9/7/2020 by Paula Pawlowska
I have wanted to write this article for a while now. Partially, because whenever I initially mentioned my career in recruitment to my university friends, it was always met with a sigh of despair. Mostly, because when I was finishing my masters in law, there was very little information out there for graduates about what it is actually like to work in legal recruitment.
While some of the below will ring true for most legal recruitment businesses, many of the lessons from my time at Realm will inherently be exclusive to this business alone. For example, one of the reasons Realm was set up in 2015 was to have a refreshingly human approach to legal recruitment. We are genuinely specialist, focusing on only five areas of law. As far as I am concerned, we're the only people in the north of England to be this niche.
We're also lucky enough to have a director who did the LLB and is a big fan of flexibility and remote working - not all businesses get to enjoy that.
The shift to full-time employment is always difficult
I was never a morning person, missed a lot of AM lectures at university, and the idea of having to wake up early enough to make it to work for 8.30 am was daunting. I'm embarrassed to admit, but I was notoriously late during my first few months of starting my brand new, fresh-out-of-uni job at Realm. While I do not recommend following in my footsteps, I think it's good to be kind to yourself and understand that the shift to office working is a significant change.
Prepare for long(er) hours
Very much like a legal career, legal recruitment will require you to work outside of your usual 9-5 hours. For example, I tend to work between 9 am-6 pm with 30 minutes for lunch, but I also finish around 3.30 pm every Friday.
You aren't expected to work outside of office hours, or even check your emails. However, the reality is that if you want to excel, you're going to have to take the occasional evening call or call a solicitor at 8 am while they are still free to chat.
You will do a lot of talking with little selling
Cameran, our property recruitment specialist, did Law and Business at university. When explaining his reasons behind moving to legal recruitment, he remarks: "With my academic experience in legal and genuine interest, I decided to specialise within professional legal recruitment. A specialism which I have found to have the ideal balance between a genuinely strategic and consultative approach."
At Realm, at least half of our time at the office is spent talking to law firms and solicitors either on the phone or in-person. However, while we do lots of talking, we don't do much selling. Instead, we consult with lawyers about what they want out of their career, offer market insights and suggest solutions to hiring/talent retention and engagement strategies of the law firms we work with. Legal recruiters are less like salespeople and more like matchmakers.
"The recruitment industry has many bright lights and whistles; however, the day to day job is a landscape of real handwork, quick thinking and occasional disappointment. " - Cameran
People assume all recruiters are the same because of the few bad apples in the business. This happens in every industry, but it is tough, especially in the beginning. If you want to become the go-to legal recruiter, you will need to become the most resilient version of yourself. You will be turned down many times; you may get the phone hung up on you or have your messages on Linkedin declined. However, the more resilient you are, the better the relationships you build with lawyers and law firms will become.
You will become friends with senior solicitors, partners and decision-makers
One of the most fun and unexpected sides of becoming a legal recruiter is that you will rub shoulders with the most senior solicitors of any law firm you work with. I regularly receive calls from managing partners of law firms across Manchester for a catch-up.
Salary can be very competitive
Likely the one section you're interested in the most. I was too!
In short, in my first year of recruitment, I made more or less the same amount as a trainee in their first year of a training contract in a city centre firm. However, I cannot stress enough that it will really vary from person to person and will also depend upon your job title - I was a junior recruitment consultant from the very beginning; some consultants at this level make less, some make more. Recruitment career is heavily targets-focused, and without commission, you will be left with your basic salary, which isn't likely to be as high as that of a qualified solicitor.
Considering working within legal recruitment?
While the majority of people undertake a law degree with the intention of eventually becoming a solicitor or barrister, the legal profession isn't for everyone. If you're looking for a career within a fast-paced, varied and people-focused sector that allows you to remain engaged within the legal profession, then working within legal recruitment might be for you.
At Realm, we pride ourselves on our dynamic and flexible approach. We have exciting plans for the future and are always on the lookout for ambitious individuals to join us.
To learn more about our current legal recruitment opportunities, contact our director Duane Cormell for a confidential chat on 03300 245 606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.