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Get My Attention – Send a Respectable Cover Letter!

Recently I read an article by a recruiter who very straightforwardly acknowledged that she often receives unimpressive application materials from job-seekers.  This is often a non-starter and the result is…Delete.  Why?  I would not hire someone who either isn’t willing, able or savvy enough to realize how important this first stage of the screening process is.

When I say “unimpressive”, I’m referring to more than just the resume and academics – I am including and focusing on the cover letter here because the cover letter, which is typically the first impression a reviewer gets, is either poorly written or there is none. 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? The increasing use of email vs. snail mail has resulted in fewer cover letters than ever.  Frequently I receive email submissions with no cover letter – no introduction at all.  Attached is a resume with no explanation why the applicant is considering a job change or what position they seek.  Those that really make me shake my head address me as the employer, rather than a recruiter.  They clearly don’t know where they are even sending their resume!  Not only does it require extra effort on my part to obtain this necessary information, but their apparent lack of basic understanding about this process often leaves me feeling that the lack of attention to detail reflects a lack of professionalism…and that is a real turn-off.  Alternatively, perhaps the candidate has so much self-confidence that he believes that resume speaks for itself, but this is a huge assumption to make.

MATCH YOUR SKILLS TO THE JOB:  Stunningly, I get numerous resumes from applicants who aren’t even attorneys.  Anyone with basic internet skills and has visited our web site knows that we only work with attorneys.  This seems either lazy or desperate to me – and the resume is deleted.  What a waste of precious time on both our parts!  Wouldn’t they research an employer before an interview? Respect your own time, as well as mine.

RECRUITERS ARE THE “GATEKEEPERS”.  Candidates must pass our scrutiny in order to get in front of our employer clients.  If your cover letter and accompanying materials don’t show thought, clarity, and relevant details at a glance, they just won’t make the cut.  We want to help you get a job – that’s why we are in this business.  Take the time to do a thorough and professional job if you truly expect to be taken seriously.


What An Employer Looks For in an Applicant: The Basics

Part 3;   How to Start Networking and Get a Job

  • Submissions of application materials: Make it personal. Submissions should always be addressed to an individual – not “To Whom It May Concern”.  Methods of delivery; adhere to any requirements. Don’t use first names unless you know the recipient.  Follow up in 10 days if you have not heard from the firm.  Stay professional, and remember that they have many other responsibilities on their plates besides considering your application.  Don’t be a pest.

  • Impeccably-drafted resume; avoid flourishes and designs, excessive bolding or underlining, and pay attention to the nature of personal interests listed.  It’s preferable to keep interests off unless you have particular accomplishments that set you apart.  Examples might be language fluency, international travel or managerial positions.

  • Writing sample: If you include a writing sample, make sure that it contains absolutely no inaccuracies or misspellings.

  • Transcript: include with initial submission only if required by the firm, unless you have stellar grades.

  • Cover letters:  Covers must be concise and address why you are interested in THAT firm, and how your interest and skills can BENEFIT that firm.  They will not consider you just because you need a job.  Take the time to get to know people and their needs, because the only reason they would hire you is if you can fill those needs anyway.  Thank them for their consideration – not their time.  Tell them, primarily, some things of interest that are NOT on your resume – or you can also emphasize items of significance.  Limit the use of the word “I” – employers want to know what you can do for them NOW!

  • Activities: Keep them relevant, or that show leadership and/or managerial skills.

  • Show confidence, but not arrogance. You can accomplish this by being familiar with the firm, and comfortable with who you are. Be prepared to express your goal(s) articulately and concisely.

  • You must have a reasonable understanding of what the attorney and firm does - do your homework!

  THE BIGGEST MISTAKES STUDENTS MAKE; THE SHORT LIST

  • There is no second chance to make a first impression!  Arrive prepared for the interview.  Don’t be late.   Dress appropriately; wear a suit unless otherwise instructed (professional dress shows a potential employer how you would present to a client).

  • Prepare for questions about your skills and goals and offer examples.  Don’t embellish or get defensive, as no one expects a law student or entry level attorney to have a lot of experience.

