Attorney Job Search: Asking Questions That Matter

meetingYou’ve probably heard it a million times—ask questions at your interview. But if you’re like most attorneys, especially new attorneys, you may be unsure of which questions are the ones that matter. Below are a few questions you should definitely ask at your next interview:

Questions About The Law Firm

  • How would you describe your company’s culture? And if you already know about the company culture, you can ask something more specific that addresses areas of the culture that seem confusing or unclear.
  • What types of plans for expansion and growth do you have for the next five years?
  • What is the biggest challenge your law firm has faced most recently?
  • What new markets are you hoping to explore in the near future?

Questions About The Job

  • How many attorneys/partners will I report to?
  • What types of assignments do attorneys in my position receive?
  • Do attorneys in my position have an opportunity to take on more complex/challenging assignments?
  • What are your expectations regarding business development? What type of business development training do new attorneys receive?
  • How will my work be evaluated?

If possible, your questions should be listed out before you arrive at the interview. But remember to listen closely, just in case the questions answered before you ask.

Questions About The Interviewer

  • How long have you worked for the law firm?
  • What did you find most attractive about this law firm?

Remember to never ask the interviewer “negative” questions such as “What do you least like about this job?” Doing so can create an awkward situation and put the interviewer in the position of bad mouthing their own employer.

Recruiter Corner: Being More Than a Commodity

art_moneywheelbarrowThe most successful recruiters know that price isn’t the only factor law firms consider when partnering with a recruiting firm.  Added value is what most law firms want to know about, and if you can emphasize the unique value your offer, you can charge more for your recruiting services. Below are a few tips on how you can negotiate a higher fee:

  1. Choose the right targets. The first thing you need to do is pick the right law firms to work with. You want only those law firms that need what you’re offering and who are ready to buy. There’s no point in wasting your time with law firms that may be hiring—twelve months from now. You can always keep them on your contacts list and get back to them in the future.
  2. Avoid clients with unrealistic expectations. When assessing a client’s desires, make sure that what they want can actually be done. Are they willing to allow enough time for you to source talent? Do they pay enough for the type of candidates they want? If not, you’re wasting your time.
  3. Get the specifics. No matter how eager you are to work with a client, get the specifics of what they need before you begin negotiating your fee.  Be careful, agreeing to vague recruiting projects can leave you doing more work than you anticipated and not getting paid what you’re worth.
  4. Face reality. As you negotiate your fees, honestly assess the situation. Is this client a good long-term investment? How badly do you need the job orders? Do you have the skills, experience, and contacts to deliver what they want? By honestly assessing the situation, you can determine what concessions (if any) to make.

By emphasizing the unique value you bring as a legal recruiter, you can ensure your services are never treated as a commodity.

Attorney Job Search: Are You A Rude Job Seeker?

3451559030_2237705085_a2b5121461_xlargeCourtesy and good manners are right up there with skills and experience when it comes to impressing employers. But many attorneys searching for work don’t realize some of their behaviors may be considered rude. Below we talk about some rude behaviors you should avoid during your job search:

  1. Being dismissive of support staff. When coming in for an interview, treat everyone with respect. Receptionists, paralegals, secretaries, and young associates should all be treated with the respect you would give to a partner.
  2. Wasting time. Attorneys searching for work often do things that they think show initiative when in fact it shows they lack respect for other people’s time—such as incessantly following up after an interview. You should also show respect for the hiring manager’s time by never sending generic resumes that fail to give information on your relevant skills. And finally, pay attention to the employer’s job ad requests. For example, if the employer says they only want local job candidates don’t apply if you live out of state.
  3. Asking basic questions.  If you’re lucky enough to get a job interview (or even an informational interview), don’t waste your interviewer’s time by asking basic questions that can be researched with a five minute internet search. Instead, ask the type of questions that show you respect the law firm enough to at least do your homework.
  4. Rambling. Whether you’re at a networking event or in an interview, keep your questions, answers, and comments, succinct, clear, and to the point, and always stay on topic. Remember to answer the questions that were actually asked, not the questions you wished were asked.

As you start your job search, take the time to brush up on your etiquette so that you can minimize the chances of being rude to the people who can help you find work.

