3 Career Mantras Every Woman Should Learn

I’m a legal recruiter. On April 4, Equal Pay Day, I found myself thinking about some of the things that I have learned from the many extraordinary female candidates I’ve worked with over the years. I realized that the lessons I’ve drawn from their stories all tend to fall within three themes. What follows are three mantras you can repeat to yourself in order to benefit from their experiences.

  1. “I am worthy of my success.”

    I recently had a conversation with a total superstar: on paper, and in person, she was simply outstanding. Yet despite her academic and professional accomplishments, she confided that she often feels inadequate and that she can’t believe it when she is recognized for her excellent work.

    How many of us have a little voice in our head, telling us that we are not good enough? In my experience, this self-doubt is far more widespread than you might expect.

    Many call this strange, self-defeating mentality the “Impostor Syndrome” (most recently Sheryl Sandberg — the COO of Facebook — used this term in her book Lean In).

    So what is the cure for Impostor Syndrome? Start simply: if you step back and look at your situation objectively and take a deep breath, you will discover that you ARE good enough. How do I know? Here is my evidence: you wouldn’t have been hired and kept on if you couldn’t do the work. You wouldn’t have been entrusted with plum assignments, promotions, and bonuses if you weren’t worthy.

    The next time you hear that nasty little questioning voice, try drowning it out with the facts. Remind yourself of your professional successes: that difficult problem you worked through, the client whose bacon you saved, your accolades and awards. Replace negative illusions with positive reality.

    Listen to me: you are not a fraud. You deserve what you have achieved. Do not misinterpret the fact that you are facing challenges as evidence that you do not have what it takes to overcome those challenges.
  1. “I will not second-guess myself.”

    Not long ago, one of my candidates gave notice to her employer after deciding to accept a job offer she was genuinely excited about.

    Unfortunately, rather than graciously accepting this woman’s decision (or making a counteroffer for that matter!) her current employer questioned her judgment. “You’re making a terrible career move.” “They (her future employer) aren’t any good.” “You really need to think this through some more.” “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

    Let’s be very clear: comments like these are manipulative, obnoxious, and condescending. I have no hesitation at all in telling you to completely ignore advice coming from people who benefit from your NOT going through with a career decision you’ve made. Trust your thought process. Trust your judgment. Trust that you are an intelligent person who knows what you want and go for it!
  1. “I will ask for what I want.” 

    One of my very first candidates was a fearless woman who completely floored me when she negotiated aggressively with her potential employer for more compensation. I was afraid she would lose the offer entirely. Guess what? She got every last thing she asked for. Here’s why:

    • She was the best candidate for the job.
    • Her compensation requirements were not unreasonable.
    • There was less risk in drawing a line in the sand because she didn’t need to leave her current employer.

    My candidate got considerably more than the initial offer because she asked. It is as simple as that.

    Set yourself up for success in negotiating higher compensation at your current employer or when moving to a new position. Do your research:

    • Know the market parameters for the job.
    • Ask others in your field what they can share about comparables.
    • Be realistic about what the market rate is for your role.
    • Ask yourself if you can afford to potentially lose the offer.

    Once you enter negotiations, pay close attention to how the decision-makers respond to your request. Do they sound open-minded or were they turned off? Once you have done your homework, if you are confident that you are worth more money, don’t let fear keep you from asking for more.

I hope you recognize your worth in the workplace. I wish you success and happiness. If you would like to talk to me about how to move forward in your legal career or if you are in the market for a great lawyer, please send me an InMail so we can set up a time to talk.



The Place of Trust

In order to work with a recruiter on a successful and intelligent legal job search, you must be able to trust her. Getting to this place of trust can be tricky. Why? Because your recruiter will earn a fee if she places you, and you remain with that employer for an agreed-upon period of time. So what would prevent her from pushing you into a position that is an imperfect long-term fit? A skilled recruiter will advise you on the appropriate firms/companies from the perspectives of their viability, cultural fit, compensation and professional opportunity for you. You just need to find that trustworthy recruiter first.

So how do you navigate your way to the place of trust through the sea of aggressive, charming recruiters?

  • Check in with your comfort monitor. Does the recruiter listen to you? Does she return your calls promptly? Does she understand your time frame?
  • Ask questions. Ask about recent placements. Where has she made placements? Who does she reach out to at firms/companies?
  • Ask for a reference. Word of mouth is the best referral source for recruiters.

A skilled recruiter is proud of her placements. Her reputation is built by placing lawyers who are successful in building a firm or company’s practice and reputation. The trust should follow naturally as the recruiter produces results and provides advice that is useful. The trust will grow as your search proceeds and the recruiter is responsive and supportive and sometimes provides coaching that is difficult to hear.

Finally, use only one recruiter for a true search (as opposed to opportunistic exploration). It is important to build a relationship that you can lean on throughout your search.

We believe in beginning from the place of trust at CMW Legal Search. I’d like to invite you to take a moment now to meet our team, and then we hope you’ll reach out to us at info@cmwsearch.com to get started.

