Harvard Law School and Lateral Link have a special relationship. Our founder and CEO, Michael Allen, is a proud and active HLS alumnus. The head of our partner practice, Gloria Sandrino, also graduated from Harvard Law. We believe we have worked with more Harvard Law alumni as candidates than practically any other recruiting firm.
Why? One reason so many HLS alums work with us is that by doing so, they are effectively giving back to their alma mater.
In 2015, Mike Allen established the Lateral Link Scholarship Fund at Harvard Law School, with an initial commitment of $250,000. Whenever Lateral Link makes a placement of an HLS alum into a law firm or other legal employer, 10 percent of the placement fee goes into the Fund, which supports financial aid at the Law School.
The ties between HLS and Lateral Link have deepened further with our latest recruiter hire: Amanda Mindlin, HLS class of 2014. She works with lawyers, law firms, and in-house legal departments throughout the East Coast, helping candidates find great wonderful new opportunities and helping employers find superb new talent.
Earlier this week, I spoke by phone with Amanda about her legal career, her move into recruiting, and why she decided to join Lateral Link.
DL: Hello, Amanda, and welcome to Lateral Link! You never know where anyone is working from these days – where am I catching you right now?
AM: Right now, my husband and I are in Babcock Ranch, Florida – America’s first solar-powered town – but we’re moving to Sarasota soon.
DL: And you’re a longtime Floridian, as I recall?
AM: Yes. I grew up in Sarasota, went to the University of Florida for college, and am a lifelong Florida Gators fan. Although I studied abroad a few times, I only lived in another state while I was at HLS.
DL: What led you to trade the Florida sunshine for three years in cold and snowy Cambridge?
AM: I never planned on going to law school. I majored in political science, which I loved, and wanted to pursue a Ph.D. to become a professor. But around the time of my graduation in 2010, a number of my professors were getting laid off because of recession-related budget cuts, so they advised me against that.
My roommate at the time was preparing to take the LSAT, so I signed up for a prep class with her and ended up doing surprisingly well. With my grades and LSAT score, going to law school was the path of least resistance.
DL: How did you like law school?
AM: I loved it! It was so much fun. I took great classes and met so many incredibly interesting people. I sang opera growing up, so I participated in Parody, the law school musical, which was a blast. And I saw snow for the first time.
DL: Did you always plan on returning to Florida?
AM: Actually, I considered staying in Boston. I spent my 1L summer working in-house at MassMutual, which was great, and I spent my 2L summer in Boston at Bingham McCutchen.
Bingham was having issues at the time – it ultimately went under in 2014, the year I graduated – so early in my 3L year, I applied for federal clerkships.
Luckily, even though I applied late in the cycle, I got an interview with Judge Middlebrooks of the Southern District of Florida. The interview couldn’t have gone better – we spent much of it chatting about Gator football – and he made me an offer on the spot, which I immediately accepted.
It wound up being an amazing year. I couldn’t have clerked for a better judge. For law students interested in litigation, a federal clerkship is a wonderful experience if you can get it.
DL: And then how did you find your first job post-clerkship?
AM: I met my now-husband during my clerkship. He was based in Miami but was eager to get out and encouraged me to look for opportunities up in West Palm, where I was clerking. There are only so many firms in West Palm, so I interviewed with most of them, including Shutts & Bowen.
The firm has an excellent reputation, and my judge spoke very highly of them. They had a patent trial before my judge at the time (which I was recused from), and I was impressed with them in the courtroom.
I’d long been interested in pursuing IP litigation. Shutts was really the only major firm in West Palm with an IP group, so it was a pretty easy decision!
DL: How did you like your time at Shutts & Bowen?
AM: I couldn’t have been at a better firm. I loved my group – my husband and I still hang out with the partner I worked with most closely. And they really gave me the freedom to pursue the work I was most interested in.
My issue was that I’m a pretty social person, and I found the practice of law to be extremely isolating. Writing is probably my greatest strength, so I wound up doing a lot of brief writing – which by its nature involves spending a lot of time by yourself researching and writing.
It quickly became obvious that I needed a job with more social interaction. My sister-in-law, a successful executive recruiter, suggested I pursue legal recruiting, which sounded like it would be a perfect fit for me.
DL: And has it been?
AM: Absolutely! As a recruiter, I’m constantly talking to other people – associates, partners, recruiting coordinators, colleagues – and I’m constantly meeting interesting people from different backgrounds.
There’s so much diversity in the job; it doesn’t get boring. Every candidate is different, and every search is different. I work across different practice areas and cities – New York, Boston, D.C., Florida – so I’m constantly learning about different fields of law and legal markets.
DL: What do you enjoy the most about recruiting?
AM: The matchmaking aspect. I really get to know my candidates – to the point where sometimes I know what they’re looking for better than they do. For example, sometimes a candidate will tell me that they only want to apply to Biglaw firms, but I suggest that they consider this one boutique – and then they end up going to that boutique over several Biglaw firms, and loving it there.
My candidates have been very happy at the firms I’ve placed them at, which is extremely rewarding. Some of them were miserable and thinking about leaving law before we started working together, but as it turned out, they just weren’t at the right firms.
DL: You came to Lateral Link as an experienced recruiter, having worked at another legal search firm before this. What drew you to Lateral Link?
AM: First, Lateral Link’s excellent reputation within the legal profession. When I was thinking about switching recruiting firms, I spoke to many different people – contacts from my HLS network, lawyers and recruiting professionals at law firms, people at other recruiting firms – and everyone spoke highly of Lateral Link. I wanted to be at a firm with a strong reputation, which makes it easier to connect with candidates and with law firms.
Second, Lateral Link is a welcoming place to recruiters coming from other recruiting shops. I was struck by how many of my colleagues here used to work at other top search firms.
Finally, I was drawn to Lateral Link’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. So many of Lateral Link’s recruiters, especially its leaders, are women and/or diverse, and as a result, many of Lateral Link’s candidates are women and/or diverse as well. I’m very proud to be part of this team.
DL: And we are very proud to have you – a Harvard Law School graduate, former federal law clerk, and former associate at an Am Law 200 law firm – joining us. Welcome again to Lateral Link, Amanda!