With so many attorneys in the marketplace and many of them choosing to lateral multiple times throughout their careers, there is no doubt that there is a war for talent among law firms nationwide. The legal economy is booming and it is unquestionably a “seller’s market”, where top Associates have options and firms must bring their A-game in order to attract the best candidates.
Firms are making job offers on-the-spot to candidates at the conclusion of their interviews. As recruiters, we have seen both sides of this play out. Here are some reasons why your firm may want to consider this approach:
1. Candidates are probably interviewing at other firms
As stated above, candidates with top credentials have their pick of opportunities right now; there are likely more opportunities for a mid-level Corporate Associate in your market than you can shake a stick at. Your candidate is probably interviewing with other firms and making comparisons. Candidates take a myriad of things into consideration when comparing firms and weighing their opportunities and one of the most important is the FEEL of a firm. Candidates are looking to find a home where they feel comfortable, and nothing makes a guest feel more welcome than a company who is happy to see them and makes them feel wanted.
Cautionary Tale – The IP Associate: Recently, a highly credentialed patent prosecutor interviewed with a well-regarded but regional firm in the mid-Atlantic. This candidate could have taken their pick of AmLaw100 firms but instead came back from his first interview (where the hiring partner expressed that he intended to make him an offer) stating that there was no need to additional interviews and he would like to see how things played out with this particular firm.
2. Candidates want to feel wanted
Making an offer on the spot can feel like showing your hand early, but it is precisely this minute vulnerability that draws candidates in so tightly. Clients who extend offers “on the spot” are demonstrating to the candidates that they truly are excited and eager for the attorney to come on board. They don’t allow time for the excitement to damper on either side. In recruiting we talk a lot about “keeping the positive momentum going.” When an interview goes well and everyone is excited about moving forward, nothing kills the mood quite like an unnecessarily prolonged waiting period.
Cautionary Tale – One of our recruiters recently had a firm extend an offer to a highly-credentialed attorney. The candidate counteroffered and it then took the firm almost 2 weeks to respond to her counteroffer. By this point, the candidate was rightfully frustrated and her once high level of enthusiasm about the opportunity had been replaced by uncertainty and resentment.
3. Any offer you make is still contingent
If you find a candidate who is going to be a great fit for your team and make them an offer on the spot, that offer is still contingent upon that candidate clearing conflicts, passing a background and reference check.
Cautionary Tale: Last year, one of our recruiters had a candidate accept an offer and proceed through the entire conflicts process. Unfortunately, at the last step, the firm realized there was a conflict that couldn’t be overcome. The firm, therefore, retracted the offer and moved on with the hiring process.
More and more firms are recognizing that they must move quickly and offer top compensation packages to be competitive. As recruiters, we encourage our clients to move quickly and extend offers as soon as possible in order to continue to pique the candidate’s interest. Time and time again, we have watched clients lose highly qualified candidates because of the delays in their own hiring processes. Remember, the war for talent in the legal marketplace is moving quickly can help draw the best attorneys to your team.