Phyllis Hawkins & Associates, Inc. handles permanent individual and group placements of attorneys in law firms and corporations in Arizona.

From the Recruiters

Thursday, 2016 21 July

Writing Resumes and Cover Letters

Below is a recent article by Phyllis Hawkins for Attorney at Law Magazine.

Is it still necessary to have a resume in the day of law firm bios and LinkedIn historical listings? Yes. You will need one to apply directly for positions, especially those advertised on-line. Also, a well-crafted resume targeted to a particular position will help you stand out from others, and you can highlight additional experiences that may not be previously mentioned.

Resumes serve two primary goals: 1. help you get an interview 2. make the interview easier. Keep these in mind, and you might find it easier to write your resume. So here are a few suggestions: First, it is helpful to have several resumes that highlight different aspects of your legal experience. For example, let’s say you have background in both bankruptcy and commercial litigation. You can have a resume that is tailored to emphasis your commercial litigation experience, another one that highlights your bankruptcy background and a third that mentions both. That’s three resumes. So if you’re applying for a commercial litigation position, you will want the one that barely mentions your bankruptcy experience, since that aspect of your background is not of interest. Second, legal resumes are different from those of people in other fields and will differ in format and length for associate and partner level candidates. Craft this yourself and do not use a resume writing service. You also do not need boxes, bullet points, or an “Objective” which of course, is to change jobs.

Resumes are formal documents and should be written in third person. Start with your name, home address, personal e-mail, and cell phone number. Do not list your work e-mail or phone if you are moving confidentially.

If you are a senior attorney and still don’t use a personal e-mail, get one and start checking it often. And don’t use your spouse’s e-mail. No one wants to have to go through your spouse to reach you. you@gmail or will make you look current. Also, skip listing a home phone unless you work at home.

Senior attorneys should limit a resume to no more than three pages. Begin with a paragraph summarizing your work experience. The idea is to give the reader a clear idea of your practice and expertise. Next list in reverse order, current and previous employment with titles. If you started as an associate and then made partner at the same firm, list both with dates. List your education next. The more experienced you are, the less important your educational experiences become so simply list your law school and undergraduate schools and years of graduation.

If you are an associate, keep your resume to one page. List your education first — law school including journals and honors if any. List your GPA if you are proud of it. Undergraduate is listed second including basic academic honors. Leave off clubs, political and other social groups. If you were a college athlete, mention it.

Beneath education list your legal experience starting with your current position, date to present and include both functional duties and types of matters you handle. This is where you can emphasize certain experiences over others depending on the position you are pursuing. This section can be several sentences and prior positions should be listed in descending chronological order with increasingly shorter descriptions. Non-legal experience is mentioned only if you had a career between undergraduate and law school. Leave off jobs held during school; however if you financed all or part of your education, you should mention that.

Both partners and associates should list memberships and professional and civic affiliations third, beginning with State Bar of Arizona. Be sure and list other bar associations and courts if applicable, and any honors or awards. Also list any foreign languages and your fluency. Current speaking engagements and publications should be listed last. You can mention hobbies or interests if you have enough space left.

If you are a corporate associate, you will want to include a separate “deal sheet” to list representative transactions in which you participated. This will give the reader a clearer idea of your experience. Litigation associates should include a writing sample showing how well you write. Use a document that has been filed.

When you are ready to submit your resume, e-mail it from your personal e-mail as an attachment to a cover letter. Be sure and tailor the message to a particular position. Check on their website or call to locate the correct person to contact. Keep your message short and simple. The first sentence should let the reader know which position you are applying for and if someone has recommended you contact them.

The second paragraph can give some additional information not listed on your resume and include a link to your law firm bio. You can also highlight some part of your background that might make you a particularly good fit. Keep in mind this is your sales pitch. Be sure and end with your personal contact information. Hopefully — based on your resume and cover letter — you will get an opportunity to interview.





Friday, 2016 13 May

Moving In-House

Below is the text of a recent article I wrote for Attorney At Law Magazine.

Admit it. You like being a lawyer but you’ve had moments where you’ve grown tired of continually having to develop business and bill your time. Wouldn’t it be great to chuck the time sheets and just have one client? Be involved in business deals from start to finish? Regular hours too! No weekends! The perks of an in-house attorney. Well, most of them anyway. So how do you go about moving in-house? And, even more importantly — should you?

After staffing many in-house departments over the years, here are a few tips I can offer: First, most in-house positions go to transactional attorneys, especially those with corporate, and securities backgrounds followed by real estate, labor and employment and intellectual property. Most corporations still refer active litigation matters to outside counsel so in-house opportunities for litigators are still rare.

Most in-house positions require at least eight or more years of training in a law firm. This is because in a corporate legal department you must be able to give advice on a range of legal issues often on short notice—expertise that most entry and junior level attorneys have yet attained.

You will indeed experience a number of lifestyle differences when you move in-house. The biggest difference is keeping track of time is no longer necessary. There are times however, when you may need to work late at home or come in early, so in-house is not a guaranteed nine to five job.

Law firm attorneys have responsibilities to their clients and partners but have much more flexibility discharging these responsibilities. Also, in a law firm, you are a business/revenue generator while in-house legal departments are cost centers and part of the overall company budget.

If you are someone who enjoys being your own boss, you are probably better off to remain in a law firm. In-house lawyers at all levels report to a superior — even the GC reports to the COO — and your boss will dictate your legal priorities and how you spend your time. Reporting directly to a deputy or associate general counsel rather than a general counsel, may also impact your involvement with higher level issues within the organization.

