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How Biglaw Hiring Has Changed in the Wake of Shifting Industry Spending

How Biglaw Hiring Has Changed in the Wake of Shifting Industry Spending

If you’re interested in making the transition to a new or different position at a Biglaw firm (in California or elsewhere), then it’s important to consider the various shakeups that have affected the legal industry over the past decade, and how those have influenced hiring in legal organizations.  As an attorney-candidate, the changes that have taken place in the Biglaw context not only influence your initial candidacy (during the recruitment process), but may also influence your growth within the target organization and your exit opportunities.


The recruitment process can be a complicated mess for those who are exploring new opportunities for the first time in some years, and especially so for those who are currently employed and cannot spare the time or energy to extensively research the California legal industry and opportunities therein.


We therefore encourage you to get in touch with one of the experienced Los Angeles legal recruiters here at Garb Jaffe & Associates for further guidance.  We will help you navigate the challenges typical of the recruitment process, and will keep you apprised of developments in Biglaw that may affect your candidacy and potential for growth.


Industry Trends in the Past Decade

In the post-2008 recession years, the Biglaw industry (in California and throughout the United States at-large) has adapted to changing demand in order to survive.  The past decade has seen in-house departments expand considerably, in both expertise and number, with many companies moving to internal processes for handling legal issues.  Further, boutique law firms have grown to address rising demand for specialist guidance (without the price tag typically appended to Biglaw work).


Biglaw firms began to merge — firms that were able to withstand the impact of significant market forces swallowed up their weaker competitors, and looked for areas of the firm to cut costs.  Support personnel (paralegals, secretaries, experts, etc.) have been reduced proportionally at many Biglaw firms, and midlevel and senior attorneys are often asked to shoulder additional burdens, such as research tasks that would otherwise have been assigned to support personnel.


In today’s Biglaw industry, it is therefore critical that attorneys be more independently-minded and capable than ever before — midlevel attorneys, for example, must be self-starters who are willing to accept responsibility over tasks that may have otherwise been within the purview of junior attorneys or support personnel.  Attorneys who can effectively manage their various projects are likely to stand out.


Recruitment is Changing

Given these trends, Biglaw recruitment has changed rather significantly — though it’s important to note that the effects are not universal.


Some Biglaw firms have adapted their hiring practices to suit this “new world order,” so to speak, but others remain staunch in maintaining their traditional organizational and hiring structures.


So, how has attorney recruitment changed?


Generally speaking, Biglaw firms value specialist attorneys more than ever (outside of junior attorneys).  Midlevel and senior attorneys with demonstrable specialist experience in high-value practice areas and industries will do quite well when exploring opportunities at Biglaw firms, and are also likely to find that there are more opportunities for growth internally.  Generalist attorneys continue to be hired by various Biglaw firms, but this space may shrink as more firms realize the benefits of working with specialist attorneys.


Biglaw firms have also become somewhat more competitive over the past decade, in part due to increasing competition from boutique firms and expanded in-house departments.  Attorneys must work harder to justify their value to Biglaw firms.  Anything that can separate you from other attorney-candidates is likely to benefit your application — experience engaging clients directly, multiple language fluency, quality references, tech-savviness with regard to legal software, demonstrable skill in project management, and more.


Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Legal Recruiter for Assistance

Despite a serious shakeup in demand that lasted from 2008 to the mid 2010s, firms have bounced back and there are a number of excellent opportunities in the California Biglaw industry.  It’s worth noting, however, that many Biglaw firms have changed their spending habits significantly over the past decade, and as such, you will have to adapt your approach in order to secure a position that is suitable for your needs, preferences, and ambitions.


Here at Garb Jaffe & Associates, our experienced Los Angeles legal recruiters have decades of experience assisting attorney-candidates with the hiring process, from end-to-end — we work closely with our clients to ensure that they are targeting the right firms, and that their application is properly tailored to each position.


Call (310) 207-0727 or submit an online inquiry today to connect to one of the skilled legal recruiters here at Garb Jaffe & Associates.  During consultation, we will evaluate your needs and preferences, and will begin the process of identifying appropriate opportunities.

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