As a legal recruiter, I often get asked the following question by new attorneys and law students: do you have any advice for me?
A legal recruiter is at his or her best at advising a candidate after getting to know the candidate on a deeper level. But there are a few things that I wished all candidates would understand.
Lawyering is a service business, and therefore, customer service goes a long way.
Here, the traditional truth that being sincerely polite and courteous to everyone you deal with — from the receptionist to the faithful client — brings long term success to your door. Referrals can come from lawyers you were unable to help because you treated them with respect (and we all would hate to refer a client to someone who disrespected us regardless of their qualifications). Learning to treat clients and candidates as real people and not as billable hours or dollar signs goes a long way (no one likes to be treated like “income” in any setting).
You need to network consistently if you want to succeed.
You can’t connect the dots moving forward, and there is no way to predict who will help you open the door to your next great job. Most positions are filled through a phone call from a contact — including federal judges and justices on the Supreme Court. You need to work hard; but this is a business about “who you know.” While it is impossible to leave every single rock unturned, you want to make a deliberate effort to network and establish relationships.
For law students and recent graduates, do not shy away from picking up the phone and calling. Not everyone is in a position to offer you a job, but they usually will know someone who can. As a recruiter, I work hard to do this very thing: to find out who needs what, and whether someone is a match to fill that need.
To stay up to date and attractive to a potential employer, you (and your practice) must constantly be open to reinvention. With the current state of technology, there are no excuses to not drum up creative ways to keep your name out there. You want people to know your name and associate you with being ahead of the curve. Think beyond advertising, placing a call, or sending a note. The internet has placed a global audience at your fingertips.
These are macro level tips, but if you can get in the habit of applying them to your professional development now, you will become indispensable to your employer later.