An Advocate for Attorneys and Law Students to Get Jobs

by A. Harrison Barnes on November 20, 2014

In terms of helping attorneys get jobs, one of the more effective means for doing so is by approaching the specific types of employers you would like to work for (whether or not they are soliciting applications) directly through a focused campaign. Sporadically applying to jobs on job posting boards, classified advertisements, and through recruiters can work — but for many attorneys it can take a great deal of time and does not work for even the best attorneys. I formerly practiced law with a major New York City-based law firm and knew several attorneys with stellar qualifications who sporadically applied to jobs through recruiters, classified ads, and job posting boards for years. You probably know attorneys who have been doing this for a long time as well.

The “apply now and then” means of going about a job search (which is a common strategy for most attorneys) cannot possibly give you the type of market coverage (and corresponding offers) that you are capable of getting—or ensure you get a position in a timely manner. No matter how good a recruiting firm is–not all firms use recruiters, and not all recruiters have all the jobs. No matter how good a job board is–no job board has all the jobs and you will be competing with every attorney with an email account. Statistics also indicate that the vast majority of legal positions in the United States are filled by unsolicited and self-initiated contact attorneys initiate with employers. Incredibly, however, most attorneys never take the step of actually performing an aggressive self-initiated and targeted job search campaign to employers not soliciting applications. Even the National Association of Law Placement is clear that most attorneys get position by approaching employers who do not solicit their resume.

The problem with contacting employers on your own is that it is a tremendous amount of work and something few practicing attorneys have the time to do. In addition, an attorney’s time is valuable. The amount of work required to build a comprehensive list of employers and hiring contacts within each city is profound. Not all firms list themselves in Martindale, we estimate that less than 1% of the law firms in the United States are in the NALP Guide and–even assuming you had a comprehensive list of information–picking up the phone to make hundreds of phone calls to identify who to approach within each hiring organization is a ridiculous amount of work. Not to mention the cost of printing, the possibility for typos in the contact information and loading all that information into a database to print all those cover letters and envelopes.

In my opinion, the most effective way to get a legal position is by using a company called Legal Authority (www.legalauthority.com). Legal Authority probably assists more attorneys get positions than any single organization in the United States and what they do is nearly foolproof.

Legal Authority (working closely with you) will review and revise your resume and cover letter, and then laser print cover letters and envelopes addressed to the hiring contacts in the specific types of legal employers you are interested in. Legal Authority maintains the largest database of legal hiring contacts of any company in the world: There are over 40 attorneys and researchers working at Legal Authority, and the company operates 24 hours a day updating a database of more than 750,000 hiring contacts. There is probably a 99.9% chance that the next legal hiring organization you go to work for is already in Legal Authority’s database. How you get to these legal employers is up to you, but using Legal Authority will ensure you do find these employers. I strongly encourage you to review Legal Authority’s website at www.legalauthority.com.

If you are serious about getting an attorney position, you owe it to yourself to at least speak with Legal Authority and hear what they can do to assist you. Legal Authority offers a free no cost or obligation consultation where they will tell you how many employers match your interests in the area(s) you want to work, and will advise you on changes you can make to your resume to make it more effective.

One of the most important attributes any attorney can have is the ability to advocate. Legal Authority will make you your own advocate by, in effect, allowing you to do the type of work recruiters do on your own while providing you with (1) an effective and revised cover letter and resume and (2) personalized letters to every specific employer you tell them you would be interested in working for in any area of the United States, Europe or Asia.

This strategy is effective and works: Legal Authority assists hundreds of attorneys each month has been used by top partners in major United States law firms, General Counsels of important corporations, associates in small and large firms, and even law students. Legal Authority can assist you too.

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The Art of Networking

by A. Harrison Barnes on November 12, 2014

In almost every facet of one’s life, networking plays an important role in attaining one’s goals; sharpening this skill can be vital in your job search.Networking is what you make of it-there are no boundaries, no limits and no short-cuts.Networking has the ability to create opportunity, especially where one would not think to look.Developing these skills is definitely a recommended approach in landing your ideal position.

With the growing number of legal positions becoming harder to identify via the standard means of job searching, using the tool of networking can allow you to uncover positions that one would not ordinarily find advertised or accessible to the mass public.The ability to sell yourself through your resume is just one step in this process; moreover, the way you approach your job search is equally important as well.

This is where Legal Authority and its services may prove to be the well-needed addition through this long journey.It’s time to cross over to those new boundaries and explore every avenue; by doing so, you will allow yourself the satisfaction of knowing you have done everything in your power to reach the next level.

