Recruitment is an interesting industry, and one many people (who aren’t in it) have a negative view on. I sometimes think we’re considered on par with Estate Agents and Traffic Wardens! But it’s the few ‘bad’ recruiters in the market that unfortunately have tainted the profession, meaning the rest of us need to work hard to disprove any negative perceptions. I want to tell you a bit more about what legal recruiters do day to day and the reasons to consider legal recruitment if you are at a crossroads in your career and thinking about taking the plunge…
Recruitment is similar whatever sector you recruit for, whether that’s construction, IT, legal, HR, or sales. The role is difficult and stressful – this isn’t an easy option for sure. A normal day will mean juggling huge numbers of tasks at once and never ever getting to the end of your to-do list. In brief, and certainly not exhaustive, a legal recruiter will daily: business develop, client manage, pick up new roles, continue to work on the current roles, find and brief candidates, keep candidates up to date, advertise roles, arrange interviews, chase up interview feedback, manage interview processes, negotiate offers, manage the process between offer and starting with a firm, keep abreast of legal industry news, network, arrange networking events, provide advice to both clients and candidates on the current market conditions and salaries, attend agency briefings, meet candidates, visit law firms all over the country and somehow do all this (and more!) between 9am – 5.30! As you can imagine, these hours are not often stuck to.
The role is very rewarding however, and particularly in an agency like Chadwick Nott, it’s not about the short wins, but about building on already great relationships with law firms, becoming an extension of the firm itself and providing a consultative strategic solution to help grow their businesses, together with working for many months and years with candidates to find them their perfect firm and role. I particularly enjoy working with Partner and senior level candidates, often for a long while, ensuring the approach to market on their behalf is focused, informed and sensitively dealt with. Placing a candidate at Partner level, for example, can be hugely rewarding as the person you place will be making a direct impact on the future of the law firm client they join. But this does not take away of course, from the thrill of finding a NQ their first qualified role in the market, or one of my particular favourites, helping a candidate change practice area – no easy feat!
Reasons to get into legal recruitment:
People often get into recruitment in general because it’s seen as a different, maybe easier than other professions, and easy option to make money. This isn’t always the case – but it can be! Many people leave practice to move into legal recruitment (including most of us here at Chadwick Nott) for a number of reasons including: ability to put their legal knowledge and experience to good use in a new career, keep networks and relationships built up in their previous career, keep client contact and use their entrepreneurial spirit. A key factor for many is the clear correlation between how hard people work and their earnings. The commercial and business side of the recruitment industry is certainly enjoyable, and plays to entrepreneurial people looking to run their own business. There is a lot of hard work involved but with great benefits if the effort is put in.
Personally, I absolutely love keeping my foot in the legal industry, building long lasting relationships, feeling like I’m making a difference to the future of our law firm clients, speaking with different candidates every day and playing up to my competitive and entrepreneurial spirit.
Who it would suit:
Legal recruitment would certainly suit anyone who is:
- Money motivated
- Good communicator
- Natural networker
- Naturally inquisitive
- Legal expert
- Urgent/ speedy / efficient
- Commercial/ Entrepreneurial
I cannot actually remember a time I didn’t want to be a solicitor. It might have been growing up in an era of Ally McBeal or maybe the fact I knew of only two careers really – doctor or lawyer – and I was terrible at science!
I completed a law degree and LPC, worked at a number of different firms as a paralegal, and tried to secure the ever illusive training contract. Unfortunately, this was at the height of the recession (2010), firms were making huge cuts in terms of staff and many had stopped their training contracts full stop. I loved working in Private Client, but was struggling to live on a paralegal’s wage and being the money hungry person I am, went on a quest to find a career where I could use my legal experience but make me some money!
I joined a large international agency, and over the years moved from there to an in-house role with international law firm DAC Beachcroft as an internal recruiter, back out into agency to set up my own legal recruitment business, and most recently joining Chadwick Nott. I feel I have found my home now, working in such a professional environment.
Chadwick Nott is a slightly different animal compared to some of the large international agencies. We tend not to be KPI and targets based – of course we all have financial targets to hit, but the focus is more about candidate and client relationships. CN has built a reputation as a niche legal agency over the last 30 years, and has managed to keep this focus and specialism even through some tough market conditions. Most of the recruiters who work here are ex-solicitors, moving from practice and using their experience and network to become successful legal recruiters. Many have also been here for over a decade, something which is pretty unusual for a recruitment agency. Day to day, the agency feels more like a law firm, working professionally, consultatively and at a high level within the industry.
If you are thinking about a career in legal recruitment, whether that’s from practice side or from another profession, my biggest piece of advice would be – do seriously consider it! Think about it carefully, do your due diligence, and speak to friends and family.