So, What Does a Legal Recruiter Actually Do?

Written By:
Matthew Thomas
Senior Consultant
My family home is in Suffolk. It's a lovely area with a lot going for it with many great industries. Recruitment, however isn't one of them. As a result, I'm often asked what a legal head-hunter actually is!

Whilst I love my job, I can appreciate it’s not the most interesting conversation topic - especially on a first date. Nobody grows up wanting to be a recruiter. I wanted to play for Man United (back when they used to win games).

Therefore, my usual go-to explanation is, “you know football agents? It’s like that but for lawyers...” However, that really does my job no justice, especially if the person isn’t into football. They look even more confused.  

The proper answer would be...  

Essentially my day-to-day is spent speaking to/meeting candidates and clients worldwide. We present lawyers with opportunities and help them navigate the top end of the international legal market. We place candidates into some of the most sought-after and exciting legal positions across multiple jurisdictions and help lawyers excel in their careers.  

If I do ever get round to explaining the above, a follow-up question I’m often asked is, “why don’t the lawyers just do it themselves?” This brings me to the real point of this blog, why use a recruiter? Those of you who came to our recent networking at Sushi Samba will recall me discussing this in my presentation:  

Cost – it’s a free service for candidates. Our clients pay us a percentage of your first-year salary when you start a role. It’s also worth noting that top firms actively look to use recruiters as we assist them with “hard to fill” roles.  

Time – as legal head-hunters, we are moving top lawyers from good jobs to other good (hopefully better) jobs. As a result, the candidates we work with are busy people with demanding jobs and active personal lives. Job hunting is like a job in itself, and as someone who has searched for a job off my own back, I can honestly say the relief of no longer having to search is almost as big as the satisfaction and excitement of getting a new role. A good legal recruiter will take that out of your hands and do all the research, interview scheduling and interview prep for you.  

Knowledge – we appreciate our candidates are highly-intelligent, successful people but are also aware they are often too busy with work and life, in general, to know exactly what is going on in the market. We can talk you through the industry, send on market maps, and discuss the pros and cons in different opportunities. We speak to clients and candidates daily and therefore know what’s going on.  

Prep – some of our candidates may not have had an interview since they got their training contract. Interviewing is a unique skill and let’s face it, no one likes job interviews. However, we can guide you through the do’s and don’ts, let you know what to expect and discuss individual firms/Partners interviewing styles.  

Negotiation – talking about money makes most of us uncomfortable, and negotiating with your soon-to-be boss about money isn’t ideal. These types of conversations are a million times easier when they go via a third party. We negotiate with your best interests at heart without any awkwardness. Feeling disgruntled about your salary and/or a certain term/condition in your contract when you start a new job is an awful way to begin. If there’s a problem at the offer stage, we can get it sorted professionally and efficiently without damaging your employer/employee relationship.  

Chasing up – so much of our job is chasing up candidates and clients for feedback, and scheduling interviews. It’s why people often cite tenacity as a crucial trait for recruiters. Do you really want to have to be chasing a head of HR or a Partner (who could end up being your boss?) It’s another awkward situation that doesn’t reflect well on you. We can chase people up professionally and clients know it’s just us doing our job.  

Service – we work in a candidate-driven market, therefore, our attention is on candidates, and they get the client service. Of course, we value and respect our clients, but they are under no illusions that we work for candidates first and foremost, and they appreciate that.  

Hopefully, this has provided some insight into what I do and the wider Sonder team and, most importantly, why it’s beneficial to use a recruiter.  

If you’re interested in discussing your options or curious to hear about the legal market, please feel free to get in touch. If not, at least I now have an article to send people down the pub when they ask what I do for work.