer that there is no substitute for meeting with someone face to face, speaking eye to eye, experiencing a handshake, experiencing one’s physicality and body language - particularly when a disagreement needs to be discussed.  Similarly, experiencing and assessing another’s social skills are often crucial to an employer’s business hiring decision.  Smart, strategic networking in your local area affords you the opportunity to make an impression that can’t be accomplished in an equal way online.

Make sure that, if you do have a business card, it’s very professional (avoid cheap paper stock, use a reputable company).  This doesn’t mean you need to spend a small fortune, especially if you are in-between jobs, but you always want to put your best foot forward.  It’s nice to be able to provide a potential employer (as well as other advocates and sources), with your contact information.

New methods of recruiting and self-marketing include a variety of online social media sources.   It’s true that you can reach a larger audience to get your name and skills “out there”, however, you will need to be strategic unless you are open to relocation.  Linkedin offers you the advantage of Search options for researching and contacting professionals that best meet your needs.  You can also ask contacts for other introductions, and post your resume and other appropriate documents on this site using Dropbox.  Pay proper attention to your profile for SEO purposes.  Always remember that the web is very impersonal, even if many people are viewing your photo as well as your profile. Should you choose to connect or respond online or by email, it’s important to remember that the written word rarely is taken as it was intended.  Therefore, a great deal of thought should go into any printed word.

Two more things to keep in mind, no matter which venue you use – find a way to set yourself apart, and try to pursue your passion in your work.  The first can be accomplished by utilizing professional coaching services and asking those you know best for honest assessments of your personality and strengths.  If you can combine your passion with your profession, the challenges of each day will certainly be minimized.  Unfortunately, too many people accept work in an area in which they have no interest – and often this is necessary.  However, you have nothing to lose by trying to pursue your passion through your work – and everything to gain!

By Diane Rifkin, Esq.
President, Rifkin Consulting
Visit me on LinkedIn

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Rifkin Consulting assists attorneys with finding fulfilling employment, and works closely with employers seeking to hire stellar attorney talent to fill critical positions in their organizations.

Law firms turn to Rifkin Consulting for counsel regarding attorney retention, compensation analysis, and strategic growth to maintain a competitive edge in the legal market. www.rifkinconsulting.com


CURRENT TRENDS IN ATTORNEY COMPENSATION

During the economic downturn of the early 2000’s, there were whispers that associate salaries would be lowered permanently because they just weren’t sustainable.  At that time, they had been bumped up by the trendsetter firms in California – particularly in Silicon Valley.  While a handful of firms lowered associate salaries, most did not – instead they just laid off scores of attorneys.  Does this have a familiar ring to it?

Fast forward…from 2008-2012 firms again realized that these high salaries were unsupportable.  Clients do not want junior associates working on their matters, preferring fewer billed hours at a higher rate to complete the job. 

What was different in this modern economic climate is that firms have been more aggressive by implementing various compensation models, including a bifurcated system offering the choice of reduced hours for lower salary.  Others have tried using the entry level years as training, at a lower salary rate, with the hope of retaining the talent who they mentored.  This was the plan at the now-defunct Howrey LLP and, although it made some sense, it never really got off the ground. 

It quickly became clear that firms were going to have to be fiscally creative, as well as responsible; many firms said goodbye to set bonuses and migrated to an elusive discretionary bonus system.  As a result, the security of a higher base compensation has become more important to attorneys.   Importantly, many firms are now operating on a merit system, which has drawn mixed reviews from attorneys at all levels. This is ironic, as almost every other profession rates employees on merit, so it seems very reasonable to use such a system.

With an uncertain economy and law firms still making decisions whether to operate leanly or ramp up, compensation at law firms is still in somewhat of a state of flux.   Firms desiring the best talent must still pay top dollar, yet must now scrutinize their bottom line(s) more than ever.

Personally, I am a believer in the merit system for both compensation and advancement.  Sometimes one must step backward in order to move ahead…and law firms (which are businesses) must continually reevaluate the model that works best for them.  It’s also more important than ever that smaller firms continue to add value to employees and clients alike, in order to justify the lower compensation that they offer attorneys.  My hope is that law firms continue trying to balance these considerations and ultimately arrive at a system that seems fair to most,  so that attorneys will once again view remaining long-term with an employer an a true opportunity for growth and career advancement.

