Posts Tagged ‘attorneys’

Some Business Development Tips for Attorneys

June 22, 2010

Many attorneys would be surprised to hear what we at SMR Legal Search find to be one of the most important determinants regarding how much business they will develop.  It is the law firm that they work for.

We work with many attorneys who have not been able to build up their book of business to where they would like it to be.  When speaking with them about the reasons why, the following law firm related reasons are the top ones provided to us: no cross marketing opportunities available at their current law firm, no marketing support from the powers that be at the firm. Time and time again, those are the reasons that are given to us.  Therefore, when choosing a firm to work at, it is very important to ascertain whether the law firm has the necessary practice areas and whether the attorneys willingly cross market rather than viewing each other as competitors.  In addition, you need to find out whether the firm provides the attorneys with a marketing budget and how the hours that they spend engaging in business development are treated.  Finally, you will need to find out whether the more senior partners will allow junior partners and associates to interact with and manage their clients. Very frequently, you will not be able to get the true answers to these questions unless you work with a legal recruiter who works frequently with and is very knowledgeable about the law firms in your geographical area.

Once you have gotten the proper information and made your way to a law firm that is conducive to legal client development, here are some suggestions on how to make rain.  As a legal recruiter, I have done much client development over the years.  I have found that while it is always important to go to networking events, building relationships is the best way to make contacts that will convert into business.  What I mean by this is that you must join groups and actually attend them regularly and get to know the people in them.  It is best if these are groups with other people whom you have something in common with , be it the same practice area, interest in the same charity or other non-profit organization or even a business networking group that meets regularly.  When you meet with people regularly and make an effort to get to know them, they are more likely to refer or introduce you to someone who will convert into business.

In networking, your focus should always be on how you can help the other person, be it something as simple as a restaurant or dry cleaner recommendation and as important as referring business to them.  When the other person sees that you genuinely want to help them, they will want to help you.  And if they are not able to help you, you have done a good deed.

Map out time in your schedule each week for legal client development.  If weekly business development sounds a bit too cumbersome for you, understand that it can be as simple as reconnecting with a couple of old friends, schoolmates, coworkers or clients.  Or if you have more time, make it your business to join a networking or charitable group with regular meetings and map that out in your schedule.  Business development should always be something that you are thinking about.

Always provide excellent service to your current clients.  I have learned from experience that the best way to obtain new clients is to provide excellent service to your current clients.  In addition to the fact that you should always strive to do your best work and provide excellent service to your clients, they will remember and refer you to their friends and colleagues.

Keep in touch with your former clients and see how they are doing and if there is anything that you may do to help them, even if you will not make a dime on that.  In that way, you will be top of mind, and they will want to help you as well, be it give their own work to you or think of you when a friend asks for a good attorney recommendation.  In addition, it is just a nice thing to do.

I hope that these tips will help you, and I will provide additional legal business development tips in some of my future blog articles.  Happy Rainmaking!

Law Firm Office Romances: Inevitable Or A Really Bad Idea?

February 24, 2010

Are law firm office romances inevitable or a really bad idea?  The answer is both.  While it is never the best idea to get romantically involved with coworkers for a plethora of reasons, it is often inevitable.

Starting a romance with coworkers while not illegal has a number of risks associated with it.  The first thing to do if you are contemplating having a romantic relationship with someone at the office is to check to see if the firm has rules regarding this.  If your law firm has enunciated a specific rule against office romances, the answer is simple if you and your romantic interest both want to continue working there.  If one of you is willing to leave and work elsewhere, that is a way around this rule.

It can be particularly problematic if you have a relationship with someone who reports to you.  When things go well with your relationship, others may complain that the person working for you gets the best assignments or received the highest raise, etc.  As with the law, you must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  If the relationship ends, your prior romantic interest may claim sexual harassment.

Before embarking on an office romance, you must also think ahead to how you would feel if your relationship with the other person ended and you had to watch other suitors come to meet her or him at the office at the end of the work day.  Conversely, you should think ahead to how your romantic interest would cope with seeing you date others if the relationship ends.

