03. David Lat: What makes candidates stand out on the lateral hiring market?


David Lat is a bit of a legend in legal circles. He is the founding editor of Above the Law, and is currently a writer, speaker, and legal recruiter at Lateral Link. David has also written a novel, Supreme Ambitions: A Novel (2014), and previously worked as a federal prosecutor, a litigation associate at Wachtell Lipton, and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

There are few who understand the legal industry as deeply David Lat does and, in this episode of the HALB Leadership Podcast, we ask David for an introduction to legal recruiting: how the business works, what characteristics and skills make a candidate stand out, what goes into a partner’s business plan, and so much more.

Some takeaways include:
  • Legal recruiting at the junior associate levels is still very credentials-driven: the hiring firm looks at the “prestige” of the firm you’re leaving, your law school and your grades. At the mid-level, more attention is paid to experience. At the partner level, the question becomes how much of your business is “portable.”
  • Your network and relationships are incredibly important! Get to know your peers at law school. For women and diverse candidates, affinity organizations provide helpful opportunities to connect with other members of your community. 
  • In general, “making partner” is still a desired thing for the associates that David has spoken to. It’s prestigious, lucrative and is helpful for developing business because companies are more willing to hire a partner as opposed to, for example, a mid-level associate.
Click here now to listen to this episode!



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