This is the second in a series of posts titled, What They Don’t Teach You in Law School About Dealing With Legal Recruiters: A Must Read for Law Firm Associates by David SarnoffEsq.


Headshot of David Sarnoff

David Sarnoff: Principal, Sarnoff Group

Conducting a Focused Search

Blasting out a resume does a great disservice to both the candidate and the law firms receiving it. In many cases, the firm may not be actively looking for an associate at that class level. They may, however, be looking for that level in the future. Experience suggests when an associate is submitted for an inactive position that later becomes active, it tends to have a negative impact on that associate’s consideration for the position at the relevant time. It is the recruiter’s job to submit the right resumes for the right opportunities, at the right time.

Another example is an attorney to being submitted to a position at a law firm without having given prior express permission for the recruiter to do so. You may be stunned by the frequency of this occurring year after year. First, it exposes the candidate to having his/her job search accidentally exposed, and the recruiter to potential liability and reputational damage. There are many pitfalls to this practice: The attorney may not think highly of or be interested in a particular law firm; there may be former colleagues at the firm with whom the attorney does not want to work with; or there may be people at the firm that the candidate would prefer not be made aware of his/her search. In any event, the recruiter should never (emphasis added) send a candidate’s resume to a firm without permission. You would think that it is a given. Unfortunately, it is not.

It is vitally important for attorneys to make it explicitly clear to any recruiter that they are not to present your resume for any opportunity without your express permission. Ideally, that permission should be in the form of an email. A best practice for a recruiter is to identify the opportunity to a candidate and request written permission before presenting the candidate’s materials. The process should be highly confidential, and this practice helps to maintain confidentiality.


David B. Sarnoff, Esq. is a legal recruiter and Principal of his search firm, Sarnoff Group LLC. He has over eighteen (18) years of experience as a recruiter and career counselor. He has placed attorneys into law firms, companies and hedge funds at different experience levels, practice areas and in many cities. Feel free to contact David for a confidential conversation at 646.665.4899 or david@sarnoffgroup.com. David also practiced at a New York law firm in the areas of complex commercial litigation and white collar defense. He is a member of the Board of Education in Fort Lee, NJ and currently serves as the Board President.