What happens when your law firm wants access to your friends?

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As social media continues to change the hiring process, lawyers and other employees may be pressured to put their networks to use for hiring committees and hiring partners. After all, employee referrals are the number one source of new hires—20% of new hires are employee referrals. (Let that be a reminder to you to network, network, network!) Simply put, your employer wants access to your network.

This is great news if your friends, family, and other contacts are looking for new opportunities!

But it’s not great news if you don’t want your law firm to mine your LinkedIn profile looking for your law school friends. So what do you do when your employer comes to you with “the idea of leveraging [your] social network to connect with qualified candidates, active or passive”? Well, for one thing, you might ask your employer if they have a referral program — some employers have programs ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for a quality hire. After all, many of them are willing to pay recruiters for producing a quality candidate, so why not you?

And think carefully before you put your own reputation on the line for your law firm’s (or other employer's) benefit. If it turns out to be a bad hire, you may face repetitional damage with both your employer and your friend.

Read more about this issue from the employer’s perspective in Mark Feffer’s HR Magazine article, “New Connections.”