Industry Resources

Much To Gain and Little To Lose In Working With The Right Recruiter (Part 1)

As a partner, you may ask, “Why should I work with a recruiter and why should it be you?”

The quick answer is because I can provide material value to you that you can’t obtain any other way. Let me explain, using the experiences of three candidates with whom I recently worked. Each were lawyers in their mid-to-upper thirties, had a book of business in the high six-figure range, and had concluded they wanted to explore other options…

Take Candidate Alpha. He has good academic credentials and is a lifer at his firm, having made partner five years ago. He contacted me after receiving no increase in his comp for the year (which was about 50% of his portable book). He had a particular specialty that limited the possible new firms who would be interested in him to about a dozen in town, and one big client that posed some issues with conflicts. When we met, he told me that he was not happy with the way his firm was treating him and wanted to see what else was out there. I told him his comp was actually pretty competitive and that the single client might be an issue, but would be happy to help him test the waters. I then drafted a no-name profile to send to the decision makers at the appropriate firms. It gave them enough information to make the business case (e.g., expertise, size of book) but not enough to “out” the candidate, and asked whether they would like additional information. After vetting the description with Alpha, I sent out 12 such inquiries and received requests for more information from five. Three ended up interviewing him.

Candidate Beta, who had excellent credentials and was already at an elite firm, had a different problem. She was a rising superstar in her lucrative niche, but her firm decided not to invest in that practice area in her particular office and for family reasons she couldn’t move. As a young partner, she had already attracted a number of clients and was clearly on her way up, which made the no-name profile much easier to write. There were a limited number of appropriate firms, and we narrowed it to eight. Two firms asked for interviews. In one case, I had worked at the firm in the time before Time, and in the other, I went to school with the managing partner of the office.

Candidate Gamma faced still another issue. He had been counsel for his international law firm for four years, had done all they asked, but had still not been elevated to partner. He had been called on a Sunday in his office by a recruiting shop based out of Florida, talked for a few minutes, and decided he need to talk to someone local. He Googled D.C. recruiters, and liked the fact that I had been a big firm partner and was from Iowa. We met the next day, mapped out the universe of firms, and I sent inquiries to two dozen firms where I thought there might be an interest. He ended up interviewing with ten firms.

Three similar situations; three very different outcomes, each bringing value to the candidate. Come back next week to find out what happened.