“Law firms and corporate legal departments are hiring selectively — they want the right skills match and the right fit for their work environment,” said Chris Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “In addition to tenure, employers look for a combination of professional experience, practice area expertise and business connections.”
Volkert cautioned, however, that employers who delay making hiring decisions for too long might miss out on the best job candidates. “Senior-level associates with experience in high-demand specialties, such as corporate law, litigation, and foreclosure/insolvency, are in particularly strong demand and may receive multiple offers,” he said.
The survey, developed by Robert Half Legal — a firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, and other skilled legal professionals — included responses from 350 lawyers at large law firms and corporations in North America.
The recruiting firm offers the following tips for identifying skilled job candidates and expediting the hiring process:
- Try a variety of recruitment tools. In addition to referrals from current employees and colleagues, more employers are using a range of resources such as personal connections, alumni groups and online networks to reach prospects and advertise job openings.
- Fine-tune the job description. If a job posting is too vague or general, it will attract a flood of applicants, many of whom may not possess the necessary requirements. Highlight key responsibilities and summarize the skills needed for success in the position.
- Work with a specialized staffing firm. Such firms have a pipeline of candidates they've interviewed and tested for critical skills, and can help employers quickly find good prospects.
- Streamline the screening process. For candidates who make it past the first interview, consider having follow-up meetings with a hiring committee, rather than holding several individual meetings with the prospective employee.
- Use the temporary-to-hire approach. This allows the employer to observe first-hand candidates' work styles and whether they are a fit with the firm's culture. Companies also can hire professionals on an interim basis until a job is filled to help handle workload spikes or specialized, time-intensive projects such as e-discovery.