Your email dings and you notice it is an individual presenting a lateral opportunity with vague details. You ignore it and potentially miss the opportunity of a lifetime because you are busy or not currently interested. As a legal recruiter, I keep in mind that an associate is extremely busy and understand that it can be a pain to be contacted by a recruiter during a tireless work day. For that precise reason, I resort to email communications to present lateral opportunities to qualified candidates. Typically, a phone call will follow the initial email, but I like to respect your time by sending the email first. More likely than not, however, you will ignore the email and call without even thinking about it.

The worst mistake I have seen associates make is that they fail to start a conversation with a recruiter until they are absolutely ready to make a move. Okay, maybe that’s not the worst mistake, but it ranks quite high up there. But, what’s the worst that can happen? The answer to that inquiry is brief and painless: your resume and career goals are confidentially discussed with a recruiter who will keep you in mind in the future as opportunities arise. This information will permit us to match your credentials and experience with future opportunities. Several times in my career I have spoken with a candidate who has said he or she is not currently looking, but they would be interested in hearing more. It was not until I disclosed that the opportunity was with one of our AmLaw 100 or Vault 100 clients that they realized it was a good time for them to begin pursuing opportunities. Also, if we have knowledge of your experience and credentials when a new position arises, we can immediately bring it to your attention and you can make a very simple decision: yes or no.

Okay, so you have made it past the threshold of speaking with the recruiter, but now you are at the second hurdle: whether to consent to be submitted for consideration. You might be ambivalent over whether the firm is a great fit or you may be concerned that your current employer will find out. The latter is without concern, as our clients maintain strict confidentiality throughout the recruitment process. Your ambivalence is reasonable and understandable, but at the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen? If our client selects you for an interview, then the worst that can happen is that you have a conversation with the firm’s members. As a result, you learn more about the opportunity, thus relieving some of the ambivalence that occurred. You may realize that the position is remarkable and that pursuing this opportunity—even though you are happy at your current firm—is worth it. On the contrary, you may believe this position is not great for you and you opt not to pursue it any further. However, the worst that can happen from speaking with a new firm about a lateral move is that you become more informed. Even better, it typically only takes a mere 30 minutes to conduct the initial interview.

So, ultimately, you should ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen by starting a conversation with a recruiter or a potential new employer. The worst that can happen is that you broaden your network and become a more informed individual. As my colleague, Michael Forte, recently wrote in Jump Starting Your Job Search for the New Year, it is not easy to make a change in your professional career, but being in contact with a legal recruiter can be a great asset when you are ready to make a move. Even if you are not actively looking, seize the opportunity to speak with a legal recruiter, as we can provide valuable insight about your career goals and what opportunities are currently available or may be in the future