Category Archives: Culture Fit

GCs: How to manage new hire expectations

Evers-Legal-In-house-Legal-Recuiter-May18-Culture-FitThe 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 

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. More 

Hitting on All Cylinders (2017 style)

Evers-Legal-In-house-Legal-Recuiter-Dec17-QAI 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 

Legal Department Operations, Delegate it to an Expert

Evers-Legal-Executive-Recruiting-Culture-Fit-09-2017By working exclusively with corporate legal departments and eschewing law firm recruiting, Evers Legal stays in tune with the evolution of in-house culture.  Although we are best known for traditional direct hire search and placement of experienced in-house counsel, we have broadened our service offerings over the years to meet the niche needs of law departments.

About 10 years ago we began providing  “adjunct counsel.”  I wanted to create an option for on-site secondments that would be based on quality rather than volume. Our vision was to fill your contract attorney needs with talent that exceeded the expectations often associated with that term. Sometimes our adjunct counsel are even converted to direct hire positions, as happened just last month for Greg Lacey. A former Dykema partner and all around great guy, Greg was on an assignment for us with Adtalem, a for-profit education company, before landing permanently there. Congrats Greg!

And now, for the first time in several years, we are extending our service offering once again. We are now your go-to search firm when you need a legal department operations (LDO) professional. This position is a natural fit within our niche law department expertise and network. Moreover, individuals with the right experience to fill these roles are not yet available in large numbers. Put bluntly, a do-it-yourself approach to recruiting a top shelf LDO will be frustrating. Let us help! More 

Our pricing model: Chameleon

Evers-Legal-Legal-Recruiter-CultureFit-June2017Congratulations to one of my favorite General Counsel, Jeffrey Carr. Jeff pioneered incentive-based law firm engagements, and much more, during his tenure with FMC Technologies. Jeff advocated for changes in how legal services are delivered via his writing, and through prominent roles with InsideCounsel’s Superconference and The General Counsel Forum. Jeff returned to the arena on May 11 as the new General Counsel of Univar (NYSE: UNVR), a global chemical distributor.

Jeff’s return to the in-house community brings back fond memories of 2011, when our firm placed three attorneys with FMC Technologies. Jeff and I worked out search fee terms with three components: a modest retainer, a set fixed fee for making a placement and a discretionary bonus based on client satisfaction with our overall service. The agreement aligned our interests, and none of it was based on the compensation of the attorneys we placed. The work was so rewarding, it inspired this column for InsideCounsel on the merits of a new pricing structure for recruiting. More 

Musical chairs: Congrats to our GC friends

Evers-Legal-Executive-Search-Culture-Fit-March-2017Congratulations are in order on new general counsel roles for six of the 20 lawyers we have profiled in previous issues of eNews. Cornell Boggs (previously with Dow Corning) is now leading the law department at Toys R Us, Chris Carsen (previously with Mattersight) has landed the top spot at Corel Corp., Joe Perkins (previously with Cummins) is running the show at NIBCO, and E.M. Lysonge (previously with Churchill Downs) is now sitting in the big chair at CafePress Inc.

On the promotion front, Curt Kramer steps up to become the General Counsel of Navistar International on April 1 when Steve Covey retires. And Bill Caruso has been promoted to Acting General Counsel for DeVry.

For Curt, Joe and E.M, this is their first general counsel position. I am so very happy to see their hard work pay off. For Bill, hopefully the interim title will turn permanent as it did for Doug Beck, who took a similar path via promotion at Hub Group. All in all, the individuals profiled in our Counsel Q&A’s are doing just fine! More 

Congratulations Curt Kramer

Curt Kramer has been named Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Navistar International (NYSE: NAV), effective April 1 upon the retirement of Steve Covey.  Steve spent 36 years with Navistar, including the last 13 as General Counsel.  I thank Steve for making Navistar one of our first Fortune 500 clients almost 20 years ago.  We had the privilege of handling the search that resulted in Curt’s placement at Navistar in 2002.

Curt started at Navistar with the title Senior Attorney, and he has successfully climbed every step up the law department ladder.  It was an ascent that, by my count, included at least four title changes (most recently Associate GC and Corporate Secretary).

In our upcoming March 18 issue of “Evers eNews,” my Culture Fit column title is “Musical Chairs” and I talk about the frequency with which GC’s tend to move around these days.  Steve Covey and Curt Kramer are proof that doing great work, building relationships, treating your team members well, navigating corporate changes, and always showing loyalty… remains a formula that works too.  Congratulations Curt!  I am very happy for you, and I appreciate your support over the years.  Curt participated on a panel I put together for the In-house Innovates conference a few months ago.  I am not supposed to play favorites, but you are indeed at the top of my list… I am grateful that our paths crossed early in our respective careers.

A quick thank you as well to Bob Perna.  Bob was the General Attorney (really an Assistant GC title for Navistar) who hired Curt in 2002.  Although Steve kindly gave our firm the thumbs up to engage with Navistar, I worked most closely with Bob on that search, and he was very generous in his support of our efforts.  Bob has been a General Counsel for several years now and currently sits in the big chair for Rockwell Collins.

How to ask CEO Santa for New Headcount

CultureFit-image1024x768Happy holidays! What would you like to see in your law department’s stocking this year? Have you asked CEO Santa for an increased budget in 2017? If so, my guess is that Santa wanted a whole lot of information to back-up the request.

Last month, I moderated a panel at In-house Innovates (formerly known as “Superconference”) titled “Allocating Law Department Resources.” One of my takeaways from our session, and the conference generally, is that in-house counsel are getting with the program when it comes to using data and performance metrics. Numbers speak much louder than words when making the case for additional resources.

But even if the metrics make sense, for example in projected savings versus outside counsel use, Santa may still get grumpy if you ask for additional headcount. That is a present wrapped in commitment, and batteries are definitely not included. And so metrics are just a starting point. More 

Going beyond the resume

Evers-Legal-Executive-Search-Culture-Fit-09-2016Pre-column note: Just at press time, we took an order from a great long-term client, Principal Financial Group.  Competitive compensation and relocation package for ERISA attorneys who will consider the Des Moines, Iowa location.  This is a terrific law department, everyone we have placed there loves it, and PFG is consistently voted one of the best companies to work for in the country.  So, please help me out by spreading the word on this one.  Thank you.  Now, to my column, please enjoy the read:

Our placements in 2016 have me thinking about the title of this column (“Culture Fit”), and fondly recalling a memorable line from Bob Major almost 20 years ago. Let me explain.

In 2015, a lot of my attention was focused on helping one particular client build out its new law department with some specialized and VP level hires. Even with the complication of some geographic relocations, those orders went smoothly. By contrast, our order flow this year is broader, and I am spending significant time on our adjunct counsel service line. More