Even with all of the problems listed above associated with romantic relationships in the office, they are inevitable at law firms.  People who work at law firms tend to work very hard and generally work longer hours than those in many other careers.   This is true right on down the line from partners and associates to recruiting managers to paralegals and legal secretaries.  Working such long hours makes it very hard to meet the love of your life outside of the office.  In addition, the effect of fox hole camaraderie is very strong.  When attorneys, paralegals and secretaries are working on a large deal and must stay at the office until 2:00 a.m. together with the stress of having to get the documents for the deal completed before the next day, a certain closeness develops.

In conclusion, if you are considering embarking on a romance with one of your coworkers, check the office manual to ascertain whether there are any rules against this.  In addition, think about how you and the other person will handle it if the relationship ends.  If after you consider all of the above and still fall in love with someone at your firm, be discreet and do not engage in much public affection at the office, and I wish you a long and happy future together.

Social Networking Sites Can Help or Hurt You When Seeking a Job

February 8, 2010

Social networking can be a great asset in searching for a job, if used correctly and prudently.  With so many people embracing and posting profiles on social networking sites such as Linkedin and Facebook, we are now able to reach out to hundreds of people with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The social networking site that we have found to be the most helpful for attorneys, paralegals and other professionals who are seeking a new position is Linkedin.  This website contains the profiles of many professionals and people in hiring positions at law firms and corporations.  It also contains the profiles of many people who are connected to individuals in hiring positions at law firms and corporations.  It is a great way to reconnect with old schoolmates, friends and colleagues whom you may have lost touch with.  If they agree to connect and open their connections to you, you will be able to see whom they know who might be able to assist you in your job search.  If one of their connections is someone whom you would like to meet, ask your old schoolmate, friend or colleague to make an introduction for you.  This is a particularly good way to get introduced to someone whom you would not otherwise meet.

As helpful as social networking can be in your job search if used properly, it can also prevent you from getting a job if not used prudently.  Please keep in mind that everything that you post on line or that your friends post on your profile is easily obtainable by your potential employer.

At SMR Legal Search, we place attorneys and paralegals at law firms and corporations in the greater Philadelphia area and throughout the rest of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Washington, D.C. and the rest of the Northeast.  I cannot begin to tell you how many law firms and corporations have been about to hire a partner, associate or paralegal and then checked their Facebook profile and changed their mind.  Seeing things such as a photo of you or one of your friends in a bikini or other suggestive photo is one of the more obvious reasons why your Facebook profile may kill the deal.   There are also more subtle things that employers look at on your Facebook profile that would really surprise you.  Many employers whom I work with check to see how many friends that you have on Facebook to judge how well you get along with people.  Others check which books you have listed on your profile as an indicator of how smart you are.    Employers also frequently check the profiles of all of your friends listed on your profile to see what type of people you associate with.    Another thing looked at by employers is the wall posts on your profile.  Any talk of alcohol or drugs will surely prevent you from being hired.

My advice to you is to take off any suggestive photos or words that are not squeaky clean on your social networking profiles right now.  The rule of thumb is to not have anything on your profile that you would not show to a potential employer. Then, when you start going for job interviews, take down your Facebook profile altogether.

Hopefully, this advice will help you to obtain the job of your dreams in 2010!

SMR Legal Search is a legal recruiting firm based in Philadelphia and New Jersey that places attorneys and paralegals in permanent positions throughout the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Washington, D.C. and the rest of the Northeast.   Their recruiters are former practicing attorneys and paralegals with extensive law firm and legal recruiting experience.

Lateral Moves Abound For Both Partners and Associates in 2010

January 18, 2010

With the arrival of 2010, there will be many more lateral attorney moves.  For partners, there are a number of reasons for that.  This month alone, we have been contacted my many partners who would like to explore a lateral move.  The most common reasons they give us for their desire to move are worry about the financial stability of their firm, dissatisfaction with the amount that they were given at the end of the year of their firm’s accounts receivables, and the feeling that they will be able to better serve their existing clients and cultivate new ones at a different law firm.

Likewise, more law firms than ever are contacting us asking that we find them more productive partners with portable business.  These firms are expressing worry that keeping unproductive partners will hurt their firm’s bottom line and stability.  The hottest practice areas that we are seeing a demand for partners in are taxation, life sciences, bankruptcy, intellectual property, healthcare, commercial litigation, white collar crime  litigation and labor and employment.   The geographical areas where we are seeing the most lateral movement are Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C. and California, especially the Silicon Valley.

