David vs. Goliath

Wish me luck. I spent much of last weekend in RFP hell, but it paid off. I have been invited to pitch Evers Legal in-person for a general counsel search engagement with a financial institution on the East Coast. If we win, you will read the client name when we publicize the opening and start working on it.

Objectively, we might be considered a risky selection. Although we have placed more than 300 attorneys into in-house roles since 1997, the vast majority of those searches have been at other levels of the law department pyramid (from junior corporate counsel up to deputy general counsel).

So when the RFP asked, “Please give examples of general counsel searches completed for financial institutions,” my answer was: “We placed two ’40 Act mutual fund attorneys at the senior counsel level who relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, for Principal Financial Group. PFG is great, but frankly those searches were much harder than the one we are bidding for here.”

I took a nothing-to-lose approach to the RFP. Yes, we have handled some general counsel searches. I was able, for example, to provide references from the Society of Actuaries, where Rich Veys is going strong 10 years after we placed him as GC there. (Congrats again on the anniversary if you are reading this, Rich!)

And we are working on general counsel searches now for Nutritional High (San Francisco) and Grassroots Cannabis (Chicago) that have generated tremendous interest. Here is the truth about GC search: It’s easier from a sourcing standpoint than any other work. The recruiter is really being hired to identify the best of the best, make culture fit assessments and manage a smooth process.

Trust me, the $180,000 counsel to senior counsel positions are much harder to fill, especially in a tight job market like this one.

Now that I have the pitch opportunity, I am optimistic. I usually do pretty well when I can get to the table. Will this potential client view our subject matter expertise, general counsel contact network and national exposure (thank you, Corporate Counsel magazine!) as the right background? Or will it go with a firm like Spencer Stuart or Korn Ferry – those firms will bring long and impressive lists of completed GC searches. My middle name is actually David. And this Michael David is excited for his shot at Goliath.