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23 Types of Attorneys That Law Firms Don’t Want
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stranded attorney

Summary: There are types of attorneys that law firms, especially the most prestigious ones, will not hire as laterals or as new hires.

In Harrison Barnes’ article “How to Hire the Best Lateral Attorneys: 23 Types of Attorneys Prestigious Law Firms Avoid Hiring,” readers learn what not to be like if they want to be a sought after attorney. Law firms are not for the weak of mind. They are places of long hours and grueling work. With such demands on its attorneys, law firms do not take chances on the kinds of attorneys they hire. Law firms avoid these 23 types of lateral hires because they need ones that are trained to work in law firms and will do the work. An attorney that finds they fit into one or more of these categories may find themselves stranded.


  1. Lateral hires without law firm experience

When a lateral attorney comes to a law firm with little to no experience in a law firm will not be a good fit for a law firm because the attorney has been trained with a different way of doing business. These attorneys build a routine working in an atmosphere other than a law firm so adjusting often proves difficult for the attorney and the law firm.

  1. Attorneys without motivation from money

If an attorney is not motivated by money, there is very little that will motivate them to work longer and harder. Law firms use money as the way to get their attorneys to go the extra mile so that they can get the bonus at the end of the year and a higher salary.

  1. Attorneys without motivation from prestige

Generally, attorneys work hard so they can move up in the law firm to a more prestigious position or on to a more prestigious law firm. If an attorney is not aspiring to this, there is nothing motivating them to work hard.

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  1. Attorneys with issues in the business part of law firms

Attorneys tend to distrust others, including their own firm’s inner-business workings. They get taught in college and law school that business is bad and things out to make money are not trustworthy. While it is understandable to be apprehensive, if an attorney cannot get past their distrust and rely on their law firm to be doing things correctly, they will not benefit the law firm.

  1. Attorneys that don’t see their work as important

Attorneys that cannot find a way to make their work important to them will not stay an attorney long. Their lack of commitment to the work will show so law firms aren’t going to risk low-quality work.

  1. New attorneys and laterals with low law school performance

Law firms expect attorneys to work hard in law school and end up with top grades. If an attorney cannot do this, why would a law firm think they could perform any different? Law firms want attorneys that have already proven through their law school performance that they can work hard and produce quality work.

  1. Attorneys looking for a new gig before their first year of practice is even done

When a first-year attorney is out looking for another job when they haven’t finished their first full year of practice yet, a law firm is going to assume there is a problem. Law firms want attorneys that are easy and don’t produce problems.

  1. Attorneys looking to downsize from where they already work

When an attorney is not interested in continuing to move up in their career to more prestigious law firms, a red flag goes up to law firms that they are giving up on their career.

  1. Attorneys from lower law firms with lower academic performance

A law firm would expect attorneys from a lower-tiered law school to be the top student.

  1. Attorneys with nothing to show from college

Law firms want attorneys to be working hard during all aspects of their life, starting in college.

  1. Attorneys without experience doing a summer program in a law firm

Prestigious law firms expect attorneys that come to them for a job to have done a summer associate program. A law firm will think “If they were unable to secure one of those positions, they probably lack the credentials to be at our firm.”

  1. Attorneys with lawsuits against previous employers

Law firms don’t care if an attorney’s previous employer actually did something wrong. The fact that the attorney was involved in a lawsuit against their employer is trouble that law firms don’t want to mess with.

  1. Attorneys that have had too many jobs

Law firms don’t want to hire more often than needed so when an attorney comes with a lot of past positions, which is a sign that they quickly and easily jump ship.

  1. Attorneys currently unemployed

Attorneys that find themselves out of work are doomed. Law firms assume they either were not valuable enough to survive layoffs or were fired because they are a problem attorney. In both instances, the attorney is not the kind of material that law firms want to mess with.

  1. Attorneys that do not take their career seriously

All law firms want to see their attorneys taking their job seriously and their profession. Comments an attorney makes during an interview will make it clear to the law firm how mature they are and how serious they take their career.

  1. Attorneys that still haven’t passed the bar

After a few failed attempts, an attorney should be able to pass the bar, there are no exceptions. Attorneys that have not passed are worthless to a law firm.

  1. Senior attorneys without business

An attorney that cannot produce business does not help support the law firm so there is no room for them. Senior attorneys are expensive so unless they are bringing in money to support that salary, they will not be hired.

  1. Attorneys that interview poorly

An attorney that cannot interview well will not be able to easily fit in with their colleagues or clients. Law firms want attorneys that can easily converse and make others feel comfortable without much effort.

  1. Attorneys not interested in law

This is a no-brainer. An attorney that is more focused on outside interests is not someone you want working on your cases. They will have more mistakes and less commitment to the work.

  1. Attorneys coming from government or in-house positions and have more of their experience from those positions

Law firms want to hire attorneys that have been working in the same industry. In-house and government jobs have a different atmosphere than law firms so attorneys trying to adjust may find it hard to get back into the law firm routine.

  1. Attorneys switching positions within their existing market

Law firms understand that an attorney may move jobs to relocate back to their home and family. Attorneys moving jobs within the same market are looked down upon because it is assumed there is a problem prompting them to leave their current position.

  1. Attorneys with a sense entitlement

Law firms want attorneys that know and understand that they have to work for what they get. Attorneys that think they are entitled to certain perks or treatment because of their law school, etc. are hard to work with.

  1. Attorneys trending downward on their resume

Attorneys that are moving up are doing so because they are working towards it. Attorneys that have resumes trending downwards are doing so because they have given up on their career and don’t bother working hard anymore. Law firms want those working and pushing their way up.

Do you think law firms have a right to be picky about who they hire? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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