Congratulations! You have just received a job offer and are poised to make a great career move. You are excited to transition your practice to the new firm and have given notice to your current firm that you will be leaving. Unfortunately, conflicts haven’t been cleared with your new firm and, if there is an insurmountable conflict, you are going to be left without a job. That’s a big mistake. Don’t give your notice too soon. It is a pitfall that far too many attorneys ignore.
Client conflicts are rare, but they do occur. The best advice is to wait to give your notice until you have officially cleared conflicts at the new firm. Never give notice until this process has been completed.
The dog days of summer are a perfect time of year to assess your current employment situation. For many, late summer offers a chance to take a breathe from a hectic work year – whether you find yourself with some free time in the office or are out vacationing. Yes, loyalty is an admirable trait but if you are not willing to at least consider other jobs, you might be missing a real chance for career advancement.
Of course the grass is not always greener elsewhere, but you will never know unless you are willing explore other options from time to time. There may not be such thing as the absolute perfect job, but you might be able to improve certain aspects of your career that are particularly important to you.
So after some self-reflection, ask yourself if you are content with your current job or is it less than what you had hoped at this point in your career? If you hoped for more, now is an excellent time to consider a change because you may actually have time to update your resume, start networking, and perhaps test the market. Even if you are waiting for a year-end bonus, it is not too soon to start the process.
The old cliché is that you should think about a problem from the perspective of the other side to gain a full understanding of the situation. Nowhere is that more true than in a job search/hiring situation. Too often deals are lost because of the problem of perception.
When a candidate applies and/or interviews with an employer, they are excited about the position. They check their email and voicemail for updates, excitedly hoping for news. If they don’t hear anything from the firm for an extended period of time, they assume the worst (that they are no longer being considered for the position) and often will come away with negative thoughts about the employer and may generally “reimagine” their perception of the firm to be one where the attorney wouldn’t have wanted the position. “It was for the best,” attorneys will often remark. From the candidate’s perspective, the process went from one of hope and excitement to an awful experience (and one which they will remember for a long time).
On the employer side, they might believe that interviews went fine but the firm just got busy and hasn’t had time to respond to the candidates that interviewed. Without nefarious intentions, they simply stopped/slowed the hiring process until there was more time to move forward. Form the firm’s perspective, everything is fine. They can’t understand why a candidate would have been turned off by the process.
The person who is in the best place to step in and help each side see the process from the others’ perspective is the recruiter. They can calm the candidate and nudge the employer to move the process forward (or at least communicate their updated timetable to the attorney). This is one of the many reasons that both attorneys and legal employers turn to a recruiter. If you find yourself in a similar position just take a deep breath and try to see it from the other side’s perspective.
We know that timing is a key component to a job search but often think of it in terms of an applicant or candidate. The truth is timing can be just as critical for an employer looking to make a hire. Law firms and companies are often in competition for top attorneys – from an exceptional real estate associate to the partner-level attorney with a significant client base. If you can’t get to the offer in stage in a relatively short period of time, you may be missing out on some of the best people for your firm or business.
The legal market is fairly consistent in terms of hiring in that some areas are coveted more than others at certain times. For example, lately we have a seen a big push for securities attorneys (both law firm and in-house) and there are not many in the market. Someone with the requisite skills and experience is likely to have multiple options. Although every firm or company would like to think they offer something unique, to a candidate the opportunities can appear very similar so it might come down to who is able to extend an offer first. The intent may not be to force a candidate to make a decision but it can work in your favor since they know the offer might not stand too long. Likewise, the job search process can be very demanding and time consuming so many people would like to get it over with as soon as possible so they can just focus on work.
In a market that is quickly becoming competitive again for top legal talent, firms and companies should assess whether their hiring process is efficient enough not to jeopardize a hire solely based on timing. In fact, they may have seen first-hand how this can work against them. The key then is to take steps to eliminate this correctable disadvantage to become more competitive in the marketplace.
It’s that time of the year again. Summer associates arrive at the bigger firms and get put on projects. Sometimes those projects are exciting. The files that these soon-to-be-attorneys are handed might even have really juicy facts. Ooooh – can you believe it? He did what?! She responded how?! “Ping!” Oh, that’s just my Twitter/Facebook/email/text account. And that’s how problems start.
This post really doesn’t relate to legal resumes or your job search, but it is something that is incredibly important to think about – both for law students and for the attorneys that hire them. We’re on social media and can see that this is happening and thought it was worth a moment of your time.
Never before has the legal community faced such a high risk of confidential client information leaking out. It used to be that if details were to leak out, someone would have to pick up the phone or drag out a Banker’s box of documents. Not anymore. Not with Twitter and Facebook. Not with email and text messaging.
If you are a summer associate, think twice (or three times) before sending any information out about what you are working on at your law firm. If “I’m review documents” just isn’t exciting enough, think about not sending that Tweet. Going beyond that to say that you are working on a file for Company X and are reviewing documents (or giving even more detail) may violate client confidences. Your best course of action is to resist the temptation to micro-blog about your summer associate experience altogether.