It was not until after graduation that I had any contact with recruitment firms, let alone legal recruitment firms. Having graduated in July, I have since had a lot of contact with various firms dealing with the job market as a whole and those which specialise in the legal industry and locum solicitor jobs. In writing this article, I do have to question why I never had any contact with such firms whilst at university, as this would surely help the graduate job hunt. The main focus of this article is to question whether legal recruitment firms could be enhanced to help the graduate job hunt in the future.
Having had experience with several different recruitment firms for both legal and non-legal jobs, it is clear that there is a need for them. Take Leaders International for example, who specialise in executive search and recruiting for high-end positions such as directorships. They provide a much needed service in the high-end corporate legal industry.
However, it can be disheartening when a graduate is endlessly applying for job after job with no success. Recruitment firms offer a bridge to employment by ensuring that they have an up-to-date list of individuals who are available for particular roles. This is a great way of giving a helping hand to graduates and can even provide long-term employment.
This picture, however, is not always rosy. As with any form of recruitment, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Not only that, but signing up to a lot of recruitment firms does not necessarily mean that you are guaranteed to gain employment. From experience and having spoken with others who have used recruitment firms, it may be the case that you only get temp roles. In itself this can be touch and go, as they can be shorter or longer than you expected. This may seem grey and gloomy, but on the plus side having this opportunity improves your CV and experience, which could aid your chances of getting a job.
As outlined in my previous article, the legal market is a difficult one at the moment for graduates. It is because of this that any help you can get in trying to secure employment is automatically going to be beneficial; the more help the better. From my experience I have not seen a student at university who has already signed up with recruitment agencies, as it is mostly graduates who are looking for full time employment. I have found that legal recruitment firms are better placed to help graduates seeking employment in the legal sector than general recruitment firms. They have more specialised knowledge and know the market far better than those who do not deal with the legal industry on a day-to-day basis. It can be the case that dealing with non-legal recruitment firms feels like a more ‘alien’ experience. Legal recruitment firms are looking for particular legal attributes and qualities. These firms have positioned themselves in such a way that allows them to tap into these requirements more successfully than general recruitment firms. Legal recruitment firms are in a better position to care for the needs of those entering the legal market as they are more adept to dealing with clients in the legal industry, which only benefits those graduates looking for jobs. There is a better understanding of the needs of both employees and employers.
Legal recruitment agencies could indeed help graduates more than they do at the moment. Perhaps these agencies could try and engage more undergraduate students nearing the end of their studies. I would have found this extremely useful, as it would have given me more of a grounding to look at alternative employment options whilst studying for my LLM. If there was a presence of legal recruitment firms within universities, especially in the final year of study, then this would greatly assist those who are about to graduate.
Another way that legal recruitment firms could help graduates would possibly be to expand their client base. Having been registered with a number of legal recruitment firms, the vast majority of jobs are those of paralegals or working in-house. It could indeed be the case that people would benefit more if there was a wider variety of jobs available on legal recruitment firms client base, such as universities or NGOs.
One thing to keep in mind however, is that the legal recruitment firms can only do so much. Whilst there may be plenty of opportunities with recruitment firms, there are always going to be individual requirements that clients request, for example only accepting qualified lawyers for paralegal positions. Despite this, it is always the case that ensuring a graduate has as many opportunities to seek employment will be positive for them. When a lot of graduates are facing unemployment, then it is indeed going to be useful for legal recruitment firms to aid people in their hunt for employment.
In the many discussions that a fellow LLM student and I have, the topic of legal recruitment is naturally one that has arisen. Legal recruitment firms are definitely more useful than other recruitment firms due to their specialised knowledge and expertise that are useful for those entering the legal market. This is not to say that other recruitment firms could not help graduates, but the legal ones are preferential to those seeking legal jobs.
It is always difficult when a student has a law degree, but is not having much luck in finding employment. Whilst temping is a good way of gaining experience, there are times when there is no work available and competition is rife. Despite this, legal recruitment firms do play a vital role in gaining employment opportunities. Maintaining a good relationship with recruiters is key. This is not to say that they give preferential treatment, but what it means is that there is a more personal relationship that exists between candidate and recruiter. As I have said before, anything that can improve a graduate’s chances of gaining employment is advisable.
To conclude, despite graduates feeling that they are a little fish in a big pond, legal recruitment agencies do offer a good service. A lot of firms in the legal industry are clearly approaching recruitment agencies in order to recruit employees. It would be advisable to sign up to such firms in order to gain employment, particularly when the market is experiencing such a difficult time. In terms of whether the work of legal recruitment firms could be extended, I would agree. Trying to engage more undergraduate students approaching the end of their degrees would help expose students to more of the legal world and enhance their understanding of issues affecting the market. Recruitment firms offer clients a more catered for service as they put forward candidates who they know would be suitable for the various roles.