How Long Will My Law Firm Search Take?

While in-house searches are notorious for taking their own sweet time, law firm searches, in comparison, move at lightning speed. Two rounds and you’re done, right? Not always. If you are looking to lateral as an associate, your search could be completed from start to finish in a matter of weeks. However, if you are a Counsel or Partner, expect your search to take many weeks or months. This time is necessary in considering a major career decision – take it! Luckily, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.

I recently worked with a Partner who had her first lunch with a top-tier law firm in September 2016. Seven months later, after many in-person meetings and conference calls, she received an offer. A Counsel I just placed first interviewed with his new firm in November 2016 and was given an offer in April 2017. In my experience, neither of these situations is unusual. In both instances, my candidates needed patience and stamina. I was happy to advise them throughout their long searches.

Moving law firms when you are a Counsel or Partner takes time for a number of reasons. Candidates will interview with many or all Partners in the related law firm department. You will also need to be vetted by members of the firm’s senior management committee. If you are being considered by a large firm, you might also travel to meet decision makers in offices around the US or the world. All of this happens while you (most likely) have a full time job to handle. It’s not easy to juggle so many demands on your time. However, it is also to your benefit to spend as much time as possible with a firm you are considering joining. You should know who your future Partners are and what they will be like to work with. A good recruiter will help manage the interview process so that it runs as smoothly as possible and will take into account the demands of your current position.

If you have come to the conclusion that it is time for you to change law firms, prepare yourself for the time commitment you will be making. Take a deep breath and acknowledge that while moving at a senior level won’t likely happen quickly, if you are willing to invest the time, hopefully you will have the opportunity to join a firm that enables you to truly advance your legal career. If you would like to talk to me about how I might be able to help with your search, please call me at 212-328-6183.

What’s Left in Your Wallet?

We are each born with a deposit in our bank accounts.
The deposit is TIME!

We don’t know how big the deposit is, but we do know that each day there is a debit from the account. Awareness of this should embolden each of us to spend our deposit wisely and consciously, in both our personal and professional lives.

When it comes to the precious time you spend at work, it is a deliberate, fully thought-out professional life that maximizes our potential for success and fulfillment.

Don’t delay examining your career and your current employment situation. Ask yourself: Am I spending my time wisely? Am I happy? Am I appreciated? Does my current position satisfy my intellectual, emotional and economic goals?

We cannot redeposit time poorly spent, nor can we “go backwards” and recover wasted time. Our careers take up an incredible amount of our deposited time, so it is very important that our careers be meaningful to each of us.

Contact me via email at lwiesenthal@cmwsearch.com to talk about spending your personal deposit of time with joy and wisdom.

You Love Your Firm, But Your Practice and Compensation are Stuck

“I respect and enjoy my partners but my personal practice is not growing at the firm.”
— Too many attorneys

As a legal recruiter I have often heard from attorneys who find themselves in this very quandary.  This is a tough situation especially if you feel guilty about considering a move.  At the same time it may be impossible to grow your practice if you stay put.

My advice in this situation is dependent on whether you are generating your own work and how important it is to you to have your own clients. These are important considerations from the perspectives of both compensation and personal fulfillment. If your compensation is dependent on your personal generation of revenues, then it is important to identify a platform that is conducive to the continued growth of your practice.

As you search for that platform, keep in mind that there may be another firm out there that has already invested in your practice area, with resulting synergies that can propel your practice to a new level.  Engaging with such a firm will facilitate growing your practice and will result in enhanced compensation and ultimately great personal and professional satisfaction.  You may naturally grow into a leadership role as a result.

In order to achieve your goals it is important to develop a relationship with a trusted advisor who understands the market. Create a partnership so that you can stay abreast of opportunities that are worth your time to consider.

Consider this road map to guide your analysis:

  1. Am I the only (or one of a very few) partner(s) in my practice area at the firm (in my office)?
  2. Do I generate most of my own work?
  3. Do other partners need my expertise?
  4. Am I invited to joint pitches for clients of the firm?
  5. When I analyze my “numbers”, are my billable hours directly relatable to my originated clients?
  6. Does my compensation directly relate to my client originated revenues?
  7. I think I could generate more work and develop more clients if the platform was deeper within my expertise?
  8. I think I have a desire to grow my practice, increase my compensation and my exposure within my industry?

Now please take one more moment and give us, CMW Legal Search, a call to discuss the market as it relates specifically to your stated goals!  Our number is (212) 328-6180.

So You Want To Go In-House…

In my years of legal recruiting, the number one question I’ve heard from law firm associates is, “How can I find an in-house job?”

I wish there were an easy answer. Even associates at top firms can find it challenging to land a fantastic in-house opportunity. However, I can share a few general resume tips based on feedback from our corporate clients that will help you write your best resume and hopefully get that first interview.

