Legal Marketing Corner: Recalibrating Talent

Clayton Dodd, Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer


recalibrateOn August 11, members of the Legal Marketing Association attended a panel discussion about recalibrating legal talent in the changing marketplace.

The panelists were Lisa Simon, Chief Client Development Officer from Lathrop & Gage, and Ed Ingram, head of Global Talent Management for Latham & Watkins. Kate Harry Shipham, Senior Recruiting Manager at J. Johnson Executive Search, moderated the discussion around how attracting candidates for positions was one of the most difficult challenges in hiring.

Law firms seem to be spending more to get less − with more and more jobs available, firms are receiving fewer candidates who are sufficiently qualified or experienced. Some firms turn to hiring candidates right out of college, but the panel cautions that these hires must be positive, intellectually curious people. And while hiring outside of legal brings in philosophically diverse viewpoints and sounds like a magic bullet for new talent, it isn’t – but law firms should still treat it as just another recruiting pool to target.

To maximize efficiency in recruiting, firms are formalizing their hiring processes and emphasizing a more sales-oriented approach. Law firms should study this model and recruit talent through a formal, efficient process, since candidates are increasingly evaluating firms based on the process that hires them. Using core competencies helps localize positions in a globalized firm, and indicates to candidates what the steps are for growth. Firms should also leverage their brand in recruiting: by clearly articulating the value proposition, culture, engagement, and community of the firm, candidates will get a better sense of how they can fit in and contribute to the team.

The challenge isn’t just in the hiring process – but in the job itself, and how it contributes to the firm’s strategy. Nobody wants a job, but everybody wants an opportunity. As a result, “plug & play” hiring is gone; firms are moving towards more aspirational recruiting by seeking out talent that will help address challenges of the future while also filling existing needs. Firms should sell open positions as unique and compelling opportunities that contribute to the overall strategy of the firm in order to attract the best talent.

The by-product of effective hiring is retention, and retention starts with recruiting. Putting in the effort upfront to ensure a great hire brings in great workers, and using stay interviews makes sure workers are happy and will stay.

The marketplace for talent has radically changed, so law firms must make strategic, compelling moves to attract and retain the best.


Clayton Dodds is the director of marketing at the Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer and the co-chair of the Communications Committee for the Legal Marketing Association Bay Area Chapter. He writes and speaks on topics such as online marketing, law firm operations, analytics, and technology, and can be reached at