How to Get Great Results from Your Legal Recruiter |

How to Get Great Results from Your Legal Recruiter


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The stakes—time, money, or firm-wide resources—are always high when you embark on a search for a lateral hire. And these costs often have nothing to do with due diligence or questions of fit and synergy. Instead, it's a matter of sheer economics. Because some headhunters' fees now run in the six-figure range, managing such relationships on the front-end can be crucial.
How to Get Great Results from Your Legal Recruiter

Nonetheless, there's plenty you can do to ensure that you and your search firm see eye-to-eye on partner searches. Outlined below are five suggestions for ensuring that lateral partner searches run smoothly:

1. Offer specific and detailed information. BCG Attorney Search reminds that it is key to set parameters for the deal. "We do have firms that call up and say 'I want three partners with more than $1 million of business and it doesn't matter what area.' Those are searches we do not usually work on. We like to do our work with a scalpel and not a club," most firms say. The preferred method is simple. Both sides need to sit down and share as much information as possible in advance of the deal. What she expects from a firm: why you need the partner; where or how he or she is going to fit into your firm; what kind of person and practice would represent a conflict situation; and the like. This kind of thing where you say 'I need someone with $ 1 million worth of business' is not defining the search very cleanly.

2. Provide access to the firm's decision makers. Shifting levels of information can crater a deal. In other words, law firms that subtly change what they're thinking about in terms of a hire are more apt to lose out on lateral partners. "We need to be able to pick up the phone and say how about this, what do you think, and get the information to the candidate as quickly as possible."

3. Set up a contractual agreement. This is a must on partner searches. And, of course, the percentage of first-year compensation that you'll pay as a fee for retained partner searches varies greatly. Work out in advance how much the firm is willing to pay and be clear about your expectations. There are law firms that say, "On a search like this we will go no higher than X%," which is usually 25% of the first-year compensation, according to one BCG Attorney Search recruiter. But remember, such rigidity can make a difficult process even more tenuous because partners tend to move very quickly.

4. Define expectations. Your headhunter should have some clear indication of how much time is available for the search and be given details on the qualities that make for a good fit in your firm. "Our law firm clients tend to be much more concerned about the list of clients the amount of revenue, and the number of hours billed. Often, that's about the only information they want to see other than the resume and basically what we think of this person. In any event, again, it's important to get clarification at the front end to give the candidate the opportunity to prepare in a thoughtful way. Some law firms have requirements and questions that resemble an inquisition. But most search firms can oblige by pulling files that include information on matters that partner-candidates have worked on over the past five years, their annual number of billable hours, their number of associates, and the amount of revenue derived.

5. Go slowly on unsolicited searches. If your firm is interested in the prospect, call the headhunter immediately and ask to swap contracts before you proceed. The key is to look at areas where you lack agreement; talk about those areas and try to resolve any problems.

You should also find out how many other firms that partner's resume has gone out to. It could be that the headhunter only sent his or her resume to one other firm or no other firms. In that instance, you need to discover the sticking points. And if you come up to a deal-killer, you should cut the deal right then and there.
Interested in Learning More About Legal Hiring? Read the Definitive Guide:

How to Hire a Legal Recruiter for Your Law Firm: How Law Firms Recruit Attorneys Using Legal Recruiters

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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