JD Profiles: Amanda Ellis, Author, Attorney Recruiter/Search Consultant

In this new series, we are profiling legal professionals and J.D.s and asking them the hard questions that don’t always get answered in law school. For example, how did they find their job? What do they do on a day-to-day basis? And, was law school a worthwhile investment?

Of course, for this series, I had to interview one of my own mentors, Amanda Ellis, Author, Attorney Recruiter/Search Consultant, and Co-Founder of #LawJobChat (our joint project!). Amanda began her career as a bankruptcy attorney where she learned the benefits of waking up at 4:30 am to start work. She transitioned to a career at a large search firm where she found her niche – networking and recruiting. She decided to go off on her own. For the past two years, she’s continued her recruiting business and wrote a book entitled, The 6Ps of the BIG 3 for Job-Seeking JDs: 60+ Ways to Get Hired Using Social Networking. She now speaks at law firms and law schools on legal career topics.

RecruiterEsq: Hi Amanda! Thanks for speaking with us. What are the 6Ps of the Big 3?

The 6Ps are the components required to use the Big 3 social networking sites successfully in your job search (or in business development):  Purpose, Profile, Privacy, Performance, Practice and Protocol.

How did you decide to write this book?

When I started my own recruiting firm, I started writing a monthly e-newsletter.  I frequently wrote about using social networking in your job search.  An increasing number of law schools began to read my newsletter and some asked me to speak at their schools.  The more I spoke, the more I realized how many people were interested in this subject.  And, there was no guide or resource to teach law students how to use the sites.  I decided I had to write a book.

I’m glad you did! I’m so proud of you. Who do you think can benefit from this book?

While the examples in the book are from law students and lawyers using the sites, the book is helpful for anyone searching for a job or looking to develop business.  I’ve even had friends share the book with their grandparents who wanted to learn how to use Facebook.

That’s funny! You self-published the book. What did you learn from that experience?

Well, I can’t say that I would attempt to self-publish another book again while running a recruiting business.

Yeah, I have to admit, I didn’t envy you although I was impressed with your pursuit. What is the most common question you hear from law students across the country as you speak about getting hired through social networking?

“There are lawyers on Twitter?!”  I hear this statement after each presentation.  They are surprised that to learn that there is a legal community on Twitter.  The second question I get is, “Is it okay to connect with lawyers even though I’ve never met them?”  I refer them back to the “Purpose” of Twitter (hint: yes, it’s okay – the purpose of Twitter is to connect with people you want to get to know).

Are the tips in your book applicable to law firms that want to hire those JDs? Will it teach firms how to identify and recruit laterals or new lawyers?

Absolutely!  Law firms can take the same steps to attract candidates from their existing networks.  In my book, I discuss several free ways law firms can share job openings on social networking sites, including:

  1. Facebook Note (page. 126). The Facebook Note allows you to use more characters than a status update.  You can also tag friends who may be interested in the position you post in the Note.  And, your friends can share the Note so that it appears on their Facebook pages.
  2. Facebook Marketplace (p. 129). Firms can post job openings in the Facebook classifieds.
  3. Facebook Firm Page (p. 131). Firms can post job openings on their own Facebook page, and the posting can be shared by fans of the page.
  4. LinkedIn Group Job Posting (p. 171). Identify the LinkedIn Groups that will contain candidates you are seeking and post jobs in the relevant Groups.
  5. Facebook or LinkedIn Status Update (p. 174). Firm recruiters and hiring personnel can share job openings in their individual status updates on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  6. Tweet Job Openings (p. 201). Share your job openings on Twitter.

Great advice. How did you get into recruiting? Why did you decide to leave the practice of law?

I never wanted to be a lawyer – I went to law school because I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I always pictured myself in a consulting role of some type.  I hated law school but I loved practicing.  I loved practicing because I liked the “business” of practicing law.  I was very fortunate to have a section head who was a top rainmaker and mentored me about the business side.  I began to create a list of career options that would combine business plus law.  Recruiting was one of the options and the one I chose.

What were you like in law school? In which activities did you participate?

Ha!  One could probably look at my law school activities and tell I would eventually land in a creative role.  I was Editor of my law school’s yearbook, the Peregrinus.  I was also active on the Student Bar Association – Editor of The Writ, Secretary, ABA Representative.  I did not participate in traditional activities like moot court – did not interest me.

