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 info@prestigelegalsearch.com 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 www.attorneysearchgroup.com or email him at scott@attorneysearchgroup.com.

Fat. Stupid. Raging feminist. Bitch. Moron. K*ke. Slut. Woman-hater. Skank. Assh*le. C*nt. Whore.

“You have plenty of assets, like that fat milky white ass. I will tear that shit up, destroy it, every position until you can’t walk or feel the inside of your anus.”

These are just some of the colorful terms that have been used to describe me, and one of the messages publicly posted about me, in the nearly four years that I’ve written both pseudonymously and under my real name here at Above the Law. Our comments are hidden for our readers’ protection because they can be quite vile, but as editors, we have to look at them, and sometimes moderate them.

It’s difficult being a minority online, whether that word is used to describe race, gender, or sexual orientation. If you’re interested in learning how to engage your commenters, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference, where I will moderate a panel on racism, sexism, and homophobia in online commenting platforms, featuring the following distinguished panelists:

This panel will explore the various strategies and best practices (along with their intellectual underpinnings) available to legal bloggers in managing the dark side of the internet: the “trolls” who engage in offensive and hateful (albeit protected) speech.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. CLE credit will be available, and early bird pricing remains in effect until February 1. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

Is there really a value to recruiting home-grown associates based on 1L grades? Is there a negative connotation to not competing with the top-tier firms for law school talent? Can firms only fill their “real” needs by looking across the market for lawyers 3 or 4 years into their careers?

There are pros and cons to recruiting associates (and partners) through either method. Let’s take a look at how to build a law firm….

The ATL editors sat down to discuss this issue in this week’s podcast. This week, our podcast is sponsored by Prestige Legal Search, a national search firm specializing in the recruitment and placement of associate and partners in top law firms. Check out their Rewards Program – associates can make up to $15,000 and partners can make up to $150,000 for lateraling.

Here’s the podcast (click through twice to play):

 

Earlier: 7 Tips To Help You Make The Right Lateral Move

 

This is the third article in a series on how law firms can have meaningful and productive conversations with prospective laterals. You can read the previous two articles HERE and HERE and email me at scott@attorneysearchgroup.com.

I had a friend who had a habit of asking women to marry him on the first date. He never had too many second dates.

Timing is everything. When you start talking about heartfelt long-term commitment, you have to do it at the right time. When you are selling your firm’s full potential with great detail and enthusiasm, you have to make sure you do it at the right time, and my recommendation in most scenarios is to wait until the second or even the third ‘date.’ The goal of the first meeting is for both sides to see that there is the possibility of a good fit. The goal of the second (and even the third) meeting is for both sides to see specifically how that will come to be.

And please keep that ring in your pocket. You are still a ways from making an offer.

POTENTIAL

The potential of your firm’s opportunity should be a byproduct of the dialogue focused on the first three P’s: the firm’s platform, practice and people. All of these variables should line up into a business case that makes sense, that its derivative will improve a partner’s earning potential. In other words, it should be obvious and exceptionally clear to the lateral that there is a significant upside to the move.

1. Paint a picture of the future.The best way to paint a picture of how the future looks, besides time travel, is to present someone who has already lateraled over and is beginning to bear fruit from the change. When you approach a new partner to participate in the interview process (preferably one who has been with the firm less than two years), ask him to talk about the story of how he specifically has improved his condition. He doesn’t have to talk in monetary specifics about how his comp has increased, but he must state clearly that he has seen a marked difference in his potential compared to his previous firm.Ask him to prepare for the meeting with specific stories. Specificity always builds credibility in making a case. They can be stories related to client access, client development, servicing issues, practice issues, team support, marketing, brand equity, and other relevant variables. It has to be something other than: “We have a robust platform and a collegial culture.” Everyone says that. The stories have to be real, specific, meaningful, and authentic. What problems did you have that were solved by moving to this firm?

2. War Games.Sometimes the conversations around the potential are best saved for the second and third meetings with the prospective lateral, once both parties agree that there are indicators that it could be a good fit. Usually I prepare both sides for this important meeting and am very clear about its outcome.I tell both my client and the prospective lateral that this next meeting is going to be a verbal business planning or strategy meeting, and that both sides should share how they might integrate and achieve goals together. I call it a ‘war game’ where neither holds back on their goals, capabilities, strengths and interests. In a recent conversation with a prospective lateral on his third meeting with my client, I prepared him by saying, “Talk freely as if it were decided that you are going to lateral to my client’s firm, so that you both will know if this is going to work as much as we think it will.”

