I am going to state from the begining that this blog, or as they say in legal land, "blawg", will be more of a train of thought. My apologies from the start. I usually write my blogs in Word and then copy the blog to the posting site. However, this blog was screaming to get out. I think it has something to do with my new self reflection approach to life.
As a legal recruiter, I am sitting back and trying not to panic at the state of the legal market. The talk of major New York estabished law firms having layoffs scares me to death. Cadwalader Wickersham has had two. Thelen Reid had layoffs and now they are in the news for the defection of named partners during merger talks. There are rumors about Simpson Thatcher laying off associates, but the firm is denying these rumors with gusto. There are even firms out there making the news because they have asked their associates to take pay cuts. Yikes!! An unheard of move in an industry that thrusts recent law school graduates into the top 5% income bracket in this country.
So all this negative news and my panic attacks got me thinking. Is my house in order as a recruiter and do I practice what I preach? Legal recruiting has enjoyed a nice little joyride since the late 90s - 9/11 excluded. How many of us prepared for a downturn? How many of us set oursleves up to still achieve when the market went dry? We frown upon firms that overextend themselves when times are good. Do we do the same? Did we slack off during the good times because the business just rolled through the door and now we are up sh_t's creek without a paddle now that the recession is here?
First, I must say that in my short time in this business, I have learned customer service goes a long way. Simply being polite and courteous to whomever you deal with, will bring business to your door. I have gotten referrals from lawyers that I was unable to help because I treated them with respect. Plus, I simply treat clients and candidates as though they are people and not dollar signs. I hate to be treated that way so I do my best not to treat anyone else in such a manner.
I tell young attorneys that they need to be constantly networking if they want to succeed in the legal profession. Who knows who holds the ticket to your next great job? As I state over and over, most positions are filled through networking. How do you think most federal judges - even the Supreme Court justices - got their jobs? The legal profession is definitely a "who you know" industry. Granted, I have been in recruiting for less than a year - I know, I know a great time to start - but I need to ask myself, "Am I truly networking all the time?" Am I leaving every rock unturned? If I want to be honest with myself, the answer to that question is no. However, from this day forward I promise to step up my game. Cross my heart and stick a needle. . . . You get the point.
I also advise recent law school grads searching for jobs to pick up the phone and call everyone they can think of that may lead them to a job. If the person they call cannot offer them a job, they should ask the person if he or she can direct them to someone who can. Us recruiters need to be doing the same thing. Are we following up with our clients to find out whether they have any needs that they have not expressed yet? Are we making the tough calls to see if we can land a new client? Better yet, are we "cold-calling" (yes, I am saying the more ugly term versus "candidate sourcing") to find candidates to fill our clients' positions? I hate cold-calling, but it is a necessary evil that comes along with the territory.
Lastly, when things get tough, we must get creative. To stay alive, you must constantly be able to reinvent yourself and your business. If anyone has shown us that, it is Madonna. My parents told me she would be a one hit wonder. (Ummm Mom and Dad just want to let you know, I was right and you were wrong. Madonna is turning 50 and she is still going strong.) I may not be able to sing or have her amazing body, but I am able to follow her lead when it comes to business. You must always be coming up with ways to keep your name out there. You want your name to be on everyone's lips - your current clients and candidates and the potential clients and candidates. Thus, you must be able to remain a head of the curve. Whether it is advertising, placing a call or sending a note, you need to be doing something.
As we can see, gone are the days in the legal market where we can just sit back and ride the wave of success. The massive layoffs in the legal market is a clear indicator of that. However, if recruiters buckle down, become proactive and put into practice what we preach, then there is no reason for us to sink along with this legal market.