Page 18 - Minnesota Vol 8 No 4
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A Guide to Eliminate Unethical ILegal Recruiting Practices
BY FREDERICK SHELTON
have been a legal recruiter  rm!” tion is not required by the employer.” for over 25 years and am now Did clients  nd out? Rarely. I was If this is unclear to you, allow me the CEO of our  rm. I started trained to tell placed attorneys that in to edify. On the same day that the out with Big Recruiting back exit interviews, say a friend recruited recruiting  rm collects a $100,000 in the ’90s. Back then, legal them. Discovery of recruiter poach- check from your organization, they
recruiters would exaggerate portable ing is the exception, not the rule consider it “ethical” to begin poach- books of business, poach from cli- One exception – a lawyer who dis- ing your most valuable associates
ents and send attorneys to literally any hellhole that would pay them a commission.
THEY STILL DO.
Within a year of starting, I quit Big Recruiting to escape the unethical legal recruiting practices – quotas, bureaucracy and a business model that rewarded bad practices. Sound familiar?
Obviously not all legal recruit- ers still engage in such practices but by the time you  nish reading this article, it will be easy to  gure out whether your recruiter is screw- ing you and exactly what you can do about it.
POACHING FROM CLIENTS
There are still legal recruiters who poach from clients who have paid them fees.
At the larger  rms this can be al- most unavoidable as their recruiters are only allowed to work a single market.
For example, I worked the San Di- ego market exclusively for a time. If my current clients weren’t hiring, I had a choice – work with other cli- ents and poach from my current cli- ents – or starve. Thus, yesterday’s client becomes today’s talent pool.
My next employer was a bit more Machiavellian. I didn’t poach from my personal clients. Instead, other recruiters in our of ce did so. That way if asked, I could honestly say “I have never recruited from your
covered his large recruiting  rm was attempting to poach his best people – was prominent attorney Michael Nunez, the Las Vegas managing partner at Murchison & Cumming. It turned out, everyone in the recruiting  rm except the recruiter who made the placement, was attempting to poach his best people.
“With the exception of one  rm, our experience with legal recruiters has been extremely negative.” The frustration in his voice is obvious. “The people we’ve paid to recruit for us, have then turned around a tried to recruit our best people. Even from the same of ce! Where is the loyal- ty? Where are the ethics?”
BETRAYAL AS THE ACCEPTED NORM: THE NALSC “CODE OF ETHICS”
Long ago, the largest legal recruit- ing  rms formed the National Asso- ciation of Legal Search Consultants or NALSC. They made a nice logo, website, membership program etc.
But they faced a dilemma. How could they normalize the continued practice of stealing talent from cli- ents who actually paid them fees? They came up with an ingenious and carefully crafted legal recruiting “Code of Ethics.” It reads as follows:
“No search  rm shall solicit any attorney from the of ce of an employ- er in which it has made a placement for a six-month period following that placement, unless the search  rm reasonably believes such a restric-
and partners from any of your other of ces. Six months and one day later, they can poach from the same of-  ce. Actually, they can poach anyone from anywhere in your organization at any time, as long as they pretend they “reasonably believe” that you won’t mind.
How good has the NALSC been at duping clients into voluntarily allow- ing recruiters to engage in such can- nibalistic practices? I just received a contract from an AmLaw 100  rm that read as follows: “Your organiza- tion agrees to abide by the NASLC Code of Ethics, Articles I and II.”
Think about that. AmLaw and Mid-sized  rms have not only ac- cepted such practices, they have ac- tually memorialized their acquies- cence to such practices in their own contracts.
EXAGGERATING PORTABLE BUSINESS
Recruiters are often trained to tell partners they must be “Optimistic” and “Aggressive” when stating how much business they will bring. I was trained to tell partners that if they didn’t enhance their book, and then had a good year, they would be un- derpaid.
However it is important to note that as often as not, it is the partner who has exaggerated their book. Whether ego or avarice, it happens often.
WHAT FIRMS CAN DO ABOUT IT
No. 1: De ne a Reasonable,
ATTORNEY AT LAW MAGAZINE · MINNESOTA· VOL. 8 NO. 4 18


































































































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