There is a missing generation of lawyers who should have qualified between 2010 and 2012 due to the recession. Recruiting the best lawyers is more competitive than ever.
The best lawyers are in work, at good firms and are usually well regarded and well paid. They also tend to be happier where they are than their less successful colleagues. They are rarely looking for a job.
The good news is that these people do still move. However they need a little encouragement. This begins with us letting them know that there may be an even better opportunity with you. Assuming this works (it often doesn’t) and our superstar lawyer agrees to let us approach you, the charm offensive baton passes from us to you.
Unfortunately it is sometimes dropped. Lawyers who have been persuaded to meet you are sometimes subjected to an interview bordering on an interrogation. Firms often open up with the classic – “so why are you looking to leave x firm?” Firms are then surprised when the lawyer replies that they aren’t looking to leave at all. The whole recruitment process can fall apart through this simple lack of appreciation of the respective negotiating positions of the two parties.
So what can be done to avoid this? Well, firstly it is our job as recruiters to make sure our clients are told when a candidate has been approached, rather than has approached us. However you must approach the critical first discussion aware of the need to sell your firm to the lawyer, as well as to establish whether the lawyer is right for you. No matter what the level of the lawyer, remember, it’s a meeting, not an interview.