  • Tell me what you can do for me right now!  Show initiative, be prepared to discuss your strengths, but do so in the context of examples.

  • It’s not all about YOU, or what YOU want.  Focus primarily on their needs and goals, so that you can make a more informed decision about whether that firm is a fit for you. For example, ask what the ideal candidate looks like to them.

  • Don’t talk too much! Learn to listen – listen to learn!

  • GRADES: Don’t make the mistake if thinking that achieving a J.D. is enough to get a good job.  Grades will almost always matter for approximately 7-10+ years, as well as your accomplishments.

  • Be aware of verbal and non-verbal behavior – these are both important parts of your personal presence.

  • Don’t underestimating the importance of generational differences; realize that the person interviewing you is likely from a different generation and has worked many years to achieve what he/she has, including long hours and many sacrifices.  Millennials are considered to want to achieve things quickly and want work/life balance from the start.  

REMEMBER - You are smart and have the technological savvy – but THEY have the jobs.  Educate yourself about these differences, and show respect for them.

THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOLLOWING THE PRESENTATION

1. What are small and medium sized law firms looking for in applicants?  Applicants who have the experience in the job description, and with a personality that will mesh in a smaller firm environment.

2. What is the hiring process like for small and mid-size law firms when they hire associates or law students?  Typically 1-3 interviews, where you’ll meet main partners and associates.  If the firm extends an offer, you will typically have 48 hours to 1 week to accept.

3. How can a student stand out from the rest? Personal presence and message, consistency of brand, impressively-drafted resume, LinkedIn profile, quality of developed relationships (references).

4.  If grades are not your strongest asset, what can you do to make yourself competitive? See above, plus a professional Blog can prove valuable in many ways.

5. While in law school, what are some things I can do now that will help me later in my career? Develop an online presence, and start laying groundwork with individuals and at events.  See networking tips, above.

6. What areas of law are growing and employing more lawyers? Labor and employment, IP Patent litigation (particularly with an EE or CS degree), some corporate and real estate positions are opening up. What areas of the law are tightening and hiring less? Litigation, Bankruptcy.

6. How did networking influence the job you have (or any jobs that you've had)?  I was introduced to attorney recruiting by my brother – who had used a recruiter years before.  During law school, we were not educated about the services of recruiters, so I was unfamiliar with the benefits of working with one. We had a good synergy and I joined her business.  In 2005, I incorporated Rifkin Consulting.

Another example is that a professional colleague introduced to a journalist at a renowned legal publication.  We get together regularly, have developed a really positive personal and professional relationship, and I’ve had significant opportunities to get meaningful PR exposure as a result. 

7. After meeting someone at a networking event, what is the best way to cultivate that relationship?  Pay attention to that person’s business card, and comment on it when possible.  Too often people just discard business cards, but in Asian culture this is considered disrespectful.   Send a nice note afterwards to people with whom you wish to remain in contact – calendar follow ups.  Show value. 

8. What is the #1 thing you should and should not do at a networking event?  Ask for a job.

9. Any general tips for anyone that has not been to a networking event?

  • Choose events with intention and purpose.  Your time is valuable.
  • See if you can obtain the attendance list, and research people on the list. You can make efforts to introduce yourself to targeted attendees at the event.
  • Be genuine, smile, use direct eye contact, and develop a good handshake.  Learn how to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself.  Practice how to creatively ask about them about themselves.  An example might be to avoid saying “what do you do”, but consider something a bit more personal such as “What is the nature of your business (practice”, or “What do you enjoy most about your specialty”.
  • Have a business card made that is professional and represents your brand.  This is a wonderful tool to provide to someone who asks for your contact information.  It need not include your address. Share it with intention.
  • When it’s time to move on and talk to someone else, you need a graceful way to accomplish this.  For example, “It’s really been a pleasure speaking with you.” 
  • Follow up with a short note after the event.

I hope this information has been helpful.  Please check back for additions and modifications, and visit our Professional Resources page at www.rifkinconsulting.com .


