Highlights for the third quarter of 2021: partner moves robust and level; elite firms making presence known; Austin drawing talent after office opens; 8 errors when recruiting talent

8 UNFORCED ERRORS WHEN RECRUITING TALENT

Unforced error: a missed shot or lost point (as in tennis) that is entirely a result of the player’s own blunder and not because of the opponent’s skill or effort

Across the country, the labor market is extremely tight. Help Wanted signs fill business windows and virtual job boards for positions across the country. There just aren’t enough employees to fill demand.

The legal market is no different. Virtually every major law firm across the country is searching for talent, creating a frenzy of hiring at every level and increased competition between firms for top talent. Despite this, too many firms approach recruiting haphazardly. They fail to have a game plan for finding and hiring candidates, and as a result they often make unintended mistakes down the line in the process. Additionally, many firms still think the biggest concern is for the candidate to impress them, not the other way around.

Firms need to put their best foot forward to “win” the best talent. Yet time and again, I see firms making completely unforced errors that squander their chances at landing the candidate they want or need.

For example, I very frequently meet with attorneys who are not proactively “on the market.” However, they tell me that if the right opportunity came their way, they would be open to hearing more—and potentially even changing firms. Yet when I broach the subject with firms looking for new hires, I frequently face an immediate misunderstanding, or unforced error. The firms will automatically assume that the only reason an attorney would want to talk is that the attorney is proactively looking to change jobs, not that the attorney is interested in merely more information or an introductory meeting to determine if it’s the right opportunity. As a result, the two parties have completely different expectations, and the firm may miss out on a top candidate.

To get the best attorneys, firms need to step up their game. Below are 8 unforced errors that firms can easily avoid to increase their prospect of finding the perfect fit:

8 Unforced Errors

Error #1: Treating the candidates as if they are applying for a position at your firm.

Most top candidates are in a very good situation. They are sitting down with your firm because they might consider leaving their current situation. Asking the question “Why do you want to join our firm?” or “Why do you want to leave your firm?” not only won’t spark an insightful answer—it will likely offend the potential candidate.


Error #2: Thinking a good culture is good enough.

Pretty much every candidate wants a good cultural fit at their firm. That being said, culture is hardly the only factor—and it’s extremely rare that someone will join a firm for the culture alone. Even more important, candidates want to know that joining another firm will benefit them personally, whether that’s being able to accelerate the growth of their book of businesses or earning higher compensation.


Error #3: Failing to give timely feedback after the interview

When you fail to communicate openly with candidates, they’re liable to presume the worst. Failure to give timely feedback makes candidates think the interview didn’t go well—or maybe even that your firm is not interested in them at all.


Error #4: Not communicating with the candidate for long periods of time.

Oftentimes the gap between the initial meeting and the candidate actually joining the firm is very large. If you can make this period shorter, do it. However, sometimes delays and longer processes are unavoidable. Make sure that you keep regular contact with your candidate, perhaps by inviting them to optional monthly lunches or breakfasts or sending them updates every few weeks about the firm while reaffirming your interest. Few things make a candidate feel more valued than being remembered.


Error #5: Not being willing to meet a great candidate on a “no expectations” basis

Landing top candidates—who are all well sought after—takes time. “No expectations” meetings provide the opportunity to sell your firm and make a good impression. Even if the candidate ends up somewhere else, you at least have another attorney in the marketplace who thinks highly of your firm.


Error #6: Not having all participants in the interview prepped and on the same page.

Candidates will see a lack of preparation as a sign that your firm is not all that competent. If the interview was frustrating, how will working there be?


Error #7: When the “front person” doesn’t have the personality to sell the firm well.

The main point of contact for candidates should be personable, knowledgeable about the firm, and able to talk up all the great things about where that person works.


Error #8: If working with a recruiter, failing to arm the recruiter with information.

Recruiters don’t ask questions or request help for nothing. Generally, we ask specific questions because we are trying to sell your firm to a candidate with specific needs. Getting those answers makes it more likely that the candidate will choose your firm.

 

Every one of these errors can be avoided with a little proactivity, planning, and foresight.

Ultimately, the candidate you begin to recruit may not be the right fit for your firm, or your firm might not be the best choice for that candidate, but you’ll never know if the process ends before it has a chance to begin.  Avoiding these errors doesn’t mean your work is done, but it does provide a path to greater consistency and success in recruiting the candidates you want.

We’ve focused mostly on the “do nots” here but stay tuned for an upcoming article on the “do’s”!

To see the complete newsletter, with data and analysis for this quarter, click the button below. 

