Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Offering Free Services to Clients to attract business - a good idea or a source of great frustration?

Free Services – are they ever appreciated?  
I am not sure if a study has ever been done of these, but a recent experience has made us re-evaluate our own offerings. One of the services Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment offers is ‘free CV checks’. This involves lawyers and law students sending us their CVs for us to give them the once over before replying with our general impressions. We pride ourselves on offering this service without any reference to our paid CV services or our recruitment agency work, although we naturally hope that visitors come back and use us.
This week I received a CV from a law graduate requesting a free CV check. I had a look through and replied with feedback to say that his CV was unlikely to get him any interviews and needed work. I gave him a few pointers where improvement was needed and also suggested that he may want to get legal work experience to improve his chances (he didn’t have any).
Ten minutes later I received an email informing me that our response was unprofessional and besides what did we know anyway – we weren’t recruiters… I emailed back to point out that it was a free service, we are recruiters and have over 10 years of experience advising on CVs for senior partners and district judges through to law students.
Ten minutes after this I had obviously so enraged this law graduate with my response that he telephoned me. The conversation was fairly brief (I hung up) but in essence the law graduate demanded to know why we had criticised his CV and what gave us the right to give him such negative advice.
After experiencing this and other similar instances of free services provided by our company (one involved finding a graduate a training contract which they didn’t bother turning up for), we have come to realise that it doesn’t matter what price you charge for a service, people always have similar expectations of the service.
A free session of legal advice from a law firm is going to be provided to someone who will have the same expectations of the session if he had paid for it. The graduate described above would have probably responded in the same way if I had charged him the £64.99 we usually charge for a full CV review.
Sometimes I question whether a free service has any effect at all on increasing future business levels. Perhaps charging for a service is the best option to avoid feeling angry, if nothing else?
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk or visit one of our websites.

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