How to Start Networking and Get a Job

PART 2; HOW TO GET STARTED NETWORKING 
 
MAKE CONNECTIONS, DEVELOP THE RELATIONSHIPS

  • Approach: Network with Intention; implement an intentional and strategic approach, both (a) online and (b) in person.
  • Lay the groundwork.  If you avail yourself of too many venues and events you will likely end up  feeling scattered, exhausted and ineffective.  Narrow your scope, set incremental goals, and strategize about methods of implementation to achieve them.


I. SOCIAL NETWORKING AND RELATED VENUES

LinkedIn: enjoy a 360 degree resume – for free!

  • Employers and other professionals view these; they often act as a preliminary “screen” 
  • Complete your profile; provide the information of a resume, yet with a slightly personal/individual touch
  • Ask for – and give - recommendations (better than endorsements). Get clients and advocates to tell your story!  
  • Take a seminar on how to make your profile very searchable, be specific in your summary
  • Develop a professional Blog and link to it
  • Get involved with Groups and participate in the discussions
  • Post relevant and appropriate photos (i.e., professional activities, charitable activities) 


TWITTER & FACEBOOK

  • Be cautious about postings, despite your privacy settings
  • Be clear with yourself and others (in the nature of the content) about the purpose of the postings/use of the site (keep it appropriately personal or professional – best not to combine these). 
     

II. IN PERSON NETWORKING

  • Personal networking has become paramount.  WHY?   The connections students might make early on can really help when it comes time to fill a position. It's never too late to start.
  • Take the time to get to know people and their needs, because the only reason they would hire you is if you can fill those needs anyway. 
  • Make it manageable!  Network with Intention – Narrow your Scope to Start: Find 10 people in the professional space that are doing something you want to do, meet them and ask how they got there. If you earn that group’s trust person by person, you’ll be well on your way to a reputation as someone with a clear purpose in the job market.
  • Practice asking meaningful questions – including with people you know, like family members.  You might be surprised at what you learn
  • Informational interviews: Contact someone whose specialty interests you and request a coffee, lunch or brief office informational meeting.  Be clear about your intention, for example, “Mr. Smith, as a student at Loyola Law School who is interested in learning more about the practice of employment law, would you be willing to meet me briefly for coffee to discuss the profession?  I am interested in learning more about the nuances, recent trends and your opinion of the future of this practice area.”  Attorneys like to talk about what they do and they'll probably take you up on it.
  • Research the person and be familiar with recent news in order to have a meaningful discussion.  Once you have their attention, you can show the value you would bring to them – regardless of whether or not you work for them in the future.
  • DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB!  Instead, ask what they would suggest for someone entering their field.  
     

FOLLOWING UP:  While you learn what those tips are, you can mention some of the things you’ve done, your skills, and other things that would show you’re a smart person working hard to accomplish your goal.

  • Follow up with a sincere thank you note. 
  • Calendar to follow up with that person periodically.
  • Keep them in mind!  For example, occasionally send them a relevant article or even a referral when possible.  Do not expect anything in return.
  • It’s crucial to remember that others have a circle of influence.  You never know when they might mention you to someone they know who can make a meaningful difference in your life.
  • Consider keeping a chart, such as Excel, with your networking efforts and status
     

VENUES FOR NETWORKING

  • Take advantage of any OCS programming, career fairs, mock interviews, etc. that are offered. This is another way to meet people and to sharpen skills in the process.
  • Often local bar organizations have a reduced (or free) rate for students to attend (usually) monthly events. This is a great way to meet attorneys and figure out what firms and practice areas might be busy/hiring.
  • Volunteer positions could lead to paying jobs... positions like a judicial externship are quite  valuable because the judge will often serve as a reference in helping to secure the next job.
  • Don't ignore public interest (and government, though they usually aren't hiring straight out of law school) because of fear of student loans.
  • Educate yourself on flexible (and generous) loan payback options such as the IBR (income based repayment) which pegs your monthly payment to a fixed percent of discretionary income and you can qualify for loan forgiveness (of federal loans) after 10 years of repayment (doesn't have to be in the same job). 
  • Don't forget to check the job postings in the Daily Journal, they often have positions that are not posted online
  • Mine the school's alumni network. Meeting with alumni could lead to a job, or if an alumni member hears of a job they might think of the student who reached out to them
 
To Be Continued In Part 3; What an Employer Looks For In an Applicant

 


How to Start Networking and Get a Job

Part One; Why You Must Network

Based on a presentation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles on 2/12/14. 

