By Diana LaMorie • April 29, 2018•Writers in Residence, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Other Career Issues, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
Last month, I sang the praises of recruiters as instrumental assets in forging your career. I also shared an enlightening info session on the JD Preferred marketplace with Meredith Cohen, Managing Director at Momentum Search Group. This month, the conversation continues about Meredith’s personal experience as a lawyer turned headhunter (a “JD Preferred” career path in its own right).
Without further ado, let’s take a peek inside Meredith’s world.
You started out in BigLaw straight out of law school. What made you want to leave? And what drew you to recruiting as your new career path?
I always knew that I was not going to stay in BigLaw long term. What made me consider leaving at the time that I did was that the hours were pretty tough and I was not really excited about the work. I responded to an interesting e-mail I received from a recruiter, and started the search process to explore in-house and smaller law firm options. During the course of the search, I realized that I did not want to be a practicing lawyer anymore. I had never considered recruiting, but when I told that to my recruiter, she suggested that I consider it. Momentum happened to be hiring at the time, so I came in for a meeting. I was drawn to the lifestyle, the fact that I would be in charge of my own desk, the potential to make as much or more money as I was making in BigLaw and the fact that I would still be involved in the legal world (so my years of law school and practicing would not go to waste).
Would you categorize recruiting as a “JD Preferred” career path? Anecdotally, I’ve come across four female JDs in the recruiting field over the past few years. Is this a trend I’m spotting?
It does not have to be, but I have found that the most successful recruiters are JDs. And not just JDs, but those who have practiced law for at least a few years. I think it’s a logical transition to make, so I’m not surprised that it is becoming a trend.
Walk us through a day in the life of a recruiter at your company.
A typical day can vary based on where you are in your career. When I first started, I spent my entire day making cold calls. Now that I am more experienced, I don’t have to rely on cold calls as much (although I definitely still do them). Most days involve speaking to candidates, whether it is telling them about new jobs that have come in, preparing them for an interview, talking to them about an offer they have received, or counseling them through giving notice at their current job. There is also the client side, reaching out to clients with candidate submissions, scheduling interviews and finding out about new jobs. Some days we have client meetings where we learn about new jobs or companies, or candidate meetings where we meet all of our candidates face to face. A lot of our days can be unpredictable, with new candidates reaching out or new jobs coming in.
What value does having a JD confer on someone working as a recruiter? What skills do you use that you picked up in law school?
I definitely see a lot of value in having practiced law, because you understand the practice areas and the types of transactions and cases that your candidates work on. As far as law school, I think skills that are helpful are analytical thinking and strategizing. In this job, you not only have to know the market and what your candidate’s goals are, but you also have to figure out the best way to present the candidate and how to approach the market.
What do you like the most about recruiting? The least?
There are a lot of things that I love about my job. That includes my colleagues, my work/life balance, my compensation, the fact that I run my own desk, and that I get to spend most of my day talking to interesting people (side note: talking to clients was my favorite part of being a lawyer). I also love hearing from candidates that I have placed that they are happy in their new role.
My least favorite part is that sometimes I feel a lack of respect from candidates. They are not always completely honest and forthcoming or often feel (and express) that they know more than I do about jobs or recruiting. It’s difficult when you put in a lot of time and effort to represent someone and then they tell you that they obtained a job through other means. It’s also difficult when someone with no experience in recruiting tries to tell you how you should do your job.
What would you be doing if not recruiting?
If I did not take this job, I probably would have ended up going into the non-profit sector, maybe as an attorney at first but possibly in another role. But I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else and plan to continue recruiting for a long time. I have no plans to return to practicing law.
What advice do you have for fellow JD holders who might want to try their hand at recruiting as a job?
Talk to recruiters! It’s the best way to find out what we actually do and whether it might be the right fit for you.
Thank you so much for your invaluable insight, Meredith!