Speculative applications have long been a bugbear for some hiring managers, with some law firms hesitant about (or totally against) accepting candidates in this way.
However, law firms appear to be coming around to the idea and are increasingly meeting with potential employees when they don’t have an active need to recruit.
We understand that when running a law firm, profitability is key but even if you’re not currently actively recruiting, if you’re looking to boost your recruitment and retention strategy, it might be time to reconsider how you perceive speculative applications.
Here are five reasons why being open to speculative applications might just help you secure the talent that’s going to drive your firm’s future success.
1. The market is tight right now
Our state-of-the-market found that only 15% of lawyers are actively job-seeking, compared to 40% in 2019. Because the market is tighter than ever, when you come to recruit for a position within your team, you might find it hard to find the right person. Even if you are lucky enough to find someone quickly, taking notice periods into account (most lawyers these days have a notice period of at least 3 months), they’re unlikely to start with you until months after you first meet them.
We know that firms must manage profitability; you can’t hire endlessly in the hope that you will soon need a lawyer. But, if you come across a good candidate via a speculative application, and you think you might need to hire in the next 6-12 months, it might be worth considering them for your team and having an informal conversation with them.
Doing so might pre-empt a later situation when you find yourself desperate to recruit but struggling to find someone in today’s candidate-short market. Even if you don’t decide to take them on straight away, you can always pick up with them again once the timing is right.
2. Your competitors are doing it.
More than ever, at Realm, we are finding that firms are open to accepting speculative applications (just under a third of the interviews we have resulted from a speculative CV, compared to 18% in 2021).
Even those firms that have in the past been reticent to receive candidates in this way are responding intelligently and are more open to meeting with talented lawyers who have expressed an interest in working for them. If you pass on a strong candidate, your competitor might snap them up.
3. You might improve the wellbeing of your existing team
Sometimes, for the sake of profitability, firms will wait until someone leaves and there is a ready caseload to take care of before considering potential recruits. However, if you operate this way, it will mean that until someone is found, that caseload will fall to other members of your team.
Our 2023 Wellbeing in the Law research revealed that an unmanageable caseload was one of the main causes of stress and burnout among lawyers. Leaving it too late to find a replacement lawyer might risk impacting the wellbeing of your existing staff, affecting your employee satisfaction and, potentially, retention rates. In a worst-case scenario, by not entertaining an approach from an interested candidate, you could end up losing out on not one but two lawyers.
4. If the candidate comes from Realm, they’ll be interested in your firm
While some recruiters might find a CV on a job board and submit it to a client without asking that lawyer for permission, at Realm, we do things differently. We only send a candidate’s details to a law firm if we have consent from that candidate to do so.
If you receive a CV from us, you can be sure that we are partnering with the lawyer in question and that they have expressed an interest in working for you. What’s more, we will believe them to be a good fit for your team not only in terms of their skills and experience, but also, culture, so you don’t waste time considering unsuitable lawyers.
5. You might strike gold
While it’s generally true that the very best lawyers probably aren’t active on the job market, in some cases, they are. If their details land in your inbox, you could strike gold by accepting their application. On the other hand, if your approach is to point-blank refuse speculative applications from recruiters, you could miss out on that star lawyer who’s going to be integral to the future success of your law firm.
Want to find out more?
At Realm, we’re on a mission to help law firms attract, recruit and retain the right lawyers through our refreshing approach to legal recruitment – because we know that when firms have the right lawyers, they grow more sustainably and are more profitable.
If you’re looking to grow your team or would like further advice on how to hone your attraction, recruitment and retention strategies, don’t hesitate to contact our specialist team.