INTRODUCTION

In 1988, I graduated from Villanova School of Law outside Philadelphia.  Villanova is viewed very much back east like Loyola is here in Los Angeles – a highly-regarded regional law school.  I worked for a large law firm, and subsequently for small firms.  When I relocated to California, I knew no one but a couple of family members.

Since I started attorney recruiting 14 years ago, more than half of those years were during a recession.

 What does this information have to do with you?  Well, in real estate you always hear the phrase “location, location, location”.  What I want you to remember is “connections, connections, connections”.  This realization changed my professional life – and I’m confident that it can change yours.

Connections, as well as hard work and a lot of patience, have contributed tremendously to my success in business.  On a similar note, developing relationships after I moved to California was critical, and it took years of effort to develop friendships and acquaintances like I had back East for so many years.  I mention this because developing connections is, in many ways, like making friends. But like friends, connections and relationships should be chosen carefully.  Therefore, it’s important that you network with intention.

Developing personal networking habits and skills will always be essential to your professional success, as there is no replacement for the human connection.  What about the importance and efficiency of social media connections and exposure, you ask? Our world is inextricably linked with Social Media.  Therefore, it’s hard to separate what you need to know to interview well and/or land a job, versus [personal] networking advice.

You want to know how to get a job, how to keep a job, and how to become secure to weather a recession in the future…b/c the only thing you can really be sure of is…there will be change.  Recession will happen again, and technology is rapidly evolving. 

Competition may seem greater than ever, with more candidates having access to information about available jobs.  However… the GOOD news is that, thanks to technology, you have more information and other resources at your fingertips than previous generations – so what are you going to do now that you are armed with these tools?
 

 NETWORK WITH INTENTION; 3 PARTS TO THIS PRESENTATION 

  • Why You Must Network
  • How Do You Get Started?
  • What an Employer Seeks in an Applicant; Do’s and Don’ts 
     

WHY YOU MUST NETWORK; THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
 

1. Networking is crucial for your career. Effective networking leads to relationships, and people tend to hire other people who they know and like. 


2. You are unique – but look to your right and to your left – those people are also unique.  You must distinguish yourself with a personal brand.

3. Brand vs. Reputation: Both your brand and reputation are important to your success

  • Your “brand’ is what people think of when they hear your name (or company) – it’s an intangible business asset that distinguishes you from others.  It can be hard to define, but until you do it’s hard to clearly articulate to others “who” you are. 

  • Your “reputation” is what they think about you as a person, such as having integrity and being reliable. 

  • How do you hone your message and how do you communicate it to those you meet?

  • I suggest working with a trusted friend or colleague to develop a brief introduction that is clear and compelling, and

  • Be patient, as this takes time and regular re-evaluation.  [More on developing your message in a future article].

  • You must provide value; the law firm world has changed.  Gone are the days when you worked for a firm, did good work, and made partner in 6 years…and remained there happily ever after.  More than ever, however, law firms are viewed as a business and so you need to provide VALUE if you want to be hired – and remain employed. The new “reality” is that your “value” will be closely connected with the clients/business that you bring to a firm.  This is achieved by networking, and developing relationships with people who will hire or refer you based on their perception of your brand and reputation.

  • Start planning now to be a business generator, by making connections and nurturing them. Doing so will not only help you now – but also in the future by enhancing your job security.  Once you have a client base that generates business, you gain independence and freedom – to make choices based on your personal needs and desires.

  • Utilize your Millennial Edge to your Advantage!  Law School students and young attorneys are typically referred to as “Millennials”.  The Millennial generation is known for being technologically savvy – it’s vital that you make sure you are also “people-savvy” if you want to succeed.

