Robert Depew picked a bad time to switch from the practice of law to associate recruiting. In the year he recently spent working for Major, Lindsey & Africa, he made just one placement: himself.

“The day I started was the day Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the fallout of that in the legal market was huge,” he said. Big-law associate jobs dried up. “We went to almost zero jobs open, and layoffs happening left and right.”

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