We already know that Biglaw is super busy and there really aren’t enough qualified lawyers out there to handle all of the work. That has led to intense competition for qualified associates and begat a scorching hot lateral market with all manner of repercussions, like special bonuses, signing bonuses, retention bonuses, raises — basically a lot of money is being thrown around.
But the competition for the best — or even just warm bodies — is intense. The latest proof of that is a trend of Biglaw firms hiring associates without an interview. Yup, you read that correctly, based solely on the strength on a lateral’s resume, there are firms taking a risk and bringing on attorneys. As an anonymous partner told Law.com of the trend:
“In any other year you’d have said it was stupid,” one of the partners said. “But competition for people has become so heated that big law firms are truncating what is normally a process of months into a matter of weeks.”
A recruiter also weighed in on the lowering of standards brought on by the competition for lateral attorneys:
“In an odd way [recruiting on the spot] makes sense for firms, so they are able to tell a client, ‘Well hey, we can actually do the deal now because we have the manpower’. So they’re locking people in before the interviews even take place. Or, alternatively, interviews are changing shape altogether. They’re informal. It’s now more about ‘let’s make sure they’re not crazy’, rather than ‘are they a good fit for us’.”
The recruiter added: “It’s either this, or the client goes elsewhere and you risk losing them forever.”
Another partner dished on the boon to associates looking to make a lateral move:
“Firms need people to get deals that are happening now over the line. So if you’ve got the firm history, training at a top firm, then firms are telling you, yes.”
Similarly, a partner at an elite U.K. firm said: “My friends who are partners at other firms have said that if somebody has a CV with relevant experience, they’re just hiring them on the spot.”
They added: “It’s definitely a good time to be somebody looking for a job.”
I haven’t seen such a bold hiring decision since Notre Dame took a flyer on Charlie Weis. Let’s hope it works out better for firms than it did for the Irish.