Lateral Recruiting Trends as Heard at NALP’s Lateral Lawyer Recruiting Summit

By Vanessa Russell Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart

This June, I attended the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Lateral Lawyer Recruiting Summit in Chicago. I was looking forward to visit the Windy City and to network with fellow law firm recruiters.

When I arrived, I scaled up to the top floor of Mid-America Club, and the elevator doors swung open to reveal views of sparkling skies, shimmering lake water, and only a few skyscrapers tall enough to obstruct the vista. I was met with recruiters scurrying quickly to secure a seat close to the front of the room – a tactic I’ve noticed is usually avoided at conferences these days. With excitement I swayed with the crowd, eager to learn what fellow recruiters are facing in today’s market.

I learned quite a bit. For one, we learned that we all must now consider IBM’s Ross the Robot and whether it will eventually replace entry level lawyers. We also learned that many firms are struggling with the millennial generation—what they want must be balanced with what firms need. We heard suggestions that firms should move away from opportunistic hiring and that mostly, laterals are jumping ship for culture, not compensation.

Having hiring and recruiting processes in place was, of course, encouraged, specifically a process where chemistry can be developed. Once you have a new attorney, it’s all about integration, and not surprisingly, processes should be in place for that too.

Above and beyond the seminars and concurrent sessions, I loved being around my own kind. If anyone has the opportunity to attend a NALP event or a local legal recruiting function, I highly recommend going and taking the back seat. Enjoy the scenery, the people, and the conversation, and see if you can absorb the nuts and bolts of what your peers are discussing. What snapshots are you overhearing?

I laughed as I overheard someone joke that culture can eat compensation’s lunch.

Jokes aside, what else are you hearing? Is it Alternant Career Paths? Using LinkedIn to source candidates? What messages do they use? What is their culture like? Yes, the information presented is substantive, but sometimes the key takeaways aren’t found in the PowerPoint. If you get the chance to attend an event, turn on your peripheral vision and listening skills and pay attention!

About the author:

Vanessa A. Russell is the Senior Manager of Recruiting & Retention at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.  She has been recruiting at the firm for over 3 years and works out of their Indianapolis office.