(Hint: It's Probably Harder to Go Terribly Wrong than You Think)
There's so much anxiety amongst associates about choosing the "right recruiter."
Unpopular opinion - there are a lot of good recruiters out there, and as far as them getting you in the door at great firms as an associate, pretty much any recruiter worth their salt should be able to do that if your credentials match that firms' standards. Recruiters are sales people, so they might play up their magical connections and abilities. But if you're a strong candidate, firms will want to meet you because you will help them make money. Your recruiter can help improve your resume or ace the interviews, but those are minor tweaks.
So where does the recruiter/candidate relationship really pay off? When you have 3 offers, and you need help deciding and getting the best deal. Your recruiter should be able to put you in touch with attorneys who have actually made the move to the firms you're considering. And they should have deep knowledge and perspective about each firm. And they should be able to leverage your offers to help you get your dream offer from your dream firm.
How do you assess which recruiter can bring that last bit of value to the table? It's difficult, but I'll do another post soon about red flags.