A. Verona Dorch, General Counsel of Peabody Energy

Moving from the U.K. to the United States would be a tough transition for any middle schooler. But Robert and Estelle Watt—West Indian immigrants living in London with their daughter Verona—sought better opportunities than what London could provide at the time for their pre-teen daughter. They saw that opportunity in New York—so the family packed their bags and headed across the Atlantic.

Setting down new roots in Brooklyn, Verona made an effort quickly to fit in. “My neighborhood Crown Heights wasn’t as gentrified then as it is now, so I relied on American TV to help me pick up the accent, so I didn’t stand out,” she says. “Growing up in London and New York—the adversities I faced in those environments—really shaped who I am today, and I loved having that opportunity.”

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Career Advice Roundup

Mike pens a monthly career advice column in Corporate Counsel magazine.

Check out his most recent columns in Corporate Counsel (law.com) discussing the importance of saying “yes” to clients, landing the dream job as GC of Facebook, young law firm lawyers with sights on an in-house career and more.

If you have any topic ideas you would like to see addressed in a future column, please send ideas and suggestions to mike@everslegal.com.  

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Needle in a haystack: we welcome the challenging search

Dan Clark, a reporter from American Lawyer Media, works the in-house counsel beat for Corporate Counsel and he reaches out to me and other specialists in this space from time to time.

Dan recently posed an interesting question, essentially: “Do certain industries present particularly difficult recruiting challenges?” The conventional wisdom likely holds that recruiting for growing information technology companies is easy, as compared perhaps to smoke stack industries or socially unpopular sectors such as tobacco.

In my experience, however, in-house lawyers are fairly agnostic on industry and tend to focus on the nature of the opportunity. See Cate Flahardy’s general counsel profile of Verona Dorch for an excellent example. I rarely find industry to be a stumbling block when working on a search. In fact, here in the Midwest where I am based, a solid engine manufacturer such as Cummins, or a healthy medical products company like Baxter, have made for much more successful placements when compared to some sexy names like Groupon. I am defining success by the job satisfaction and longevity of lawyers we have placed.

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Congrats Brandon Baseman

Congratulations to Brandon Baseman, newly placed with SP+ (the leading provider of parking facilities and related services in the United States).

Brandon was most recently the National Negotiator for the National Treasury Employees Union in Washington, DC. This move to SP+ is a return home to the Chicago area for Brandon, who is licensed to practice law in Illinois and received his JD in 2012 from DePaul.

At SP+, Brandon’s role will expand to include a complete range of union and non-union related employment law responsibilities.

Evers Legal thanks SP+ for retaining our firm to handle this placement.

Congrats Julia Pilliod

Congratulations to Julia Pilliod, appointed to the position of Assistant General Counsel with Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT). Ubiquiti Networks is a publicly traded fast growing international company, offering a broad range of internet access and networking products including video security, routers, innovative wi-fi solutions and more.

Julia will focus primarily on managing litigation. She brings best practices experience to bear on that task, after serving as head of litigation for The Warranty Group from 2005 through to that company’s acquisition by Assurant last year. Her experience also includes a heavy dose of compliance and risk management.

Evers Legal is grateful to Ubiquiti Networks for retaining our firm to handle the search for this newly created position.

Adjunct Counsel

Adjunct Counsel is our preferred term of art for contract attorney work. Why? Because we do not handle lower paying document review work, nor do we have a managed services offering. Instead, our assignments in this area are generally off-shoots from our primary service offering: Recruiting exclusively for law departments.

When our corporate clients seek alternative staffing solutions, we are ready. We continually screen experienced candidates who are open to working through our firm in the field (as W2 employees, not independent contractors). Most of our assignments are full-time and on-site with our corporate clients in the greater Chicago area.

The nature of the work ranges, but our most common request is for commercial generalists with in-house experience. At times, we need subject matter experts… employment law, intellectual property, and securities were particularly in demand last year.

We are putting out a general call to attorneys who might be interested in Adjunct Counsel work, but who have not contacted us yet. We seek to continually build our talent pool. Please email info@everslegal.com with your resume or call 312-225-1144 with any questions. Thank you.

Facebook GC: a great hot seat

Speculating on who will succeed Colin Stretch as the next general counsel at Facebook is our idea of fun water cooler talk.  Corporate Counsel quoted several law department focused legal recruiters for a public version of just that.

I am so enamored with this topic that I chose to elaborate on my opinion here: The Dream GC job.

We title my eNews column “Culture Fit” with intention.  To me, what makes in-house recruiting so much more enjoyable versus law firm recruiting is that each company has truly unique qualities:  different products, services, and cultures.  And while I love all of it, I find myself particularly interested in companies that are run by their founders.  I even pay attention to that dynamic when making personal stock choices.  With obvious exceptions (yes, I lost money on Groupon to be sure), my investments in founder operated companies have far outperformed other investments.  But I digress.

The takeaway here is that Culture Fit is not the same as Culture Change.  Sometimes the latter is needed.  But 100% of the time, CEOs want a general counsel (i.e. Consigliere!) who will align with his or her vision for the company.  And when the CEO is also the company’s founder, then you can add bold typeface over 100%.  

Evers Legal is not handling the Facebook search.  It’s my ultimate “I wish,” as one downside of staying small and independent is that we lack the kind of contacts and high profile placement history that would allow us to get in the door and compete for it.  So, I will watch this one from the sidelines.  But it does motivate me to up our game so to speak.  I am going after more GC-level work in 2019.  Let’s see how David does versus Goliath.  Stay tuned.

Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday season, Mike

2019 starts on heels of record placement year

Thank you for making 2018 the best year in the history of our firm. We were pleased to serve a variety of outstanding companies from multiple industries this year, including:

  • Global chemical distribution leader – Univar
  • For-profit education pioneer – Adtalem
  • America’s favorite helpful place – Ace Hardware
  • Food distribution giant – US Foods
  • The #1 parking company in the United States – SP+
  • Faster than fast growing Internet platform innovator – Ubiquiti Networks

Our engagements featured traditional direct hire placements with base salaries ranging from $185,000 to more than $300,000. Our most common engagement term was a $10,000 retainer, applied toward a contingency success-only fee equal to 25% of base salary. We find the modest retainer creates a meaningful partnership and commitment, while maintaining a healthy outcome-based model for achieving win-win results. More 

Going in-house: Advice from the top

For young lawyers looking to land a senior in-house counsel position at some point in their careers, there’s no better source for advice than today’s law department leaders.

Each year, we interview experienced general counsel from a variety of industries, and we always ask them: What advice would you give a young lawyer who wants to be a GC someday?

Here’s a roundup of the suggestions our 2018 GC profile participants had for aspiring senior in-house counsel: More 

D. Cameron Findlay, GC at ADM

In middle school, D. Cameron Findlay got one of the most interesting assignments of his young life. His sixth grade teacher tasked her class with writing an autobiography. But the students had to write it from the future—looking back on their long lives and fruitful careers. Findlay didn’t hesitate when he scribed a few pages about his accomplished legal career, which included snagging a US senate seat, but only after successfully graduating from the revered Harvard Law School.

“I don’t know how I came up with it,” Findlay says. “I didn’t know any lawyers and I honestly have no idea how I had ever even heard of Harvard Law School. … And anyway, I was only half right.”

While Findlay may not have pursued a career in politics, he’s no stranger to success. Growing up in a loving Midwestern home, his parents—a dentist and former social services worker—encouraged Findlay to pave a path to happiness, both personally and professionally. After graduating from high school in his hometown (and mobile home/recreational vehicle manufacturing capital of the world) of Elkhart, Ind., Findlay headed to Northwestern University. More