Legal Executive Search
Looking for a lawyer is never a task to be taken lightly. Whether looking for a lawyer to join a firm or looking for a lawyer as part of an in house counsel, it is a task that will have long lasting repercussions on a business for years to come. This is why when choosing a lawyer; one must do so with care and precision.
Working with an outside firm to help make such a placement can make the difference. Specialization is the cornerstone of the success of capitalism built over the last two centuries. The hiring of such a crucial individual that will set policy, monitor and draft contracts and be mindful of the nations do’s and don’ts as a firm conducts business is paramount. Executive search companies are powerful specialists who help sort through an ever growing barrage of potential employees and managers that exist on a given market. They have insights into multiple industries and they have access to the top people in these fields. Today some of the best also have specific Practice Groups to allow consultants to specialize in which industries they will familiarize themselves with. They do not simply sort through CVs of people that are on the market, but also find and search out the candidates that will be right for the exact role which the business needs to fill. Finding in house counsel or a lawyer to join a firm is not a mere task of recruitment, but clearly a task of executive search. Executive search is not just about the position, but the philosophy of how you fill that position and the care that is given to each client’s special needs.
Knowing that the business needs a lawyer as part of a growing team of lawyers like a firm or as part of an in house counsel is only a first step. Hiring an executive search agency is also an exercise in focus; the clients are forced to articulate in some precise detail what it is they exactly need to fill the vacancy. What do we need the lawyer to do, it’s it a long term hire or a short term hire, how many hours do we need him, will he need to bring in clients, will he need M&A knowledge, contracts, tort or litigation specialties? In realizing the need to bring on professional search help, you will need to first define the criteria for the position you are filling. A professional executive search agency will help you answer these and so many other pertinent questions that will help you get the most for your money and also help you to protect your business in exactly the way it needs. You wouldn’t want to hire a pastry chef to cook for you a stunning Beef Bourguignon.
Once the questions are answered, the executive search agency can begin to find your candidate. This is also a crucial stage to access your executive search team. Have you hired an agency to scan unemployed or struggling lawyers or have you hired an agency that has connections in law firms and legal departments nationally or internationally? Again, it is important to hire a search firm that has the client’s best interests at heart and has the reach and access to find not only a lawyer, but the perfect lawyer.
We have asked a few questions of the top management of the International Executive Search Firm, Pedersen & Partners for their insights:
Q: Where do I start to find a business attorney?
A: If it is in house counsel you are searching for, a great place to start is an attorney. You will need help with the terminology and the categorization of criteria for the position you need to fill. If you are a small business and look for only a single in house attorney, you may need someone who is more of a generalist. If you are a large corporate you may prefer to look for a large international law firm where many specializations are covered. Once the scope of the role has been defined skill priorities set its time to begin sharing this with your executive search firm.
Q: Name a few rules you need to be aware of when considering whether or not to work with an executive search agency for legal placements:
A: Understanding – Make sure you understand the agreement when entering a retainer, what agreements do you have in place if a search firm is not performing and also penalty clauses. In fact entering into an agreement with a search firm is an excellent test for any attorney as they are not standard law school faire.
Hiring a search firm is about finding the best possible candidates; this is not a place to pinch pennies. Your new attorney is going to be like a business partner, don’t compromise on the fit with the business partner, the search is an important exercise in finding someone who will help you realize opportunity, go the extra mile – reference checking is also very important not only for the attorney but also on the search firm.
Generally it is better to go with a retained recruiter as they will commit a lot more time to your search. You need to check the consultant's references to make sure that he has recruited lawyers in the past, and that he understands the brief and the sector of legal practice. It is tricky to approach lawyers; the consultant needs to be very familiar with the field.
Q: What are the steps to be followed when looking for an attorney that suits your needs?
A: Define the field of legal practice. Define the seniority/independence of the attorney you need. Define the geographic scope of his work. Decide to use your own grapevine or an executive search firm.
Q: How can you be sure that the attorney is well qualified to handle your specific legal needs?
A: Through sourcing the market. It is a very gossipy space, you can find out most of the information you need by asking the right people the right questions. It is also very important to be looking at references, on the job work - They all know the legal language, it is hard to find out the substance behind, this is really tied to the references.
Q: What is the most important for the company? A business attorney very well qualified or an attorney just well qualified, but someone you would enjoy interacting with?
A: This is a slightly unfair question. It really comes down to the purpose of the hiring and what do you hope to achieve. As with any business partner you need to be looking for someone who has the skills to invest into the long term sustainability of the company. Generally, you need a qualified attorney, who has a safe pair of hands, the interface experience is not that important, but this really comes down to company philosophy and company culture.
Q: What should a company expect when hiring a good business lawyer?
A: A solution provider – a good business lawyer will know what goes beyond templates, what happens when a turnaround, merger, economic crisis happens, in fact a good business lawyer should be planning in advance for such situations. Again, in fact, we come to the notion of a business partner – someone who can see the long term threats and benefits to the legal advice. The only set back being a good in-house will be more accessible than an advisor, but he may not be able to cover all of the areas of expertise that a law firm may offer.
Pedersen & Partners is a leading international executive search firm. We operate 50 wholly owned offices in 47 countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. Our values Trust - Relationship - Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives.