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Computer Counselor - April 2001

Online Legal Job Hunters Have a Wealth of Options

Various dot-coms provide different search methods, but they all save shoe leather

By Carole Levitt
Carole Levitt is an attorney and president of Internet For Lawyers, which provides MCLE seminars and electronic marketing consultation.

Anybody who has watched the Super Bowl the last few years has seen commercials for employment sites (such as Monster and Hot Jobs) offering millions of job listings in categories ranging from accounting to warehousing. These general job listing sites also contain legal jobs. The Monster job search engine, for example, allows a job seeker to specify a geographical region (California is divided into 16 regions) and a job category (legal). The searcher may customize the search by including a word for a practice area. A sample search for legal jobs in the Los Angeles region yielded more than 350 listings, for positions ranging from new admittees to partners, as well as legal secretaries, paralegals, and file clerks. Hot Jobs offers a similar search capability, with another function that allows the user to choose up to three identifiers under a list of job interests. A search of Hot Job’s legal listings for the Los Angeles area returned 45 results. Narrowing the search with “attorney-general counsel” yielded 6 listings.

General employment sites should not be discounted, but a legal professional seeking a new position, or a firm attempting to fill open positions, could benefit more from sites that specialize in legal employment but still feature the advanced search functions of Monster and Hot Jobs. Although the specialty sites are not as well known as the general ones, no legal professional should leave them out of a search.

Law.com’s Legal Career Center (www.lawjobs.com) features nearly 2,000 legal job listings. They are obtained from classifieds placed in newspapers around the country that belong to the American Lawyers Media group and from legal recruiters that place advertisements directly on the site. However, the classifieds and the advertisements from recruiters (which outnumber the classifieds two to one) cannot be searched together, making the job hunter’s task somewhat more complicated. Martindale-Hubbell’s job site (which can be reached at either martindale.com or lexisone.com) also has a strong bent toward advertisements placed by legal recruiters.

In view of the fact that most job-hunting attorneys are geographically restricted to the state in which they are admitted to practice, a geographic search feature is an important option. The Martindale site, for example, allows users to search any of the 50 states by accessing its legal careers section. To search by city, users may enter the city name into the keyword search box. Two other sites allow job seekers to narrow a job search to a zip code. One is The Affiliates, a site with nationwide listings that can be accessed by clicking on Search Jobs at www.affiliates.com. The other is Find Law Infirmation, which can be found at http://jobs.findlaw.com/jobs/search.tcl.

The Legal Staff site (www.legalstaff.com/search/jobsearch.asp), while not offering a zip code search, lists 18 metropolitan areas within California, making a search within the state simple. In contrast, California is merely one of five states placed within a group of Pacific states at the Emplawyernet site (at http://www.emplawyernet.com).  Some sites do not cover all states. For example, at Law.com’s Legal Career Center (www.lawjobs.com), attorney listings are available in only 34 states and support staff listings are available in even fewer. Law.com does, however, split California into northern and southern regions, but all of the 127 results of a test search that I made for jobs in Southern California were displayed on one very slow-loading page.

Los Angeles Only
Those who are sure that they want employment in Los Angeles should visit LA Law Jobs (www.lalawjobs.com). Clicking on Current Opportunities on the site’s main page brings up a list (without a search function) of all jobs currently available. On a recent visit I ran a test search; the site listed more than two dozen jobs for attorneys.

While location is important, finding the desired area of practice is equally so. Legal Staff’s site offers the ability to search by a highly customized job description function that separates 38 categories of support staff and over 100 attorney practice areas. Find Law’s Infirmation is also a contender in this search function, containing 98 practice areas. In addition to searching for the right location and practice area, many attorneys are looking for jobs that offer alternative or abbreviated work schedules. Several employment search sites allow searching for jobs of this type. Users can search for part-time positions at Emplawyernet, Legal Staff, or Infirmation. For those who prefer the short-term commitment of project work, users may search Emplawyernet’s Project Law Center. Those who desire consulting or telecommuting positions should visit http://www.guru.com/find/find_gigs.html. A sample check yielded only three legal projects available in the financial-legal category, however.

Many attorneys focus their search based upon the type of employer. Search sites address this parameter under various headings: law firm, corporation, or nonlaw practice (Emplawyernet); venture capital firm or academic institution (Find Law); or legal publishing or Internet/e-commerce (Martindale). Legal professionals can also search for nonattorney positions in law firms, such as executive director or librarian.