Did you get your first job through your law firm’s career services office or how did you get your first position?

I obtained a job offer through my law school’s OCI but ultimately turned the offer down to move to Boston (where I had no contacts or ties – but, thought it would be fun to live in a different part of the country).  I gained reciprocity with Boston University and Boston College.  Before moving, I applied for a position one of the schools posted.  I interviewed and received an offer about a month before taking the bar exam.

That’s important to remember that most schools offer reciprocity with their career services, especially if you move to another state or city. In regard to your recruiting business, do you only recruit locally or in specific practice areas?

My focus is (1) all practice areas in Texas and (2) bankruptcy attorneys nationwide.

What is the toughest aspect of being a recruiter?

The roller coaster effect.  As you know, you can go from an emotional high to an emotional low in one day.  Understanding this concept (and how it feels) is perhaps the hardest concept for new recruiters to grasp.

Do you set goals for yourself – like, “I want to connect with this type of person by X date” or “I’ll stay on Twitter for an hour today.”

A great boss once told me to create a “Top 7” list – the top 7 things you hope to accomplish each day.  I have to do this daily to be productive.

Top 7, eh? I think I may try this. What about rejection or people being mean on the phone? How do you handle that?

Honestly, I can probably count on one hand the number of “mean” people I’ve encountered either by phone or email.  I really don’t get many mean replies.  When I do, I may vent internally but my external reply is always polite and kind.

What websites to you visit on a daily basis?

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Above the Law.

What advice do you have for female business owners who want to start their own company?

Don’t lose focus of your core business.  It’s great to branch out and try new things, but make sure 80% of your time is spent on your core business.

Thank you very much for enlightening our readers on what you do!

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Amanda Ellis is the Owner of Amanda Ellis Legal Search. She is the author of The 6Ps of the BIG 3 for Job-Seeking JDs: 60+ Ways to Get Hired Using Social Networking and a frequent lecturer on these topics at law firms, law schools, and bar associations nationwide. You can find Amanda on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook and hear one of her presentations at Solo Practice University.

The 6Ps of the Big 3 Available for Pre-Sale

Just in time for #LawJobChat #3 (this Thursday, August 26th from 9-10 pm EDT!), Amanda Ellis’s book is now available for pre-sale on Amazon.  The book, 6Ps of the Big 3 for Job-Seeking JDs: 60+ Ways to Get Hired Using Social Networking, costs $27.95 and is eligible for free shipping.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more than a little biased when I say that Amanda Ellis is an expert on social networking and the legal job search.  After all, she and I have collaborated on a number of projects and we co-moderate #LawJobChat, a legal job search-themed chat on Twitter.  FN1.  At best, my endorsement may seem like expected support of a friend.  At worst, it may seem like back-handed promotion of my own work.

However, let me also fill you in on our back story:

Amanda and I both practiced law for a bit before becoming legal recruiters.  In late 2008, before we had met, we both recognized the potential of social networking sites in legal job searches, the changing nature of the legal industry, and decided to start our own firms with these new philosophies in mind.  We also both became active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

In other words, it is not a coincidence that Amanda and I met on Twitter in early 2009.  Whereas traditional legal recruiting is even more cut throat than law school – hard to believe, I know – when Amanda and I met on Twitter, we immediately began collaborating on projects and bouncing ideas back and forth on how we could best help lawyers find jobs they love.  It was a natural partnership made in the clouds.

In addition to her lateral recruiting, over the past few months, Amanda has dedicated her time and energy to her book and a supplemental talk that she presents at law schools around the country.  I’m extremely proud of her and can’t wait to read the tips she offers.  If her free newsletter is any indication, I’m sure I’ll learn new tips and tricks even I may have missed.

With that disclaimer, I highly recommend that all JDs, recent and future, check out Amanda Ellis’s book when they embark on their job search.  I know I will.

FN1. ^ #LawJobChat is a monthly live chat on Twitter (“tweetchat”). On the last Thursday of every month from 9 pm – 10 pm Eastern, we invite guests hosts to chat about legal career paths and moderate incoming questions on Twitter.