Should we use a headhunter for job openings?

Legal headhunterThe larger the law firm you have, the more hiring needs you probably have.  From attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants, receptionists and other administrative staff, many law firms can have lots of employment needs.

The task of completing legal work is likely the most important task in law firm.  For most law firms, there is little appetite for work that doesn’t entail the completion of legal tasks.  Among other things, attorneys, for example, likely don’t want to spend their time interviewing applicants for job openings.

This is where many law firms become tempted to use a headhunter to help fill their law firm needs.  The idea makes sense on a cursory level for a lot of law firms.  The headhunters can help find and screen candidates for the law firm.  The law firm can then get back to the practice of the law.

For some law firms, this arrangement might be a good one based on the unique circumstances of their law firm.  However, for other law firms, the reality is the cost involved in employing a headhunter can be significant.

While the costs can vary, many headhunters can charge anywhere from 20, 25 or 30-percent of the candidates first year salary.  So, let’s say you hire an attorney at $100,000 per year, you could be paying the headhunter $20,000 to $30,000 for the hire.  What if the attorney only ends up working out for six months or a year?  Will that fee be worth it for you?

Many law firms also think that the headhunters have access to candidates that the law firm ordinarily wouldn’t have.  Maybe that is true in certain circumstances?  However, if you are using software like SmartRecruiters or ZipRecruiters, or numerous other job boards out there from your local bars, Craigslist, Backpage and others, that might not be true at all.

The reality is that you might consider hiring a recruiter internally in your law firm.  The cost in doing so might actually be the same or less than using the outside headhunter.  If you hire somebody internally as well, that individual is going to be focused solely on helping your law firm versus trying to staff for multiple law firms.

If you have any thoughts, fee free to share them below.

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