Note: In my experience as a Legal Recruiter, for the last three years, the summer season has been the most successful for lateral moves.
Recruitment coordinators are handling their summer associates and preparing for the incoming class of new attorneys. Partners are taking off on vacation. Why should you concern yourself with your job search now? Why not wait until the fall? Once we hit mid-September, you will start your discussion with a recruiter, prepare your resume, review job openings, and submit your materials to law firms with enthusiasm and dedication.
In actuality, for someone that is seriously considering a lateral law firm move, letting the summer fly by is a big mistake! Summer is actually one of the best times to activate your law firms search.
Here is your great advantage: Everyone has heard the same rumors as you and therefore, you have a better chance for securing a job.
Let’s address some of the general objections to summer law firm submissions:
My resume will be overlooked
As I mentioned, everyone has heard the same rumors as you, and therefore, fewer attorneys are focusing on their job search. Many people would rather take a summer break and gear up for their job search in the fall. Don’t follow the crowd! If there are less resumes being submitted for a particular position, your resume will stand out to the recruitment coordinator and you have a better chance of being selected for an interview.
To make absolutely certain that your resume is not overlooked, you should consider working with a good recruiter, who will certainly follow up with busy recruitment coordinators and make sure you are on the firm’s radar.
The competition for law firm positions remain fierce, so anything you can do to have your resume stand out from the pile is a plus, even if it’s taking advantage of a theoretical seasonal “lull.”
Everyone is on vacation
While it’s true that many people go on vacation during the summer, the recruitment coordinators generally stick around since they also play a key role in Summer Associate programs. Therefore, it’s more likely to catch them in the office. They tend to be more responsive to submissions and follow ups during the summer months.
Yes, Partners go on vacation and so the interview process may take a little longer. Guess what? Partners are out of the office for one reason or another throughout the entire year! The length of the interview process has to do with the immediacy of the law firm need, the current state of the market, and how many candidates the firms plan to interview. Most likely, if there are less qualified applicants, the firm will arrange fewer interviews. If selected for an interview, you have a better shot at landing the job.
There are no openings
To the contrary. Firms actually have more pressing needs during the summer than other times throughout the year. Unlike the turn of the year, when firms meet and make decisions about their upcoming hiring needs and have a planned approach to selecting laterals candidates, firms searching over the summer typically have more immediate needs. These are needs for which they did not plan.
Many attorneys choose to give their two-week notice during summer months so that they can time their departure with a family vacation. This leaves the firm with an open slot that they need to fill (and fast). The firm’s clients aren’t going on vacation. Until this slot his filled, the other associates and partners in the group have to work longer hours to maintain the workload and keep their clients content. Believe me, they will be more than happy to see qualified candidates walk through the door for interviews. You are a solution to a problem.
The combination of fewer resumes with more pressing needs, make summer a great time to submit your materials to law firms. Even if you do not land a position during the summer months, you are way ahead of the attorneys that choose to start their search in September.
Seasonal trend myth
It is rumored that the lateral market is most active the first few months of the new year. From personal experience in 2013 as a West Coast recruiter, this was not the case. I suspect that hiring trends in the U.S. develop on the East Coast during these months and move across the country. My busiest months and highest concentrations of placements this year were in May and June. From my discussions with other recruiters on the West Coast, I am not alone. This means that attorneys that received offers during these months have given notice and firms are actively looking for their replacements.
Consequently, I presently have a high number of attorneys interviewing and it looks like this trend will continue throughout the end of the summer.
If you are considering a lateral move, I highly recommend taking advantage of the remaining summer months. Just because you submit your materials to a few firms, doesn’t mean that you can’t take a vacation. Let your recruiter do the heavy lifting.