The Advantages of Working with A Recruiter

When considering a move between firms at the partner level working with a successful career recruiter can both ease the process as well as help to ensure the best possible result both in finding the right fit as well as financially. During this process the recruiter can help identify specific firms that fit set parameters as well as additional needs that the partner may not be aware of. With longtime relationships with a large network of firms in the Southern California area, the recruiter at The Jameson Group will also act as a go-between with the firm and partner throughout negotiations, which is particularly important to prevent misunderstandings.

Going through a recruiter also guarantees that the partner will have an active, positive proponent consistently in contact with the firm whereas even if they have an existing connection to someone at a given firm they may not necessarily put their own reputation on the line to promote the partner as a good hire. During negotiations, the recruiter will also help to prepare a business plan based on the specific needs of the partner and what they can bring to the firm. Finally, they will do their utmost to help the partner close the best possible deal.

Why Use a Partner Recruiter?

When considering a move between firms at the partner level, working with a successful career recruiter can both ease the process as well as help to ensure the best possible result both in finding the right fit as well as financially. During this process the recruiter can help identify specific firms that fit set parameters as well as additional needs that the partner may not be aware of. With longtime relationships with a large network of firms in the Southern California area, the recruiter at The Jameson Group will also act as a go-between with the firm and partner throughout negotiations, which is particularly important to prevent misunderstandings.

Going through a recruiter also guarantees that the partner will have an active, positive proponent consistently in contact with the firm whereas even if they have an existing connection to someone at a given firm they may not necessarily put their own reputation on the line to promote the partner as a good hire. During negotiations, the recruiter will also help to prepare a business plan based on the specific needs of the partner and what they can bring to the firm. Finally, they will do their utmost to help the partner close the best possible deal.

How to Develop a Portable (Legal) Book of Business

Developing and maintaining a portable book of business is critical to the long-term growth and flexibility for the majority of law-firm lawyers. By constructing a legal book of business, a lawyer can ensure a higher level of understanding, communication, and collaboration with clients while at the same time securing revenue sources independent from their respective firm. This individually sourced revenue can also help provide lawyers with more career options both at their current firms and otherwise, especially in hard times economically.

Whereas before the turn of the millennium it was rather rare for partners to switch law firms, today it was effectively become commonplace for a variety of reasons. The first and most obvious concern when considering switching law firms is that of compensation. This factor is directly tied to the lawyer’s book of business, which dictates the potential revenue they can bring and can provide powerful leverage in such a situation.

However, building a large book of business as part of a larger firm can prove especially difficult considering that many such firms primarily take on cases in the millions or tens of millions of dollars, eclipsing a single partner’s stake. As such, the relationship between the lawyer and the client has become more critical than ever and as we move further into the digital age social media has become an increasingly necessary tool to maintain these relationships. Most clients tend to award their accounts to those they know and trust, so cultivating these relationships by devoting a weekly period of time to client development can prove invaluable.

While Twitter, Facebook, and especially LinkedIn play important rules in extending your network today, in building a book of business it is important that you do not only rely on these rather impersonal methods of communication; things such as networking events or even a simple holiday card could be a very successful way for associates and junior associates to move their careers forward. Furthermore, speaking appearances on a particular subject or field of work as well as traditional publishing routes can provide additional differentiation from the pack and thus options.

When Recruiters Attack: Part 2

We recently began a series of short articles on the how, when and why of working with a legal recruiter.  Now some may say (pessimistically, we think) that, as recruiters ourselves, we can’t help but be a little biased on the subject.  That’s probably true; after all, if we didn’t believe in the value of legal recruiting, we’d almost certainly be doing something else.  But we’re going to do our best to be honest and objective (you can let us know how we do with your feedback).

In Part I we opened with an illustration of the partner whose decade-plus practice was surviving without really thriving, and the fundamental change in perspective that resulted once he sat down and considered where he was and where he might go.  But what about the partner who knows it’s time to move on from his/her current firm and is committed to taking the leap: should they embark on the journey alone or with the assistance of a recruiter?  While we think the answers are a resounding “No” and “Yes!” respectively, let’s discuss why that is by looking at what a recruiter can—and can’t—provide.

First and foremost, a recruiter should be a source of quality intelligence, offering insight and information that might not be available anywhere else.  Every recruiter worth their noise-cancelling headphones knows the importance of keeping an ear always to the ground.  It allows us to listen for creaks and groans in the market and to decipher whether it’s the sound of emerging opportunity or impending doom; the ability to read between the headlines and behind the rumors is imperative to our success and to the success of the attorneys we assist.