Another way to tailor a job search is by position level or years of experience. At the Martindale site, a search indicating a preference for associate positions in California yielded 10 results, with 7 of them advertised by the same recruiting firm. Law students at schools that are subscribers to eAttorney (www.eAttorney.com) can upload their resumes into the On Campus Interviewing Plus section of the site for viewing by prospective employers. Sixty-eight law schools, 450 law offices, and 70,000 law students and attorneys use this section.

Most of the employment search sites allow job seekers to narrow their searches with keywords. Keyword searching at some sites, however, does not include full-text searching. For example, a search for the keywords “Los Angeles” and “attorney” returned thousands of results at Law Guru. However, many of the results were for jobs outside Los Angeles that just happened to include “Los Angeles” somewhere in the description (and other results did not even contain “Los Angeles” anywhere in the description). At The Affiliates site, the keyword example implies that only practice area keywords count. Yet a search for a Los Angeles attorney position with the keyword “labor” resulted in no hits while a search without the keyword resulted in 10 hits, one of which included the keyword “labor” in the attorney description. In short, searching online legal employment sites is like using Web search engines—practice and repetition (with slight variation) get the most useful results.

Using Career Agents
Some sites take the job search one step further by offering career agents, which automatically match job seekers with jobs that best fit the seekers’ requirements. To use a career agent, a job seeker fills out a profile that includes the level of position preferred, type of employer preferred, pay range, geographical preferences, and so on. A free career agent is provided at eAttorney, The Associates, and Legal Staff, while Emplawyernet limits its version of the agent (which it calls job mail) to paid members.

Most job hunting sites are free to job seekers, but Emplawyernet is an exception. Its basic subscription, which provides access to 600 job listings, is free, but for access to 6,000 listings and 12 hours of free MCLE, job seekers must become members at $9.95 per month or $49.95 per year. Members of the Los Angeles County Bar Association or the ABA receive two months’ membership free. Charges to employers listing jobs vary greatly from site to site—from no charge at eAttorney and Law Guru to $95 for a 30-day listing at Legal Staff. Nonmember employers pay $295 per listing at Monster, while Martindale charges subscribers $150 (nonsubscribers $250) for a 30-day listing. Martindale also offers users an annual subscription and special premier account rates. Law.com does not post its ad rates, instead offering quotes on a case-by-case basis.

Old-Fashioned Methods Online
Online job seekers should not forget the old-fashioned method of going directly to the source. A visit to a targeted employer’s Web site can be the beginning of a profitable information-gathering campaign. Many firms make job openings, compensation, and benefit information available in a recruiting section of their sites. Law.com aids this type of search by offering direct links to the recruiting sections of more than 50 top firms. Some firms even offer testimonials from associates to provide job seekers with informal information about the firm. To see this high-tech headhunting, visit www.kirkland.com.

Another old-fashioned method with an online twist is finding and registering with a traditional recruiter. Hieros Gamos (www.hg.org), for example, features a list of more than 90 legal recruiters in California alone. Job searchers visiting the site of The Affiliates can choose from among two dozen job types (attorney and nonattorney) and all levels of experience before filling out and filing an application and attaching a resume. Job seekers may notice that many of the jobs that are listed at The Affiliates site are also listed with other sites.

Legal job seekers can also use the Internet to research salaries, firm culture, and the outlook for employment in different geographic and practice areas. Salary information from a wide variety of firms in California is provided at the Infirmation site, for example. Data is obtained from the recruiting pages of the law firms’ own sites as well as attorneys who are or were associated with the firms they write about. Attorneys can also get the latest inside word on compensation, firm culture, and morale from the well-known greedy associates message boards (greedyassociates) and Web site (http://www.greedyassociates.com/). Even a greedy nonattorney legal professionals board (http://jobs.findlaw.com/bboard/clubs.tcl?topic=Greedy%20NAPS) is available. LA Law Jobs also features a message board for legal professionals to ask questions, seek advice, and network.

Finally, even veteran job seekers should not forget to review tips on cover letters, resumes, and interviewing. Martindale, Infirmation, and Hot Jobs, for example, offer information on these topics, and numerous sites offer information on the eternal basics as well as what is in fashion in the job hunting jungle this year.

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