(312) 781-9000
26 Apr

What Is the Recruitment Process for Lawyers?

by: Astor Professional Search

Each law firm has unique steps for adding new talent to its legal workforce. Familiarizing yourself with the recruitment process for lawyers can help you prepare adequately, customize your resume and cover letter for the job, and gain an edge over other applicants. Job posting and initial screening of resumes are the first steps in the law firm recruitment process. Candidates who pass the initial screening are invited for interviews.

Male lawyer shaking hands with a make client with his wife beside him. recruitment process for lawyers

Additional assessments may be necessary to narrow down the list of potential hires. Attorney candidates who pass the interview and assessment phase often get job offers. Call Astor Professional Search at (312) 781-9000 for help navigating the recruitment process for lawyers and landing a job with your desired law firm.

The law firm recruitment process varies based on the specific firm and the nature of the open position. The steps involved in the recruitment process are as follows:

Job Posting and Screening

The process starts with identifying an open position within a law firm. The law firm will prepare a job description that details the desired qualifications, required skills, duties and responsibilities, and working conditions for the job opening. The firm will then place the job description on its website and leading job boards to attract qualified candidates.

Interested candidates start by submitting an application either on the law firm’s website or third-party job boards. The application often comprises a cover letter and a resume. Law firms may require candidates to complete and submit application forms or questionnaires on top of cover letters and resumes. Other law firms may require applicants to take online tests or submit writing samples.

Law firms perform an initial screening of application materials once the application deadline passes. This screening enables law firms to shortlist candidates for interviews.

How Do Recruiters Screen Applications and Resumes?

Recruiters may take a variety of approaches screening applicants. These include:

Leveraging Innovative Technologies

Technology is essential in screening applications and resumes. Recruiters use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to handle large volumes of applications and resumes.

They leverage AI tools to screen applications, resumes, and job questionnaires based on keywords, preferred professional experience, desired qualifications, skills, and other metrics. Recruiters customize these tools with filters and scoring systems to identify applicants who satisfy their requirements and drop those who do not.

AI helps minimize implicit bias in the recruitment process by eliminating the likelihood of personal bias when making hiring decisions.

Developing Effective Screening Criteria

Recruiters develop effective screening criteria to narrow down the list of applicants. They customize their screening criteria to the job description and the law firm’s expectations and working conditions. The criteria constitute relevant professional experience, academic qualifications, and soft and hard skills.

They use the screening criteria to select applicants with the skills, qualifications, and qualities required to adapt and thrive in the competitive legal market. They also pick candidates who fit the law firm’s culture and can contribute to its growth.

Performing Background Checks

Recruiters ensure potential hires satisfy the requirements of existing employment laws and regulations. They achieve this by performing thorough background checks using HR systems and software.

Using Pre-screening Questions

These questions help determine whether a candidate is a fit for the job and genuinely interested in joining the firm. Pre-screening questions allow recruiters to confirm the credibility of information on candidates’ application materials and assess their motivation.

The questions may focus on asking candidates what they like about the law firm, what they expect to earn, and how they deal with work-related stress and conflicts. Recruiters can email these questions to candidates or share them via online forms.

The Interview Process

The interview process begins immediately after screening all applications and resumes. Successful candidates get invited for interviews. Interviews can be conducted via phone calls, videos, or in-person meetings.

Interviews allow you to demonstrate your legal knowledge, professional experience, and desirable character traits. They also allow the recruiter to gauge your suitability for the job and the firm’s culture.

How to Prepare for Interviews as a Job Seeker

Prepare well for interviews to leave a lasting impression on the recruiters and better your chances of getting hired. This consideration applies whether you are trying to organize a job search after law school or you are a seasoned lawyer looking to switch firms. The following tips will help you prepare for interviews as a jobseeker:


The ability to conduct in-depth research is one of the skills lawyers gain from law school. Leverage those skills to assemble detailed information about those interviewing you.