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It’s All About Who You Know (And Who Knows You)

by A. Harrison Barnes on November 4, 2014

You are in line to enter a club, and the group ahead of you gets a hearty welcome from the maître d’ and is seated at a table in the front by the stage. When your turn arrives, you are greeted indifferently and seated in the back by the bathrooms. Your companion turns to you and says, “They must know someone.” You hear about a former colleague who just has taken a fantastic job with a great title and even better pay. Your former colleague is now light years ahead of you on the career path. You think, “She must know someone.”

In both scenarios, you are right! It is all about who you know (and who knows you).

The idea of networking is as scary as public speaking to most people. But a network is nothing more than a circle of friends.

Family and Friends

We all have a personal network of family and friends. Some of our friends we consider really close, practically family. Some of our friends are merely acquaintances whom we see maybe once a year, and some are colleagues with whom we have lunch. Our family members are similar in that we may be very close to some and less close to others.

Your family and friends are the people you call to:

  • get advice from
  • complain to
  • confirm your thought processes
  • ask for referrals
  • just chat

Your personal network gives you access to the people known to the people you know AND to the people they know AND then to the people they know AND then to–you get the idea. If you need a recommendation for a caterer for your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, your Aunt Barbara may have a friend who just threw a party for her parents (which was soooo beautiful, according to Aunt Barbara); and she can recommend her caterer. You may now get special treatment because you were referred to that business by Aunt Barbara’s friend.

Your personal network need not be limited to your family and friends. Just think about all the other people you come in contact with in your daily life. Your dentist, your doctor, are all part of your network and can give you referrals.

It works the same way in the world of work. While you may have access to some great work advice and maybe even some business contacts through your personal family/friends network, you still need a business/career network.

Business and Career Colleagues

The building of your career network should start no later than college; for many, it starts in high school or earlier. People are the lifeblood of your network. The more people you know, the more information you have; and the more people and information you have access to over time, the more successful your network.

All of these people can and should be part of your network:

  • people you went to school with
  • people you work with
  • people you meet at conferences or seminars
  • people you meet at social gatherings
  • people who support the same organizations that you do

Are you getting the idea that it can be anyone and everyone you meet? You’re right.

Just as your friendships move along the spectrum from casual to “I wish we were sisters,” your business/career network relationships will also range from non-essential to vital. And, just as with friends, people may drop in and out of your network.

Maintaining Your Network

Just as you have to develop and maintain your family and friends’ network over the life of those relationships, the same is true of your career/business network. Your family and friends expect a certain level of communication on your part in order to maintain the connection. Some of this will be in-person visits. Some will be by phone or the annual holiday newsletter. However you do it, there is an ongoing communication between you and your family and friends. You have to let them get to know you.

You need to do the same for your business/career network. Keep in touch with people from school that you like and respect. Keep them current on your career changes, and keep yourself current on their career changes.

As you meet people throughout your working life, maintain a detailed contacts database with information you gather over time about their careers, families, interests, and anything else that gives you a connection to them.

People maintain their networks in a variety of ways, such as:

  • sending birthday cards/gifts
  • sending articles of interest
  • meeting for lunch, dinner, and/or drinks
  • attending sporting or arts events
  • calling occasionally to chat

For some people in your network, you may do all of these things and more! For others, it may be a once-a-year holiday card and phone call. Remember two things: First, your contact should always be sincere and well thought out in terms of who this person is and your relationship to him/her; and second, the idea is to keep the lines of communications open so when you really need to talk to that person, your call will be taken.

Other Peoples’ Networks

You’ve started your network and have been maintaining it, and one day someone calls you to see if you have any information about a job at your company. It is now time for you to realize that in creating your network, you have become part of the networks of the people in your network. It is important that you provide some “value” to the person calling you because you will expect the same if you call that person. Depending on who the person is and how important he/she is to you within your own network and career goals, you may provide different information. This is okay. If the person is a fairly casual member of your network whom you do not know very well, you may refer him/her to the human resources department and give him/her the name of the person to call and permission to mention your name. If the person is very important to your network, you may ask for his/her resume and personally deliver it to the person making the hiring decisions and give your personal recommendation.

Remember, you will also be ranked within the networks of others and may get different levels of assistance. This is why it is so important to devote time and energy to building and maintaining your networks. What you get out of your network is only as good as what you put into your network.

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Networking and Your Job Search

by J.J. on October 30, 2014

Networking and Your Job Search

Are you an attorney or law student who has just started your job search or is interested in transitioning to a new job? If you are, then don’t forget to include networking as part of your job search.

Some attorneys and law students feel that networking is not beneficial to their job search and career. However, networking is actually one of the most important and effective ways to land a job. It is also a skill that will help you long after you’ve obtained your new job (i.e., it will help you acquire and maintain relationships with clients). Other attorneys and law students feel that they just don’t have time to network. However, you should make time to network. After all, it is a great way to make connections that could possibly open up new opportunities and allow you to learn more about your areas of interest.