  • Learn the proper way to make a referral, and to accept a referral
  • Learn to listen – listen to learn
  • Practice following up with connections
  • Adopt an attitude of not expecting immediate results, or receiving anything in return
     

To be continued in Part 2:  How To Get Started


Secrets To Getting Recruiters To Work With You

If you are having trouble getting attorney recruiters to work on your behalf to find a job, there could be a variety of reasons.  It is important to identify the reasons and take steps to correct them.  Rifkin Consulting often works with those attorneys who are having trouble getting a job and can give sound advice on making yourself more attractive to employers.

What Can I Do To Get A Recruiter's Attention?

Attorney recruiters are like any other professionals; they want the most employable attorneys on their books.  They have the best chance of placing these attorneys to big law firms and therefore making larger commissions.  Recruiters often have parameters, i.e., some attorney recruiters do not accept attorneys who are looking for jobs in small firms, who are unemployed, or seeking employment in certain practice areas.

However, that does not mean that all recruiters feel this way or that there are no recruiters who will work with you.  It may be that you are looking in the wrong places.

Sit down and make two lists:  one of your experience and skills in a short, condensed form and one of your career preferences.  Type these up in a concise, one-page letter that you can include with your resume.  This will help you talk to recruiters about your skills and your career goals quickly and weed out recruiters that simply cannot help you.

Now is also a good time to see if there may be glaring problems with your CV.   Were you disciplined by a bar association or denied licensure for some reason?  If so, you may find that recruiters are shying away but could promote your resume to a law firm with a good explanation of what happened.  Never be afraid to tell the truth; most recruiters have seen various problems with attorneys and may have unique ways of handling your issues.

The Keys To Finding a Good Recruiter

It is very possible that recruiters simply do not know that you are looking for a job, especially if you are unemployed.  Contacting a recruiter with your resume may be the easiest way to get your name and face out to potential employers, particularly the decision-makers in the firm.  Finding a good recruiter can be difficult; you could rely on the recommendations of those who have successfully worked with recruiters or research the web to review recruiting firms' web sites and reviews.

A good attorney recruiter will help you find employment by matching you with existing law firm jobs.  Many recruiters have access to information about jobs that are not necessarily available through normal channels.  By helping aspiring attorneys find jobs with top firms as well as "boutique" law practices, attorney recruiters can be a valuable resource, especially for attorneys who are just beginning a job search and are not sure where to look for the right type of employment.

Rifkin Consulting is proud to work with attorneys who face many types of challenges in finding the perfect jobs.  For many years, Rifkin Consulting has helped California attorneys find the right jobs with the best law firms and has helped employers identify legal talent.  Rifkin Consulting also works with attorneys who are currently employed in order to help them make lateral moves and improve their career prospects. 


Top 10 Reasons to Work with a Recruiter

There are very good reasons to work with an attorney recruiter when searching for attorney jobs in CA or when law firms have positions to fill.  Here are the top ten reasons an attorney recruiter in CA can help match the right candidate with the right job.

  1. A legal recruiter works with a select group of candidates.  Part of the screening process is already done by the time a recruiter submits a resume to a law firm.  This prevents the law firm from spending unnecessary time reviewing unsuitable candidates and avoids the problem of candidates applying for inappropriate law jobs in CA.
  2. Recruiters have networks.  Recruiters know the senior-level partners at law firms and have already established a relationship with them.  This works in both the candidate’s favor and that of the law firm seeking to fill an important position.
  3. A recruiter’s success depends on yours.  A recruiter only gets paid if a candidate is hired.  Therefore, the recruiter’s goals are the same as the law firm’s:  to find the right candidate for the job.
  4. Recruiters do more than cheerlead.  Recruiters also provide career guidance, information on law firm history and particular job criteria, resume analysis and interview tips.
  5. A legal recruiter specializes in the legal industry.  A legal recruiter focuses only on legal jobs.  Therefore, a legal recruiter is intimately connected with all the workings of both law firms in general and particular organizations.
  6. Recruiters provide interview assistance.  Recruiters have dealt with particular law firms and may know questions that are likely to be asked in the interview process as well as information on the firm itself.
  7. Recruiters have access to unpublished job openings.  Legal recruiters are often the first to hear about potential job openings and may be the only source of information on some jobs.  Law firms may choose not to publish their job openings on the Internet or in other sources and may rely solely on the services of a recruiter to fill various jobs.
  8. Recruiters know staff as well as attorneys.  A good legal recruiter has formed relationships with members of a law firm at every level.  Sometimes the staff has great influence on hiring decisions.
  9. A good recruiter can provide insights.  Legal recruiters study trends in the legal field and can provide an overall view of the hiring prospects in a given location or particular legal field.
  10. Recruiters take confidentiality seriously.  A good recruiter keeps your resume and job-seeking information private.  In today’s technologically-advanced world, this is difficult to do when you use various social media or other venues to look for jobs.

