Working for a small law firms and large law firms each have their positives and negatives, and the decision of which is better for an individual has more to do with personal style than anything.
A Canadian recruiting firm (R.Johnson) outlines some of the benefits and challenges to working in both small and large firms, and some of the major differences lie in:
-the work atmosphere
-levels of competition
-room and pace of career advancement
-billable hour requirements
-type of work
Check out the full article on the major differences to consider here.
When you are looking to make the next step in your career as a law firm attorney, it is imperative that you truly do your research and take all of the moving parts into consideration before making the jump one way or the other.
The latest report from the National Association of Women Lawyers came out last week, showing that the gender pay gap among equity partners has widened.
. Some of the key findings include:
-Women equity partnership ranks have barely risen in 10 years.
-Men far outnumber women among lateral equity partners.
-The gender gap in pay for equity partners has widened.
-Women logged more hours but got paid less.
-Among firms that provided data about the gender of the top 10 highest revenue generators, only 12% were women.
Although women are still underrepresented in the executive level of the legal industry, an article in The American Lawyer contends that partners and practice heads are eager to seek out strategies to alleviate this gap. Teams are going to work together in a new strategy, a hackathon– to come up with proposals to “better recruit, advance and retain experienced women in midsized and large law firms”. The top three ideas will be awarded cash prizes by Bloomberg Law, and the winning partners will donate to a nonprofit that advances women in the legal profession.
This is not only important for societal reasons, but relevant for companies to ensure they are attracting more than just a fraction of desired talent.
Outside of hiring and review processes, negotiations between colleagues and bosses still exist, just informally. It is important to be able to advocate for yourself without being deemed as someone who is not a team player. The Harvard Business Review outlines a strategy that you can use to deal with these everyday negotiations. The structure they suggest is to:
recognize, prepare, initiate, and navigate.
- Recognize. Negotiation opportunities are not always obvious, but some situations call for it. You also must be careful to pick your battles, though. The decision to recognize when or when not to negotiate should be made with a sense of what end game is in mind.
- Prepare. Even with informal negotiations, being prepared is crucial. The more you know about what others have asked for and been granted at work, the more comfortable you’ll feel crafting your own negotiation. Position yourself in a way that highlights your interdependence, and how your work enables your colleague and others to succeed. Make sure you prepare some alternate solutions to be able to present.
- Initiate. Be able to shift a normal interaction into a collaborative negotiation without coming across as combative. Make your value visible and try to bring it up organically and be clear.
- Navigate. Go into the conversation with an open mind. Be willing to develop a plan that can work for everyone. Use ‘what if’ and circular questions, and mention if-then scenarios. These ensure that the conversation is collaborative, rather than adversarial.
Everyday negotiations tend to pull us out of our comfort zones, but are entirely worth the effort for both the individual and the organization.
“In the world of talent recruiting and human resources, there is a creature known as the purple squirrel, which is the code name for the perfect employee”. In the legal profession, the purple squirrel has the right academic pedigree, work experience, solid book of business, winning track record, works 16 hours a day, 365 days a year, and will accept whatever pay her employer is willing to offer. They are almost as hard to find as the Loch Ness Monster. In an Above the Law article, Shannon Achimalbe contends that going with the next best candidate, someone who is exceptional but imperfect, is truly the better option for employers.
Why would going with a less than ideal candidate be best? It seems counter-intuitive. For one, it takes a significantly longer time to find, and in the meantime, billable hours are lost and other staff has to unwillingly pick up the slack. Furthermore, if attained, the purple squirrel will likely expect to be treated accordingly, meaning expecting to be catered on his every whim, creating tensions with management and colleagues.
Looking for someone exceptional who shows promise and drive that could improve with the right training is prudent. Holding out only for the purple squirrel may not only waste valuable firm time, but has the potential to be a bad investment as well. Law firms should take this into consideration and ensure they are utilizing the most efficient hiring processes possible.
One thing is for sure: the war for legal talent will continue unremitting into the foreseeable future. A Law360 article discusses how law firms can prevent their top talent from jumping to another one, and conducted a survey that determined that attorneys are more likely to stay put if their law firm has advancement opportunities than if they are being paid a generous sum but feeling stagnant in their current position.
It’s always important to focus on the long-term. Even if a firm is trying to save money by delaying promotions, based on the findings of this survey, it would be a wise investment to cater to the 89% of attorneys who reported that they were both “very dissatisfied” with their firm’s opportunities for advancement and that they were “very likely” or “likely” to look for a new job within the next year. Firms can do this by placing a bigger emphasis on communicating with their employees the timeline and requirements necessary before promotions are considered.
In the hiring and interviewing processes, compensation is more often than not a touchy subject, and can be a deal-maker or deal-breaker for the talent the company wants. Timing is essential in job interviews, especially regarding the discussion of salary. It is important to recognize the when it is most conducive to broach these matters for both candidates and employers, and to attempt to find that sweet spot.
One of the benefits to working with a recruiter is that he or she will likely be the one doing the dirty work and negotiating salary. However, both sides should still know how to address the issue if it comes up. According to an article on Business Insider, an IT recruiter,Dan Martineau, notes that “the best employers don’t focus on money until the very end, and the same goes for candidates”. For the candidate, it is much more appropriate to discuss salary once the company has expressed a sense of commitment. In the first meeting, the candidate should be focused mostly on selling his/her skills to the employer, and deflect the compensation issue until later on.
On the employer side, although it may feel like a cruel game to candidates, it is important for them to hold their cards closer to their vest– compensation is traditionally not disclosed until the offer. This is because everyone assumes that they are on the top of the pay scale, and if a job is advertised at a range at which the company offers a lower amount on that range, the candidate would be unhappy even if he or she would have been happy with that amount having never known the range in the first place.
Being aware of the etiquette around compensation discussion is key in the interview process, and mastering the art of timing is everything.
It’s not about finding the ideal legal role, it’s about it finding you. Good employers searching for quality lawyers aren’t going to be posting on public job boards, either. That’s where hiring a knowledgeable headhunter comes into play.
Headhunters don’t waste time with a “scattergun approach”, but meticulously research a long list of candidates before even deciding to initially reach out. If you want to be on their radar, Jason Elias, a recruiter in the Australia legal community, highlights six things you could be doing to put yourself a cut above the rest.
- If you’re not already building a profile for yourself, start now: you’ll never be headhunted if no one has heard of you. Make sure that you connect with the people on LinkedIn that you are connected with in business, that you are active within your professional community, and that you come across as an expert in your field.
- Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn: make sure you are detailed with what you have accomplished and worked on and the value you have brought in your current and past jobs.
- Give off subtle signals: as in, do not change your LinkedIn status to “Currently seeking new opportunities”. Consider updating your experience, and change your Inmail settings to notify others that you are open to hearing about “career opportunities”, so that headhunters can reach you.
- Make yourself reachable: provide an email or phone number where you can be reached, or make sure to keep up with your LinkedIn, because if a headhunter struggles to reach you, he or she will move onto the next one on their list.
- Don’t breach etiquette: don’t tell anyone in your firm about your plans to move, never approach the employer directly (they’re using a headhunter for a reason). You don’t want to jeopardize your current position as well as any new one.
- Take advantage of the resources that a headhunter has to offer: the headhunter will most times be highly knowledgeable about the state of the market and trends, and can be used as your trusted source of intelligence on the employer as well. Even if the specific opportunity isn’t right at the time, you never know when something else might come up in their sphere of influence that could be.
Surprisingly enough, following these simple tips makes a huge difference on whether or not you end up on a headhunter’s short list of candidates to approach for a top tier position. Make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your good side showing even when you don’t know you’re showing it.