The GC who started as a “temp”

Evers-Legal-Executive-Search-Culture-Fit-Feb-2018When Stephen Sitley was named senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Sears Holdings Corp., my mind raced through the Way Back machine to a fond memory of my roots as a legal recruiter.

In 1993, I was cutting my teeth and learning this business with a legal staffing firm called The Wallace Law Registry (now part of Kelly Services). My boss and mentor Shelley Wallace had landed a big fish in the Chicago in-house legal market—an opportunity to recruit talent for Sears. This goes back to a time when Sears’ headquarters was based in a tall tower bearing its name. Sears was under a hiring freeze, so Shelley convinced the general counsel at the time to try an unconventional approach to staffing his department—use something called “contract attorneys.”

My marching orders as Shelley’s new and inexperienced legal recruiter in Chicago … find “permanent placement” caliber talent willing to work for law departments via a third-party employer. We avoided using the word “temporary,” as that carried a negative perception on the talent level and role for which the lawyer was deployed. Law departments pioneered the use of contract attorneys in the ’90s, long before law firms began using a lower paid variety for dead end document review work.

My first placement at Sears was Stephen Sitley, who worked via The Wallace Law Registry for several months until the hiring freeze was lifted, at which time the company quickly hired him. Twenty-four years and numerous promotions later, Steve is now the top lawyer at a company that may have lost some of its iconic luster, but remains a significant employer of in-house talent. I would say Steve’s assignment turned out to be everything but temporary.

At Evers Legal Search, we have placed numerous “temps” who impressed our clients and were eventually hired directly by them. Greg Lacey, Amy Sohl, Aaron Goodman, Gloria Gibbs, Scott Gross and Brian Patient come to mind as examples.

And so I have two messages to send. The first is shameless promotion. You must be used to that from me by now! If you are a general counsel with staffing challenges, a family leave absence to fill, or if you just want to get more done in-house versus making that call to “BigLaw,” please give me a call. We have many outstanding adjunct counsel (our preferred term) who are ready to add value for you right away. Whether you envision longer term direct hire as an option or just want talent for a short term, the caliber of expertise will be high.

The second message is to all of the potential Steve Sitley’s out there. Opportunities come in many varieties. If you find yourself between positions, in transition from another city, or otherwise available to consider adjunct counsel work, don’t get stubborn or snobby. We don’t handle the mind numbing low paying document review work. We help staff law departments, via traditional (i.e. direct hire search) recruitment or through assignment placement. We pay competitively and offer health insurance options. We are low volume and selective in both the assignments we accept and the lawyers we place.