From all this, both are prepared to have a drilled-down and productive discourse on the full potential of the partnership. It’s not unusual to talk about specific clients and matters and the ongoing expected revenue from them. Remember, this is a make or break meeting. This is how you and the prospective lateral can know exactly how the plan to integrate will unfold and grow into a measurable improvement for both sides.

3. Power in numbers. I recommend that when you have this meeting, bring a partner leading the practice group or one with specific familiarity as it relates to your prospective lateral’s practice to add insight into the verbal discussion. Make sure your colleague understands the specific goal of this “war game” meeting, which is to paint a clear and accurate picture of the full potential of the placement. Give the candidate the courtesy of notice that someone else will be joining the meeting and share the bio.

If you follow this advice and help your prospect see the specific potential with your firm, then the heartfelt enthusiasm will be shared by both of you. At that point you are one big step closer to making an offer of a long-term commitment.

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 www.attorneysearchgroup.com or email him at scott@attorneysearchgroup.com.

National LGBT Bar Corporate Counsel Award Reception


February is about to get a lot more fabulous.

Join The National LGBT Bar Association on February 27th for our New York Corporate Counsel Award Reception.

We’ll be gathering at Manhattan’s Eventi Hotel to toast Fab.com Vice President & General Counsel Fabio Silva. We’re proud to honor him with The Bar’s Out & Proud Corporate Counsel Award.

Our Out & Proud reception recognizes LGBT legal professionals & straight allies who have distinguished themselves through their work to increase LGBT awareness and diversity in their corporations and communities.

Meet us at The Bar to mix and mingle with NYC’s top legal minds. For more information, visit LGBTBar.org or email Kelly@LGBTBar.org.


Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: asia@kinneyrecruiting.com.

If you are a US associate at a top US firm and contemplating a move from US to Asia or within Asia, your choice of recruiter / agent may have a great influence over your job search experience.  There are three realities of selecting a recruiter that have the potential to greatly influence your career: First, the vast majority of recruiters who are calling you have the time to make those calls only because there is nothing else they really do and their contacts at firms are minimal at best, notwithstanding their convincing claims to have close relationships with various US partners at target firms in Asia.  Second, most recruiters in the Asia markets (whether they are based in Asia, US or elsewhere) will send your resume to many more firms than you give them permission to contact.  This type of behavior of recruiters is unfortunately common in the US markets too, but even more prevalent in the Asia markets.  Third, many recruiters who are calling you with news of an opening at your level at one or more of the three most targeted and popular firms in HK / China for US associates are simply making up a story (maybe there actually is an opening at one of those firms, but they don’t care or know, they only know they have a better chance to get your resume if they talk about “openings” at your level at a particular firm or firms).

Against this backdrop consider that most recruiters covering the Asia markets have not made more than 10 placements of US associates in Asia in their lifetimes.

At Kinney, we have one recruiter who has made over 125 US associate and counsel placements in Asia since 2007: Evan Jowers.  We also have other excellent recruiters on our Asia team who have each made numerous placements in Asia, and who have collaborated with Evan on his placement work.  Evan is in Hong Kong on a monthly basis and Robert Kinney is in Hong Kong or China at least quarterly checking on our operations there.

Robert and Evan meet numerous times each year with most of the senior US partners of top US firms and US practices of UK firms in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. It’s from these meetings and personal relationships with these key US partners of our client firms that Robert and Evan have been able to gain so much market knowledge in Asia over the eight years Kinney has been involved in the Asia markets (Asia became a focus for Kinney in ’07, but we have been making placements in Asia since ’05).  Each of the 125+ US attorney placements Evan has made in Asia (mostly in HK / China, but also in Singapore and Tokyo) represent significant experience in dealing with the relevant firms. Often our candidates have multiple offers, and dealing with those situations diplomatically is an art form as much as a science. Brute force and inexperience are not helpful.  Further, Robert and Evan, along with Yuliya Vinokurova and the rest of our staff, have collaborated on a number of US partner placements in Asia.  Robert Kinney is one of the most successful partner level recruiters in the US and has personally built offices of top firms in US markets.  To have worked with the partners hiring our associates as their recruiters when considering positions has proven invaluable to us and to our candidates and clients simply because of the increased market knowledge.

Danielle Cyr, based in our NYC offices, and Yuliya Vinokurova, based in our Moscow offices, have each made more US associate placements in Asia than most Asia-focused recruiters in the market. Yuliya frequently travels to our Hong Kong offices.

