The Ins and Outs of Legal Recruiting

INTERVIEW WITH CAROLINE HANEY, ASSOCIATE, HANEY LEGAL RECRUITMENT

In 2006, after 10 years’ experience in legal recruiting, Caroline Haney went into business for herself and founded Haney Legal Recruitment. Her team recruits primarily lawyers, at all levels of experience and across all specialties for both law firms and companies. Sometimes notaries, patent agents and trademark agents are also requested. Caroline gives us informed advice that will be helpful to all lawyers seeking to develop their careers.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT RECRUITING?

The process starts when a client contacts us to recruit a new employee. We study the request to understand the requirement, then we start searchomh within our contact network. As a specialized recruiting firm, we are in touch with a large number of legal professionals, who are either working or job hunting; these are the people we consider first when we are searching for a profile. We also post the jobs on niche job boards like www.legaljob.ca. Another good source of potential candidates is headhunting. We read what the media is saying and we do online searches to identify those lawyers and specialists with the most visibility in the area concerned.

WHICH AREAS ARE HIRING THE MOST, ACCORDING TO YOU?

This is a particular shortage of lawyers in real estate law, despite the fact that it’s an interesting field, with broad issues. There are few established specialists in this sector, so they are overloaded, with no new up-and-comers to take their place for the moment.

The sectors of tax law and corporate law are also seeking new people, what with the tendency of young lawyers to head off to New York, Paris or London for a taste of adventure and novelty. They are therefore desperately in need of lawyers and are actively recruiting specialists.

There is also a significant shortage of juniors with some experience acquired through articling, along with professionals with three to five years’ experience. These profiles are very in demand by law firms. Overall, recruiters who come to us have a preference for people with some three to four years’ law firm experience, and who are familiar with business, corporate and tax law.

WHICH QUESTIONS DO YOU ASK IN AN INTERVIEW?

First, I try to find out about the context of our meeting: whether the candidate currently has a job and his/her reasons for wanting to switch jobs. I also ask candidates what makes them happy, what are their strengths, and what they need to improve. It is also important to find out with what kind of people the candidate can work with, to assess their suitability for the position to be filled and in terms of future co-workers.

I want to have details on previous experience and on the candidate’s career path: why, for example, did he or she go into law? Which sectors interest him or her? What is the candidate’s career plan? What are his or her expectations in terms of duties and salary?

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A CV?

A good CV can be read in 15 seconds. It should be clear, neat and well presented, with separate headings. Dashes allow faster reading. You need to be able to immediately pick out previous jobs and employers. Candidates can include appendices to complete their application, but the CV loses all interest if it is longer than two pages. The information is therefore diluted and important details are lost.

When I get a CV, I study the application by comparing the candidate’s profile with that of the position to be filled. I pay particular attention to the candidate’s experience and what his or her career objective is.

WHAT OTHER KIND OF WORK CAN LAWYERS DO?

There’s an adage that says, “Law leads to everything,” but actually it depends on your specific personal qualities. Lawyers can work in politics, human resources, the media and industrial relations, to name but a few.

Lawyer can also end up as corporate vice-presidents, vice-presidents of corporate development, vice-presidents of mergers and acquisitions or company presidents, but this is still uncommon.

WHAT ARE THE HOT SECTORS RIGHT NOW?

We are seeing more and more class action suits. Although this method is not new; it has been around for a long time, it is increasingly being used.

Seniors’ rights are just emerging, but it’s a sector with good potential because the population is getting older. Finally, benefits law and pension plan law are becoming popular because of their complexity, with employees no longer hesitating to confront their employers.

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