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
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
We feature John Albright in this issue’s General Counsel profile. I was in the audience on Sept. 12 when John participated in an “Institute for the Future of Law” panel discussion on law department talent.
The discussion focused on the skills lawyers need to develop for success in-house. Themes included adaptability, personal re-invention, use of technology, project management and working as part of cross functional teams. The program made several references to the distinction between a 20th Century “I” shaped lawyer and a 21st Century “T” shaped lawyer. Essentially, “I” shaped lawyers have deep expertise in one area, whereas “T” shaped lawyers embrace process change and take a broader multi-disciplinary approach to their roles. ABA’s article, “The 21st-Century T-Shaped Lawyer,” does a good job of discussing this topic, one that is very popular among legal consultants.
John embraces innovation, but he also understands the value of expertise when it matters most. With a grin, John said he still goes to the “thousand dollar an hour lawyer” when it comes to broker/dealer advice (mission critical to his business). More
I’m writing this Culture Fit column on July 3, on a plane to Vegas, on my way to play for the first time in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. I may update with a post-script, but how I finish the tournament is not particularly relevant to the Culture Fit topic it inspires me to write about right now. It is this: Control.
Many of us who went to law school, including yours truly, are control freaks … whether we admit to it or not, we want control of our careers, our future, our lives. There is a lot about the business life I have created for myself that satisfies this craving. I can control my environment for the most part, make choices about how to best use my time, and no one can fire me.
And yet, I continually put myself into positions where the quest for control is consciously made in the face of the uncontrollable. At the poker table, a skilled player is always trying to control the action, control betting patterns, and ultimately control the behaviors of his or her opponents. Indeed, one can have a certain kind of control at a poker table. I can choose to fold, call or raise on any given hand. I have choice and control of my behavior. But, of course, I cannot control the outcome. Even the best players will lose frequently due to multiple factors outside of their control. The best one can do in poker is work toward obtaining a strategic or statistical edge. More
A note of thanks. For years, I wrote the career advice column for Inside Counsel. American Lawyer Media purchased Inside Counsel a few years back and slowly merged it into Corporate Counsel (an ALM holding), which is now the dominant trade publication for in-house attorneys.
Corporate Counsel kindly invited me to continue in a similar role for them, and you will see links to the most current career advice column at our home page.
Please also look for an upcoming article by Dan Clark in the September issue of Corporate Counsel. Dan is a terrific writer who is taking on the challenge of reporting on the ongoing evolution of the General Counsel role… from back office cop to mission critical business partner in the C-Suite.
In the past two years, our Adjunct Counsel service has “blown up” among law departments in the Chicago area. For clients and potential clients: At your request, we can provide examples of dozens of successful assignments over the past decade, resumes of attorneys who are working as Adjunct Counsel for us now, and of course resumes of outstanding in-house counsel who are available to meet your specific need. We have a terrific commercial generalist available (David L.) who is coming off a family leave absence coverage assignment in mid-August, and an experienced intellectual property attorney (Patti S.) who offers tremendous value. Just examples.
One important change that has been in place for over a year now, but we want to call attention to this for any attorney who may wish to apply for our Adjunct Counsel opportunities: we offer benefits including health care coverage. We were behind other larger staffing firms (like Axiom) on this issue in the past, but our volume and infrastructure has grown to match the competition on health care benefits. This enables longer term assignments and longer term relationships with Adjunct Counsel who may wish to work on consecutive assignments.
Email email@example.com to inquire about Adjunct Counsel work.
We are pleased to congratulate Julie Halperin on joining Univar as Senior Counsel. Julie received her joint JD/MBA from Northwestern in 2009, cut her teeth as a corporate finance associate with Goldberg Kohn, and most recently served as Senior Counsel with BMO Harris. Julie also worked as a Consultant for Accenture prior to attending law school.
Thank you to the legal and HR leadership teams at Univar for partnering with our firm on this engagement.
The results from our 2018 Job Satisfaction Survey make it abundantly clear that most in-house counsel crave upward mobility within their current law departments.
When we present a new opportunity to a candidate, especially if the position is at a Senior Counsel or Assistant General Counsel level, one of the first questions they inevitably ask is the ladder climb one: What is the likelihood and time frame for promotion? They ask this question well before we even get to the first interview. Experienced in-house counsel are more realistic and logical when evaluating the lay of the land vs. straight-from-a-law-firm candidates, but that’s simply because in-house counsel have seen the dynamic first hand. The bottom line is that everyone asks.
So, if you are the General Counsel seeking to make a new hire, how do you manage promotion and title expectations? Unless you are making the hire with successorship specifically in mind, you want to be careful while also using this as an opportunity to test on culture fit. More
When 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. More
I hope you are feeling as good about your employer as I am this holiday season.
2017 has been one of the most enjoyable years of my career, and I am extraordinarily thankful to our clients, candidates and friends of our firm for this result. We handled interesting and challenging searches for great companies such as Adtalem, Baxter, Re:Sources USA and Principal Financial Group. We were proud to place the first in-house attorney with a Crain’s Fast Fifty company, Maven Wave. And we have several Adjunct Counsel on secondments with Fortune 500 law departments.
We improved our Adjunct Counsel offering so that our contract attorneys can opt into health care and other benefits. And I tweaked our traditional permanent search pricing structure to reflect how companies want to go about their Senior Counsel to Assistant General Counsel level searches. Moreover, the year is closing with the likelihood of an exciting Deputy General Counsel (with succession planning in mind) search in Q1 of 2018 that we will handle confidentially. More