Associates in the Trenches

Attorney Search Alternatives

Lawyers turn to online classifieds to find--and fill--jobs

Posted May 1, 2007 4:12 AM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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In Elko, Nev., you can snowmobile through the Ruby Mountains, play slots at the Stockman’s Casino or attend the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. But this town of approximately 20,000 people is hardly on the radar when it comes to young lawyers seeking work. So Mason E. Simons, who until recently was the Elko County deputy public de­fender, placed an advertisement to fill his former job on Craigslist.org. This national Web site, which ranks closely behind Google and eBay in popularity, hosts more than 14 million self published classified ads, arranged by city and topic. And it’s among the classified ad heavy Web sites that have become popular among lawyers, firms and recruiters looking for alternatives to the more mainstream legal themed Web sites and print options.

In Simons’ listing, he played up the entertainment offerings of the town, located near the Idaho Nevada border, seven hours from Las Vegas. Now serving as the county’s fam­ily and juvenile court master, he also sent e mails about the opening to every law school career services office in the country.

Simons was tapped to work the In­ter­net angle on the job listing because, he says, “I was the youngest person who worked at the office, so I was kind of the computer savvy In­ternet person.”

By the time the agency was ready to interview, it had received resumés from 15 applicants across the country. Simons says the response to his Craigs­list posting was impressive.

“The whole office was a bit taken aback,” he adds. “On the final day of posting, our fax machine was malfunctioning because we got so many applications.”

“We normally have a pretty difficult time recruiting candidates,” Si­mons says. “This has been the best response we’ve ever had, that I’m aware of.”

Headhunters also use online sites for recruitment. “I think the more technologically advanced attorneys get, it may in fact preclude firms from spending the money to run print advertisements,” says Jamie Bailey, a managing director with BCG, a national placement firm for partners and associates based in Los Angeles. BCG places job listings on various Web sites, including Lawjobs.com.

But there is a caveat: Some post­ers say lawyers responding to online employment ads tend to be younger. That was Simons’ experience and also that of Shane R. Ford, an Oak­land family law attorney who posted a listing on Craigslist in January look­ing for associates with a few years of experience.

“I’ve gotten dozens of responses,” Ford says, “but they all seem to be brand new graduates.”

Cost Benefit Analysis

Ford has deemed the web worthy of the effort because of cost. Posting a job ad on Craigslist’s San Francisco Bay area board costs $75 a week--much cheap­er than hiring a headhunter or running an ad in newspapers and legal publications. Com­paratively, Ford says, a listing in The San Francisco Recorder, a regional legal newspaper, would cost between $300 and $400 a week.

Craigslist charges only for employment listings in certain cities, and for Simons’ office the advertisement was free. He says the agency used to limit employment listings to regional bar journals in Nevada and Idaho. That didn’t work out as well, he adds, because the print publications have a time lag.

“With this I’m saving time and money, and increasing our applicant pool in one swoop,” Simons says.

Joseph A. Paparella, a Lan­sing, Mich., intellectual property law­yer, says he has also had luck finding associates through online job listings.

Paparella says he places online advertising for employment three times a year, and he’s hired five associates who came to him through Craigslist. Most applicants, he says, are in their mid to late 20s, and come from across the country.

“It’s a good place for us, because if someone is there looking he’s probably a little bit more tech savvy than others,” Paparella says. “I see that as a benefit.”

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