But just as often, information comes to us far more directly.   In a typical year we meet with twenty or thirty firms, very often at their request, to discuss what has—and hasn’t—worked regarding their recruiting efforts.  These frank discussions with managing partners and practice heads provide us with a detailed picture of each firm’s strengths and weaknesses as well as a first-hand sense of internal culture.  This is insight you simply can’t glean from content-approved press releases or the “About Us” page on the firm’s website.

Early access to this information will save you what you can least afford to squander–your time and effort.  Knowing which firms are most likely to align with your interests and compliment your practice will be invaluable in focusing your search.  An experienced recruiter should also be able to provide a sense of what value your book and practice represent in the current market and how best to present each to maximize results.

But remember, even with this direction, the partner job search is far from an absolute science.  No amount of research can replace what you’ll learn from that first face-to-face.  In the end, you will have to meet with firms and develop your own sense of fit and comfort, but a good recruiter can guide you through the process with far more efficiency and far less pain.

Once you have begun to speak seriously with prospective firms, a capable recruiter will make sure things move at an appropriate pace.  While any decision as important as changing firms should be approached with due care and patience, we’ve learned that time—at least long, silent stretches of it—is not your friend.  If the lateral process is allowed to stagnate, it can be far too easy for all parties involved to forget exactly why it is they sat down at the table to begin with.

Even in the best of cases and with the greatest of enthusiasm on all sides, the lateral hire life cycle is typically sluggish and fraught with delay.  It is also likely to coincide with any number of professional emergencies that demand your time, from the final, frantic days of that buy-side transaction to the case that should never have gone to trial—but now has…in Omaha.  An experienced recruiter can keep the lateral process ball rolling throughout all the foreseeable (and not so foreseeable) interruptions, making sure the deal remains alive and well until you are again ready to give it your attention.  This might mean helping you fill out (and make sense of) interminable lateral partner questionnaires, working with you to construct and polish your business plan (yes, they will ask for a business plan) or simply calling the firm every week to restate just how interested you are and remind them exactly why it is that they love you.

Again, while the skilled recruiter can help immensely with this stage of the process, there are some things we just can’t do for you.  You will be asked to collect information, lots of it, regarding your billing, collections, past clients, current clients, prospective clients, etc.  Aggregating this data is often challenging (and doing so without setting off unwanted alarms at your current firm only makes it more so) but it’s a valuable and necessary exercise.  For many partners, this will be the first time in years or even decades that they’ve really looked at their practice, not just as a series of cases or string of transactions but as an ongoing business unto itself.  You’ll likely walk away with a deeper understanding of your practice and a clearer notion of your strengths as a business generator.

Finally, a recruiter can act as a third-party intermediary when the process needs one.  This can mean taking a hard line during compensation negotiations so you don’t have to or simply making sure both sides communicate clearly and effectively throughout.  Imperative when the typical recruiting effort involves hiring partners, managing partners, executive committees, compensation committees, practice leaders and any number of administrative personnel.  It’s a process during which wires can and do get crossed, frequently.  A quality legal recruiter will keep information flowing in the right direction and with your interests in mind.
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So we’ve now outlined all the reason you should pick up the phone when a recruiter calls.   But, as the title of this series so enticingly implies, when do we teach you to separate the recruiting wheat from the cold-call chaff?  Have patience folks, Part III arrives next week.

A Primer For Lawyers To Use LinkedIn To Develop New Clients (Part I)

With the unveiling of The Jameson Group’s new website, it seems only appropriate that our first blog entries address the subject of social media.  Specifically, how social media can be used by attorneys to develop business and facilitate more effective and efficient networking.  Your options for connecting with clients and colleagues via digital media are myriad, but we’re going to start this discussion by focusing on just one service: LinkedIn.  The site has grown exponentially over the past year, and if you’re not already a member, odds are you will be soon.  But, despite the number of legal professionals currently swelling LinkedIn’s ranks, the attorneys we work with often express more than a little uncertainty as to the practical benefits of the site.  We’ve lost count of the number of times a colleague has told us they have a LinkedIn account but they’re not sure why or how to take advantage of it.  The truth is, with a little know-how, the service can be an incredibly effective means of connecting you with the people you need to reach, whether to create new client relationships or strengthen existing ones.   Accordingly, our first two blog posts will focus on helping you better understand and use LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is often described as Facebook for professionals.  The comparison, while certainly oversimplified, is understandable.  After all, both sites allow users to create individual profiles complete with personal photos and lists of interests, each seems to have transitioned overnight from novelty to necessity and in both cases amassing as many connections as possible seems to be the ultimate goal.  If we were to stop there then the comparison would be apt.  Unfortunately, many professionals do just that: they stop there.  But with a basic understanding of LinkedIn’s powerful search functions, turning the site into one’s own personal client-development database is only a few clicks away.  Before we move on to the nuts and bolts of networking on LinkedIn, a quick overview of the site is probably in order.

