The importance of the law firm-recruiter relationship explained

By Kristi Edwards

The relationships legal recruiters build with clients are their most valuable capital. Strong relationships are critical to a recruiter being able to make a difference and be effective. This building of trust occurs over a period of time as the result of some successful (and the odd unsuccessful) placements and dealings. A good recruiter is not interested in a short-termist approach or single placement relationship but in something that is more lasting and mutually beneficial. You will find that any decent recruiter will always be looking to distance him/herself from a purely ‘service level’ relationship. It’s a pretty boring, ‘sausage factory’ way of working; a bit like that kid’s game of hammering the correct shaped peg into the right hole. The existence of deeper business relationships is a far more effective (not to mention motivating and absorbing) way of working for all 3 sides of the recruitment equation. The law firm client will have a far greater chance at recruiting a suitable, successful and culturally matched addition to their team, a candidate will secure a role that is as close to their ‘dream job’ as possible and the recruiter’s job is more interesting and, let’s face it, more lucrative with the prospect of an enduring relationship.


A recruiter ought to understand that his/her growth and success is directly linked with his/her clients' growth. The industry’s economics have changed dramatically and firms today are not merely interested in filling a particular position, but in value-add propositions and in recruiting for future growth and needs. A recruiter's overall measure of success should be the ability to provide in depth knowledge to his/her candidates and clients in order that they are able to make the best decisions possible. This is only possible with much higher than ‘service level’ recruiter-law firm relationships. A more scientific, knowledge based approach is necessary if recruiters are to appropriately perform in assisting to enhance the careers of his/her candidates and in assisting firms to attract, develop and retain exceptional lawyers. It is only with deep pools talent that a law firm can compete for clients in such a highly competitive market place.

A recruiter with a strong, durable relationship with a law firm becomes a trusted advisor and gives genuine thought to the success of the firm in question, understanding that a hiring mistake is expensive. In today’s dog fight amongst law firms for clients a bad hire, can have a serious effect on a firm’s business. There’s always a wolf at the door willing and able to collect any unsatisfied client.  It’s not just law firms for whom it is become more difficult to secure long-term client relationships; with the backdrop of today's economy, a good recruiter understands and recognises the firm's restricted spending power when it comes to using recruitment agencies and will go to great lengths to nurture his/her existing relationships.

So, we have talked about this relationship of trust and how the value adding model is really the only way a recruiter can succeed long term but why would the level of a recruiter’s relationship with a law firm matter so much to a candidate? Why are recruiter-law firm relationships one of the fundamental necessities in pushing through a placement?


Most law firms believe that a good recruiter has an interest in the firm's overall success and this only happens when trust is involved. Only when trust is involved does a recruiting partner, a managing partner or an HR Manager share information with the recruiter that will not be available to the wider market. A recruiter with this level relationship does not just fill vacancies, they actually assist in the growth of a business. This kind of recruiter will be appreciated for his/her understanding and grasp of the firm's culture and overall practice. They will understand the intricacies of the legal market and will appreciate the firm in question’s place in it. All this knowledge is a direct result of a relationship of trust. Where a recruiter has worked hard to have a genuinely value-add relationship with a law firm, they will secure that firm's business over and over again and through the strength of this relationship, will certainly make a difference to the application process for the candidate. The process will be smoother, in most cases faster and in instances where an excellent law firm- recruiter relationship exists, there is no doubt that a recruiter can have a genuine influence on outcomes. This is key for candidates. You may only recognise quite how key if you have ever had the experience of instructing a recruiter who has tried to keep momentum, have questions answered and negotiate final details of a placement in its absence.


© Edwards Gibson

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