Competitive Intelligence: Exploring Job Candidate History with Leopard List and Firmscape

competitive intelligenceUnderstanding the motivations and path of job candidates is critical to helping you choose the right person for your open position. But while examining a candidate’s online presence and reputation is important, you can get a deeper understanding by examining their work history. Fortunately, competitive intelligence tools such as Leopard List and Leopard Firmscape deliver accurate and up-to-date information that you can easily search, sort, filter, and download into an excel spread sheet.  Gather information about a job candidate’s employment history, alma mater, practice areas, specialties, and more.

Recently McDermott Will & Emery hired Matthew Sperry and Matthew McKim as partners in their Direct Investing practice group. And it’s certain that the hiring manager and recruiter who sourced these two candidates conducted exhaustive research before they made their choice. A competitive intelligence tool such as Leopard List can show hiring managers and legal recruiters a lot of pertinent information about both of these accomplished attorneys. For example, a ‘last name’ search for Sperry shows that he has a Tax LLM and that he has experience in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, an excellent choice for McDermott Will & Emery. Also, Leopard List gives an overview of the attorney’s recent work history, giving the recruiter or hiring manager some insight into where he has worked, in what capacity, and for how long. Below is a screenshot of Sperry’s work history as provided by Leopard List.

Matthew C SperryLegal recruiters can also search for keywords that fit the description of their job orders. For example, in the case of the McDermott Will & Emery position with their Direct Investing practice group, the hiring manager probably wanted someone with both international law experience as well as business experience. In that case searching for “cross-border” using Leopard List’s keyword search would deliver hundreds of results. You can further limit your search by filtering practice area, specialty, location, JD year, and more. You can dig even deeper into the culture and status of the candidate’s former or current law firm by examining the competitive intelligence data delivered by Leopard Firmscape, you can find out how large the firm is, where their offices are located, how many attorneys and partners work in each office and how large each of their practice areas are. Below is just one of the graphs that you can see in Firmscape. In this case it’s a chart for DLA Piper’s practice groups.

DLA PAYou can even see what number of DLA Piper’s attorneys attended top-tier law schools.

DLA SchoolsUsing this type of competitive intelligence data, you can begin to get a glimpse into how well a particular candidate may fit into a position and the law firm as a whole.  You can also use the data found in Leopard Firmscape and Leopard List to find similarly situated attorneys who may be a good fit for the job opportunity. Using competitive intelligence data to find and vet your job candidates can make recruiting for new jobs less of a hassle and more precise.

Since Leopard Solutions always uses the most accurate data available and organizes it in an easy to use way, you can save yourself from wasting time dealing with bad-match job candidates and spend more time connecting with those candidates likely to deliver the experience and expertise you want.

Recruiter Corner: Six Signs You Should Go Independent

recuiter-1If you’re a recruiter working for an agency, you’ve probably considered working independently at least once. Well, it takes a certain personality to go it alone. Do you have what it takes? Below are six signs that you’re suited to become an independent recruiter:

  1. You’re self-motivated. If you’re willing to work on projects independently with no guarantees of compensation, then you’re probably suited to become an independent recruiter.
  2. You have unusual insights. Working independently requires that you stand out from the crowd, but to do that you need to have a unique outlook and the ability to see things others don’t.
  3. You’re a problem solver. Every independent recruiter knows that if you don’t produce for a client, you don’t eat. Employers are looking for recruiters who can solve their sourcing problems. If you have the ability to recruit hard-to-find talent on a short notice or the ability to attract the most productive talent in the legal industry, then you’ve probably got what it takes to go independent.
  4. You’re a bit of a workaholic. Working independently means that you’ll need to wear many hats. Unless you’ve got deep pockets, you can forget about hiring an assistant. So get ready to work long hours, especially in the beginning.
  5. You know how to build a network. Independent recruiters know that they need a community of support to survive, so they spend at least some of their time networking.
  6. You’re resilient. Abandon your notions of a steady climb to success, working as an independent recruiter is a bumpy road. Your ability to spring back from hard times will help you keep going when things get impossibly tough.

Before you set out to become an independent recruiter, make sure you’ve got the right personality to make the leap.

