Register today for the LGBT Bar’s Meet the Power Brokers: Financial Regulators event, held on Thursday, March 13 from 4:00 – 7:30pm. The event is specifically geared towards financial regulation and features an educational workshop and networking reception. Topics discussed will include the role of financial regulators, new rules and regulations related to the Dodd-Frank Act and developments in nation and international capital market regulation.

A reception will follow the workshop, allowing financial professionals to network and build relationships with individuals practicing in similar areas. The workshop will be streamed live via webinar for those individuals who are unable to attend the event in DC. For more information and to register, visit or contact Liz Youngblood at (202) 637-7661 or

Tickets to the LeGaL Foundation’s
2014 Annual Dinner and Community Vision Awards
are selling fast

Celebrating 30 Years of Our Bar Association
and 20 Years of Our Foundation

Patron and Standard Tickets are now on sale

LeGaL, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, would like to cordially invite you to the 2014 Annual Dinner of the LeGaL Foundation on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at Capitale. We are incredibly excited for our event this year as LeGaL celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the bar association and the twentieth anniversary of the foundation (30/20 Celebration).

We are also thrilled that LeGaL will present its 2014 Community Vision Awards that night to Mary Bonauto of GLAD (introduced by Windsor lead attorney Robbie Kaplan) and Brian Ellner of Edelman (introduced by former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey), two leading players in the critical fight for marriage equality here and nationwide, as well as Credit Suisse.

Tickets are now available at the above link. Those willing to buy at the patron level will receive special recognition in the dinner program.

Many of you have seen firsthand the tireless commitment that is required to offer our community much-needed services and provide our fellow LGBT colleagues in the legal community with the resources needed to further advance their careers. To make those vital efforts possible, the Annual Dinner is the largest fundraising event of the year for the LeGaL Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving the legal needs of the LGBT community of the greater New York City area. On this night, we anticipate more than five hundred members of the New York area’s LGBT legal community and its allies to come together to commemorate the amazing work done this past year in the service of others. With judges, elected officials, and lawyers from all areas of the legal hemisphere in attendance, it is one of the most anticipated and well-attended LGBT events of the year.

LeGaL has served the greater New York LGBT community for decades, and it is vital that we come together as a diverse community of professionals to support the important mission of LeGaL for decades to come.

Get your tickets before they are gone!

CBLA ‘s January 29 program at Fordham was well attended, with well over 200 attorneys having reserved a spot and a good turnout. If you would like to view “China and the FCPA – Challenges for the 21st Centure”, a video of the entire program will be available here (see below at end of this post for more details on the program).

Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting are available to meet any associates from other practice areas who are interested in an Asia move in the future. Feel free to reach out to them at,, or

Up until only a few years ago it was very difficult, if not impossible, for a US litigation associate to transfer or lateral to Hong Kong / China. Going as far back as ’07, some managed to land offers to transition to transactional practices, but even those relatively rare transition opportunities became nearly impossible to land by late ’07 as many Mandarin fluent corporate / cap markets US associates sought have sought moves to HK / China since the recession of ’08 and ’09, coupled with the IPO boom in Hong Kong / China from mid ’09 to mid ’11 (a HK IPO boom may be back now – but that’s for our next Asia Chronicles post).

Today, there are still only a handful of actual FCPA / White Collar practice groups (with a number of US attorneys, including a head FCPA focused partner) on the ground at US firms in Hong Kong / China – at such firms as Davis Polk, Ropes & Gray, Kobre & Kim, Debevoise, Kirkland & Ellis, for example (Kinney has made a number of FCPA / White Collar associate placements in Hong Kong / China within this group of firms). There are many more firms that have thriving FCPA / White Collar practices in China and in Asia in general, but do not yet have an actual practice group based on the ground in Asia. Some of these firms in the latter category already have great expertise in FCPA in their US offices and have well established strong China clients, so it’s not 100% necessary to have a group on the ground in Hong Kong / China, but it would be convenient if for the right people (such firms are going to be more selective and usually have already a counsel and / or an associate or two on the ground in China already). Most of the firms falling in the latter category want to build an FCPA / White Collar team in Asia and have made some efforts to do so , but it’s easier said than done (especially if a firm is properly focusing on attracting FCPA clients in China with great expertise, rather than just having boots on the ground), due to the difficulty in finding a partner to start the group falling into one of two categories:

