Not Just About the Short-Term Gain

Compensation is often one of, if not the, determining factor for attorneys in choosing a law firm job. This is not a shock and is understandable.  That said, focusing solely on short-term gain can be a detriment to long-term gain and job security. 

With rising starting salaries at big law firms, you can also anticipate increased billable hour expectations.  There is nothing wrong with working hard and being paid well for such work, but failing to recognize the need to spend time marketing and otherwise cultivating “your practice” can have consequences. Ultimately, law firms either expect their attorneys to generate their own business or, if faced with another recession and potential lay-offs as a consequence, the first people out the door (or to suffer pay-cuts) are those who can’t keep themselves busy.  Equally important, is the opportunity at least to switch firms if you are unsatisfied in your position.  After a certain number of years practicing, laterals are expected to have portable business and opportunities are limited for those who don’t. Likewise, it is hard to negotiate for more money with your current employer if they know your market value, which is determined in large part by the size of a client base, is not great or not a real threat to you leaving. 

Everyone wants (and should) be paid for their hard work, but don’t sacrifice the your long-term prospects by focusing solely on short-term gain.  

 The Importance of the Job Description 

Everything has meaning.  That’s not some philosophical statement, I’m talking about the importance of analyzing what is in a job description before submitting your resume for a position.  

Far too often, there is a disappointing “supply” of jobs in your field.  It happens.  You are a litigator and right now all of the open positions are for corporate attorneys.  When you finally see an opening for a litigation position at a top firm, you don’t have the exact experience, but what the heck, you want to get your resume to the firm and let them make the decision.  Besides, how different can employment litigation be from securities litigation anyway?

That’s a big mistake.  Job descriptions are written specifically for the firm’s need – not to attract people who could maybe, kinda-sorta, hopefully do the work.  It’s a great way to be rejected for the position.

What’s worse is that once rejected, you may be labeled in the firm’s applicant tracking system as an attorney that was passed over, which makes it harder to be considered when a position that makes sense for you actually becomes available.

In all our years recruiting at Sand Search, we have not seen candidates be successful trying to wedge their resume into a position that didn’t fit.  If your experience is very close to that described in the position description, then by all means you should apply and explain where you are deficient in experience in the cover letter (also noting how you will quickly get up to speed on those qualifications,) but no amount of explaining in the cover letter will overcome having only 3 years of experience where the firm is looking for someone with 8+ years of experience.  It just doesn’t work.

And employers should pay attention, too.  An artfully drafted position description, with understandable experience criteria is important.  It can help applicants be aware of positions that they are (or are not) qualified for , which will increase the number of QUALIFIED applicants.  This saves everyone time. 

So before you see if a firm might be interested in hiring and environmental lawyer for their IP litigation opening, take another minute and dread the job description. 

Ti’s the Season – to Explore Your Options

This time of year often calls for personal and professional reflection. It is a good time, and often beneficial exercise, to re-evaluate your employment situation. Of course in this day and age, we should be grateful for gainful employment but that does not mean you should not consider ways to advance your career.

A Time for Reflection

This time of year often calls for personal and professional reflection. It is a good time to show thanks and acknowledge your achievements over the past year. It is also good time to re-evaluate your employment situation.

Loyalty is certainly an admirable trait but if you are not willing to at least consider other jobs, you might be missing a real chance for career advancement. Of course the grass is not always greener elsewhere, but you will never know unless you are willing explore other options from time to time. There may not be such thing as the absolute perfect job, but you might be able to improve certain aspects of your career that are particularly important to you.

So ask yourself if you are just thankful to have survived another year on the job or if you have plateaued in your current employment? If so, it is an excellent time to consider a change because there is no better time for a job search. People are on the move in the first quarter of the year and businesses of have positions to fill so it is a perfect time to explore your options.


We have a lot to be thankful for here at Sand Search.

We’re thankful for a legal market that continues to show its resiliency and improving strength;

We’re thankful for our clients and our candidates throughout the nation;

We’re thankful for more and more attorneys finding the legal position that’s right for them;

We’re thankful for all of you who regularly read our blog and send thoughtful comments to us;

We’re thankful for having the opportunity to place a wide spectrum of attorneys: everything from associates to partners to General Counsel at public companies;

We’re thankful for being able to do what we love to do everyday – help connect top legal talent with the right employer;

We’re thankful that law schools are producing more entrepreneurial-minded attorneys than ever before;

We’re thankful for the opportunity to take this time to reflect on what’s important in life. We hope that you will take this holiday season and spend time with your family, friends and loved ones and assess if you are where you want to be in this stage in your career. If the answer is no, take comfort in knowing that there is something you can do about it. Commit to finding the right ‘fit’ in 2016.

And we’re excited for 2016. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Dealing With Challenging Events From Your Past

At some point during the interview process, most law firms or companies will ask a candidate to complete an application or provide responses to a lateral attorney questionnaire. 

How To Increase Your Odds Of Interviewing Well

Is there an interview on your horizon?  If so, make sure take a common sense approach to making a good impression by utilizing three essential P’s: preparedness, positive attitude and professionalism.

Do You Love Your Job?

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. -Attributed to Confucius

Not Just a Buyer’s Market Anymore

There has been a lot of press recently about the rebounding market for home sales. For many years now, buyers have had their choice of multiple options and could afford to take their time in making the best selection.

Poor Grammar Is Everywhere

A fantastic article was in this week’s Minnesota Lawyer written by Brian Melendez (“Apostrophe’s abound (make that apostrophes)”). The topic was the poor use of apostrophes (and grammar in general) displayed by lawyers. Brian is a friend and an authority on the subject (he is, after all, an editor of Black’s Law Dictionary). The takeaway from the article is that so many people misuse grammatical mistakes that they have become commonplace and accepted (and Brian suggests that continued use of erroneous syntax could be tomorrow’s canon).

Utilizing Your Network

You may not realize it but you have a network.  This could be colleagues, friends, former law school classmates, etc.  Whether you choose to utilize that network is up to you.

The “Other” Resume. Remembering Your Online Presence.

Consistency is the hallmark of good pitching in baseball, a golfer’s short game and a good resume.  Employers are not just looking at the document you submit to them, but are looking at other information, what can be considered your “other resume,” and inconsistencies are going to be scrutinized.

This Firm Won’t Hire From Elite Schools

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked about a law firm headed by a graduate of my alma matter who imposed a ban on hiring law school graduates from Ivy League and other elite schools.

Seth Godin on Recruiting vs. Hiring

If you read this blog, you know that my favorite business blogger is Seth Godin.  He is an insightful, relevant and prolific writer.  He recently opined on the difference between hiring and recruiting.

Attitude is Everything in an Interview

Going into an interview there are some things you can control and others you cannot. You cannot control how much or what type of experience you have. You cannot control your prior educational background or work history.

A Good Applicant is Always Prepared

Borrowing from the Boy Scout motto, a job applicant should always be prepared heading into an interview. You’ve worked hard on your resume, networking, and chasing job leads and now you are faced with your first interview for the position – don’t blow it due to your lack of preparedness.

Rising Like a Phoenix From the Ashes: The Mid-level Associate

We’ve come full circle from the Great Recession. The numbers are in and, according to The American Lawyer, mid-level associates are happier than they have ever been – but paradoxically, more prone to move to a new firm. These mid-level associates are actually working harder (as evidenced by the number of hours) and have been given more tools (at least technology that help them work longer, faster, better) and have more perceived job security than in recent years., but they are unsure about their future at their current firm.