All of the above should not dictate that you only consider using Kinney for an Asia job search.  There are other good recruiters in the market as well, but be careful when choosing a recruiter.  Frankly, most who claim to be Asia recruiters are terrible. They will (at best) mostly be looking out for their own short-term best interests, and at worst they will be just plain unethical.

Here is a suggestion: ask any recruiter you are considering for 20 referrals of US associates placed by them in Asia.  Twenty is not a big number; it’s minimal for someone to be able to have any market knowledge.  Call or email each of those 20 referrals and half or so will get back to you within 24 hours.  Evan Jowers could send you 100+ referrals with no problem, but you surely don’t need that many.  Also ask for a few referrals of senior US partners and recruiting coordinators in Asia markets (not at the firms you are planning to target of course). A good recruiter can easily provide such referrals as well.  This may seem tedious but it takes 24 hours to get this done.  It’s your career at stake, it’s not a drive through at McDonald’s.

Take the time to consider a few recruiters and let them pitch for the right to represent you.  Don’t make the terrible mistake of going with the one recruiter who called you many times and with whom you kind of sympathize.  You are not buying a car, you are considering a move that very well could define your career options in the coming years.  Why not get the most value you can out of the experience of looking for a new position?

Different US and UK firms and different supervising partners in Asia represent big differences in practice focus, future opportunities and office / team environment, differences that can’t be corrected if need be as easily as would be the case for a move within NYC, for example.  Personality fit is so important in Asia job searches.  You need a recruiter who will guide you through the process and be there to prep you for interviews and the calls sometimes lasting hours when you are deciding whether to accept an offer.  Your recruiter is getting paid a lot of money if he places you, so it’s ok to expect excellent advice and a real service.

Ask for referrals of recruiters from trusted friends in the industry and pro-actively reach out to them, rather than just rely on cold calls.  If you are waiting for Evan Jowers (or anyone at Kinney, really) to give you a call, don’t hold your breath. Evan has never made a candidate cold call.  The best recruiters don’t have the time for cold calls and are inundated with referrals. Even when you are referred a recruiter by a trusted friend in the industry, you should still vet them by asking for references because any recruiter can get lucky and make a placement here and there of a very marketable candidate and the person they place will consider them a great recruiter solely because of that accomplishment.

When you are listening to a recruiter’s pitch (choose two or three to have the privilege of giving you a pitch), remember the “3 hour test” we have discussed in previous years in our Asia Chronicles blog.

You don’t have to listen to your recruiter for three hours to know that he / she could talk about your target market and your target firms for 3 hours. The one with three hours worth of real information – that’s the recruiter you want to use.

The act of sending around a resume is not rocket science. We have had recruiters seek to join us because they think that is all that we do on our team. When they find out how much actual leg work goes into the way that we work with candidates, and how long our hours are, most ex-lawyers decide that practicing law was better – at least the pay is steady. But the truth is that most recruiters out there will simply call around until they find a “most placeable candidate” who does not have the basic instinct or knowledge of the industry that leads him/her to follow the steps outlined above, then the recruiter will hit send on their computer and send the resume around to recruiting coordinators at firms (many of those firms without your permission) and just hope for the best.  It is truly shocking how many times we have heard from candidates that another recruiter had “just had lunch” with some specific partner whom we know. In every single case we can think of a quick call to the partner in question yielded a surprised laugh and a quick, “Who?”

Remember that you cannot “fire” your recruiter.  If he or she submits your resume to any firm, you are stuck with that person’s good or bad or shameful representation for 6 months. You can’t get around that. Take your time and find the right recruiter for an Asia job search.  It does not have to be Kinney for you to have a successful job search and an enjoyable experience with your recruiter, one who actually provides you a service and deserves to have the opportunity and privilege to represent you.  If you don’t want to consider Kinney, still reach out to us at asia@kinneyrecruiting.com and we will set up a call for you with Robert Kinney or Evan Jowers and they will recommend a few recruiters from other companies who we think of highly.  We’ve been trying to hire a few of them.

By the same token, if you get taken for a ride by an unethical or simply just an inexperienced or lazy recruiter, reach out to us as well.  We can’t represent you at any firm such a recruiter submitted you to within 6 months, but we will throw your job search a life preserver and try to help where we can.  There have been several instances recently where we went ahead and made a call to our partner contacts at firms where candidate resumes previously sent to the recruiting staff had been ignored. In one case, the candidate was hired. He knows he owes us one, and he like us will be around a long time. That’s what makes our business tick.

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