a) A US White Collar partner (transfer or lateral) with the right Asia focused practice background, Mandarin fluency (although not always required), connection to Asia and desire to relocate quickly and permanently to Asia; or

b) One of the top 5 or so HK litigation / arbitration law firm partners in the market – this is also difficult because of the need to bring on board a large local group, usually consisting of multiple partners, double digit associates, and integrate into a major US firm different partner billing rates and different associate comp rates. Further, there are only about 5 top 5 or so HK litigators, so they are course very well aware of their great value and leverage in the market. Keep in mind that Hong Kong is likely to implement something very similar to the US’s FCPA and the UK’s Bribery Act. Also, US firms with strong FCPA practices only based in the US can easily incorporate such a new top flight HK local litigation practice into their platform and send a lot of work to. US litigation associates with Mandarin fluency are transferred and lateraled over the firm’s Hong Kong or China offices to fill out the team. It’s all a great plan and top US firms in Hong Kong are engaging in talks with such Hong Kong local litigation attorneys, but there has only been one firm that has made it happen thus far – Davis Polk.

Many US firms want to build up their FCPA / White Collar practices on the ground in Asia not only because it is a particularly hot practice area in the region now, but also because it is arguably the most lucrative practice area at US firms in Hong Kong / China at present (topic for another post).

Further, it is impossible to fill up such a new FCPA / White Collar team in Hong Kong / China with US associates who are both fluent in Mandarin and have been focusing for some years in FCPA / White Collar (very few of such folks exist). The typical US associate lateral hires or transfers in the HK / China based FCPA / White Collar groups are Mandarin fluent commercial litigation or IP litigation associates, who are interested in making a transition to a new litigation practice. Even these candidates are difficult to find, especially if written Chinese native fluency is required. Keep in mind that Chinese background law students at top JD programs up until just recently understood quite well that there was really no shot at lateraling or transferring to Hong Kong / China during their junior or mid-level US associate years if they chose to join a litigation practice during their 2L summers. There are simply not enough candidates today for FCPA / White Collar teams in Asia, especially as more firms seek to have such teams on the ground in Asia, and that will not change for a couple of years, at least, and at that time there will only be enough at the junior levels.

Looking forward, it is a golden opportunity now for Mandarin fluent US litigation associates today to put themselves in a position in Hong Kong / China, in some years, to be one of only a handful of senior associates / counsels in Asia who have focused on FCPA / White Collar for the past several years, while being based in Hong Kong / China. This relatively small handful of senior associates and counsels in the not too distant future will have opportunities for partnerships at other firms and regional counsel / Asia general counsel high level type in-house positions (a post for another day – many senior in-house spots in Asia now have FCPA expertise as big part of the job requirement).

Also, juniors and mid-levels will have a tremendous amount of responsibility in Asia, having a more senior role in corporate investigations than they would have at the same class year level back in the US, especially if their supervising partners are not fluent in Mandarin.

It is an exciting field to be involved in, but not for everyone. A downside is that FCPA is a narrow practice focus and once you have focused on FCPA for some years, that will be your recognized specialty (you will be marketable to move back to US and also of course within Asia). The broader White Collar practice area that FCPA falls under can keep things not so narrow focused for some. Also, it is highly likely that if you land in Hong Kong you will become Hong Kong qualified and gain experience as both a HK and US litigator. Thus, there are ways to keep your practice from being too narrowly focused. Over the next few years though while FCPA work in Asia will likely continue to be red hot, that is going to be the majority of work for new laterals and transfers into new Asia based US White Collar groups. So it may take some effort to keep your practice a bit broader initially. However, as stated above, you will want to be in a position in several years to claim senior expertise on the ground in Asia in FCPA in order to maximize your career advancement potential in Asia, including major firm partnership and senior level in-house marketability.

