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The recession, they say, is winding down … and as it does, law firms that were temporarily and somewhat adversely affected by the economy are turning their attention away from the issues of downsizing, belt-tightening and headcount adjustments and toward the imminent need for a highly successful 2002 recruitment program. Law firms everywhere are cognizant of the fact that when the market turns and the business booms again, the demand for associate talent is likely to escalate rapidly. The need to build increased capacity will be here in a blink of an eye, and the successful, sustained visibility that engenders effective recruitment of summer, entry-level and lateral associates is critical to the future of any firm. Clearly, every firm that undertook any sort of adjustment in headcount, whether it was termed a reduction in force or a layoff, or was posed as performance-based departures, will discover that it will need to work hard at recruitment to overcome that history. Students and associates may be somewhat gun-shy with regard to firms that received highly public and somewhat negative reviews of the adjustments they made in response to the economy. Firms with an eye to the future will ensure that their message is received and believed by three distinct audiences that are key to recruiting success: students, lateral associates and search consultants. An effective revitalization of a recruitment effort will naturally use specific initiatives to address the concerns that may be forthcoming from each of those audiences. Doing so will require an investment of administrative and partner time as well as substantial resources dedicated to marketing and outreach. MARKETING TO STUDENTS: ONLINE AND ON-CAMPUS RECRUITING Law students are critical to the pipeline that feeds a law firm’s hunger for talent. Thus, considerable attention must be paid to the visibility of a firm with students, and the way in which they perceive the firm and the actions it took to survive in a difficult economy. Access to students through dissemination of informational resources can be achieved in many ways, but among the most efficient is the use of on-line technologies. Today’s students truly are “wired,” and receiving information that will influence their decision making through electronic venues is second nature. A top-notch recruitment program begins with excellence in delivery of information via the Internet. Expert analysts offer prudent advice about the construction and functionality of law firm recruitment Web sites, including a warning to forget the 20-second introductory videos and flash presentations, to focus on the number of “clicks” required for “surfers” to get to essential marketing information (research suggests that most Web users will click twice before growing bored), and otherwise to employ “usability concepts” that ensure that a site’s purpose is obvious and its use intuitive. In addition to marketing to potential recruits electronically, firms can also advance their prowess by ensuring that law school career services offices have accurate information on the firm, its actions and future intent. Career services connections can be invaluable to firms attempting to rebuild their recruitment strength because students seeking job search support or career counseling will use their counselors as sounding boards to verify or refute the information they glean from any of dozens of sources. Clearly, maintaining active communication with law school career services offices, including liaison relationships between recruitment administrators and career services administrators can be of real value. This includes making certain that career services administrators are accurately informed about: the firm’s plans for growth; how the firm managed any unexpected associate departures vis-�-vis severance, support and references; and, as appropriate, background on the processes used to determine who would be released. This information, while not necessarily appropriate for transmission to students, can be extraordinarily effective in creating assurances for students as a by-product of the reassurance provided by career counselors. Additionally, initiating formal or informal connections between career services offices and partners from the firm are essential to emphasize the seriousness of purpose the firm has about recruitment at specific law schools. Alumni connections for law schools also offer an important means of leveraging a firm’s credibility with students through both informal and formal contacts. Alumni have credibility with students. As appropriate, it may be advantageous to encourage selected associates to participate in campus programming, receptions, information sessions and other events where informal and formal recruiting may occur. Ultimately, in the aftermath of any economy-motivated action that could suggest even mild vulnerability of a firm, those representing it must be prepared to respond to hard questions during student interaction and interviews. Some may call it extreme recruiting, but many organizations have had to learn to be unusually frank about their situations during recruitment activities and job interviews, pitching the firm and its future in bold new ways to skeptical students who have read the stories and heard the rumors of the firm’s demise. Specific ways to increase/sustain visibility with law students include, but are not limited to, a firm’s efforts to: � participate in on-campus interviews with exceptionally well-prepared interviewers who will serve as good ambassadors for the firm; � engage firm representatives to write for, and/or be available for quotation in, magazines widely read by law students; � advertise in magazines read by law students; � create a highly interactive and informative Web site with a focus on recruiting; � provide partners and associates as speakers and/or panelists for campus programming; � host receptions for students to support informal relationship building; � create information packets that can be mailed to students; and � engage alumni as student/firm contacts — and as information brokers. BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN LATERAL CANDIDATES In the aftermath of a reduction in force, what possible incentive could a downsizing firm offer to convince a right-minded, highly talented lateral associate to leave his or her current employer? The answer is simple: opportunity. What better time for an associate to join a firm where his or her expertise, leadership and interest will be most valued? That marketing approach may or may not succeed in all venues, but it is clearly one viable perspective. True, a firm recovering from downsizing is one trying to find its way again, but this fact suggests that such a firm will also be seeking new direction and new opportunities that lateral associates and partners may bring. Using the analogy of the stock market, there may be no better time to buy than when stock prices are down. Similarly, when a law firm is on the ropes, perhaps there may be no place to go but up. Savvy lateral associates may want a piece of that action, believing that the firm may make concessions to attract and retain associates in the rebuilding process who otherwise would be unavailable. To that end, one marketing strategy that can be implemented uses the “surviving” associates. Incentivizing them to initiate referrals and get resumes from colleagues who are employed with other firms can offer a viable strategy that no other marketing ploy can match. As associates create in-house referrals, they will have a direct role in “turning the ship around” and may be more invested in the firm’s future than ever before. RENEWING RELATIONSHIPS WITH SEARCH CONSULTANTS Ongoing relationships with legal search consultants are typically the norm whether a firm is facing good times or bad, but during a crisis period, these professionals are privy to the perspectives and rumors that cloud the conversations of associates. Thus, they can be invaluable allies in a firm’s effort to generate interest from lateral associates and partners. The strategy is simple and straightforward for firms with a sustained interest in lateral hiring: recruitment administrators, hiring partners and even managing partners should meet face-to-face with select search consultants to candidly recap the firm’s status and plans for the future. Hearing the reality first-hand is an essential part of being an effective conduit. With this information, search consultants can help associates put the facts in perspective. Additionally, arranging opportunities for search consultants to talk with associates provides another means for the consultants to acquire first-hand knowledge of the condition of the firm and the environment that new lateral recruits are likely to encounter. The spring recruitment season has begun and summer is rapidly approaching. The economy is perking up and as it does, the task of re-igniting a rusty recruitment program’s reputation requires thoughtful planning and commitment. The time to do so is before the recovery is complete and competition for talent is intense. Paula A. Patton is executive director of the National Association for Law Placement and the NALP Foundation for Research and Education.

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