Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

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Old Gregg
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Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Thu Oct 02, 2014 4:15 pm

I think a few of us have worked with headhunters, are just starting to work with headhunters, or are wondering whether to work with a headhunter. I'm starting this thread because I thought this could be one place where people can ask questions, find info, know who to avoid, get recommendations and find/post general market strategies.


Anyways, I'll kick this off. I worked through many recruiters in order to get to the next job. The quality of these recruiters ran the gamut, from honorable and truth-telling, to just trying any means to get a fee.

Headhunters I didn't particularly like:
Wegman
David Carrie
Amy Kossoris (!!! AVOID!!!)

Some common problems bad headhunters have:
1) Once they receive your resume and supporting materials, they start sending them to every firm under the sun.
2) If you receive an offer from a firm, they begin to regale you on anecdotes on how awesome that firm is. It feeds into the "grass is greener" mentality, but it nearly crushed me.
3) They tend to exaggerate their importance. A lot of headhunters play themselves out to be hugely connected to law firms, which that couldn't be further from the case. For a lot of firms, a headhunter might be helpful (think major market, blue chip law firms). But for a whole set of other firms, especially the ones I was looking at, you are frequently better served by utilizing a pre-existing connection or emailing your materials either directly to recruiting or (if the website doesn't instruct you to send to recruiting), to the hiring partner. A lot of smaller firms, or even less super-prestigious big law firms prefer avoiding the headhunter altogether because there's no/little fee to pay out.


(1) above is definitely the most dangerous. Many firms have contracts with various legal recruiting agencies. These contracts stipulate that once a headhunter submits materials for a candidate, that firm cannot take materials for the same candidate from another headhunter. If that happens, the resulting fee would go to the first headhunter. This causes problems because, if the first headhunter sent in materials (unknown to you) at a firm you eventually wanted to apply to, and another headhunter sent your materials (with your instruction), you've sort of fucked over the second headhunter, and the first headhunter will continue to use their scheming ways to ensure they get the fee.

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tww909
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby tww909 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:03 pm

when, if at all, does it make sense for a person with less than midlevel experience to use a headhunter?

for instance i've heard of law clerks with some (but not much) prior big law experience using a headhunter, but on the other hand i've heard that can hinder your prospects because firms don't want to pay the fee.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:11 pm

You shouldn't be looking to switch firms as a law clerk unless there are extremely compelling reasons. And if you do decide to switch, you should just apply directly.

But as an associate, you don't have to be a midlevel. Plenty of associates lateral before year 3 and you can use a headhunter to do so.

Whether you should use a headhunter depends on the market, firm and prior connections to that firm. I wouldn't use a headhunter of I had a prior connection to the firm. If the market is smaller and more ties heavy, I wouldn't use a headhunter unless you had absolutely zero ties to the area (and, yes, breaking into a very provincial secondary market is very hard without prior ties). If the firm is midsized, or on the smaller end of biglaw, I'd also question the value of a headhunter.

For example, Carter Ledyard, a prestigious midsize corporate boutique on Wall Street... I'd probably not use a headhunter if I wanted to apply to that firm.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:48 pm

Is the supposed advantage of using a headhunter that they are aware of openings that you might not be? Or that you get some boost by applying to an opening through them as opposed to cold emailing the firm? Or just that they have time to do this and you don't? Or what?

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:26 pm

Do you know anything about using headhunters to switch markets? Or is it better to apply directly? On the same note, what about using headhunters for switching firms in order to have opportunities in a different practice group?

Thanks for starting this thread. FYI, I know someone who got sold the "grass is always greener" false bill of goods during the lateral process (although moreso by the firm than by the recruiter). Person is now back at his/her original firm.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:36 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Is the supposed advantage of using a headhunter that they are aware of openings that you might not be? Or that you get some boost by applying to an opening through them as opposed to cold emailing the firm? Or just that they have time to do this and you don't? Or what?



Sometimes headhunters have "exclusivity," which means that a firm might have hired them, and only them, to conduct a search, and that the position isn't public. It is always good to ask if the headhunter has exclusivity. Wachtell does this quite a lot, for example.

Sometimes headhunters have the ear of certain partners at firms, which means that they can channel your materials directly to them or, if there's no official opening, get them to consider your candidacy. You'll have to have your bullshit detector on high to see of the headhunter is pulling your leg on this or not. But when in doubt, headhunter probably has no connection to any partner they say they have a connection to.

Headhunters follow up, know when to follow up, and good headhunters know how to follow up (and how frequently) without making you look bad.

Headhunters can help you negotiate terms and can have a good grasp of compensation terms. One offer I received bumped me up a class year, for example, and headhunter gave me a good list of cons for why I shouldn't necessarily take the bump. Other times, the offer letter would not, for example, let me participate in a bonus for the year. Headhunter could negotiate that. Sometimes it's just good to have an intermediary between you and the firm so you can negotiate these terms and avoid potentially looking bad.
Last edited by Old Gregg on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do you know anything about using headhunters to switch markets?


Yes.

Or is it better to apply directly?


As I said above, depends on the market and depends on the firm. Also depends on your relation to said market and said firm.