Three Questions You Should Ask Before Beginning a Job Search

dreamjob-for-blogSearching for work can be exhausting and frustrating, and that’s the main reason why many job seekers cast a wide net looking for “just any” job to get some income. But taking any job that will pay the bills won’t help you reach your long-term goals. That’s why you need a well thought out plan before you begin your job search. Below are three questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What is your life purpose? While many people will view this as very new age like, everyone should have a life purpose that helps guide their decisions. Is your purpose to serve your community? Or, is it to enjoy all the luxurious things of modern life? Whatever your purpose, let that guide the type of jobs you seek out.
  2. How much income do you need to earn? Money isn’t everything, but it is key to building a strong foundation on which you can live. Calculate your expenses and the cost of the lifestyle you want to determine the minimum amount of money you can earn. This will help you quickly weed out jobs that pay too little and accept rewarding jobs that pay just enough.
  3. What’s your working style? Some lawyers enjoy a fast-paced environment, fueled by tight deadlines, and energetic colleagues, while others enjoy a more laidback company. Ask yourself, do you enjoy working on a team or alone? Do you want your superiors to give you a detailed task list or do you prefer making your own decisions about how you will manage your day? Your working style will help you decide which type of law firm is the right fit for you.

By having a clear vision of how you truly want to work, you can ensure that you don’t just take any job, but that you take on a new, rewarding career.

Recruiter Corner: Three Qualities of a Top Job Candidate

jobs_candidateAs you build your network of quality job candidates, what qualities should you look for when you’re not trying to fill a specific job order? Below are three qualities that most top job candidates share:

  1. A “get it done” mentality. Top job candidates have a “let’s get this done” mentality. They set goals and create a clear plan to achieve them. No matter what law firm you’re recruiting for, productive job candidates are always in demand. As you network with job candidates, pay special attention to those who have a history of getting things done.
  2. Game changers. Most employees are middle-of-the-road good. They follow instructions and do the job they were hired to do. But then there are the “game changers,” these people seem to always hit it out of the ballpark. They come into a law firm and make the types of changes that help elevate the entire team. As you network with job candidates, listen to what they have to say about their accomplishments. Do your best to stay in touch with any candidates that increase revenues or save their employers money.
  3. Loyalty. Turnover is costly. That’s why recruiters who can find loyal talent are highly valued. As you grow your network of legal talent, look for candidates who have remained at their previous jobs for five years or more. If you can make a good match between them and a law firm, it’s very likely that they’ll stay at the new job long-term.

While each law firm demands a variety of qualities from job candidates, there are some qualities that all top performers share.

Four Tips For Thriving As A Solo-Practitioner

Law_frim1If you’re thinking of starting a solo law practice or you’re already running one, you’re probably in the process of finding out what you need to do to thrive. Below are four tips for thriving as a solo-practitioner.

  1. Be exclusive. While it’s tempting to take whatever work comes your way when you’re a struggling solo lawyer, that’s a strategy for disaster. Instead of being all things to all people, become a specialist. Find out which types of clients and legal matters you want to handle and which type you don’t.
  2. Mind your money. Carefully managing your finances and calculating your expenses right from the beginning will establish a sound foundation of fiscal health. One-man law firms shouldn’t spend more than 50% of their revenue on overhead and should try to have a cash stash (or credit line) that can tide them over during lean times.
  3. Reinvest. No matter how much your expenses are, you must take some portion of your revenue and reinvest it in your law firm.  Whether you’re investing in marketing, software, or contractors such as a temporary secretary, your business will thrive only if you invest in it.
  4. Cultivate business. When you’re working as a solo-practitioner it’s important that you constantly and consistently cultivate new business. Don’t spend too much time around other lawyers unless they’re willing to refer business your way. Instead, spend time with the people you want as clients. For example, if you’re an immigration attorney, you should build relationships with organizations and individuals who serve immigrants.

Remember, if you want to truly succeed as a solo-practitioner, you’ll need to take steps to make sure your law firm has a strong foundation of relationships and is fiscally sound.

How Competitive Intelligence Data Can Help You Grow Your Business

Globale WirtschaftFor legal professionals looking to grow their business, competitive intelligence can offer a solid foundation of data which can help you make the right moves. There are basically three things you need to do to grow your business, and competitive intelligence can help you do them.

