Every day we hear the economy is improving, and I certainly hope that it is. The latest reports from the Labor Department claim the unemployment stats are slowly heading in the right direction, and while many attorneys were laid-off during the recession, legal hiring does appear to be slightly increasing. I would love to see it increase at a more dramatic pace, but anecdotally, I am seeing greater opportunities having been asked to recruit for more attorney openings both in-house and at firms.
Recently in preparing a candidate for an interview, he asked me how do I answer what I have been doing while out-of-work?
I turned the table, and asked him what he had been doing, and his reply was looking for a job! I completely understand where he is coming from, but asked whether the firm with whom he was interviewing would appreciate his reply. Instead I asked him some questions so that we could best prepare a reply for the firm that we thought would demonstrate value. While the circumstances of his case are very specific, it started me thinking as to what other attorneys currently looking for opportunities might do in addition to their job search.
Here are some ideas:
Keep Being An Attorney
What else would you be? I know, it sounds silly, but it is important both for networking for opportunities as well as for potential future business to become involved in State and local bar associations, and especially on committees where you have or would like to develop an expertise.
Keep abreast of developments in your practice area
Read the Law Journal, as well as the Wall Street Journal and local paper to keep current with the business climate, deals, and relevant cases that may be happening while you are away from an office.
Do what you can to become a voice of authority in a given area
Blog. If you are a litigator, write about important decisions or comment on cases before the Supreme Court on linked-in or other places to gain exposure. Again, this keeps you current, is a good possible avenue for future business development, and may catch the eye of a potential employer. Write an article for the local Bar magazine, newspaper, or write a book for an ABA Section. As attorneys, I think we all have a little Ian Fleming somewhere inside of us…tap into that and write!
Use people like me
Legal Recruiters can be a great asset in your job search. While I primarily work with AMLaw 100 partners and associates as well as in-house counsel, there are many other recruiters who specialize in placing attorneys without that background. Reach out to them and see how they can be of assistance.
Reach out to your Law School Placement Office
They too may be a good resource.
Ideally, if you were one of the many unfortunate souls who was laid off due to the economic downturn, when it is time for you to meet with hiring counsel at your next firm, you will be able to point to some of the things you did during your in-between time that was valuable to you or the firm.