Preparing for Networking

Before you begin networking, you should think about what type of people you want to network with. Also, you should think about what type of job you’re interested in. Prepare answers to questions about your career and your interests. Also, make sure that you have business cards, resumes, cover letters, and references prepared. You want to be present yourself in a professional manner, and you want to be ready when the potential opportunity presents itself.

Ways to Network

1. One of the easiest ways to network is through local city, county, and state bar associations. If you are a law student, you can join the student membership section of the Bar association. Typically the different bar associations have meetings, seminars, and other gatherings where you can meet attorneys and other legal professionals in your areas of interest.

2. Another easy way to network is through your law school. Law schools have many social events and legal seminars that bring an array of legal professionals together. Additionally, ask your law school’s career counselor for a list of alumni who work in fields that interest you. While you’re at it check out the alumni from your undergraduate college too.

3. Also, don’t forget to network through those you interact with everyday, such as your friends, colleagues, and classmates. You’d be surprise of how resourceful your close associates can be.

4. Social networking sites are another great source for networking. It is the waive of the future. It allows you to display information about yourself and it allows you to learn about others. Some social sites many people are already members of are Myspace and Facebook. Myspace and Facebook are great for fun and social networking, but sites like Likedin and Lawlink.com are great for professional networking. Remember, when you become a member of these professional networking sites, to make sure all the information you display represents you in a professional manner. You don’t want to give the wrong impression.

Don’t Forget to Give Back

Once you’ve landed your job through networking, you should help others. Networking isn’t a one time event. It is a continual process. So, just like someone gave you a helping hand, you should give someone else a helping hand. Incidentally, by helping others, you will be building new relationships that could be beneficial to you in the future.

Remember, networking is a tool and skill that allows you to establish relationships where both you and your contacts benefit in some way. Just as the saying goes, “It’s not about what you know, but about who you know.” So, make sure you maximize your success by networking.

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Legal Authority Is Not for Everyone

by A. Harrison Barnes on October 9, 2014

Quite frankly, Legal Authority is not for everyone. And not everyone we speak with chooses to use Legal Authority. Legal Authority is the perfect example of the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

For example, Legal Authority gives you the benefit of access to the largest database of legal employers in the world. Legal Authority actually GUARANTEES that they will reach every potential employer matching your interests. You are assigned your own personal attorney who will revise your resume and cover letter and provide you with as much personal attention as you require. A team of researchers will ensure that the hiring contacts inside each and every legal employer you are contacting are current before we even print a single letter for you.

An attorney will personally print and review each cover letter, resume, and envelope for you to ensure that they are perfectly formatted, that there are no typographical errors, and that you are making the best impression possible. We will then overnight mail these materials right to your front door. Included in these materials will be a list created especially for you containing the address and telephone number of each and every legal employer you are contacting so you can follow up with them.

After your targeted mailing, we will follow up with you to gauge your progress until you have found your perfect job. When you do begin receiving offers, we will be there to assist you in deciding which one to accept. In fact, throughout your relationship with Legal Authority, we will be here seven days a week to answer any questions you may have. We will literally be here for you seven days a week.

Obviously, a service like this is not for everyone and it is not something everyone can afford or can see the benefit in using. If you do not use Legal Authority, you could spend the next several months applying for attorney jobs in classified sections of legal newspapers, surfing Internet job posting boards, and maybe even researching the thousands of employers we investigate every day to make sure we have current and accurate information.

Or you can achieve everything this would accomplish — and much more — by choosing Legal Authority today. We don’t want to be dramatic and say, “If you do not use Legal Authority you will not find the perfect job.” We have found, however, that the people who choose to “think about it” are most often the same people who will still be looking for their perfect position a few months from now. By using Legal Authority, you will ensure that you (1) reach every employer matching your interests as quickly as possible, (2) get the best possible offer at the highest possible salary, and (3) find the best cultural “fit” for you. This is our job and something we can help you do!

Smart attorneys are naturally skeptical—and we sense you are. However, we’re afraid that you have passed up a very good opportunity to potentially make a meaningful difference in your career by not choosing Legal Authority for your job search. We are really hoping to make a significant difference in your future career prospects.

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What Legal Authority Does

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 18, 2014

Legal Authority assists more law students, at more law schools, get jobs than any other source.”

We’re How Attorneys Get Jobs

At Legal Authority, we are proud to say that our targeted mailing service helps more law students, recent law school graduates, and attorneys find employment than any other service in the world. Legal Authority was designed with you, the job seeker, in mind, and we are constantly evolving to meet every challenge that may be presented and present solutions to those hardest questions about your job search.