Read more about trends in law firm compensation…" The $160,000 starting salary at large firms falling out of favor"

By Diane Rifkin, Esq.
President, Rifkin Consulting
Visit me on LinkedIn

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Rifkin Consulting assists attorneys with finding fulfilling employment, and works closely with employers seeking to hire stellar attorney talent to fill critical positions in their organizations. 

Law firms turn to Rifkin Consulting for counsel regarding attorney retention, compensation analysis, and strategic growth to maintain a competitive edge in the legal market.  www.rifkinconsulting.com




TEACHING WHAT IT TAKES

As an attorney and Legal Recruiter, I've always been an advocate for including more extensive training during law school.  So many law firm clients tell us that entry level and junior attorneys don’t have even the basic skills to do an associate’s job.  Ironically, many of our young attorney candidates complain because they don’t receive the mentoring that they need for professional development.  Partners are busy with their own work and, unfortunately, time spent mentoring is not at the top of their list of priorities.

What if law students obtained more practical skills that would provide them with a better start within a law firm structure?  How much sooner would a partner feel comfortable including and utilizing them in depositions and courtroom appearances?  This is a topic being discussed by legal periodicals such as Law.com, and is increasingly being implemented by numerous law schools around the nation, including University of California School of Law, Irvine, in California.

Read this encouraging new update about teaching more practical skills in law schools... "Teaching What It Takes" [California Lawyer]...  What programs do you think should be added to curricula?

By Diane Rifkin, Esq.
President
RIFKIN CONSULTING

LEGAL INSIGHT.  PREMIER TALENT.

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Rifkin Consulting  assists employers seeking to hire top lawyers, and attorney candidates looking to work for highly-regarded law firms and companies. 

REVISE YOUR RESUME TODAY, BENEFIT IMMEDIATELY

Have you been too busy at work or with your personal life to give thought to revising your resume?  If you think that your position seems secure, then you might believe that you can always update it when the “time” arrives.  At Rifkin Consulting, we find that being pro-active with regard to your resume on a regular basis is crucial for several reasons:

  • One obvious reason is for you to be prepared to act when a special opportunity arises.

  • A less obvious reason is that keeping your resume up to date reminds you of what you have accomplished, as well as where you need to make improvements.

Let’s discuss making your resume stand out from others!  Most resumes are experience-oriented, and follow a standard format.  An example of this would be:

  • Experience in wide range of civil litigation matters including residential real estate breach of contract disputes; easement, zoning and riparian right disputes; and construction defect cases

  • Experience in all stages of pre-trial civil litigation including drafting complaints, serving and responding to discovery requests, drafting motions and settlement agreements

  • Drafted and reviewed purchase contracts and drafted easements for residential real estate transactions

How can you change your resume to make it more dynamic, more interesting, and more meaningful?  Quantify your accomplishments!  Here is an example:

  • Experience in more than two dozen civil litigation matters including residential real estate breach of contract disputes;

  • Responsible for managing pre-trial litigation including drafting  dozens of complaints, serving and responding to more than twenty (20) discovery requests, drafting numerous motions and settlement agreements,

  • Personally drafted and reviewed fifteen (15) purchase contracts and drafted ten (10) easements for residential real estate transactions.

As a result, a potential employer will not only see it in writing - they will feel it.  Your experience becomes less vague and more tangible. The employer can better assess whether your expertise might meet their needs.  We see on a daily basis that a dynamic resume catches the eye more than a passive one.

Here is the key:  ask yourself two (2) things:

  • Would YOU hire this person? 

  • Could your resume be submitted by nearly anyone in your practice area and at your lateral level?  If so, then you should discard it and begin anew.

It is human nature to become complacent when we are busy and feel relatively productive.  Reviewing our accomplishments regularly in this manner keeps us on our toes…which is exactly where we need to be – in any kind of economy!

Rifkin Consulting offers complimentary resume guidance to our candidates.  Confidentiality remains of the utmost importance.

By Diane Rifkin, Esq.
President, Rifkin Consultlng
Follow me on Linkedin

Visit www.rifkinconsulting.com to learn more about how our attorney recruiters can advance your career!

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Rifkin Consulting attorney recruiters offer complimentary resume guidance to our candidates.  Confidentiality remains of the utmost importance.