Resume Dos:

  • A straightforward, easy to read and well-organized one- or two-page resume
  • Descriptions that emphasize your experience most relevant to the opportunity at hand
  • A deal sheet that lists the projects you took the greatest responsibility on, are the highest profile and broadly representative of your practice

Resume Don’ts:

  • Fancy fonts
  • Heavy, cream-colored resume paper
  • 5-page deal sheets
  • Text so dense that only a law school professor would bother reading it

And here’s another tip: I am currently working on a number of excellent in-house opportunities.

If you are considering making a move and one of these jobs sounds like a good fit for you and your experience, I’d love to hear from you!

Please send me an email at jdemasi@cmwsearch.com or send me an InMail via LinkedIn, so we can set up a time to talk.

Headhunter and Matchmaker

Recruiting is a relationship business. In my experience, the best headhunters are like great matchmakers because they personally know the individuals involved and understand what will make a happy union.

Here are a few relationship phrases that I use frequently with candidates and clients alike:

  1. Love at First Sight. That karmic connection when candidate and client have a meeting of the minds. While this may not lead to a permanent match, when the skill set and personalities just fit, it is a great place to start.
  2. You Only Need One Groom/Bride.  There are advantages to having more than one finalist for a job or in landing multiple offers, but in the end, you only need one great match.
  3. Be Yourself. As a candidate you should put your best foot forward in an interview, but you also need to be genuine. Don’t pretend to be a formal, buttoned-up personality if you aren’t. Long-term career happiness comes from having a job where you can be successful by being yourself.

Don’t forget the personal, relationship aspect to your job search or hiring. I hope that these three points will help guide your search. If you would like to talk to me about how to move forward in your legal career or if you are in the market for a great lawyer, please send me an email at jdemasi@cmwsearch.com or send me an InMail via LinkedIn, so we can set up a time to talk. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Success = Opportunity + Skills

Matching the right opportunity with your well-developed and specific skills is the key to a successful and rewarding career.  That sounds easy, right?  However, the truth is that it takes bravery and an openness to the market.

If you are unhappy with your current position because you are not challenged, or you feel unappreciated, or there isn’t a clear path for advancement, get to know your market!  If you feel that your best attributes (i.e. specific expertise in a discreet practice area, business development) are not being rewarded or realized, you owe it to yourself to understand if your highest potential can be realized on a different platform.

I recently worked with someone who was a non-equity partner at a small firm with unpredictable profitability. Although this attorney was highly regarded, she was frustrated that there was no room in the group for a new equity partner. Therefore, her professional growth and compensation were capped. I presented an opportunity within a high profile group in a profitable firm. This opportunity was precisely suited to her skill set and it resulted in an immediate and positive career advancement, including compensation, status and professional growth. The group in the new firm “needed” her and therefore the compensation and status reflected that need.

Take control of your career and your potential. Call a trusted recruiter to know your market. Most importantly, be open to an opportunity that feels right and speaks to your personal advancement and then take the leap. Trust yourself and your skills!

After-Bonus Resolutions

The holidays are over. The champagne has been drunk. Most law firms have paid out their year-end bonuses. Now what? Whether you typically are a New Year’s Resolution maker or not, I’d like to suggest that you make one work-related, shall we call it, After-Bonus Resolution, for 2017.

Your resolution can be made whether you are happy or unhappy in your current job. Regardless, following through on an After-Bonus Resolution can move you closer to your long-term professional goals.

Here are a few After Bonus Resolutions:

  1. Improve your LinkedIn profile.  It is one of the first places a potential employer looks to learn more about you.
  2. Revise your resume and deal sheet.  Update these documents so that they are ready to go when a great opportunity comes up.
  3. Attend a networking event.  Whether it’s through the Bar Association, your college or law school, it’s always a good idea to expand your contacts.
  4. Call a recruiter.  Introduce yourself and ask them to keep you in mind for future opportunities. You never know when your dream job will open up!

I hope these suggestions have inspired you to make an After Bonus Resolution. Proactively taking even simple steps makes us feel more in control of our work life. If you would like to talk to me about how to move forward in your legal career, please send me an email at jdemasi@cmwsearch.com or send me an InMail via LinkedIn, so we can set up a time to talk.

Happy New Year and good luck with your After-Bonus Resolutions!

Rock Out (without the Rocks)

Enjoy office holiday celebrations and stay on partner track. Three pointers a senior associate should follow.

  1. Alcohol is not your friend. Stick to one drink on the rocks and then switch to seltzer or water with a twist.
  2. Every conversation is meaningful. Because you are being evaluated to join the partnership, the reality is that you need to be aware of your interactions. Each conversation could be your final one before the “vote.” Keep it appropriate and relevant to work.
  3. Don’t stay too late and don’t attend the after-party. Leave the party on a high (natural) note and as a non-memorable attendee. The memories that you should be creating on the path to partnership should relate to your legal accomplishments not “dancing on the table.”

Happy Holidays!

© 2021 Corrao Miller Wiesenthal Legal Search Consultants, Inc.