What Exactly Does Legal Authority Do?

Simply put, we grant you access to the largest legal employer database in the world. When you use Legal Authority, you will be interviewed by one of our attorneys who will take as long as it takes to understand exactly what you are seeking to do with your legal career. Legal Authority will perform searches for you based on your criteria (What practice areas interest you? What type of employer do you want to work for? Do you want a clerkship? How about in-house opportunities? Where do you want to live? What size firm would like to work for?), and develop a list that is targeted to your particular job search. We can even help you go abroad if you want to.

“The most common means of obtaining a job was a letter or other ‘self initiated contact’ with the employer.”

-National Association of Law Placement

Legal Authority’s professional writers will review and revise your resume and create a cover letter for you that is tailored and created from scratch specifically for you. You will work with the writer — as a counselor, guide, and expert — to come up with a letter and resume that are perfect for you.

After we have a final resume and cover letter, Legal Authority will prepare a package of resumes, cover letters and envelopes, addressed to the hiring contact person inside each specific employer (not “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Partner”), with your return address and name on them. We Federal Express the package to you, and all you have to do is sign each letter, stuff each envelope, and put a stamp on each envelope.

Can I Do What Legal Authority Does Myself?

True. You could get subscriptions to over 50 legal directories, make over 500,000 inquiries per year, hire over 40 people to update your database 24 hours a day, hire a crew of attorneys to counsel and advise you of the most appropriate employers to apply to, hire a crew of professional writers to review and revise your resume and cover letter, and spend far in excess of $1,000,000 (just to maintain a database each year). This is what we do at Legal Authority. Because thousands of law students use our service, the cost is profoundly cheaper than it would be if you were to do the work yourself. Theoretically, this is something you could do yourself.

We speak with attorneys on a daily basis who believe they can do all of the work themselves. A lot of law students think they are smarter than us or somehow have everything figured out. Legal Authority is an expert at finding jobs for law students. It’s what we do all day, every day.

Most of the law students who use Legal Authority are spending far in excess of $100,000 to attend law school for three years. Presumably, one of the reasons for going to law school is to get the best job possible. Conversely, most law students who use Legal Authority spend less than $500 for our service. In most instances, the cost of using Legal Authority is around $2.00 per employer we help you contact and our search can be as expansive or as narrow as you choose. When you consider that thousands of law students each year get summer and permanent jobs paying several times more per week than our service costs, not using Legal Authority could be expensive.

“Legal Authority is, quite simply, the most effective way for law students to get the precise legal job they are seeking. Your first attorney job is already in our database.”

It is no secret that following the crowd and trying to find a job through your Career Services Office, networking, or applying sporadically to jobs on posting boards can be “hit or miss”. You can compete with every other student, at every other law school, trying the same tired old methods, going after the same job listings, or you can take action and call Legal Authority. Legal Authority is the only way to find and apply to every single employer that might be interested in you.

At Legal Authority, we have the resources to help more students find jobs than any other single organization we are aware of in the United States.

Our database contains contacts for virtually every law firm, corporation, and public interest organization in the United States (we can even help you go abroad). We will review and revise your resume and help you apply to any employer you choose—anywhere. Our service is also extremely inexpensive. Contact Legal Authority today and let our Attorney Employment Advocates speak with you about your job search and how we can get you your first job.

A Different Kind of Company

Legal Authority is different. We are specialists in getting attorneys and law students jobs. It is the only thing we do. Once you make the decision to work with Legal Authority, we will serve you with the enthusiasm, integrity and insight you are entitled to. We are proud to make that promise to each of the law students who work with Legal Authority.

Law students who have used Legal Authority know that we take our jobs extremely seriously. We are truly passionate about our work. It is not uncommon for many of our Employment Advocates and researchers to work as many as 16 hours a day, all week long. Sound familiar? As an organization founded by high-level attorneys, we know what it takes to succeed. Our firm has earned its reputation for decisive thinking and vigorous action. Legal Authority clients appreciate our honesty and upfront approach to assisting them with their job search. They realize that we live in a winner-takes-all environment where the stakes are always high.

Our goal is to help start careers that will lead to meaningful lives for our clients. We always give the law students who use Legal Authority an honest assessment of their prospects.

“With meaningful experience in virtually every facet of the legal industry, Legal Authority brings an unrivaled level of understanding to the job search requirements of law students.”

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Why I Started Legal Authority

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 11, 2014

I Started Legal Authority to Get More Attorneys Jobs.