A legal recruiter can be a wonderful benefit in your legal job search.  Rifkin Consulting has many years of experience helping legal candidates look for jobs and helping law firms connect with the right candidates for their various positions.  With the help of Rifkin Consulting, quality attorneys can come together with the right law firms to benefit both.


What to Ask Your Attorney Recruiter

Hiring an attorney recruiter is a process, in some ways, similar to a job interview.  You must be sure that the attorney recruiter is a good match for your needs, and the recruiter must be sure that you are the type of candidate he or she wants to represent.  The process of “interviewing” a legal recruiter should be taken every bit as seriously as your job interviews and may well have even more lasting ramifications. 

An attorney recruiter in CA such as Rifkin Consulting serves a very important purpose.  Finding the right attorney jobs in CA is not a simple task, and hiring an attorney recruiter is one of the best ways to weed through the hundreds of law jobs in CA and find the one that best suits your goals and talents.

Therefore, there are several things you should ask your attorney recruiter before agreeing to representation.  Here are a few questions you should ask to learn the important information you need to make the right choice in legal recruiting firms from among those available.

  • How long have you been working as an attorney recruiter?  Ask to see the credentials of the person you are hiring to represent you to law firms throughout the state.  A professional attorney recruiting firm has usually been in business for years, offering you a chance to review their success stories and see their development as a key player in the legal field.

  • How do you go about choosing the right jobs for me?  This is a crucial question and is really the key to the success or failure of an attorney recruiter in terms of finding the right positions for you.  The attorney recruiter should use a verifiable method of weeding out job possibilities so that he or she focuses only on those that will fit your demands.  You do not want a recruiter who simply passes your resume to any law firm that is hiring.

  • Do you offer support services?  An attorney recruiter should offer other services such as resume editing, interview preparation and advice on choosing the right job.  Simply brokering your resume to law firms is not enough.

  • Do you have references to whom I can speak?  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” can also be applied to references.  No matter how good a firm tells you it is, hearing it from someone who has used the firm successfully means much more.  You should also search the Internet for possible bad references; while one or two do not mean much, a number of bad reviews may signal trouble.

  • How do you calculate your fees?  An attorney recruiting firm is paid by the employer when a candidate is hired and begins employment.

It is also important to consider the necessity of maintaining confidentiality and discretion in this process. You may have other questions to ask a potential attorney recruiter.  Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or information; after all, this may be one of the most important relationships of your life. 


Benefits of Working With an Attorney Recruiter

Attorney Recruiting

With the economy in recession, it may be difficult to find career opportunities that match your criteria, experience, and academic achievement. The economic crisis has left few jobs on the market and even lawyers are having difficulty trying to find employment that matches their requirements. You may have considered working with an attorney recruiter, but are still uncertain whether or not you should. Here are several reasons why an attorney recruiter can assist you in building an enriching and successful career as an attorney:

Appearance and Presentation:

Often, applicants do not hear back from potential employers because their cover letters and resumes are unsuccessful and ineffective. Most attorneys are so busy applying to numerous jobs that they do not research each law firm’s background and goals. Ultimately, many attorneys make the awful mistake of sending out generic and plain cover letters and resumes. This usually leads to fruitless results.

