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If you’re working with a recruiter, but see a posted opportunity that recruiter didn’t suggest, is it okay to independently apply?

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Yes, but it is a lot smarter to work with a recruiter. Firms are more likely to see you as a "viable" candidate.

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Totally disagree. Firms may prefer to hire you directly so they don’t have to pay the recruiter. You just need to tell your recruiter which job openings you have applied to independently so it is clear the recruiter has no skin in that game.

Tell your recruiter about it. They will likely have a better in

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Yes, if they are at a well reputed firm or have worked with the firm before. Ask about their experience, ask for references.

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Yes.

Of course. You’re in charge and you need to be in charge of driving your job search. Not the recruiter. They can bully you into thinking you answer to them, you absolutely have to take the first offer you get etc... but you really don’t. Obviously be polite and considerate. If you want to have it all centrally managed you can tell the recruiter about it and apply through them, but other than making a good faith effort to not have them apply a million places you already hit up, you don’t owe them. If they do a good job and send you suitable postings that turn into a job, they’ll get their commission. If they weren’t the ones that sent you this posting, no reason they are owed a commission on it.

In my experience, yes, firms take your candidacy more seriously, because they know they'll have to pay for it. A bit counterintuitive, I know. But that's been my experience. Probably not as true with smaller firms, less specialized practice areas.

My experience has been most recruiters don’t really have any special relationship with firms, them peppering applications for you is just a tool and not an additional benefit. However, if you have any other connections at this firm (e.g., college/law school alumni that work there, you were across from them on some transaction) and can get an attorney who works there to pass your resume along for you, that will make all the difference in getting you noticed. I wouldn’t be shy about asking alumni for a quick networking call to talk about the firm and to pass your resume along (including at places where you’ve already applied and think you’re a good candidate but you’re not getting attention). It’s minimal effort and a potential referral bonus for them, and they can always say no or blow you off if they want.

You’ve probably made a decision by now but I think it’s OK to apply independently if you have a strong connection to the firm such as a relationship with an associate. If not, I think it’s OK to run the opportunity by the recruiter but let them know that you are not yet ready to submit an application. If the recruiter has a strong relationship with the firm, it makes sense to go through the recruiter. In my experience as a recruiter, even when I don’t have a strong relationship with a law firm, having a good candidate for a job posting will allow me to nurture a strong relationship.

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