Identify your customer.

If you’re a legal recruiter, competitive intelligence tools such as Leopard Firmscape can help you discover which law firms need your services. For example, law firm Baker Donelson recently added three attorneys to their real estate practice group. If you examine Leopard Firmscape’s practice area history report, you can see that the number of attorneys working in real estate has grown steadily over the past four quarters, from 6220 attorneys in the 3rd quarter of 2013 to 6427 attorneys in the 2nd quarter of 2014. And more specifically, Nashville, along with a few other cities, has seen a steady increase in attorneys working in real estate. For legal recruiters looking to nurture relationships with thriving law firms, it seems that real estate may be a practice area to watch, at least for now.

The same could be said for law firms looking for practice areas that are growing. Leopard Firmscape’s practice area history report offers an important overview of how many attorneys are working in various niches over the course of four quarters.  Currently there are at least 10 practice areas that have a growing number of attorneys working in them.

Identify the customer’s problem and offer a solution.

The legal industry is a problem solving one, just like all businesses. So, if you want to grow your business, you’ll need to identify what problems are begging for a solution.  Gathering competitive intelligence data from a variety of sources such as Leopard Solutions, you can get an idea of what industries can benefit from your expertise. Baker Donelson has honed in on the growing health care industry as they continue to grow their firm, and they’ve hired an accomplished attorney, Elizabeth C. Sauer, to serve the industry’s real estate legal needs.

Ms. Sauer, who joins as shareholder, focuses her practice on assisting owner-operators, developers, managers and investors, primarily within the health care and senior housing/skilled nursing industries, in a wide variety of real estate transactions.  She represents hospital systems, health care REITs, lenders and other public and private companies in the purchase, sale, leaseback, development, management, leasing and financing of raw land and improved assets. (source)

And while Baker Donelson is growing its real estate and finance group, it offers legal solutions to a variety of industries and companies. Donelson has 16 different practice groups and represents at least four major corporations, including Ford Motor Co. according to Leopard Firmscape data.

Identify your competitors.

In the Art of War it is said that if you don’t know yourself or your competitors you will lose almost all of the time. Well, while it may be relatively easy to learn about your own law firm, it can be challenging to learn the truth about your competitors. That’s why using the right competitive intelligence tools is essential to finding out who your competitors really are.  Leopard Firmscape offers an easy way to see at a glance who your most important competitors are. According to Firmscape, Baker Donelson has at least 10 major competitors threatening to erode their market share, one of them is Baker Botts, LLP. If you go into Leopard Firmscape’s Law Firm Comparison report, you can get a quick overview comparison of the number of laterals, promotions, new hires etc. at each law firm and how many of their associates work in each practice area.

By digging deeper into the competitive intelligence data on your competitors you can get a better understanding of what you’re facing and how you might move to effectively compete.

Once you identify your customers, solve a problem, and understand your competitors, you’ve given yourself the competitive intelligence data you need to grow your business.

Recruiter Corner: How to Win Big Clients When You’re Small

art_moneywheelbarrowThere’s no denying that your recruiting business can only go so far when dealing with small clients. If you want to blast through the glass ceiling of financial potential, you’ll need to play in the “big boys” sandbox. But how do you get big law firms to work with your small or one-man recruiting company? Below are a few tips:

  1. Adapt. Create specialized services that cater to the needs of your target companies. You essentially need to discover their recruiting needs and then adapt your services so that they fill an unmet need.
  2. Build relationships. It’s true that large law firms aren’t as nimble as small ones, but it’s also true that they’re not as fast either. That’s why you’ll need to take your time building relationships with the decision makers. Be prepared to spend months (or more) building that relationship before you land your first job order.
  3. Team up. While there are a lot of benefits to being an independent recruiter, the truth is that you may not be able to serve the needs of large law firms on your own. Build a flexible team that can come together (and disband) when necessary so that you can service large law firms without carrying the overhead of a large recruiting company all year long.
  4. Build your reputation. PR for your recruiting firm should be an ongoing project. Make sure that you announce your successes, get involved in industry events, and stay on the minds of decision makers. This should happen both online and offline.

Once you build a reputation for being able to service large law firms, expect your revenues to increase substantially.