Legal Career Resources

No Word from a Law Firm Is Not Always a Bad Thing
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Summary: Not receiving a word about your application to a law firm does not always mean you are out of the running.

The dreaded silence from a law firm when applying and interviewing is unnerving. Understanding what the silence is a result of all depends on the situation. In Harrison Barnes article, “What Does Silence Mean When a Law Firm Fails to Respond to Your Application, or Interviews You and Then Goes Dark?” you will learn more about what the silence means and if you are out of luck or not.


Depending on the organizational system and size of a law firm will determine what kind of recruitment style they use. Larger firms will use their own recruiters and their candidates whereas smaller firms may stick with an outside recruiter or someone they already know. The recruiting departments at large law firms want to be in control of the entire process so trying to go around them by contacting a partner you know at the firm cause’s problems. Also, don’t rely on a partner you know at the firm to do anything to actually help you get a job there for whatever personal reasons they may have. You are responsible for getting your resume to the proper place, not hoping they will forward it for you.

The recruiting department at major law firms is a complex department that is responsible for a lot. The people that work in the department are supposed to like people and be liked by people in return. When this is not necessarily the case, there will be problems with organization and motivation of the recruiter. This may result in your resume getting ignored or misplaced.

When you apply and hear nothing from a law firm, there are several factors behind the lack of interest. There is the chance that the recruiting department did not find you to be a good fit but didn’t care to let you know that. The fact is that major law firms receive a lot of applications for their open positions and so they don’t have the time or desire to respond to all the rejections. Good recruiters will make the effort to at least send an email, but not all recruiters are good.

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The other reason that you never hear from a law firm after applying is because they never received it or reviewed it. This comes into play when you send your resume to an acquaintance at the firm and expect/hope they will help you out and forward it along. They do not benefit from you joining the firm, so it is not their priority. Using a legal recruiter may provide the same result. Not all legal recruiters are on top of things.

Law firms may be interested in what you have to offer but are hesitant at that moment. They may be waiting for a better time to interview you so your resume gets placed in a “later” file with the intent to respond later. This is often because your qualifications are good but not the best or the firm is anticipating more work to come in soon to support bringing you on. The law firm may also be in the process of interviewing or even hiring someone else so they aren’t prepared to interview anyone else yet.

When the time comes that you actually make contact with someone at the firm and have an interview but then hear nothing, you will feel disappointed and possibly angry. Part of the problem may be the timeline. If you are expecting to hear back within a week or two, the firm may not have even discussed you yet. Hiring is a big commitment, expense, and decision that law firms don’t take lightly. They want to make sure they make the right choice and hire the right candidate. The whole process to find and hire a new lateral may take over six months so you have to patient and give the firm more time before becoming overly concerned that you have not heard anything yet.

The legal market is always changing so in the process of interviewing over a few months, the needs of the firm may change so that they no longer need a lateral hire or they need an attorney with different qualifications. You can’t predict the changes in the market so there is no way of addressing this kind of issue.

Do you think that receiving no word after sending in an application or interview is a sign that you are not going to get the job? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about lateral hires, read these articles:




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