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Revolutionizing Legal Recruiting: 4 Benefits of Direct Sourcing Lateral Talent For Law Firms

by Flo Recruit on

Exceed expectations and explore the impact of investing in diversified lateral recruiting strategies

From cleverly crafting emails ripe with Taylor Swift puns to new DEI recruiting guidance from the ABA, hiring in the legal industry is in the midst of a seismic shift. Firms can no longer expect seven years of work from a single recruiting process, with more than 40% of associates averaging two years or less.


Average Associate Attorney Tenure

Data Courtesy of Zippia


The resulting increase in the volume of lateral hiring makes relying on referrals a gamble and on headhunters an expensive, in some cases untenable practice, giving way to a new era of direct sourcing aided by innovative tools and technologies.


A Glimpse into the Past


Historically, law firms relied on an unwritten understanding, partnering with headhunters to secure lateral talent. This approach maintained harmony within the industry, ensuring that talent wasn't directly poached from competitors. The so-called “gentlemen's agreement” was cost-effective, with manageable and predictable agency fees due to moderate attrition rates.


Enter 2021-2022 and the extraordinary changes in the lateral market. While lateral movement and compensation leveled out in 2023, law firms have recognized the need to rethink their budget allocation and recruiting processes.


The Rise of Direct Sourcing


Direct sourcing, powered by cutting-edge technology, emerged as the solution to the challenges posed by the shifting talent landscape. Firms discovered the ability to enhance recruitment efforts, access a broader talent pool, and make data-driven decisions using in-house recruiting practices. Below, we'll delve into several benefits firms can reap by embracing this transformative strategy.


1. Cost Efficiency: Redefining Your Recruitment Budget


With more spots to fill, higher salary expectations, and a legal industry that needs to tighten its belts, direct sourcing offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional headhunters. Considering the opportunity costs of losing work due to lack of capacity or practice area gaps, time spent interviewing, and the time to ramp up a new hire, traditional recruiting can cost a firm far more than the 25% of a starting salary they might owe to an agency. The opportunity cost of lateral partners is even more daunting, as 62% of revenue growth is now generated via lateral partner hiring.


Woman looking at papers in front of computer


Investing in tools like Flo Recruit Applicant Tracking can reduce overhead costs while maintaining the quality and competitiveness of your recruitment process. 


2. Accelerating Recruitment: Efficiency in Action


Direct sourcing and efficient technology solutions allow law firms to expedite hiring. By eliminating intermediaries, firms can promptly identify, engage, and secure top-tier talent without briefing a search agency on what you’re looking for and the coordination required to schedule and conduct interviews, ensuring you have the information your attorneys need for a successful interview process (not to mention skipping outreach entirely with a strong web presence and direct applications to job openings).


Technology like Flo Recruit Candidate Review and automatic interview scheduling simplifies communication, tracking, and evaluations, ensuring your attorneys don’t waste time in the interview process and your firm doesn’t lose out on quality candidates due to unnecessary delays.


Flo Recruit Schedule Creator


3. Cultivate Strong Relationships for Long-Term Success


Direct sourcing isn't just about filling immediate vacancies; it's an opportunity to build lasting relationships and cultivate a persona as a firm where attorneys want to work. Controlling the candidate experience becomes critical when attracting associates, as 29% of Gen Z said in a recent survey that dated application portals can turn them off a company. Curating the candidate experience from OCI through the lateral hiring engine not only helps assess candidates fit for your firm's culture but also lays the foundation for future collaborations.


Using a tool like Flo Recruit can nurture meaningful interactions, create a positive candidate experience, and position your firm as an employer of choice in the legal industry.


4. Informed Decision-Making with Data Insights


A key advantage of modern legal recruiting is leveraging data for informed decision-making. 41% of lateral hires are “unsuccessful” for the firm, meaning they did not bring the expected bump in business or leave before profit realization occurred. Using tools like Flo Recruit enables firms to discern and monitor the performance of candidates presented by search firms compared to those acquired through direct sourcing efforts. For example, firms may discover instances where a headhunter's expertise and extensive networks can be advantageous over direct sourcing, such as when hiring for specialized roles, niche markets, or beginning a highly confidential search.


Modern lateral recruiting software facilitates optimizing the allocation of resources, ensuring the right search firms are engaged at the appropriate level, and fine-tuning the recruitment process to align with the firm's unique needs and culture. Moreover, these reporting tools empower firms to identify the search firms consistently, delivering the best results, allowing for informed collaboration, and maximizing the efficiency of external recruitment partners.


Woman looking at iPad


Ready to embrace change?


As law firms continue to navigate the evolving landscape of legal recruiting, direct sourcing can provide a competitive edge. Interested in learning more about how your firm can streamline its hiring processes and propel forward into strategic growth and sustainable success? Reach out to Flo Recruit today.