Employers taking 6 to 8 weeks to fill positions in legal field: Survey

Firms looking for experience, expertise, connections
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 08/08/2011

Employers in the legal field are taking their time selectively filling open positions, found a recent survey.

Firms typically take eight weeks to fill management-level positions and six weeks to fill staff-level roles, found the survey of 350 lawyers in Canada and the United States by Robert Half Legal.

"Law firms and corporate legal departments are hiring selectively — they want the right skills match and the right fit for their work environment," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "In addition to tenure, employers look for a combination of professional experience, practice area expertise and business connections."

But employers shouldn't delay making hiring
decisions as they may miss out on the best prospects, he said.

"Senior-level associates with experience in high-demand specialties, such as corporate law, litigation and foreclosure/insolvency, are in particularly strong demand and may receive multiple offers."

There are many things employers can do to identify skilled candidates and expediate the hiring process, according to Robert Half Legal:

Try a variety of recruitment tools: In addition to referrals from employees and colleagues, use a range of resources such as personal connections, alumni groups and online networks to reach prospects and advertise job openings.

Fine-tune the job description: If a job posting is too vague or general, it will attract a flood of applicants, many of whom may not possess the necessary requirements. Highlight key responsibilities and summarize the skills needed for success in the position.

Work with a specialized staffing firm: Such firms have a pipeline of candidates they've interviewed and tested for critical skills, and can help quickly find good prospects.

Streamline the screening process: For candidates who make it past the first interview, consider having follow-up meetings with a hiring committee, rather than holding several individual meetings with the prospective employee.

Use the temporary-to-hire approach: This allows for first-hand observation of candidates' work styles and whether they are a fit with the firm's culture. Consider hiring professionals on an interim basis until a job is filled to help handle workload spikes or specialized, time-intensive projects.

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