LIST OF PARTNER MOVES: Q3 OF 2021

Name
New Firm
Old Firm
Practice Area
City
Date Announced
Link
Demetra LigginsMcGuireWoodsThompson & KnightBankruptcy Houston7/1/2021https://www.mcguirewoods.com/news/press-releases/2021/7/demetra-liggins-joins-mcguirewoods
Marisa O'SullivanCarrington, Coleman, Sloman & BlumenthalAmy Stewart LawCommercial LitigationDallas7/1/2021https://www.ccsb.com/insurance-litigator-marisa-osullivan-joins-carrington-coleman-as-partner/
Brittany SakowitzKirkland & EllisVinson & ElkinsCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston7/6/2021https://www.kirkland.com/news/press-release/2021/07/kirkland-welcomes-partner-brittany-sakowitz
Matthew CampbellFrost Brown ToddHall EstillTaxHouston7/7/2021https://frostbrowntodd.com/matt-campbell-joins-frost-brown-todd-houston-office/
Ravi PurohitLatham & WatkinsBlackstone Infrastructure PartnersCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston7/7/2021https://www.lw.com/news/latham-expand-mergers-acquisitions-private-equity-practices-ravi-purohit
Richard Barrett-CuetaraThompson CoeBarrett-CuetaraCommercial LitigationDallas7/12/2021https://www.thompsoncoe.com/news/thompson-coe-welcomes-richard-barrett-cuetara-to-professional-liability-section/
Jude LeblancMcGuireWoodsFluor Energy and InfrastructureHouston7/13/2021https://www.mcguirewoods.com/news/press-releases/2021/7/accomplished-deal-lawyer-jude-leblanc-boosts-mcguirewoods-energy-team-houston
Daniela Gonzales AldapeDykemaPrichard Young Commercial LitigationSan Antonio7/16/2021https://www.dykema.com/news-press-Automotive-Product-Liability-Litigator-Daniela-Gonzales-Aldape-to-Join-Dykemas-San-Antonio-Office_071621.html
Benjamin BarronVinson & ElkinsTarga ResourcesCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston7/19/2021https://www.velaw.com/news/corporate-attorney-benji-barron-rejoins-vinson-elkins-as-partner/
Jamie McDoleWinsteadThompson & KnightIntellectual PropertyDallas7/19/2021https://www.winstead.com/News/Firm-News/382718/Leading-Intellectual-Property-Litigation-Group-Joins-Winstead
Michael KarsonWinsteadThompson & KnightIntellectual PropertyDallas7/19/2021https://www.winstead.com/News/Firm-News/382718/Leading-Intellectual-Property-Litigation-Group-Joins-Winstead
Phillip PhilbinWinsteadThompson & KnightIntellectual PropertyDallas7/19/2021https://www.winstead.com/News/Firm-News/382718/Leading-Intellectual-Property-Litigation-Group-Joins-Winstead
Steve MannBaker BottsWinsteadCorporate M&A SecuritiesDallas7/19/2021https://www.bakerbotts.com/news/2021/07/highly-regarded-technology-partner-joins-baker-botts-corporate-practice-in-dallas
Andrea SteelFrost Brown ToddCoats RoseReal EstateHouston7/21/2021https://frostbrowntodd.com/frost-brown-todd-houston-welcomes-real-estate-member-andrea-steel/
Suzanne WilsonKing & SpaldingHaynes and BooneEnvironmentalAustin7/26/2021https://www.kslaw.com/news-and-insights/king-spalding-bolsters-environmental-health-and-safety-bench-in-austin-with-addition-of-suzanne-murray
John SurmaOgletree DeakinsJackson LewisLabor and EmploymentHouston7/27/2021https://ogletree.com/media-center/press-releases/2021-07-27/ogletree-deakins-grows-workplace-safety-health-practice-welcomes-john-d-surma-as-shareholder/
Elisha Kobre BradleyAssistant United States AttorneyWhite Collar Criminal DefenseDallas7/30/2021https://www.bradley.com/insights/news/2021/07/elisha-kobre-joins-bradleys-dallas-office
Nathaniel MartinezMayerMunsch Hardt Kopf & HarrImmigrationHouston8/1/2021https://www.mayerllp.com/blog/addition-of-nathaniel-martinez-to-mayer-means-your-talent-pool-just-got-bigger
Andrew CookinghamBracewellThompson & KnightHealth CareDallas8/2/2021https://bracewell.com/news/bracewell-expands-healthcare-and-litigation-practices-addition-seven-lawyer-healthcare-group
Holly EngelmannDuane MorrisMcKool SmithIntellectual PropertyDallas8/2/2021https://www.duanemorris.com/pressreleases/duane_morris_welcomes_ip_partner_holly_engelmann_dallas_0821.html
