In today’s competitive legal market, top firms and companies are turning to legal recruiters to streamline their hiring process. Experienced recruiters understand market nuances, have a robust network of both active and passive candidates, and are experts at managing viable candidates through the hiring process. A recruiter partnership, however, does not automatically guarantee a successful search. Like any effective partnership, both parties need to be willing to invest a little time up front to build trust, set mutual expectations, and establish communication guidelines.

Could your internal recruiting team benefit from stronger recruiter partnerships? From my experience, successful firm-recruiter partnerships share these three hallmarks:

The hiring manager and internal stakeholders clearly communicate their search objectives.
When a role is ill-defined or continually evolving, a recruiter is forced to play “mind reader”, trying to hone in on a constantly moving target. The recruiter ends up presenting candidates that aren’t quite right, wasting everyone’s time. Worse, from a candidate’s perspective, the firm or company looks disorganized and indecisive, hurting their reputation in the legal marketplace.

Clients who work well with recruiters are experts at articulating exactly what they want when it comes to experience, academics, and performance. They have a clear vision before starting the search and, should anything change, they contact the recruiter immediately to discuss adjustments.

The recruiter has access to the ultimate decision makers.
The most difficult search processes are the ones where a recruiter does not interact directly with the attorney or attorneys who are going to make the ultimate hiring decision. When information is passed down through multiple intermediaries, nuances are lost. Having access to the decision maker allows recruiters to gain insight into characteristics that candidates should be vetted for beyond their core educational and work experience.

For example, I often find that soft skills get lost in translation. As a recruiter, I know it’s not enough to simply present candidates that check the boxes in terms of background, casework, and a book of business. It’s critical that the personalities of these candidates mesh well with the decision makers– and to do so, I need to speak with these leaders directly.

The recruiter has an understanding of the client’s strategic goals.
There’s a big difference between going out to the market armed with a thorough understanding of the firm’s growth plans and how the open role will help shape the company’s objectives and going out with a one-page job spec handed down from an HR contact. The more information a recruiter has, the more they’re able to take a bespoke approach to targeting candidates.

A recruiter must be able to speak credibly about the role, including how the firm or company envisions the lawyer in this position developing over the next three to five years. This information can make a big difference in piquing a top candidate’s interest level.

Successful Recruiter Partnerships in Action

Recently, my Lucas Group team worked with a major law firm that had just opened a new Atlanta office. Before screening candidates, we first spoke with the firm’s managing partner and practice group leaders about which areas of the business they were looking to grow and why they had chosen Atlanta to target those areas. Based on this information, we put together a list of pre-approved candidates. We were able to tell each candidate they had already been vetted in our initial conversations. That’s a powerful opening message to woo top talent and led to a very successful placement.

When firms and recruiters work together closely throughout the process, both sides can achieve fantastic results. Questions about working with a legal recruiter or just want to talk about the market? Let us know and we will connect you with a recruiter.


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