Research their background, achievements in the legal sector, recognitions, and awards. Identify interests that you share with your interviewers. Mentioning such information during the interview will prove to them you care about building connections.

Besides familiarizing yourself with the interviewers, you should also learn as much as possible about the law firm itself. Research and acquaint yourself with the firm’s founding story, culture, partners, practice areas, and significant accomplishments. This understanding shows your genuine interest in working for the firm and allows you to provide answers that match the firm’s strategic goals.

Understand Your Application

Review your application as many times as possible until you fully grasp it. Be ready to discuss every detail in your cover letter, resume, and other application materials. Identify employment gaps on your resume and prepare appropriate responses.

Keep Up With Latest Legal Developments

Find out the latest legal trends relevant to the law firm you want to join. Learn about notable cases, regulatory changes, and new developments in the sector. Also, find out what types of lawyers are in demand in the legal landscape. This knowledge allows you to respond to questions about current affairs and showcase your dedication to the legal profession.

Practice Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Practicing responses to frequently asked interview questions allows you to exude confidence when speaking with the interviewer. Interviewers may want to know why you want to work for the firm and your greatest accomplishment as a legal professional. They may also want you to discuss any challenging situation you have ever faced and how you dealt with it.

Be Ready to Ask Questions

Lawyers are inherently inquisitive. Display your inquisitive nature by asking thoughtful and intelligent questions. Don’t ask questions about salary, billable hours, and vacation time. Instead, ask about the firm’s achievements, its strategic growth plan, and how you can support its growth.

Asking questions that do not touch on your personal benefit shows the interviewers that you are willing to put the firm’s interests above yours. It also shows your interest in the firm and willingness to learn.

Ensure you have well-thought-out responses to your questions to the interviewer(s). The interviewer may rephrase your questions and ask for your thoughts to see if you are just asking questions to sound smart.

Be Honest and Professional at All Times

Telling lies is the easiest way to blow an interview. Rather than lying when faced with a challenging question, just tell the interviewer that you need more time to think and come up with an appropriate answer.

Stay careful and alert as you were during the interview if you get invited to lunch. Such lunches are part of the interview process. Interviewers use them to assess how you conduct yourself in an informal setting.

Additional Assessments

Firms may require you to take additional assessments after the interview. The type of assessment issued will depend on the law firm and the open position. Situational awareness tests, game-based tests, and case studies are common examples of assessments conducted by law firms.

These assessments help law firms choose candidates with strong teamwork skills. They also help them identify the strengths and weaknesses of candidates. They can then use this information to determine which role in the firm would suit a specific candidate.

Offer Letter

Candidates who go past the interviews and assessments get job offer letters. Carefully review the offer letter before signing and returning it to the firm. Consider aspects like salary, vacation time, working hours, potential for growth, and workplace culture.

You can prepare and submit a well-thought-out counteroffer if you are unhappy with the job offer. You, however, need to have a valid justification before negotiating for more. Be ready to prepare and present a pitch that the value you will bring to the firm is worth the extra investment.

Legal recruiters leverage their deep networks and connections in the legal job market to match legal jobseekers with the best law firms based on their qualifications, skills, and career aspirations. They can customize your application materials for the job, help you prepare adequately for interviews, and guide you through the law firm recruitment process.

Legal recruiters at Astor Professional Search are your go-to partners when looking for a job with your favorite law firm. Contact us online or at (312) 781-9000 for job search and placement assistance. 

author-bio-image author-bio-image
William Sugarman

William Sugarman is the president and founder of Astor Professional Search. He engages in the successful placement of attorneys with local, regional, and international law firms and corporations. Bill’s extensive legal and business development experience give Astor an edge over other legal recruiters nationwide. At the cornerstone of Bill’s strategic philosophy is providing the highest level of personalized attention to his clients and attorney candidates. This is also a key factor that separates Astor from other legal search firms, and it consistently delivers legal placements year after year.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years

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