Let’s consider the numbers.  Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has grown in excess of 100 million members, over half of whom reside outside the United States.  The site now gains 1 million new members every ten days – that’s one new user per second (feel free to check my math).  Every one of the Fortune 500 is represented on LinkedIn.  In fact, 499 of them are represented by director-level and above employees.  Additionally, the site’s various users represent 215 different industries globally.  With these stats, it’s hard to debate LI’s networking potential.  But for many attorneys, being a member of LinkedIn can be a bit like maintaining a high-end gym membership:  you initially joined because so many of your friends and colleagues were already there, you feel vaguely guilty for not using it to better results and, when you do show up, without some expert assistance, you’re not entirely sure what you should be doing.  The purpose of this blog is to address that last issue.  While you might not be a bona fide LinkedIn expert once we’re through, I do expect you’ll have a much better sense of the service’s value as a practical and powerful tool.

Step One:  Build Your Contacts

The larger your contact pool, the more likely you are to get that sought-after introduction.  So take advantage of LinkedIn’s ability to interface with webmail services such as Google, Yahoo and AOL.  The site will scan your contact list, determine which individuals are currently LinkedIn members and allow you to send a request to connect via the service (simply choose “Contacts” at the top of the page and then “Add Connections”—the service will walk you through the rest).  But a word of caution, your end goal here is to create a group of contacts that you can actually use for referrals, introductions, intelligence, etc.  Be selective.  Only send invitations to those contacts with whom you have a strong relationship.   Ask yourself a simple question:  Would I be comfortable picking up the phone or firing off an email to ask this person for help?  If the answer is no, move on.  Remember, an impressively expansive connections pool will do you little good if it largely consists of weak contacts.

Step Two:  The Search For A New Client Introduction Begins

It’s time to start the search process, so let’s start with a company search.  Our goal will be to find someone among your current connections who can provide a needed introduction to a target client.  Odds are you will be surprised at just who your friends and colleagues know.  And this is the real value of LI, allowing you to utilize contacts you didn’t even know you had, recognizing data points that almost certainly would have otherwise gone unnoticed.  To begin the process, go to your personal profile page and select the blue “Advanced” search option.

You’ll find it at the top of the page quietly sitting on your task bar’s far right edge.  This unassuming hyperlink (rendered in the smallest, least conspicuous text you’re likely to see on the site) will provide you with access to LinkedIn’s powerful and highly customizable search feature.  Once you’ve opened the page, make sure you’ve chosen the “Advanced People Search” tab.  In future blogs, we’ll touch on the site’s other search features but for now we’ll stick with a basic company search.

A quick glance at the page and you’ll see empty text fields at the top and series of categories and check boxes below that allow you to refine your search even further.  Unless you have the site’s Premium pay service, the lower half of the page is largely populated by data filters appearing as ghost icons (links that can be read but not selected).  While these categories allow for very specific results filtering, most searches won’t require their use.  If you find you just can’t live without options like limiting search results to only those Fortune 1000 companies currently sitting in the 251-500 range, then consider upgrading to premium.  For the rest of us, the non-pay search should work just fine.  As mentioned, we’re focusing on a specific company here so you’ll want to find the “Company” text field at the top of the page and insert the name of the organization you’d like to reach (think Boeing, Nike, Medtronic, etc. – you get the idea).

Remember, our objective here is to determine who among your current connections might be able to facilitate contact with your target entity.  We can do this by selecting “Relationships” from the “Sort By” dropdown at the bottom of the page.  Now hit the blue “Search” button and we’re on our way.

You will now have a series of results.  Look them over and get a sense of which seem worthwhile and which don’t.  We’ll explain your results in our next blog entry which we will post next week.

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