All of our Asia recruiters at Kinney have a pretty good understanding of FCPA / White Collar work, relative to other recruiters. Evan Jowers, the head of our Asia team, happened to get a lot of White Collar experience during his in-house years. it’s a bit silly to learn about the substantive details of a practice area from recruiters, so we highly recommend going to events like tonight’s CBLA program at Fordham. This event has no more seats available, but you can watch the video of it without having to deal with the cold weather and getting to and from. Here are the details:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 . McNally Amphitheatre . Fordham Law School
PROGRAM: 6–7:30 p.m.
Opening Remarks: Professor Sean Griffith

Speaker Comments:
Professor Daniel Chow – Professor and Associate Dean, Ohio State University; Author, China Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Nathaniel Edmonds, Esq. – Partner, Paul Hastings; Former Assistant Chief of FCPA Unit of the Department of Justice
Thomas O. Gorman, Esq. – Partner, Dorsey & Whitney; Former Senior Counsel, Division of Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission

Question and Answer Session
Moderator: Professor Carl Minzner

Closing Remarks: The Honorable Denny Chin – United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

RECEPTION: 7:30–9 p.m.

Edith Guldi Platt Atrium

Law Firm Branding and Recruiting

I thought it was the most insecure thing I ever heard a grown man say: “What will everyone think of me if I join that firm?”

He was a partner who was open to making a move. His firm’s merger three years prior increasingly conflicted him out of work, resulting in progressively downward dips in originations. I made an effective presentation of my client’s opportunity based on his intrinsic motivations and the desires he shared with me about his ideal situation. But in spite of my enthusiastic pitch, he declined to go forward based one thing: my client’s perceived brand status within his practice area. Indeed, his pass on my opportunity was based on the preconceived idea of what everyone else might think about him joining that firm.

Some partners can see through this and view the substance behind the thin patina of branding. But there are many who, in spite of the strong business case, perceive too much risk in moving to a firm with questionable brand equity. No matter how well that nice-looking quality luxury car feels on the open road, at the end of the day it’s still a Kia, not a Lexus. That’s the power of the impression of a brand. Fortunately, I was able to quickly maneuver in my presentation by employing certain principles based on the psychology of influence, and pressed enough tangible hot buttons that caused him to agree to meet with my client. That was a close one.

Brand equity holds prominence in the minds of others when considering a lateral move. When I shifted from recruiting executives for corporations to recruiting partners for law firms, I quickly learned how this subtle attribute of a law firm carries so much weight. I became adept at telling good stories about law firms by realizing that the attitudes about a law firm’s perception in the market could develop positive equity and real energy in the minds of others.

I created a framework or a system in my mind to help me understand and manage the various aspects of law firm branding as they relate to recruiting, and have since started advising my clients during my search work on how they can increase their brand status to add to the sizzle in their recruiting efforts. Remember, recruiting is marketing.

This is not a model based on scientific research, but on my own individual conversations with thousands of partners about what they think of other law firms and how they consider opportunities.

Here are a few ideas and suggestions for your firm:

1. Always regard your firm’s brand from the viewpoint of those outside of it. We all think our own children are the smartest and best looking in the class. You need to look at your own firm objectively from the perspective of a reluctant prospect who has a lot to lose if the move to your firm goes wrong.

2. There are three aspects of a law firm’s brand: that of the firm itself, the brand associated with each practice group, and individual personal brands. There are some firms I have encountered that have weak brand status compared to other firms overall, but they have a unique practice group that is highly regarded within its practice area. As such, this practice-level brand can add value to the law firm brand. Or perhaps there is a single individual who can lend credibility to the firm overall and enhance the firm’s brand status. Firms and practice groups can borrow from this individual brand equity to enhance their own collective brand.

3. Consider utilizing brand-building tools when you tell your story. Here are my favorites:

• Recent hires. Show that smart partners choose your firm and you will elevate its status based on a principle of influence called Social Proof. (Visit Dr. Robert Cialdini’s site to learn more about the psychology of influence in business. I have known Cialdini personally since the late 90’s and built my entire search practice on his methodology). If the recent hire was in a position of leadership and influence with his or her previous firm, make sure you mention that.

• Rankings. I’m always surprised that some firms don’t seem to mention this in visible places on their websites. Check to see if your firm does.