Associates at law firms are also more interested in exploring other firms than they were in 2009.  In 2009, they were too worried about the first in first out rule if they switched to another law firm.  Instead, they stayed at their current law firms and held their breath hoping that they would not fall victim to the next layoffs.   Now associates are feeling a bit more confident in making lateral moves.

While attorney jobs are still more tenuous than in the past, confidentiality is more important than ever.  Finding a reputable legal recruiter who knows the legal market where you are seeking employment and has a good track record on confidentiality is key.   In addition, using a legal recruiter who is also an attorney is very helpful with regard to understanding the nuances of your practice area and the inner workings and politics of law firms.

The good news is that new lateral attorney openings are becoming available everyday in 2010, and it appears that it will be a much better climate for both partners and associates to find new positions.

Make the Right First Impression at your Interview

December 8, 2009

With the economy picking up, attorneys should be going on many more job interviews in 2010 for in house counsel and law firm positions. Whether you are a partner, in house counsel or associate, here are some tips on how to dress to help make your interview successful and one that leads to a second interview.

You graduated in the top 10% of your class from University of Pennsylvania Law School. You have written recommendations in your portfolio from three of your law school professors. You’ve worked at your current law firm for three years, pushing the envelope of your billable hours to full tilt and handling your clients successfully. You’ve got it all in line, right? Sure. But consider this. Does the law firm partner, or even your legal recruiter, know that you can handle the job you’re interviewing for? Begin your interview smoothly and allow your interviewer to focus on your skill set by dressing appropriately for your legal job interview.

 Once you have succeeded in winning a spot the lineup for a law firm’s interviewing roster, you are well aware how important it is to have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed. This is no less true that when considering what to wear when meeting with your potential employer.   While business casual dress is becoming more acceptable for attorneys at law firms and corporations when they are not going to court or interviewing clients, it is not acceptable for job interviews.

Don’t Forget Step One

The first time you meet with your legal recruiter is a vital step in your legal job search. The first impression they get will be a strong asset in their ability to market your skills and experience to the managing partners and recruitment directors of law firms and the general counsels at corporations who rely on their opinion and first-hand knowledge to send them highly-qualified candidates for their open positions.

A Professional Package to Fit Any Scenario

Conservative is the name of the game in legal dress, and like when you’re dressing for court or a client meeting, the first impression you give has a lot to do with the style of clothes you wear. If you are a trial attorney, be sure to dress the way you would in the courtroom. If you work in corporate law, keep in mind that you may need to step it up a notch with your suit selection to match the CEO’s attire.

Here are some sure fire tips for dressing appropriately for your job interview.  For men, it is best to wear well shined black leather shoes, a dark suit and white shirt and tie.  Making sure that your hair is cut conservatively before the interview is helpful as well.

For women, pants may now be acceptable in the work place of many law firms and corporations, but it does not make the right impression in a job interview.  Like men, make sure that your shoes are well shined.  A dark jacket and skirt suit and a conservative color button down or shell style blouse with the appropriate color pantyhose with no runs in them are the way to go.  It is always a good idea to carry an extra pair of new pantyhose in your purse or briefcase in case yours get a snag in them.  Also,  just enough make up to bring out your natural beauty but not so much that it will scream out at the interviewer and take the focus off of your credential is the way to go.

An Updated Resume Will Increase Your Career Options

November 9, 2009

 Have you been staying ahead of the employment curve by having your resume ready at a moment’s notice?  Whether you are actively looking for a new position or are  presently happy where you are practicing law now, when you least expect it that is when a new exciting career opportunity presents itself. Even during a sluggish economy, law firms and in-house corporate legal departments are keeping an eye out for top legal talent, so they can stay competitive in the market place.

One of the biggest mistakes attorneys can make is “digging up” an old resume and quickly adding a few updated lines to make it appear new. While this will certainly get your resume out to a prospective employer, a mediocre resume translates into a missed opportunity.

Before you miss a great opportunity, make some time for yourself and update that resume. A strong resume, is one that takes a few hours to formulate, not a few minutes. Do not forget to highlight your accomplishments, rather than merely listing areas of the law you practice. Remember, your resume is a work in progress. Even if you are not thinking about a career move, you should update your resume at least quarterly, to ensure that you do not overlook a major case, new practice area, an award, accolade or a major accomplishment. In this economy, preparedness is the hallmark for a new beginning, and a fabulous career opportunity.