Once you hit your third year at a large law firm, and sometimes even earlier, you start receiving dozens of calls from legal recruiters. Usually you send them to voice-mail, then delete their messages later. But occasionally, when you’re having a bad day at the office, you listen to their dulcet tones — and dream about a happier tomorrow.
(When we were at a firm, there was one headhunter in particular whose voice was so alluring, male associates with no intention of going anywhere would talk to her for hours.)
Legal recruiting can be tough work at the associate level — lots of cold calls, few responses. But at more senior levels, it can be very lucrative. Consider this, from the New York Law Journal:
In May, just one month after Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld announced Chang-Joo Kim had joined its New York office as a partner, the law firm cut a check to recruiting firm Boston Executive Search for for $227,500.
But did it pay the right recruiter? New York search firm Sivin Tobin Associates says it sent Akin Gump a package about Mr. Kim last December, along with a term sheet. Sivin Tobin is now suing the law firm, alleging breach of an implied contract….
The NYLJ article goes on and on about the chronology of events, which didn’t interest us much. What did interest us were these two items: (1) the placement fee of $227,500, and (2) the agreement that the fee was to represent “25 percent of the candidate’s total compensation in his first 12 months at the firm.”
So we did the math (with a calculator, of course). Corporate lawyer Chang-Joo Kim, previously a partner in Dorsey & Whitney’s New York office specializing in Korean transactions, earned $910,000 in his first year at Akin Gump. Very nice!
(Yeah, we know. Many Biglaw partners earn millions, as revealed in the AmLaw 100 survey each year. But they tend to be partners at the top New York-based firms (e.g., Wachtell, Cravath, etc.). We’re impressed that Mr. Kim earned almost a million dollars for joining a branch office of Akin Gump. We’re assuming he brought along with him a sizable book of business.)
Recruiter Sues Firm’s NY Office Over Headhunter Fee [NYLawyer.com]
Chang Joo Kim bio [Akin Gump]