One day I was sitting in front of my computer at BCG Attorney Search office and a resume came over email from a student of mine who I had taught law. While the law school I had taught at was ABA-approved, it was fourth tier and not considered the best law school in the United States. This student was at the top of his class and, like many other students in his law school, had been unsuccessful in securing a position with a law firm when he graduated. I was frustrated because, as a legal recruiter, I knew I could not help him. I was also frustrated because I knew that he had worked hard in law school, showed potential to be a good attorney, and deserved a chance. If someone does well enough in college to get into law school, completes law school, and wants to work as an attorney, he/she deserves a chance.

I called this student and invited him in anyway. I rewrote his resume for him and helped him write a cover letter. Then I allowed him to send his documents out to the 300 or so law firms in the BCG Attorney Search database that were in Los Angeles. Prior to this point, this student had simply applied to the law firms in the NALP guide and also had applied to the occasional listing in his law school’s career services office. All that had ever resulted from this was an interview with a two-person law firm.

Out of the 300 applications he sent out, this student got several interviews and secured a position with a mid-sized law firm where he made close to $100,000 in his first year. I am sure his salary was among the highest of any student in his graduating class. He is enjoying an excellent career today.

Around this same time, the economy was beginning to go into a tailspin. Many of the corporate attorneys I had placed during the boom began to get laid off and, remembering the lesson of the law student, I started inviting them into my office and helping them redo their resumes and cover letters as well. Because there were so few corporate openings (and law firms simply would not pay recruiting fees for corporate attorneys), I helped these same attorneys send out their documents to the firms in the BCG database at no cost.

All of these attorneys got jobs.

Word soon spread that I was helping corporate attorneys do this and corporate attorneys and others sought out my service to such an extent that I soon had no time for legal recruiting. We ran a “war room” of sorts out of BCG’s Los Angeles offices and attorneys came in and assisted each other in building a massive database of every legal employer in California. Things were really crazy and we were operating 24 hours a day out of that office helping attorneys get jobs. The printers were going like crazy all the time.

What ended up happening, though, was that it all became too much, a lot of it due to the overwhelming costs involved. Soon, this mailing service was getting calls for help even though no formal business had been organized. In fact, I was spending thousands of dollars each week out of my own pocket to support this effort.

With the help of some really dedicated people, I soon started Legal Authority. Legal Authority is the embodiment of my goal to get the most attorneys jobs. To date, Legal Authority has gotten thousands of attorneys and law students jobs and gets more attorneys jobs than any other similar service in the United States.

Unlike job boards or legal recruiters, Legal Authority helps attorneys find both open positions and jobs where none may exist. Firms often actually create jobs for attorneys once the attorney has expressed interest in potential employment by simply sending a resume and well crafted letter. Legal Authority is truly an outstanding service and if there is one thing I have done in my life to “make a difference,” this is it. The success stories from this business are nothing less than remarkable.

In order to run a business like Legal Authority, you need a lot of people. There are currently over 40 people working here, updating our data literally 24 hours a day. Legal Authority has contact information (we know exactly who is in charge of hiring) for virtually every American legal employer.

While personal stories may not have a role in my discussion of Legal Authority, I can tell you that starting this business almost destroyed me financially and personally. For over the first year Legal Authority was in existence, I worked 15+ hours a day on it virtually every day of the week. My wife divorced me and I came very close to going out of business for financial reasons several times. The debt I accumulated to start the business was nothing short of astonishing. In the first year of running Legal Authority, I was often losing in excess of $20,000 per week in order to do something I believed was a higher calling.

I do not resent starting Legal Authority at all. Everything that is good in this world and every positive change is not easy. Each new challenge with Legal Authority has only motivated me further. I know that there are numerous, numerous lives of people everywhere that have been bettered through our efforts. I am sure you can say the same for your work. This is something that gives both of us lives of substance and meaning.

I gave Legal Authority everything I had because I knew I was doing something meaningful for the world.

The problem with Legal Authority, though, is that the cost is expensive; and it is therefore quite exclusive and high end. While the attorneys who counsel people on their job search consider their work to be like public interest work (and are paid similarly), the costs of gathering data, rewriting resumes and cover letters, printing, shipping, and so forth are substantial. Accordingly, from an attorney and law student’s perspective, the cost of Legal Authority can be expensive. In most cases, attorneys spend over $500 (often more) to get a position through the service. It is not a lot of money to get several jobs; however, it is still a lot of money to most people.

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Using Legal Authority for Law Student Jobs

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 4, 2014

I am writing to tell you a secret you may not know. Thousands of law students just like you use Legal Authority to find positions each year. In fact, at some law schools, over 20% of the class uses Legal Authority to find positions. Your friends may not tell you about Legal Authority simply because law students are competitive by nature. Career services offices often do not talk about us that much either. If every law student used Legal Authority, then many career services offices would have very little to do.