In most corporate legal departments, a great deal of time is spent in meetings that are calendared by a superior. Your days may be unpredictable with various business and related legal issues needing immediate attention. As most in-house attorneys are generalists they handle a variety of legal issues and must be ready to provide a prompt answer. Debra Sirower, one of the rare litigation attorneys who was able to transition in-house and now is Senior Litigation Counsel at Clear Channel, finds this aspect of being an in-house attorney especially rewarding. “In-house feels more like you are practicing law because you see your advice being relied upon, implemented, and the company taking steps based upon it.”

Titles matter when you go in-house. Corporate legal departments are hierarchical and everyone has a rank and title with only one General Counsel at the top of the pyramid. Law firms of course, have multiple partners and much more opportunity for advancement. If you are in-house and aspire to become a GC, you may have to change companies. And to make it even harder, because GCs are one of a kind, there are always very few GC opportunities. Another consideration is that once a GC has lost their position — a common event when companies are acquired, fold or simply change ownership — it is incredibly difficult to locate another GC opportunity. This is one reason why in-house attorneys often end up moving to other cities. And to make it even more difficult, once you’ve been GC, to move back down the pecking order is not usually an option.

Robert “Bob” Moya, formerly a partner with Quarles & Brady, was one of the lucky ones who was able to serve as GC of two Arizona corporations — first at Insight Enterprises, a technology company and later at Apollo Education Inc., a holding company for several educational institutions.

Another option seldom available to in-house attorneys is going back to law firms. Remember, you are now a senior level lawyer without clients. In addition to Bob Moya, one of the lucky few who have been able to make this transition is Chris Van Tuyl, now a business attorney with Sacks Tierney. During his tenure in-house with three different public companies, one was acquired, one separated into two separate public companies, and the third underwent a merger. As a result, Van Tuyl found he had less control over his position as an in-house attorney which resulted in significant changes to his role within these organizations. Since returning to private practice, Van Tuyl remembered that as a private practitioner, “attorneys build long term client relationships and a book of business which can provide substantial independence, autonomy and stability.” All good considerations to keep in mind before moving in-house.

Monday, 2016 7 March

When to Move…An Issue of Timing

Here’s a link to an article I did recently for Attorney At Law Magazine.

Wednesday, 2015 21 October

The Successful Woman Lawyer/Attorney at Law Magazine Phoenix edition 9/15

Here’s a milestone for me: the first three partners I placed this year have all been women. And they all had portable practices. While it’s been a long time coming and there’s still a long way to go, I thought it might be interesting to poll some of the most successful women attorneys in Arizona and see how they have been able to achieve success. Read more »

Wednesday, 2015 19 August

Phyllis Hawkins featured in Attorney at Law Magazine


“Not many people can say that they still love their job after being at it for 30 years. Phyllis Hawkins can. After starting out at an employment agency and being told no one would pay a fee for placing a lawyer, she set out on her own and has never looked back.”

Read the full profile.

Friday, 2015 6 February

A note on 2015

This is my 30th year recruiting attorneys for Arizona law firms and corporations. When I started Phyllis Hawkins & Associates in 1985, most lawyers had never even heard of a legal recruiter. Attorneys did not change jobs. That’s right. You joined a firm right out of law school, eventually made partner and then retired. A small few moved in-house with clients. Lateral hires were people interested in moving to Arizona.
How things have changed! Since that time I have worked with hundreds of attorneys at all levels of experience. For years, I have facilitated confidential moves to better platforms from which to practice; helped local firms grow in specific practice areas; assisted branch offices of national firms become established by merging their firms with the best local partners and groups; have staffed the law departments of numerous companies; and helped young attorneys find the best spots to further their careers. And I still love what I do. Happy New Year!

Friday, 2014 12 September

LawCrossing Interview

I was profiled recently for Phyllis Hawkins Legal Profile on “>

Thursday, 2011 10 November

Networking for New Attorneys

I participated in an CLE for the Maricopa County Bar recently that was focused on job searches for newly licensed attorneys.  As a legal recruiter, I only work with lateral attorneys but sometimes get calls from new graduates. Here are a few suggestions for those looking for their first position as a lawyer: Read more »

Friday, 2008 12 December

Writing a Cover Letter

A cover letter is your sales pitch — its importance must not be underestimated.

Like any effective sales pitch, it, first and foremost, must be tailored to the “prospect.” Make sure your message does not appear to be mass marketed. “To whom it may concern” or email “To” lines that include multiple recipients guarantee a hasty push of the delete button.

So how can you improve your chances of having your resume opened?

First, send the letter to the correct person, with their correct title. Don’t use fancy phraseology, or too much jargon and abbreviations — keep it short and simple. Spell check and proof it — twice.

The first paragraph should state which position or type of position you are applying for. If someone has referred you, list that person’s name.

A second paragraph can contain additional information not found on your resume. You can also highlight some part of your background that will make you a particularly good fit for that position. If salary information is requested, this is a good place to mention it.

Your closing should thank the addressee for their consideration, request an interview and list the best way to reach you.

And, as usual, contact me first, not last.

Thursday, 2008 20 November

How to Write a Partner-Level Resume

I find that some of the worst crafted resumes are submitted by partner-level candidates.

Is this because they have not written one in years? Or, perhaps, they feel so much has gone on in their lives they couldn’t abide to not include every little detail?

Whatever the reason may be, let’s start with what doesn’t belong on a resume: Photos, marital information, names and ages of children, race, birth place, height, weight, condition of health, religion, political information and unrelated activities or “honors” (Who’s Who, Book of the Month Club, etc.). You also don’t need an “objective.” And please, do not write a resume in first person.

Here’s what to include: Name, address, cellphone number and personal e-mail address. Begin with a summary description of your practice, then your employment history in reverse chronological order, including dates. Education (with dates) is listed after employment history followed by professional memberships and affiliations, professional honors, publications and speaking engagements.

Last, if you want to have help managing your search on a confidential basis, contact me.

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