Yesterday, February 26th, was Langley Recruiting’s 12th anniversary.  Not a “milestone” year but still I stopped to pause and be grateful that I’ve been doing this for as long as I have.  It gave me a reason to thank all of the clients and candidates who have come my way over these past 12 years.  I’ve had a front row seat to the incredible boom in the early and mid-2000’s as well as the bust of 2008 and the recession that followed.  The legal sector in Seattle is certainly thriving as I write this, and it has been great to see the market revive.  I’ve learned many things, but probably the most important is that things change constantly, but providing great service and always working with integrity has taken me through these past 12 years, and will see me through the next 12. 


Something that I see on a regular basis is a great candidate who gets turned down for a job because they didn’t do well in the interview. Something that all candidates should keep it mind is that it should be your goal to get an offer from the interview process. It will be your choice if you want to accept it, but that should be your goal. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you are addressing what the position is in the interview; make sure to tie your skill set to the requirements of the position, and bring out any parallels within your skill set that align with what the client is asking for. This is one of the most important things you can do in an interview.


In a word, don’t.  Seattle is a very small legal community, and you can be sure that how you handle things in the workplace, specifically when you are separating from your firm, will follow you.  If at all humanly possible, give the appropriate amount of notice.  There are some very specific circumstances where this wouldn’t apply, but they are extremely rare.  Leaving a firm with no notice, usually associated with some sort of argument or disagreement that you feel cannot be fixed, or hasn’t been dealt with in a way that you would have found acceptable, is never a good idea.  It is always best to give notice, act professionally for every hour you remain in the office until that period is completed and never – ever – speak negatively about a former employer in an interview. 


If you are considering a new position, having a recruiter assist you can be the best move you make.  It makes sense to be proactive and meet with a recruiter for many different reasons:  maybe your group is changing at work and you know there will be downsizing, so finding a new position is imperative;  maybe you are generally unhappy with how your firm/company is growing or changing;  perhaps you just want to see what else is out there and find out if your rate of pay is competitive;  many people want to find a new position to be challenged, and learn a new area of law.  We encourage any candidate who falls into these categories as someone who should consult with a recruiter, and that includes candidates who are bombarded with cold calls from recruiters.  In that case, it is more important than ever for you, the candidate, to be in control and choose who you work with.  Getting cold calls from recruiters doesn’t mean the recruiter is interested in your welfare – they are trying to fill a specific opening – and aren’t going to be interested in what YOU want.  You should take the time to find a recruiter who will look for what you want, and have your best interest in the forefront.  That means the job search can certainly take longer, but ultimately, it will be significantly to your advantage.  Recruiters will know what the market is like, can offer suggestions about alternative firms that may fit with what you want in a new position;  they can discuss your compensation and let you know whether or not it is competitive in today’s market, and also share thoughts about where the industry is headed, and what type(s) of positions are going to be changing in the future, and what staff roles will continue to thrive.  Don’t be reactive – this is your future at stake and you should take the time to find someone that you fit well with who can work collaboratively with you to find the best fit. 


Since this very divisive election cycle there is no way to avoid conflict in dealing with others.  It is happening everywhere we go – grocery store, coffee line at Starbucks, at sporting events, and apparently on airplanes as well.  What is happening in our world is on everyone’s mind – which is a good thing – but how we express our thoughts and opinions is more important than ever.  Law firms have always been filled with bright, motivated and driven people and conversations about a wide range of topics take place.  It is extremely important to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and being able to listen (that is the key) and still respectfully disagree should be a priority for everyone.  If family ties are being torn asunder, imagine what holding different viewpoints can do for working relationships.  Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people isn’t the answer – so take a deep breath and be willing to listen, and summon up all those old lessons in manners and politeness – and put them to use.  We must be able to work together despite our differences and somehow find common ground that will allow us to work productively and collaboratively.


As an experienced recruiter I get this question all the time:  “which is better?  A large firm or a small firm?”  Impossible to say – each firm has positive and negative things about them, and about the available positions within their firms.  I encourage each candidate to think carefully before ruling out either firm – salaries are not always better in larger firms;  growth potential can be available in both, or stymied in both.  Again, it will totally depend on the firm in question, and the position that firm is trying to fill.  We encourage candidates to think about their goals when trying to find the right match, and those goals may be met in a firm of any size.  Some generalizations tend to be true:  we see a higher level of technology in larger firms, and a better level of training;  make sense – they have more funds and more personnel to dedicate to these areas, and more to learn;  more flexibility in smaller firms also tends to be true – there are less rules to follow, people tend to share work burdens more collaboratively and it is easier to have knowledge of other staff member’s jobs/responsibilities so people can more easily cross-train and cover for each other.  However, there are exceptions to all of these, and each firm must be taken individually and evaluated.  Once the candidate is aware of their goals, and what they want, they can determine if the fit is right.  Don’t rule out any firm based on size – learn more about how they are structures, and what their values are before making that decision.