The reason Legal Authority is so successful is simple. First, we will assist you in identifying every single employer that meets your specific interests in the area(s) of the United States you want to work in. Our database contains over 98% of all legal employers in the United States — over 750,000 legal employers. We employ over 25 people who do nothing but identify legal employers and hiring contacts inside these employers. They then classify this information based on type, size, and geographic location. Developed at a cost of several million dollars, no law school or other organization has a database that comes close.

Second, we will assist you in crafting a perfect resume and cover letter for the type(s) of summer or permanent positions you are seeking. We employ extremely skilled and trained professional resume writers who will spend the time to work with you personally to create for you a resume that makes you stand out. A good resume can make a tremendous difference in your job search. We craft more law student resumes than anyone in the world.

Third, we will provide you with complete printed and customized application materials to apply to the employers you select. All you will need to do is sign and stamp your application materials. The result of using Legal Authority is that your job search is as thorough, professional, and focused as it can be. There is nothing that can compare with our effectiveness. Some law students who have tried other job search methods without success and then used Legal Authority have gotten in excess of 20 interviews.

Legal Authority is the top means in the United States for law students like you to get jobs. If you use Legal Authority, you could be interviewing within the next few weeks.

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Another Success Story in the Bay Area

by A. Harrison Barnes on August 28, 2014

“THE BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF SUCCESS”

“Another corporate attorney comes through in the Bay Area”

Phil*, a graduate of a top law school, had little more than a year of experience as a corporate attorney with a major Silicon Valley firm. Phil was in a particularly dire circumstance because (1) he was a corporate attorney, and (2) had failed the California Bar Exam not once—but twice. Like most major law firms in California, Phil’s was no exception: If you failed the bar exam more than once you were out. Nevertheless, the week the California Bar Exam results came out many of the other corporate associates at Phil’s class year were also being let go.

Like many of the other corporate attorneys who were laid off, Phil tried numerous methods for getting a position. Phil scanned online job boards, contacted recruiters and asked his law school for recommendations of alumni he should contact. Phil did all of these things and conducted his job search for a few hours every day. By December, Phil had not received a single interview. After contacting several recruiting firms, one recruiting firm rejected him and in the rejection recommended he contact Legal Authority.

Phil was fortunate because he did pass the bar on his third attempt. Phil also had performed well in all school and graduated in approximately the top 60 percent of his class. In addition, Phil was not entirely committed to doing corporate work. In fact, Phil had become so disillusioned with the practice of law after his series of unfortunate events, that he was not sure he even wanted to practice law at all. Nevertheless, Phil believed he owed it to himself to push forward. With almost $100,000 in student loans from law school, Phil felt a need to continue working. In addition, although he did not have children, Phil was married and felt an obligation to provide for his family.

Phil was initially skeptical about the use of a service like Legal Authority. According to his Legal Authority Employment Advocate at Legal Authority. His Employment Advocate needed to spend a great deal of time with Phil educating him about Legal Authority and the process of locating a position.

“Phil’s search was complicated by the fact that I really sensed he wanted to change practice areas and he was conducting his search in one of the worst areas of the United States from an employment perspective. Phil believed that if a firm does not advertise a position or hire a recruiter to track down a candidate for an opening that they are worth contacting.” His Employment Advocate also knew that Phil’s search was not going to be an easy one: “Here, in Phil, was a super candidate who had both found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and had not passed the bar after two attempts. He was also in the virtual epicenter of what was wrong with the economy. He was a junior corporate associate and had not worked in over six months. I knew that Legal Authority could help Phil; however, the prognosis was not good.”

Phil and his Employment Advocate spent approximately two hours on the phone strategizing options. Phil, for one, was eager to move out of corporate law and into something he felt would be more stable, like litigation. As a summer associate at both a major New York and San Francisco law firm, Phil had been exposed to litigation work. In addition, Phil spent one year as a paralegal prior to enrolling in law school. During his year as a paralegal Phil had enjoyed the litigation side of his work.

“When I was a second and third year in law school, all anyone was talking about was corporate, corporate, corporate,” Phil told Legal Authority. “Everyone knew that being a corporate associate could be a ticket to a super in-house position and stock options. When I was a corporate associate I gradually came to realize that being a litigator was probably more suited to my personality.”

Phil and his Employment Advocate spoke about the best methods for Phil to conduct his search and Phil believed that he would be best off if he followed his heart and tried to get a litigation position. In the San Francisco legal market, like most legal markets, there are far more firms that do litigation work than corporate work. In addition, the corporate market at the time was, as Phil and his Employment Advocate knew, in poor shape. Phil and his Employment Advocate ultimately decided that the best course would be for Phil to approach approximately 450 large and medium-sized law firms in an effort to secure a position as a litigator.