Cover letters should be tailored to the law firm and used to create a connection with the firm's recruiting department. If you are not referencing your knowledge of the firm or engaging the reader within the first paragraph, your cover letter will likely be tossed.

Additionally, if your resume and cover letter contain typographical errors, you will most likely not hear back from them. Your first impression, even though on paper, needs to be completely flawless. Fortunately, an attorney recruiter can edit your resume and draft an impressive cover letter while also providing background on the law firm to ensure that your presentation catches the reader's attention.

Interview and Impression:

Numerous applicants find the interview process utterly challenging with multiple phone and in person interviews. The process can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and brutal. It is of the utmost importance that you appear to be the right candidate for the position, but most often interviewees become nervous and fail to create the right impression. An attorney recruiter can help you with the interview process by providing effective tips to guide you in selling your skills and experience.  

Networking:

Ever heard the expression: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well the statement rings completely true in searching for the right career opportunities. It is absolutely crucial to establish long-lasting connections and relationships in order to generate the best career opportunities. This may be a daunting task for a new or young attorney.  At Rifkin Consulting, we offer the benefit of more than 25 years of experience with the legal industry and have many well established relations with successful law firms and exceptional attorneys.

Contact Rifkin Consulting

Whether you are a young associate or longtime partner, we can help provide you with employment opportunities for a permanent and successful career. Our attorney recruiters have your best interest in mind and will search for top tier law firms that exceed your requirements.  Contact one of our consultants today so we can assist in achieving your long-term goals as an attorney. 


How Attorney Partner Placements Have Changed Since 2007

As an attorney search consultant, I believe that partner placements and legal recruiting have become increasingly difficult - and different - during the last five years.  The primary reason for this is that as the economy took a drastic turn, many partners' portable books of business did also.  As a result, they were faced with two very difficult and contradictory situations: (1) without significant business they may have gotten the "wink and the nod" that they should seek work elsewhere, and/or (2) making a lateral move was difficult because their portable business had diminished.  Firms are more reluctant over the last few years to take a "gamble" on partners who previously did well.

Additionally, they significantly raised the required book of "verifiable" business before considering adding them to the firm.  Whereas 1 million in portable business used to be a sought-after number, for many large firms that has been raised to 2 million in portable business.  Smaller firms generally tend to want to see candidates in at least the $400K-$500K range.

An additional change that I've seen, and continue to observe, is with attorneys who were previously "service partners".  These attorneys often did not do business development, nor were they encouraged to do so, because there was enough work from other partners.  Sometimes it was even discouraged.

Unfortunately, when the economy experienced a downturn and the work was no longer plentiful, these senior attorneys who were not self-supporting were often told to find other work.  Again, the lack of portable business was a harsh reality that has continued to plague many.  I have spoken with many attorneys in this situation - some have gone from making huge salaries to just getting by.  They have become a sad casualty of the economy – and the evolution of the law firm model - as a result of the recession.  My sense is that even when the economy rebounds, service partners will be less desirable than previously.  I always advise candidates to do whatever they can to be self-supporting - it's ultimately a matter of survival.


Ask a Recruiter – Part 3; Why Do You Ask Me So Many Questions?

I’ve noticed that the most informed and highly-regarded attorney recruiters want to obtain a lot of information from me.  What if I don’t want to tell them about my salary or why I want to leave my job?  Can’t they just tell me what jobs are available in the market?

Understanding several things about professional recruiters will not only answer these questions, but will also enhance your overall recruiting experience.

  • Recruiters are compensated by the law firm (client) – not the attorney candidate.
  • Reputation, integrity and information are an attorney recruiters’ most valuable assets.
  • Relationships should be established that are based on trust, candor and good communication.