People change jobs for a lot of different reasons – some are excellent, and include looking for more structure or support, perhaps looking to change or lessen a difficult commute, or often to avoid a work personality situation that has become untenable and affects your productivity. However, another reason for changing jobs should be something all candidates consider: you need to change to grow. When you have been at a firm for a number of years whether you know or not you start to stagnate – you learn less, opportunities are fewer and it is very likely you are extremely comfortable. Those aren’t necessarily bad things, because wow – who wouldn’t want to be comfortable, and know what to expect every day? It sounds great, but it isn’t. In the legal market, you should consider changing jobs at the 5 – 8 mark. You need new challenges, new possibilities, and new people to work with. A new job means shaking up your routine, learning how to interact with people you aren’t comfortable with, and learning new skills. Also, prospective employers often look at longevity negatively and think that the candidate may not be able to adapt, change, or learn new things. I’m not suggesting people should change jobs recklessly, and if you are one of the few people who work for a firm that is consistently providing new challenges and growth opportunities, you should consider staying; however, most people will find new positions will provide better pay, new ways to challenge yourself and an entirely new outlook on your job.


Seattle continues to enjoy a robust economy and considerable growth in many areas. The legal market is thriving, and Seattle firms are more and more open to hiring candidates from out of the state. However, there are things that firms look for and taking the time to consider them will prepare you for a more positive reception into the Seattle legal market. Here are a few tips: Have a plan. Make sure you know what your timeline is, and if you are going to try and secure a position prior to moving, or will be moving and then looking. Do your research. Firms are much more comfortable if a candidate has done their research and has an understanding of where they will be living, and what the costs area associated with that, and what the commute will be like. Know your reason for moving here. It sounds obvious, but the question is always asked, by both recruiters and clients: why are you coming to Seattle? Clients want to know you will be putting down roots and have some connection to the area, or strong reasons for being here – they want to know you will be sticking around if they are going to invest in you. Be able to travel here for interviews. If you are going to try and secure a position prior to relocating, then you must be available to come out for interviews. Firms are usually comfortable with phone and/or Skype for initial meetings, but once an offer starts becoming a real possibility, they are going to want to meet you in person, and you should want to meet with them as well.

Seattle firms are willing to hire people who are moving here and a key step is having a plan and being able to articulate that plan to your recruiter and to clients. A good recruiter will help you identify issues and problems before they arise, and help you navigate through them to present yourself as a strong and viable candidate to a client.


Despite being in the recruiting industry for many years, I continue to be surprised by some of the basic mistakes candidates make when interviewing. Here are some tips that should be useful to all candidates, especially people new to interviewing, or who haven’t had the opportunity for some time, and hopefully will be a useful refresher for those people who have had experience. I have seen candidates chew gum in interviews, wear inappropriate clothing and even kick their shoes off and curl up in the chair during an interview. Needless to say, these candidates did NOT get the job offer.

Interviewing is a lot like dating – and while you, the candidate, are definitely evaluating the firm to determine whether or not it is a good fit, never forget that you won’t have a choice to make if you don’t get an offer.   Remember that they are evaluating you and the goal is to get that offer – and then you can decide what you want to do. Some basics: be on time. Period. Since Seattle traffic is absolutely unpredictable, give yourself extra time and if for ANY REASON you are going to be late, make sure you have your recruiter or firm number handy to let them know if there are problems. Be prepared. Bring a copy of your resume – several copies if you believe you will be meeting with more than one person. They may not ask for it, but if they do, it’s nice to have it available and always a good thing not to make the interviewer work by providing copies.   Do your research. Know something about the firm – size, type of practice areas (if more than one), commitment to pro bono, how they got their start. Remember the dating concept? If you can show you are interested in them as a firm, and want to work there, that goes a long way. Be professional – in both attire, demeanor and what you say. Impressions matter a lot – especially first impressions, so you need to look the part. Ask questions, take notes, and never, ever say anything negative about a prior employer. During interviews, firms will often try to get candidates to relax just a little too much to see where the candidate will draw the line about what they say. Limit personal comments, and remember that they are seeing how you will behave not only with them, but with potential clients and other staff. Basic stuff – but important.


The past decade has seen the Seattle legal market go through major changes. In the early part of this millennium, we saw Seattle experience a huge growth spurt, and the legal market reflected that. Those were the days of multiple offers for candidates, signing bonuses, and not enough legal staff to go around. The market downturn in 2008 hit everyone hard and it took years for the legal sector to rebound – but it has – and we are again experiencing a strong market for legal professionals.   We are at the top of the cycle again, and law firms and companies are hiring at a steady pace.

While we don’t see the type of hiring frenzy that was everywhere in the last decade, we do see a steady growth pattern and a consistently strong market. The hiring is brisk, but more thoughtful and carefully planned. Firms seem to be making decisions on the reality of the work in hand, and less on any potential projects. That means more job stability and better salaries. The legal market has continued to provide an excellent opportunity for legal professionals to earn a competitive wage, and salaries of legal staff have continued to rise steadily. The forecast looks positive for 2016.