How did I start my career as a legal recruiter?
I was senior partner at a substantial firm of Solicitors in Greater Manchester. The firm had grown to around 100 staff and I had worked my way up from joining the firm as an assistant solicitor to senior partner. I had been at the firm for over 25 years. There were only 2 equity partners including myself and I received an offer to buy my shares from a couple of ambitious salaried partners. Having worked in the law for such a length of time, and believing the offer to be a fair one, I sold my shares and decided to work outside the law but still keep my connections within it.. Hence the move in to legal recruitment.
I work essentially on my own with a handful of lawyers at any time helping them find new career opportunities. Often the solicitors I work with are at associate / junior partner level and have hit a glass ceiling at their current firms. I will make enquiries on their behalf, maintaining their anonymity, and generate interest in them with suitable firms.
Networking is essential to my business. That said it is important to network wisely. Good networking events for me are those where there are plenty of lawyers, and people who work with lawyers, present. Many of the lawyers I have helped up the legal ladder, I have met at networking events.
Is it hard to find a good job in the law?
Yes it is. It’s very hard to get in at the ground floor. Training contracts are very hard to come by. Once you are in the profession try and choose a pathway that will see you working in an area of the law where you will have a busy future. Things change. Some areas of the legal market are very susceptible to the health of the wider economy. When the economy is prospering lawyers in property and in corporate / commercial are much in demand. When the economy slows they are often the first to go! Some areas are influenced by Government policy. Cuts to legal aid have affected areas such as crime and family law. Personal injury faces challenges in light of Government reforms.
Whatever role you take its important to try and build your own contacts of referrers and clients. Firms will pay more for people who have their own business plan and connection. Back to the importance of networking!!
Don’t talk too much about yourself. If you are meeting people possibly for the first time don’t launch off all about yourself and your business and try to sell yourself and your services. The hard sell approach puts people off. People don’t like pushy people and remember…People do business with people they Like!
Instead ask people about themselves, their businesses, the challenges they face, why they chose to go into that area of work etc. People often like to talk about themselves and if you find out about them you may spot opportunities where you think you might be able to help them in the future.
Don’t be afraid of networking. It doesn’t come easy to a lot of people but it makes it easier if you remember – everyone is there at a networking event for the same reason. To meet people whom they might be able to do business with
Always take some business cards along. Ask if people are on Linked In and suggest it might be good to Link in as a means of keeping in touch. Follow up after the meeting with a brief e mail saying it was good to meet and hopefully see them again in the future. That way they have your contact details to hand. Then keep in touch.