Merritt ChastainSpencer FaneOgletree Deakins Nash Smoak & StewartLabor and Employment Houston8/2/2021https://www.spencerfane.com/spencer-fane-strengthens-houston-office-with-2-new-attorneys/
Patrick BredehoftBracewellThompson & KnightHealth CareDallas8/2/2021https://bracewell.com/news/bracewell-expands-healthcare-and-litigation-practices-addition-seven-lawyer-healthcare-group
Randy PeakHaynes BooneDLA PiperHealth CareDallas8/2/2021https://www.haynesboone.com/news/press-releases/new-partner-randy-peak
Saul Perloff Shearman & SterlingNorton Rose FulbrightCommercial LitigationAustin8/2/2021https://www.shearman.com/News-and-Events/News/2021/08/Shearman-and-Sterling-Strengthens-US-Litigation-Offering-with-Addition-of-Saul-Perloff
Wilson JonesBracewellThompson & KnightHealth CareDallas8/2/2021https://bracewell.com/news/bracewell-expands-healthcare-and-litigation-practices-addition-seven-lawyer-healthcare-group
Brad HoneycuttBaker BottsSimpson Thacher & BartlettCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston8/4/2021https://www.bakerbotts.com/news/2021/08/baker-botts-welcomes-prominent-energy-m-and-a-and-private-equity-partner
Justice Eva GuzmanChamberlain HrdlickaTexas Supreme CourtAppellateHouston and San Antonio8/4/2021https://www.chamberlainlaw.com/news-news-eva_guzman_joining_chamberlain_hrdlicka.html
Bryan MooreBalch & BinghamBeveridge & Diamond EnvironmentalAustin8/8/2021https://www.balch.com/news-and-events/news/2021/08/balch-welcomes-bryan-moore
Collin WarrenFisher PhillipsAPMLabor and EmploymentHouston8/9/2021https://www.fisherphillips.com/news-insights/osha-litigation-partner-rejoins-fisher-phillips-in-houston.html
Laura StapletonFrost Brown ToddMeadows, Collier, Reed, Cousins, Crouch & UngermanTaxDallas8/12/2021https://frostbrowntodd.com/tax-attorney-laura-stapleton-joins-frost-brown-todd-dallas-office/
Harry JonesPolsinelli Littler MendelsonLabor and EmploymentDallas8/16/2021https://www.polsinelli.com/newsevents/pp-harry-d-jones
Mary-Ellen KingThompson CoeRichie & GueringerCommercial LitigationAustin8/16/2021https://www.thompsoncoe.com/news/thompson-coe-welcomes-new-partner-mary-ellen-king-expands-insurance-business-and-commercial-practice/
C. Scott MurrayDuane MorrisGramercy Capital PartnersCorporate M&A SecuritiesDallas8/17/2021https://www.duanemorris.com/pressreleases/duane_morris_welcomes_corporate_partner_scott_murray_dallas_0821.html
Collin CoxGibson, Dunn & CrutcherYetter Coleman Commercial LitigationHouston8/18/2021https://www.gibsondunn.com/litigation-partner-collin-cox-joins-gibson-dunns-houston-office/
Emily HarbisonReed SmithBaker McKenzieLabor and EmploymentHouston8/18/2021https://www.reedsmith.com/en/news/2021/08/emily-harbison-joins-reed-smiths-labor-and-employment-practice-in-houston
Louis Jenull Squire Patton BoggsThompson & KnightTaxDallas8/20/2021https://www.squirepattonboggs.com/en/news/2021/08/squire-patton-boggs-boosts-national-tax-credit-finance-practice-with-dallas-partner-hire
Richard HusseiniKirkland & EllisBaker BottsTaxHouston8/30/2021https://www.kirkland.com/news/press-release/2021/08/leading-tax-attorney-richard-husseini-joins-kirkla
Cassandra MottBlank RomeHolland & KnightBanking and FinanceHouston9/1/2021https://www.blankrome.com/news/blank-rome-welcomes-leading-finance-partners-houston
Claire RaggioJackson WalkerMalouf Nakos Jackson & SwinsonTrusts and EstatesDallas9/1/2021https://www.jw.com/news/welcome-claire-raggio-brian-merkley/
Erin Nealy CoxKirkland & EllisU.S. Attorney White Collar Criminal DefenseDallas9/1/2021https://www.kirkland.com/news/press-release/2021/06/erin-nealy-cox-to-join-kirklandShe joined 09-01-2021
Jenifer SmithLatham & WatkinsDLA PiperCorporate M&A SecuritiesAustin9/1/2021https://www.lw.com/news/latham-watkins-opens-new-office-austin
Sam ZabanehLatham & WatkinsDLA PiperCorporate M&A SecuritiesAustin9/1/2021https://www.lw.com/news/latham-watkins-opens-new-office-austin
Sarah FrazierBlank RomeHolland & KnightBanking and FinanceHouston9/1/2021https://www.blankrome.com/news/blank-rome-welcomes-leading-finance-partners-houston
