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Ask the Experts

Q: I have really enjoyed the time I have spent on recruiting the summer class for my firm. How can I best transition into a full time management/recruiting role at my firm?

A: First of all it is worth noting that the if the firm asked you to actively participate in the summer recruiting they must also notice something about your natural skill set for this type of position. In best case scenarios, good law firm recruiting involves being naturally likeable, socially comfortable meeting new and introducing new people, having sophisticated liaison skills and stealth troubleshooting abilities. It is not an easy job but for those who gravitate naturally to this position it can be a very fulfilling, social and meaningful way to add value to a firm and its very pivotal goals of attracting and retaining top legal talent.

That being said, your firm may have noticed these skills in you but may be surprised to hear that you wish to transition from practice to management. The best course of action is to do your due diligence with lawyers who have made that transition but who are not working at your firm. As part of your initial inquiry you might ask about the nature of the work, compensation and career growth potential. A good source of information for this is NALP and their programs and membership.

Once you have completed some initial inquiries and have really determined that this transition is for you—it’s time to leverage on your insider knowledge of the firm and the good will that you have built at your firm! Once you are certain that this is something you want to do, speak to the professional development department of your firm, inquire about possible position openings and suggest ways in which you might be able to add value to that position. Talk to partners that you work with only once it is clear that there is a position that you wish to be considered—these partners might be able to help you in your goals as well.

Finally, there have been several instances where lawyers have made their intentions to transition known to their department and yet they continue to work as lawyers until landing the job at their firm comes to fruition or until they have been able to secure a job like that elsewhere.

At the end of the day, if you are determined to leave the law to transition into management, it is probably best to let the partners who like you and respect you help you in the process. They are going to find out eventually, so you might as well maintain your good will with them by being the one to tell them so they are best inclined to help you in the process.

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