I moved to New York City in the fall of 2008 as a young actor with the dream of getting on Broadway—but first, I needed to find an agent. Luckily for me, I soon accomplished that goal and after weeks of preparation, the day came for me to prove myself: my “interview day.” After performing five different songs, my agent sat me down, congratulated me and stated he would be signing me. He then looked me directly in the eyes and he said, "You aren't Brad Pitt, and that's OK."
Suffice it to say, that wasn't exactly what I was hoping to hear. Was he calling me unattractive? Was he telling me I was not talented? I wasn't entirely sure. But I soon realized that his comment was one of the most profound statements I would ever hear and I have carried it with me throughout my professional career. I went on to enjoy a very successful acting career not being Brad Pitt, but being myself.
Fast-forward a few years: I completed law school, worked at two prestigious international law firms, transitioned out of private practice and into my current recruiting role at Major, Lindsey & Africa. I still find those words of wisdom to be strikingly relevant and important.
If you are Brad Pitt (i.e., #1 at Harvard Law and currently at one of the top firms in the country), this article is not for you. For the vast majority of lawyers who do not fit that profile, the path toward a successful legal career can be very challenging.
What happens if our career path is not as clear-cut as it is for a Brad Pitt? It is a daunting task to discover which course is most effective for you. In my experience as an actor, an attorney and now as a legal recruiter, it is imperative that you find a teammate that can help establish an appropriate path to achieve your professional aspirations and guide you down it. Like an agent for an actor, a legal recruiter will help a young associate in three important ways:
Seek out assistance from a legal recruiter who truly wants to be your partner and teammate on your legal career journey. Talk to more than one recruiter. Interview them. You want to get to know them as much as they get to know you. Ask them questions about their background and their recruiting process. Challenge them as much as they challenge you. In doing these things, you will form a partnership, which requires two participants. Much like a good agent, you should only work with one recruiter, so spend the time to find the right one. In doing so, you will soon be well on your way to becoming a Brad Pitt.