• Mention a blue chip client, if possible. It’s even better if it’s a household name.

• Share the who’s who of your partnership: This would include former elected officials, former Chief Counsel of Fortune 500, and former high level government officials.

• Discuss, if possible, recent successful high profile cases involving name brand executives. If you see your success mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and non-legal media, then you are on the right path.

If you follow these recommendations in building your brand, you’ll never have to worry about prospective laterals feeling insecure about making a move to your firm.

Copyright © 2014 Scott Love

Scott Love grows law firms and accelerates attorney careers by conducting partner-level and group searches for law firms and facilitating law firm mergers. He has been a career ‘headhunter’ since 1995 and is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. Scott lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, two children, and a toothless rescue dog named Smoky. He can be reached at 202-737-5555. To learn more, please visit or email him at


Small law firms have changed since the onset of a recession, and there is no sign of changing back.  Firms are more efficient, more focused on profitability, and more in-tune with the needs of better-educated clients.  The result is that many firms look to technology to help you improve the way your small business is operated.

And companies that were once focused on legal information—West Publishing, for example—have morphed into companies that focus on practice technology built for the legal industry, and incorporating legal expertise into the very functions of each software product. Like Thomson Reuters, the company that now offers a full portfolio of legal-specific technologies.

In a new article, Turn Pain Into Gain, Linda Kaufman of Thomson Reuters examines what a conversation with a Thomson Reuters consultant should be like today: how interactions have changed and why.

And most importantly, she examines how you can turn a simple conversation into profitable strategic time. Because the company today is comprised of much more than legal research, Kaufman reveals that the most successful firms now follow a simple three-step process when they speak with a their consultants, to ensure they choose the right technologies to fit their needs.

Linda Kaufman is a vice president at Thomson Reuters, leading the sales teams that serve small law firms and law libraries.  Thomson Reuters’ small law firm business offers such legal solutions as the Firm Central cloud-based practice management platform, WestlawNext small law firm research plans, and FindLaw’s lawyer marketing solutions.

Turn Pain Into Gain is the latest in the Independent Thinking series, offering practice management and business development insights for small law firms.

You’ve heard from the rest of the gang about the panels they’re hosting at our upcoming Attorney@Blog Conference. Well, think of my panel as the “practice ready” component of the conference. While they discuss important, substantive issues in the world of blogging, we’re going to be looking under the hood and talking about how to leverage technology to maximize your blog.

Perhaps you’re trying to get a blog going to help promote your practice. Maybe you’re a legal academic interested in putting your message out without having to deal with self-important law review editors. Possibly you just want a creative outlet. Or you’re a legal blogger because you’re one of those navel-gazers that Elie is going to talk about on his panel. Whatever you are, you have something to say about the law, but you may not know all the technological tools at your disposal.

Here’s the panel of experts we’ll have to discuss content strategy, the use of social media for business development, SEO, blogging platforms, and more:

  • Kevin O’Keefe: A panel on getting your name out there on the Internet wouldn’t be complete without Kevin, the CEO and Publisher of LexBlog, Inc. Kevin is the foremost authority on helping lawyers build their brand through blogging and social media.
  • Guy Alvarez: What doesn’t Guy do? The founder of Good2bSocial has built websites for law firms, run the digital marketing group for KPMG, and provided consulting expertise on social media to Fortune 100 companies.

And — no promises — but we may have another exciting panelist, too. If you aren’t keeping an eye on the technological know-how of the Internet, you aren’t reaching the full audience you want to reach.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. Remember that CLE credit will be available. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Unless you’re a complete ostrich (or a certain law school dean), you’re probably aware that the legal job market kind of sucks. Firms aren’t hiring, the government keeps shutting down, and let’s just say that most public interest organizations aren’t exactly flush with cash for a bunch of entry-level attorneys.

It’s enough to make you wonder why you ever signed up for law school, right?!? Putting aside that total valid question for another day, let me ask you this…what are you going to do to improve matters?

I’ve already suggested you make 2014 the Year of the Hustle. Sure, the situation looks pretty dire, but what else are you going to do? Give up? To be fair, I got some very reasonable email responses to that piece, basically saying, “Yeah, I want to hustle, but how?”