Given that recruiters are compensated by the clients, it’s crucial that we carefully screen candidates for important information; examples of this would be salary, required compensation, ability to relocate, hours regularly billed, and about their evaluations.  In-depth screening helps us determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a particular job, a personality fit for a prospective employer, and helps us to assess whether a candidate will be communicative and forthcoming during the placement process.  This information should be kept in the strictest confidence (at Rifkin Consulting, we take this seriously and have a Privacy Statement on our website.  Read it here

The recruiting process frequently takes a good deal of time.  However, there are often times when we need a timely response from a candidate, such as when scheduling an interview.  If we are working with a candidate who is difficult to track down and does not show genuine interest in exploring opportunities, then it's better to know this early on so that we can direct our efforts on placements that are more likely to move forward and with candidates who are more willing.

Specific job information is rarely shared during a first call or email.  Our insider information is a valuable asset – and recruiters want to feel confident that a candidate will not utilize this information outside of the relationship for self-gain.  Sounds terrible – but it happens.  Therefore, it’s important that we first try to determine whether this job seeker is serious about a job search and willing to be loyal and work together once information is shared.  There are several ways this can be ascertained, such as if the candidate quickly sends a resume other requested materials and information that are crucial to the process.  Additionally, it’s very important for a candidate to provide a list of any submissions that have already been made, so that the recruiter can move forward in an informed manner and not duplicate efforts.  Once a candidate takes advantage of a recruiter or is dishonest, the relationship can rarely be repaired. 

We are your managers, your counselors... facilitating the process on your behalf from beginning to end.  With mutual respect,  the relationship can be rewarding, long-term and successful!


“ 'Tis the Season When Gifts Become Bribes”?

This was my week to drop by and say hello to attorneys and recruiting personnel  in law firms with whom I work all year long - but rarely see.  I like to bring a little something to leave with them to show my appreciation for their business and support throughout the year.  More often than not, it's gourmet chocolate, wine or champagne, in a glittery box and wrapped with a shiny bow.  The gesture always results in a smile, and sometimes I am told that the recipient looks forward to my annual visit...and that makes me  smile! 

Some recruiters I know have told me that they don't give gifts anymore; they don't feel that gifts are appreciated or are a worthwhile expenditure.  After all, mailing is expensive these days and time is money, right?!?  I feel differently - the gesture extends way beyond marketing or expenses - it's about appreciation.   I look forward to this trek all year long - I value these relationships.  "Thank you" can be magical words.

Therefore, it was particularly timely this morning when I read a very straightforward article on the “art” of corporate gift-giving.  Written by a compliance officer, this author presents views from countering sides about what is an appropriate gift to give – if you give a gift at all.

Is corporate gift-giving crafty – or strategic?  Is the gift being given out of generosity or with appreciation? Although gifts are given throughout the year for various reasons, through the years it is still commonly regarded that giving a gift to a valuable client is an accepted method of showing appreciation for one’s loyalty and business.  As competitive as the market is, you might wonder whether the largest and most dramatic gifts are those that turn heads…and get the business.  I believe that there will always be a market for elaborate demonstrations such as cars, box seats to a popular venue, expensive wine and champagne – you name it.  However, for most people I believe it’s about tastefulness, appropriateness and primarily about genuineness.  I am convinced that there’s just no substitute for using good judgment and showing appreciation for our professional relationships!

You may find this helpful - Alexandra provides some “near-universal guidelines based on research that [her] organization TRACE has undertaken for over a decade:

  • Gifts should be modest, tokens of esteem.
  • Ideally, they should bear the corporate logo or reflect the company’s products and they should be provided openly and transparently.
  • Delivering to an office is preferable to sending to a home address.
  • One gift-giving holiday or event should be observed. It doesn’t matter if it’s Diwali, Eid, the Lunar New Year, July 4th, or Christmas, but pick (only) one.
  • Perishable gifts of flowers or food are generally thought to be less risky, in part because they can’t be resold.
  • Give consistently and without regard to pending or recent procurement or other official decisions.
  • Follow corporate policy.
  • Document everything.
  • Give in good faith and without expectation of any quid pro quo.
  • A moderate annual affirmation of both new and longstanding relationships is not a bribe.”

Enjoy developing relationships and gift-giving…there is always an appropriate time and way to say  (and show) “thanks’!

Read the entire article By Alexandra Wrage http://www.law.com/corporatecounsel/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202581247691