Phil and resume specialist worked over several versions of a resume and cover letter. According to the Resume Specialist, the largest challenge with Phil’s cover letter was dealing with the fact that Phil would basically take any position offered.

“Phil did not want to put all his marbles in one basket. Essentially, he was hoping that there was a possibility that a corporate position would open up for him if all else failed. This is the type of position I deal with all the time and Phil and I handled this quite well.”

Because Phil had done litigation work during his time as a summer associate at the firm he was let go from, he was able to describe this experience in addition to the small amount of corporate work he had done as an associate while waiting his bar results. Phil’s final cover letter and resume reflected that he had done both types of work. In addition, the cover letter was geared more heavily towards Phil’s interest in litigation but also described his corporate experience in enough detail that it would stick out to employers.

Phil received his package from Legal Authority on a Saturday. On Sunday he signed his cover letters and mailed them out on Monday. What happened next surprised Chris. By Wednesday he had already received 5 interviews. While 4 of the 5 interviews were with medium sized firms, the fifth interview was with the San Francisco office of a major New York City based law firm. By Friday, Chris had received over 10 interviews and by the middle of the following week he had received over 15 interviews.

Chris called his Employment Advocate immediately the day he received his first interviews. Two weeks later, he called his Employment Advocate again to tell her he had accepted a litigation position with a mid-sized San Francisco firm at a salary that was identical to what he was formerly making with the major San Francisco firm. And about the major New York law firm?

Phil was quite clear: “I do not think I am ever going to want to work for a big firm again. I expect to be a partner in five years at my present firm. If there is anything I would recommend to attorneys searching for a job it is this: Don’t use Legal Authority as a last resort. I could have been employed more than four months ago if I had used it as my first resort.”

*Names have been changed to maintain our level of inviolable secrecy, but this is a 100% true success story.

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As I sit before my computer monitor writing this short article, the window for my document is minimized so as to maximize my view of my desktop background—a view of our beloved, blue planet from two hundred miles above its surface. The stunning vista of creamy, white-blue clouds and indigo sea against a black, starless sky reminds me of the amazing richness of opportunities constantly before us…and of our regrettable inability to take advantage of all of them. Fortunately, leading full and joyful lives does not require that we take advantage of all opportunities but, rather, that we carefully choose the precious few possibilities that we can and will pursue. What a difference it will make in your law career if you seize those few opportunities and take full advantage of the doors they open!

Candidates ask me all the time, “Which firms are making partners now?” I always respond, “None of them!” The dead silence is usually followed by nervous laughter. “Not, really,” candidates say. “I know it seems like that, but where are associates really making partners?”

At this juncture, I usually let them in on a little secret: things have changed in the practice of law since the 1950s. Here’s the bottom line: there are no more firms where associates simply “make partner.” Instead, associates grow up, get clients, create practices, and only then are awarded partnership status.

What this means is that attorneys must know how to create thriving practices while maintaining heavy workloads, and most firms cannot or will not expend resources to teach lawyers how to do this. They are on their own. Well, almost.

Here are some pointers that will help you develop the personal and professional clout you will need to build your own book of business.

Start Building Partner Skills Now

Associates who are ultimately invited to join their firms’ partnerships are not created equally, yet there are several “types” of attorneys who possess skills that increase their likelihood of making partner. I once sat in on a lecture given by the chairman of a prominent law firm, in which he discussed three types of partnership-bound associates.

First, there is the “rainmaker” who spends all (or most) of his or her time networking, having lunches, meeting people, and bringing in business. Second, the “service partner” adds value to a firm by providing niche expertise in a specialized area of the law, thus meeting the needs of sophisticated clients in ways that a partner with general legal skills cannot. Finally, the “hybrid” brings good leadership skills, strong connections to the firm and within the local community, and the ability to supervise projects and associates with aplomb.

While I respect these distinctions, I see things a little more simply. The only kind of person who can make and remain a partner is a person who has developed and continues to nurture a large, quality network of friends, colleagues, experts, and clients with whom he or she is involved on a professional level. This means that a potential partner must be able to call upon the people within his or her network to meet the needs of existing clients, to refer and generate new clients, and to keep abreast of developments in his or her industry.

No matter what level of practice you may now enjoy, the levels of ability and interest you exhibit in maintaining such a network may well mean the difference between professional and remunerative success or failure.

The Core Competency of a Partner

The ability to develop successful professional relationships is one of the core competencies of a partner. Almost anyone can practice law, but only a few develop law practices. I always try to emphasize to younger lawyers that it is never too early to start the process of building a network of strong relationships. The fundamental difference between a partner and any other lawyer is leadership ability. Partners lead. That means that partners assume responsibilities, delegate tasks, and are accountable for meeting the needs of their clients. These leadership traits are not innate; they must be learned, and to be learned, they must be practiced.

