A Day in the Life of a Recruiter

What is campus recruiting? At a law firm, what is my role as a legal recruiter? What is a day in the life look like for a legal recruiter? To get the answers to these questions, we interviewed several legal recruiters currently in the field at top national law firms.

The Recruiting Department…
A Recruiting Department in a law firm can have up to four different levels of recruiters: Recruiting Assistant, Recruiting Coordinator, Recruiting Manager, and a Recruiting Director. The Recruiting Department is responsible for all on-campus recruiting of new associates, this includes the recruitment of primarily second year students (law students between their second and third year of law school) or 2L’s. Some firms also recruit first year students (1L’s) to join their Summer Class. In addition, some firms recruit third year students (3L’s) for their full-time entering class. A firm recruits each fall to fill its summer class for the following summer, which is called the Summer Program. Depending on need, they may also be recruiting for their full-time entering class which begins each fall. The recruiting season begins in August and ends in December.

The Summer Program…
The Summer Program will include a Summer Class made up of law students from various schools that the particular firm interviews at. A firm’s Summer Class can range from 1-100 students at a time. An average Summer Program size is 10% of the number of the attorneys in that office, but may vary depending on projected need for new attorneys, which is directly affected by the economy. The purpose of a Summer Program is to provide a student with a realistic sampling of what it would be like to practice at the firm. They are given real client work and they are shown what life is like for an attorney, professionally and socially. After the Summer Program, which is typically 12 weeks-long, the firm’s Hiring Committee reviews each student’s performance evaluations and decides whether or not to extend the candidate a permanent offer of employment.

The Seasons of Recruiting…
Recruiting can be broken up into three different seasons: Winter/Spring, Summer and Fall.

Winter/Spring usually occurs from December through April. This is the ideal time for planning and strategizing. Many firms focus on projects during this “slower” time of the year, including on-campus registration, updating of marketing materials and websites, surveying of students, outreach to law schools, etc… You will also plan all events for the Summer Program and help the firm to begin accumulating assignments to assign to summer associates. Travel arrangements, living arrangements and office assignments are all taken care of during the Spring.

The Summer runs from May through August. This is one of the busiest times of the year as you are dealing with the summer associates and managing the Summer Program. You will have be helping them to transition into your law firm as well as planning their events, training and evaluations.

During the Fall, from August through November or “OCI”, which stands for On-Campus Interviewing, you may be responsible for any of the following:

  • Getting your lawyers ready to go on-campus;
  • Scheduling and coordinating all on-campus interviews;
  • Traveling on-campus and meeting and greeting the students and being a liaison with the school contacts to ensure that on-campus recruiting and receptions run smoothly;
  • Coordinating all call-back interviews at the firm and persuading the lawyers to actively participate in the process;
  • Setting up offer dinners, and spontaneous recruiting lunches and dinners;
  • Creating and sending out offer and rejection letters to the candidates. By the beginning of December, students will have accepted their offers and you can begin to formulate your next year’s summer class.

Top Three Responsibilities for a Recruiter Each Day…
Throughout any season, as a recruiter, you can have as many as 150 bosses (number of partners at your firm). This is dependent upon how large your firm is. You will also spend most of your day responding to your different clients’ needs, partners, candidates, and law school placement directors and working with your staff to ensure things go smoothly and having to appear as if everything is also running smoothly.

In summary, the top three things that take up most of a recruiter’s day are:

  • Establishing an internal strategic plan for the day
    • This involves pinpointing what has to be done that day and prioritizing so that distractions do not throw you off track.
    • Being flexible and responding to applicants, attorneys.
  • Communicating effectively
    • Making sure that you are responding to all of your voicemails and emails.
    • Ensuring that you have the information at your fingertips (such as hiring statistics, policies and applicant contact information).
  • Ensuring that you are well-organized and that the department is ready for the challenges of the day
    • Setting up systems that are easy to maintain. By being able to retrieve information requested quickly and easily you will establish credibility and trust with your colleagues.
    • Making time for long-term projects and reports.
      • For example, collecting evaluations, statistical analysis and strategic planning.
    • Responding to summer associates’/candidates’ needs/questions/concerns.
    • Working on the next upcoming event:
      • Creating/ordering the invitations;
      • Encouraging attendance through reminder emails throughout the firm;
      • Walking the halls and meeting/greeting attorneys;
      • Confirming details with the event site.

Overall Responsibilities…
Overall, a recruiter’s daily responsibilities do vary depending upon the level of the recruiter. But, on a daily basis, any recruiter is responsible for anything including:

  • Applicant schedules
  • Compiling information for the Hiring Committee
  • Planning Summer Associate events
  • Working on Firm policies
  • During OCI
    • Preparing attorneys to go on-campus
      • Creating their interview book
      • Meeting with them to go over details
    • Debriefing the attorneys when they return
    • Helping them to decide whom to call back based on the interview and the firm criteria.
    • Scheduling call-back interviews.
  • Working with the Recruiting/Hiring Committee.
  • Implementing for the Hiring Partner/Recruiting Committee
  • Assisting with Continuing Legal Education (CLE) initiatives
    • General organization of files, video tapes, program scheduling, and creating CLE certificates for the attorneys

Most legal recruiters are members of NALP, The National Association for Law Placement, Inc. and/or a specific City Group. NALP is a nationwide association for all legal recruitment professionals. There are many programs sponsored and held by NALP, including a Newer Professionals Forum for recruiters new to the field that is held in January of every year, as well as an Annual Education Conference held annually in April. In New York City, the City Group is called NYCRA, or the New York City Recruitment Association or in the Washington DC area, the City Group is called WALRAA, The Washington Area Legal Recruitment Administrators Association. There are a total of 36 City Groups nationwide and all information can be found for both NALP and the City Groups at www.NALP.org.
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