YouTube and The Law Meet on Choate Recruiting Website

"The Web is, like, so cool for law firm hiring" proclaimed the headline of the Boston Business Journal, referring to the tongue-in-cheek Web commercials and candid online videos of 200-lawyer Choate Hall & Stewart on its new recruiting website.

Looking just like a YouTube video, the careers section includes spoofs of the Mac vs. PC commercials that pit "Choate vs. Megafirm" as well as video footage of summer associates discussing their favorite horror films and Swedish singing trios. The videos illustrate the importance Boston firms are placing on landing young legal talent.

One "Choate vs. Megafirm" spot shows a chubby young man covered with post-it notes, bragging about how Megafirm just won an antitrust case.

But he wasn't actually at the trial. She says, "See, at Choate we're part of the action from Day One. In fact, I have to cut it short, I have a deposition."  He says, "Wow. I'm doing document review for our next case. Over 800 boxes."  He is covered in post-it notes that state "privileged" or "confidential." She says, "you know they come in tropical colors now?"

"We hope it helps law students to see that there are some differences in our model and our approach," John Nadas, a managing partner at Choate told the newspaper. "We like to think that we're relatively innovative, energetic and youthful. By seeing clips of the associates talking about themselves, recruits will get some sense of our character and our culture. We're having fun. Frankly, we find the Web sites of other firms not that entertaining."

Choate paid $75,000 to legal branding firm Greenfield Belser Ltd. in Washington, D.C., to create the site.

"Generation Y" students in law school understand the language of online video, having spent their college years visiting sites like YouTube and Facebook. They account  for 30% of the population and have always had the Internet in their lives. These energetic, Web-loving young people have Webcams and know how to put video online.  The lesson for law firm marketers is that the law graduates that law firms recruit are in this age bracket.  To reach them, you need to put video on your Web site recruiting page.  Static pictures and text just won't attract them.

"I'm pretty familiar with the firm and I think it signals a bit of a shift," Jim Durham, chief marketing officer at crosstown rival Ropes & Gray, told the paper.  His firm has 800 lawyers nationally and about 470 locally. "They are an established firm and I think it's fair to say it signals more of a modern edge. I found it amusing."

Ropes & Gray also uses video on the recruiting portion of its Web site. "Ropes & Gray Unscripted" features the firm's attorneys discussing what they like about working there. Ropes, which previewed the site to clients before the launch, says Web traffic jumped after the video series was posted.

"(Over the years) I've seen that competition for summer associates develop," Durham said. "There are firms that are competing head-to-head with Choate that will probably wish they had done something like this."

Other Boston firms that employ video or online commercial techniques on the recruitment part of their sites include Foley Hoag LLP and Goodwin Procter LLP.

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