On the same note, what about using headhunters for switching firms in order to have opportunities in a different practice group?


Do you mean jumping from, for example, corporate in Firm A to litigation in Firm B? Yes, headhunters can do that.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:52 pm

zweitbester wrote:As I said above, depends on the market and depends on the firm. Also depends on your relation to said market and said firm.


Is there a good way to find this out? I'm guessing (based on your initial post and common sense) that the more connections in a particular market/at a particular firm, it's better to just do the legwork yourself, or at least ask your connections for insight into the firm/market.

Thanks again for your insight.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:22 pm

That's what this thread is for. Post the market you're interested in and people can help out. If it's so small that it would out you, you should probably not use a headhunter.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:30 am

zweitbester wrote:That's what this thread is for. Post the market you're interested in and people can help out. If it's so small that it would out you, you should probably not use a headhunter.


Yeah, that would make total sense. Market is Philadelphia. Currently in NYC. Not really considering moving for a couple of years since I just finished first year, but I figured as long as this thread was around, I'd ask. I do have family/friends at Philadelphia firms, so I may just end up talking to them if/when I decide to move.

The practice area question was more just hypothetical, since I don't totally love what I'm doing now (litigation). But if I really wanted to switch to transactional, I'd probably just suck it up and stay in NYC.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:54 am

I do have family/friends at Philadelphia firms, so I may just end up talking to them if/when I decide to move.


That's the better move.

If you plan to switch practices, switch as soon as possible. Just easier to do earlier. You can do it later, but expect to face an uphill battle + steep seniority haircut (i.e., you might have to start as a first year again...).

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:00 am

Be extremely careful picking a recruiter. My recruiter outed me to multiple associates at my firm (saying you should move to Firm X, your buddy associate Y at the firm is also looking to leave for there). Management then found out but was sympathetic because it was so shitty that I got outed. These people are the absolute lowest scum of the earth and would not hesitate to send you from a great firm to a hellacious firm for a fee. Do your best to just call the recruiting contact directly. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY ADVICE THEY HAVE REGARDING THE FIRM YOU ARE LOOKING AT.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:Be extremely careful picking a recruiter. My recruiter outed me to multiple associates at my firm (saying you should move to Firm X, your buddy associate Y at the firm is also looking to leave for there). Management then found out but was sympathetic because it was so shitty that I got outed. These people are the absolute lowest scum of the earth and would not hesitate to send you from a great firm to a hellacious firm for a fee. Do your best to just call the recruiting contact directly. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY ADVICE THEY HAVE REGARDING THE FIRM YOU ARE LOOKING AT.

This is what scares me, and isn't this actionable? Gotta be a clause saying they can't do that?

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Be extremely careful picking a recruiter. My recruiter outed me to multiple associates at my firm (saying you should move to Firm X, your buddy associate Y at the firm is also looking to leave for there). Management then found out but was sympathetic because it was so shitty that I got outed. These people are the absolute lowest scum of the earth and would not hesitate to send you from a great firm to a hellacious firm for a fee. Do your best to just call the recruiting contact directly. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY ADVICE THEY HAVE REGARDING THE FIRM YOU ARE LOOKING AT.

This is what scares me, and isn't this actionable? Gotta be a clause saying they can't do that?


A clause? You do not sign a contract with these people. I never pursued or confronted the recruiter. If he was enough of a low life to out me to people at my firm, I do not even know what he'd try do to me if I confronted him. These people are the lowest form of human life, not worth messing with them.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:Be extremely careful picking a recruiter. My recruiter outed me to multiple associates at my firm (saying you should move to Firm X, your buddy associate Y at the firm is also looking to leave for there). Management then found out but was sympathetic because it was so shitty that I got outed. These people are the absolute lowest scum of the earth and would not hesitate to send you from a great firm to a hellacious firm for a fee. Do your best to just call the recruiting contact directly. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY ADVICE THEY HAVE REGARDING THE FIRM YOU ARE LOOKING AT.


My pop was a partner at a biglaw firm in NY, and multiple times in his career he got calls from recuiters asking if he'd hire them to fill a position in his practice group. "But we don't have any positions," he'd say, and they'd reply "but you will soon; [John Doe] just hired me this morning".

Always assume recuiters will screw you any chance they have. Direct emails to (a) folks you've worked with at other firms (best) or (b) recruiting / hiring partners (not as good, but still OK) are better than using a recruiter. If you MUST use a recruiter because you are changing markets or something, you should only use one that you've been referred to by someone you trust.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Be extremely careful picking a recruiter. My recruiter outed me to multiple associates at my firm (saying you should move to Firm X, your buddy associate Y at the firm is also looking to leave for there). Management then found out but was sympathetic because it was so shitty that I got outed. These people are the absolute lowest scum of the earth and would not hesitate to send you from a great firm to a hellacious firm for a fee. Do your best to just call the recruiting contact directly. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY ADVICE THEY HAVE REGARDING THE FIRM YOU ARE LOOKING AT.

This is what scares me, and isn't this actionable? Gotta be a clause saying they can't do that?