Here’s one idea. If you’re in San Francisco (or you can get there!) you’re invited to a conference I’m throwing on March 1st. It’s called Catapult, and it’ll help you figure out what you want from a career and how you’re going to get it.

I can’t promise you a BigLaw job (trust me, you probably don’t want one anyway), but I can promise you’ll leave energized about your career, with new skills and resources to set you on the path to success.

Sound interesting? Get all the details in the Catapult FAQ or check out the schedule of events.

See you there!

  • 17 Feb 2014 at 12:00 AM
  • Uncategorized

About Practical Law

Practical Law provides legal know-how that gives lawyers a better starting point. Our team of attorney editors creates and maintains thousands of up-to-date, practical resources that go beyond primary law and traditional legal research to give lawyers the resources needed to practice more efficiently, improve client service and add more value. To learn more, take a free trial.

Ed note: This post is sponsored by our friends at Prestige Legal Search.

Law firms have been in a “slow growth” phase ever since the nation began its recovery from the Great Recession. As we mentioned when we discussed the 2013 Am Law 100, “success now comes in the form of single-digit returns with regard to key financial metrics,” with Biglaw gains described as “modest” and “spotty” across the board.

Big-name lateral hires can sometimes bring in enough positive publicity and fanfare to make even the sickest of firms seem like the very picture of health and vitality. According to the latest American Lawyer Lateral Report, those lateral moves can be likened to a peacock’s tail: they offer “no advantage” for a firm’s ultimate survival, and may hinder the firm in the future. It happened at Dewey, and it can happen at other firms if they’re not careful. If only partners’ attentions weren’t so easily grabbed by the promise of higher profits.

So if this growing reliance on lateral hiring is truly capable of destabilizing law firms, wouldn’t you like to know which firms did the most lateral hiring over the past year? We’ve got the details for you….

According to Am Law’s 2014 Lateral Report, there were 2,522 moves in and out of Am Law 200 firms between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013 — which is funny, considering the publication was “unable to find a relationship between a lateral partner hiring strategy and higher law firm profitability.” What? There’s no statistical relationship? Whatever, lawyers are bad at math — very, very bad:

Perhaps this is telling law firm leaders what they already know. A 2012 ALM–LexisNexis Survey reported that only 28 percent of managing partners reported that lateral hiring was “highly effective,” defined as “most laterals have been retained and contributed to business growth.” Yet, in the same survey, 96 percent of managing partners reported that more lateral partners would be part of their firm’s growth strategy for the next two years, edging out business development (94 percent), pricing strategies such as AFAs (72 percent), lawyer development (71 percent) and client relationship management (65 percent).

So which firms didn’t care whether lateral hiring was “highly effective,” and continued to hire laterals out the wazoo anyway? Here are the top five firms of 2013 (by percentage of total partnership):

  • Husch Blackwell: 16.5 percent
  • Fox Rothschild: 16.0 percent
  • Adams and Reese: 12.6 percent
  • Sheppard Mullin: 10.9 percent
  • Gordon & Rees: 10.6 percent

Congrats to these firms on all of their lateral pickups. You’re the flashiest firms on the block. Go on and shake those tail feathers; we just hope it won’t be to your detriment.

You want to know which firms had the most defections last year, so we won’t leave you high and dry. These are the top five firms partners fled like rats from a sinking ship (by percentage of total partnership):

  • Dickstein Shapiro: 17.0 percent
  • Patton Boggs: 15.4 percent
  • Edwards Wildman: 13.3 percent
  • Shearman & Sterling: 10.0 percent
  • LeClairRyan: 9.8 percent

If you’re planning to lateral this year, now you know which firms could be hurting for new partners. But there’s got to be a reason why everyone’s flying the coop at these firms, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Do you think lateral hires are killing your firm? If so, you only have the partners to blame, and they won’t be changing their ways any time soon. Maybe you should consider getting out while you still can.

