I start this column by tipping my hat to the talent acquisition team at Danaher, a Fortune 500 science and technology company based in Washington, D.C. A very specific internal recruiter (you know who you are, thank you!) chose to give Evers Legal an opportunity last year, and we have since placed three attorneys with Danaher. The strong Danaher talent acquisition team is in charge of the process and empowered to decide when to use outside subject matter specialized search firms from the beginning of a search. I did not know the legal team at first; I was fortunate to know the lead internal recruiter.
The Danaher example tends to be the exception. Many HR departments take a self-sourcing approach to law department openings. Those efforts can be successful. But we receive almost 50% of our search orders after a self-sourcing approach fails and the opening has aged. And 100% of those assignments come from general counsels who engage us directly or recommend us to the HR team.
Although I have done a better job recently of connecting with HR leaders in advance, the strength of my professional contact network is you, the general counsel or senior attorney who, in corporate speak, is the hiring manager. Often there is an internal political battle between legal and HR with respect to using Evers Legal. At larger companies in particular, the cost of using an outside search firm usually comes out of the HR budget, so there is an understandable tension at play.
If you are a general counsel with an opening on the horizon, I encourage you to get me involved in a conversation with your HR team at the beginning of a search. Even if your company is going to take a do-it-yourself approach, I offer to advise (at no charge) your internal recruiter on best practices, especially if he or she is new to recruiting lawyers. This can speed up the internal process — either yielding a winner right away or indicating the need to go outside. The goal is to help in the present, while building up goodwill with your HR team if we are needed down the road.
I confess that in the past I took an us vs. them approach with respect to HR, as I viewed your own internal recruiter as our biggest barrier to helping you. I’ve evolved as your world has evolved and now fully embrace the HR relationship. Your needs are best met when we all work together in collaboration.