The only way to become a leader is to practice leadership in a thousand small ways. Sets of small acts tend to grow, of their own accord, into larger sets of responsibilities that eventually can develop into leadership over an entire case, with a large client, or in a 3,000-member law firm.

Furthermore, leadership does not begin with a “lucky break,” such as when, for instance, the senior associate on a matter calls in sick and you are named the lead attorney…or when the lead partner suddenly realizes that you are brilliant…or even if a client suddenly prefers that you take the reins. Rather, leadership begins with relationship management. In essence, every legal task can be broken down into a series of relationships that need managing. For example, an attorney must exhibit leadership in order to assign the appropriate people within a law firm to answer interrogatories, to find critical documents, to communicate key information about deals to clients, or to manage support staff and other associates in preparing filings or coordinating nationwide document collections and reviews.

Thus, to build the confidence, credibility, and leadership skills necessary to fulfill these responsibilities, attorneys must begin by cultivating as many meaningful relationships as possible. To do this, they must actually meet people.

Get Out There, Meet People, and Make Friends

Networking is just a fancy way of describing the process of intentionally making friends. Every lawyer in the country should be a member of at least three organizations and should contribute to each of them. It is often the case that the most effective, highest-functioning attorneys are those who are members of scores of organizations that they have joined over the courses of their careers.

For starters, however, any professional—and every lawyer—should join one organization within each of the following genres: professional, service-oriented, and fraternal or social. At the most basic level, every lawyer should be closely involved with some sort of professional organization of lawyers dedicated to furthering the practice of law. This might be a subcommittee within a state bar association, the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, or even your local Barristers Club. There is no substitute for meeting and interacting with new lawyers in settings devoted to their respective practices. Successful lawyers have hundreds of colleagues who are essentially professional acquaintances with whom they have developed familiarity. Although meeting people and getting to know colleagues is incredibly easy to do, many lawyers dread it. It doesn’t have to be painful. Go out and meet someone new today!

For the Socially Challenged: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Network

Here is a step-by-step primer for developing a network of professional colleagues that even a partner would envy:

  1. Join the “[fill in the blank]” club.
  2. Actually go to a meeting.
  3. Say, “Hello, how are you?” to five people. Be brave. Try to initiate some small talk. (For example, ask questions such as “Where do you practice?” or “What is your most interesting case right now?”)
  4. Give a business card to each person you talk to. Ask for a business card from each of them, or write their names and phone numbers down on one of your own cards and hang on to it!
  5. Once you get home or back to the office, enter their names in your Outlook folder (or some other location), and set up a reminder to call each person back in one week to follow up and say how much you enjoyed meeting him or her.
  6. Actually call each person back.
  7. Make it a practice to call each person on your list of contacts once every three months.
  8. Follow where this leads you.

There. That wasn’t so hard! These are simple but invaluable steps. Every lawyer has some basic social skills, or he or she would not have survived the first year of legal practice. Begin naturally—but begin—and see where these proto-relationships take you. The point is that, just like in sales, there are only so many solid opportunities per “X” number of contacts. The only way to “get lucky” is to make sure that you make lots of attempts to build and maintain your personal network. Not every person is going to become a client, but the greater the number of personal contacts you maintain, the greater the resulting synergy between their accumulated sums of interactions, relationships, and experiences and your own.

Bringing It All Together

Once you have started down the path of generating a network of diverse professionals, you will be surprised at how it starts to take on a life of its own. Telling one colleague about an amusing vignette may lead him or her to do a small favor for you, such as sending over a client as a referral. Over time, that client or that colleague may lead you to significant business opportunities. All the while, you should be continuing to grow these and other relationships.

The key point to remember is that becoming a responsible leader depends on your ability to manage relationships. In every interaction, follow through with whatever you promise to do. If you offer to provide a reference, provide it! If you agree to get the name of someone who can serve as an expert, do it—and promptly! Demonstrating this kind of courtesy builds reputations and relationships—one small, solid step at a time. I absolutely guarantee that if you follow these practices, you will eventually succeed. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. You just need to be reasonably careful, reasonably reliable, and reasonably friendly, and you will be ahead of the majority of the pack.

Conclusion

The world is full of opportunities, but we cannot take advantage of them all; we can only capitalize on a few. To the extent that you can internalize this powerful principle, you will find that the world—and, in particular, your own practice—is as full of opportunities as a path strewn with gems. The key is to determine which gems to pick up, carry, and ultimately safeguard…because you cannot take them all. If you follow this path, you may find that your biggest challenge lies not in finding opportunities, but in having sufficiently large pockets!

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