Scott CraigLatham & WatkinsWilson SonsiniCorporate M&A SecuritiesAustin9/1/2021https://www.lw.com/news/latham-watkins-opens-new-office-austin
Timothy DurstO’Melveny Baker BottsIntellectual PropertyDallas9/1/2021https://www.omm.com/our-firm/media-center/press-releases/omelveny-continues-texas-expansion-with-arrival-of-leading-trial-lawyer-tim-durst-in-dallas/
William TolesMunsch Hardt Kopf & HarrFee, Smith, Sharp & VitulloCommercial LitigationDallas9/7/2021https://www.munsch.com/Newsroom/Blogs/142901/Munsch-Hardt-Continues-Rapid-Growth-Announces-Hiring-of-High-Profile-Trial-Attorney-and-Team
Will ThompsonQuinn EmanuelBurn CharestCommercial LitigationDallas9/10/2021https://www.quinnemanuel.com/the-firm/news-events/quinn-emanuel-partner-will-thompson-featured-by-the-texas-lawbook-highlighting-the-firm-s-expansion-in-dallas-fort-worth/
Andrew McKeonMunck Wilson MandalaFleckman & McGlynnCommercial LitigationAustin9/13/2021https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-expands-in-austin-market-adding-seven-attorneys-from-fleckman-mcglynn/
Bradley MahanayJackson WalkerWick PhillipsCorporate M&A SecuritiesDallas9/13/2021https://www.jw.com/news/welcome-brad-mahanay/
Jason BlairMunck Wilson MandalaFleckman & McGlynnIntellectual PropertyAustin9/13/2021https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-expands-in-austin-market-adding-seven-attorneys-from-fleckman-mcglynn/
Jessica McGlynnMunck Wilson MandalaFleckman & McGlynnCorporate M&A SecuritiesAustin9/13/2021https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-expands-in-austin-market-adding-seven-attorneys-from-fleckman-mcglynn/
John CainMunck Wilson MandalaFleckman & McGlynnIntellectual PropertyAustin9/13/2021https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-expands-in-austin-market-adding-seven-attorneys-from-fleckman-mcglynn/
Melissa LaBauveMunck Wilson MandalaFleckman & McGlynnIntellectual PropertyAustin9/13/2021https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-expands-in-austin-market-adding-seven-attorneys-from-fleckman-mcglynn/
Ryan JenlinkConley RoseHarness, Dickey & PierceIntellectual PropertyPlano9/13/2021https://www.conleyrose.com/conley-rose-welcomes-new-shareholder-ryan-jenlink/
Steven FleckmanMunck Wilson MandalaFleckman & McGlynnCommercial LitigationAustin9/13/2021https://www.munckwilson.com/press_releases/munck-wilson-mandala-expands-in-austin-market-adding-seven-attorneys-from-fleckman-mcglynn/
Trent BridgesSidley AustinMagellan Midstream PartnersEnergy and InfrastructureHouston9/13/2021https://www.sidley.com/en/newslanding/newpressreleases/2021/09/trent-bridges-joins-sidley-as-partner-in-houston
Dilen KumarKatten MuchinKirkland & EllisCorporate M&A SecuritiesDallas9/14/2021https://katten.com/kattens-industry-leading-corporate-practice-continues-to-grow
Laura CordovaJackson WalkerDOJWhite Collar Criminal DefenseHouston9/14/2021https://www.jw.com/news/welcome-laura-cordova/
Travis CountsBracewellConcho ResourcesEnergy and InfrastructureHouston9/15/2021https://bracewell.com/news/former-concho-resources-executive-travis-counts-joins-bracewell%E2%80%99s-oil-and-gas-team
Nicole Kintop SmithGreenberg TraurigKintop SmithBanking and FinanceDallas9/16/2021https://www.gtlaw.com/en/news/2021/9/press-releases/greenberg-traurig-adds-shareholder-nicole-k-smith-in-dallas-expands-p-finance-and-infra-practice
Trina Chandler Latham & WatkinsVinson & ElkinsCorporate M&A SecuritiesHouston9/20/2021https://www.lw.com/news/latham-adds-powerhouse-energy-infrastructure-ma-private-equity-lawyer
Brad FosterFrost Brown ToddHunton Andrews KurthCorporate M&A SecuritiesDallas9/24/2021https://frostbrowntodd.com/frost-brown-todd-dallas-office-adds-two-new-members/
Clay PulliamFrost Brown ToddFishman, Jackson, RonquilloReal EstateDallas9/24/2021https://frostbrowntodd.com/frost-brown-todd-dallas-office-adds-two-new-members/
Taylor HolcombJackson WalkerVinson & ElkinsEnvironmentalAustin9/27/2021https://www.jw.com/news/welcome-taylor-holcomb/