A clause? You do not sign a contract with these people. I never pursued or confronted the recruiter. If he was enough of a low life to out me to people at my firm, I do not even know what he'd try do to me if I confronted him. These people are the lowest form of human life, not worth messing with them.


The associates should have probably kept that too themselves too.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby gk101 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:32 am

is there a particular time of the year when lateral hiring picks up? Maybe end of fiscal year or after recruiting season is over? I am thinking about moving from DC to Chicago (if Chicago IP ever starts hiring again) sometime next summer

Also cosigning the point about avoiding recruiters who try to sell you hard on a particular firm. They will fucking guilt trip the shit out of you if that's what it takes for you to accept.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Be extremely careful picking a recruiter. My recruiter outed me to multiple associates at my firm (saying you should move to Firm X, your buddy associate Y at the firm is also looking to leave for there). Management then found out but was sympathetic because it was so shitty that I got outed. These people are the absolute lowest scum of the earth and would not hesitate to send you from a great firm to a hellacious firm for a fee. Do your best to just call the recruiting contact directly. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY ADVICE THEY HAVE REGARDING THE FIRM YOU ARE LOOKING AT.

This is what scares me, and isn't this actionable? Gotta be a clause saying they can't do that?


A clause? You do not sign a contract with these people. I never pursued or confronted the recruiter. If he was enough of a low life to out me to people at my firm, I do not even know what he'd try do to me if I confronted him. These people are the lowest form of human life, not worth messing with them.


You have no idea how many leaky faucets there can be in the process, which is why it's important to keep tabs on to whom you inform of your move before you give notice. But even that won't get at all the possible leaks. One of my friends, who took an offer with another firm but wanted to give notice after his bonus hit is bank account, had info about the move leak back to the firm he was still working at. At attorney at the new firm knew of the move, and then he told his friend at the original firm about the move, and then word spread that way.

Many associates are cool about this shit. People come and go all the time, and most people are cool with not telling the partners. But you don't want to leave this shit to chance, especially if you're just holding out to get your bonus.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:48 am

is there a particular time of the year when lateral hiring picks up? Maybe end of fiscal year or after recruiting season is over? I am thinking about moving from DC to Chicago (if Chicago IP ever starts hiring again) sometime next summer


Hiring picks up in the last quarter as a very high percentage of attorneys gives notice after receiving their bonuses, which usually occurs in late December.

Hiring is pretty dead in August and September, when partners go on vacation.

Hiring is pretty dead immediately into the new year, as a lot of positions are filled by then, but it immediately picks up after that.

There are always exceptions to the rule, though. My first lateral offer came in an August when I had been interviewing for the job in July. My other lateral offers came in in January when I had been interviewing for the jobs both in January and November. Some firms only start thinking about their hiring needs into the new years, so literally one of the offers I had received was for an opening that came out a week before that.

So you should always be on the hunt, if you're looking for a new job. You'll never know when a new position will open up. And if there's nothing open in what you want to do and where you want to work, focus on building connections to those firms. If you went to a law school that places a ton of people in big law, odds are you have a friend of a friend who works there. When I was looking to work at a particular firm, I point blank asked my friend if he could connect me with a friend who works there.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:58 am

And it's not like eventually made connections at law firms won't want to help you. They usually get a referral fee (which is much smaller than what headhunters get, but definitely a solid amount of money), so they have an incentive to get you in.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:00 am

gk101 wrote:I am thinking about moving from DC to Chicago (if Chicago IP ever starts hiring again) sometime next summer


Dang you're right: http://www.gobiglaw.com/search?search_s ... =relevance

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Frayed Knot
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Frayed Knot » Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:53 am

zweitbester wrote:And if there's nothing open in what you want to do and where you want to work, focus on building connections to those firms. If you went to a law school that places a ton of people in big law, odds are you have a friend of a friend who works there. When I was looking to work at a particular firm, I point blank asked my friend if he could connect me with a friend who works there.

How useful/willing to help are former associates from your current firm? I've heard some firms keep databases of ex-associates for exactly that reason.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:46 am

How useful/willing to help are former associates from your current firm? I've heard some firms keep databases of ex-associates for exactly that reason


Connections are built from being able to relate to each other through shared experiences, be it law school, college or, yes, even prior employers. Totally fine to use prior firm as a means of initiating contact. If anything, associate might even be able to relate to the unique frustrations you feel at your firm.

Navigate with care. Don't be willing to talk negatively up front about your current firm. Sometimes, associates (like myself) had largely positive experiences and lateraled for other reasons. Gauge disposition and move onward from there.

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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Big Dog » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:49 pm

1) Once they receive your resume and supporting materials, they start sending them to every firm under the sun.


Can you not just tell them to not send out your resume/credentials to any firm(s) without your prior permission.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Headhunters, Legal Recruiters, etc.

Postby Old Gregg » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:50 pm

Big Dog wrote:
1) Once they receive your resume and supporting materials, they start sending them to every firm under the sun.


Can you not just tell them to not send out your resume/credentials to any firm(s) without your prior permission.


Many don't listen.




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