This week, I continue my written interview with Albert Tawil, the founder of Lateral Hub, an “online job board for lateral candidates and top-tier law firms” interested in lateral associate hiring. Last week, Albert shared his thoughts about the benefits of Lateral Hub for both candidates and law firms. This week, I will get into a little more detail with Albert on how his experience as a Biglaw associate who made a lateral move helped inform Lateral Hub’s structure and product offerings, as well his thoughts on why Lateral Hub should pose little risk to firms that recruiter relationships will be impacted by posting jobs on Lateral Hub’s job board.
Now to the remainder of my interview with Albert. As usual, I have added some brief commentary to the answers below but have otherwise presented his answers to my questions as he provided them.
Gaston Kroub: How did your experience as a Biglaw associate who made a lateral move inform your building out of Lateral Hub’s feature set?
Albert Tawil: Throughout every step of the process, I focused on the user experience to address common frustrations that candidates have in the lateral process and to keep it simple and easy. I remember how time-consuming it was for me doing research as a busy junior associate and how I felt there were no easy-to-use tools to help me with that process.
One example is the application flow: when a candidate clicks the button to apply for a job on the Lateral Hub site, a simple popup appears where the candidate can input just their name, email, resume, and maybe one or two additional pieces of info (if required by the firm), and then submit. By contrast, firm websites often redirect the candidate to clunky off-the-shelf job submission software, which can require the candidate to create an account, resubmit all of the information on the candidate’s resume even though the resume is already uploaded, or perform other time-consuming tasks.
Another example is access to the site. The job board is available free of charge, without any requirement to create an account or candidate profile. This makes it easy for candidates to access the information without any roadblocks.
GK: While I never lateraled as an associate, I am familiar by hearing from former colleagues just how hard it was to find out about potential opportunities. For specialized practice areas, like IP, the world of opportunities for associates can seem small to begin with in a given geographic area, so having a discrete way of keeping tabs on potential openings can be extremely helpful. Likewise, associates can be reluctant to discuss the fact that they are considering lateral opportunities with their colleagues, which is understandable, but can also foreclose the possibility of hearing of potential opportunities from those colleagues as well. While recruiters do great work at keeping candidates informed of what opportunities may exist in an associate’s given practice area, there is an element of variability in terms of when a recruiter and a potential candidate are actually speaking to each other — and whether those conversations are happening when the associate is keen to move. A dynamically updated job board like the one offered by Lateral Hub, especially one that is easy to access, can thus be very helpful for busy associates looking to take the pulse of what opportunities may exist in the market.
GK: How do you respond to firms that would benefit from listing openings on Lateral Hub but may not want to disturb their relationships with recruiters?
AT: Lateral Hub is an additional resource to help firms find lateral candidates and for lateral candidates to discover and apply to firms. Most of our member firms list job postings on their website with the hope of sourcing direct applications in addition to recruiter submissions. These firms use Lateral Hub to amplify the job postings that are already out there to reach candidates who may not be taking the time to visit the firm website.
Firms have told me they are excited about joining Lateral Hub as an additional source of applications. Based on the feedback I’ve received from firms and candidates, the decision to work with a recruiter versus hire or apply directly depends on the situation. Each has its benefits based on the needs of the law firm or candidate. In some cases, it may be beneficial to a firm to use a recruiter to find candidates, and in some cases, a firm prefers to hire candidates directly. Same applies to candidates, in some cases, it may be beneficial to a candidate to use a recruiter, and in some cases it is beneficial to the candidate to apply directly. Having several hiring options empowers law firms and candidates to better control their unique hiring and job search process.
GK: Given the dynamic nature of hiring needs, it is not surprising that firms would embrace additional avenues to attract worthy candidates, even as they continue to value their existing recruiter relationships. The same is true for candidates, whether or not those candidates have had experience working with recruiters themselves. Anything that bridges the gap and provides more opportunities for associates to land at firms that need their services is a good thing in my book. When I was in Biglaw, I was fortunate to grow up in a firm that really cared about associate morale – which meant understanding that lateral movement can be a good thing for associates and firms. Over time, I imagine that firms will continue to get comfortable with the idea of soliciting direct applications from candidates, while continuing to lean heavily on recruiters to deliver candidates for positions where it makes sense for the firm to invest in the additional cost it takes to attract the right candidate. In short, I foresee an associate hiring ecosystem that gets healthier over time, helped along by the alternative presented by Lateral Hub.
My thanks to Albert for the insights and cooperation, especially for his willingness to discuss Lateral Hub so close to its impressive market launch. (Again, you can follow Albert on LinkedIn here for thoughts on law firm life and legal recruiting and subscribe to the Lateral Hub Newsletter here for legal career content and updates. You can visit the Lateral Hub Job Board at www.lateralhub.com.) I see great promise in Lateral Hub, particularly for IP associates looking to take ownership over their careers and maximize their opportunities to work at firms which have the interesting and challenging IP work in hand. I wish Albert the best of luck in all of his ongoing endeavors and am pleased to see someone with Biglaw IP experience branching out into an entrepreneurial endeavor — especially one with the potential to improve the lateral associate hiring process for both firms and candidates.
I am always open to conducting interviews of this type with other IP thought leaders, so feel free to reach out if you have a compelling perspective to offer.
Please feel free to send comments or questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @gkroub. Any topic suggestions or thoughts are most welcome.
Gaston Kroub lives in Brooklyn and is a founding partner of Kroub, Silbersher & Kolmykov PLLC, an intellectual property litigation boutique, and Markman Advisors LLC, a leading consultancy on patent issues for the investment community. Gaston’s practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and related counseling, with a strong focus on patent matters. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @gkroub.