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The Elusive Window of Marketability

by Michael Lord

Too many associates are missing the so-called “window of marketability” and get in the law firm job hunt too late for their own good. As a general rule, associates are most marketable when they have two to five years of experience.  More than I ever can remember, my colleagues and I are receiving calls from 7th, 8th, and 9th year associates who have now figured out that partnership prospects are dim and it’s time to look for greener pastures. Most of these candidates can ultimately find jobs, but may have to find jobs in a hurry and are therefore not in the driver’s seat.

The point here is to encourage associates to carefully consider their career prospects early. After you’ve finished one year of practice is an appropriate time marker. Associates should talk to older lawyers to get their perspective on career trends. Associates should speak to their friends, both inside and outside of law. Associates should listen to recruiters when they call. Some can be very helpful. Finally, associates should seek the services of a good and recommended career counselor to provide a written plan of action towards a specific, achievable goal.