Cover Story: The 2014 Lateral Report [American Lawyer]
Constant Churn: The 2014 Lateral Report [American Lawyer]
Is Reliance on Lateral Hiring Destabilizing Firms? [American Lawyer]

Prestige Rewards Program: We’ll give you money if we place you in your next job – up to $15,000 for associates and up to $150,000 for partners and partner groups. Email to see if you qualify.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to bring them on as a client. They were a big law firm filled with smart attorneys, just like all the others in Washington. They had done well in their home state, but their DC office seemed to be floundering in its lateral growth and was even losing a few partners to competing firms. I knew they were looking for several partners who fit my sweet spot and that I might be able to help them, so I asked for a meeting with the managing partner and their director of recruiting.

After our initial introductions, they gave me a menu list of practice areas in which they wanted to grow. I was interested in learning more about how they perceived themselves in the marketplace in comparison to other competing law firms. I really wanted to know what they saw as the business case as to why a successful partner with loyal clients would want to move to their firm.

In getting to this point in my conversations with my clients, I always like to find out how a law firm leader perceives key differentiators. I said to them, “When I am recruiting partners and engaging them in conversations about opportunities with your firm, I need to tell them something that is unique, compelling, and different about your presence in the Washington market. What would you say is different about you compared to other firms?”

You would have thought that I asked for a moment of silence. They just looked at each other and after a few moments of an awkward void, one of them looked back at me and literally shrugged as if her body language was saying ‘I give up.’ She then said, “Well, honestly we are just like all the others. We’re just a big law firm like all the rest.” They didn’t even give me the blah blah ‘great culture’ blah blah ‘robust platform’ speech. How can I sell this unconvincing presentation of their firm to a prospective partner candidate with a sizable book of portable business?

Successful partners will look at a potential opportunity from four different perspectives:

- How will this serve my clients?
- How will this serve me?
- Does the risk of moving give me an edge, and does the upside greatly outweigh the dangers of a move?
- Can I get involved in making an impact to that firm, and will I enjoy practicing there?

When I make recruiting calls to candidates, I have to pretend that every time I present an opportunity to them, they are going to ask me two little words: “So what?” I have to be ready to answer that question, and this firm could not help me come up with good answers. I decided it would be risky to add them to my small family of clients, so we cordially ended our meeting with a handshake, a non-committal grunt of how nice it was to talk to each other, and a sense of knowing that we were not a good fit to work together.

The Most Important Question Your Firm Can Ask

During your next lateral recruiting committee meeting, ask your colleagues to participate in a brain-storming exercise. Ask them to come up with answers to this question:

What is different about our firm?

This is where marketing begins. Recruiting is more akin to marketing and sales than it is to practicing law, even for law firms. This is why those with great legal minds can struggle with lateral recruiting, because the partners involved in it will use everything that helped them become successful lawyers and apply it to recruiting with a sad result. This is about a sales and marketing mindset. You have to attract people to your firm by enhancing your brand equity and crystalizing an attractive and compelling truthful message (marketing). You must manage the conversations with your prospects in a way that attracts them to you and stimulates them to make decisions and take actions to move to your firm (sales).

When you go through this exercise of identifying differentiation, you cannot talk about culture, even though we all know culture is important. In this exercise, your answers must be specific and tangible. Use these questions for a drill-down that will give your firm talking points for your meetings with prospective laterals:

1. What aspects and attributes of our firm are different than other law firms? Which ones stand out more?

2. How does our firm better serve our clients than our competitors?

3. How can our firm better serve the self-interests of a lateral partner and impact him or her on a personal and emotional level? People are emotional animals. You should establish an emotional context to the dialogue of the success someone will experience in your firm. The first rule of recruiting is this: “People only do what is in their own best interests.” You have to speak to that rule and translate your message in a way that serves him or her personally.

Remember that wars are won in the planning room. Spend time on this before you start engaging prospective laterals in conversations, and you will be amazed at how easy it is to tell a compelling and attractive story with positive results.

Copyright © 2014 Scott Love

Scott Love grows law firms and accelerates attorney careers by conducting partner-level and group searches for law firms and facilitating law firm mergers. He has been a career ‘headhunter’ since 1995 and is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. Scott lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, two children, and a toothless rescue dog named Smoky. He can be reached at 202-737-5555. To learn more, please visit or email him at

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