Boutique hiring requires careful planning
I was recently speaking with a partner from one of the top boutique law firms
in my market about the challenges they
faced in recruiting mid-level associate
talent for their firm. This partner was
lamenting how they were not seeing the
same calibre of mid-level associates they
would routinely be able to hire at the
articling student/new call level of hiring.
Here are four key areas we discussed
in assessing why his firm may be struggling in securing star associate talent for
Relying solely on advertising to secure
talent is not an effective means for recruiting star talent in a competitive market.
While newly qualified lawyers are frequently in abundance in the market (large
firms regularly higher more students than
they need associates), once you get to
mid-level talent, there is much greater
competition for top talent.
Not only is top talent being pro-actively
retained by their current employers, other
firms (and companies) are regularly
approaching stars to test whether they
might be open to making a move in the
market—whether directly or through
To ensure you have the best chance at
securing top associate talent, it is critical
that your firm proactively engage the
market and not strictly rely on advertising or word-of-mouth for hiring talent.
One of the common misconceptions
boutique firms face is they believe asso-
ciate hiring is done on the firm’s terms,
not the market’s. Managing partners
often believe hiring a star associate is
only done when there is a clear need at
the firm. Even if the firm is prepared to
take a proactive stance when there is a
clear need to hire, the challenge is top
talent may not necessarily be looking to
move when you are looking to hire.
As a boutique, while you must obviously
manage associate salary costs, recognize
that the best firms in the market will regu-
larly be looking to hire top talent when it
Rather than going in intending to per-
suade, Sheriff said the immediate goal
should instead be to establish under-
“It’s about getting the other side to
understand your position and building a
process from there,” Sheriff said. “If you
get them to understand, you’ll be in a bet-
ter position to react and to create a tailored
conversation or written report that might
Sheriff recommends listening actively
and looking for non-verbal cues which can
reveal whether or not the person is com-
“The indications are there even in the
first five minutes,” Sheriff said. “If the con-
versation seems choppy or it feels like I’m
not necessarily affecting the person and
having them understand what I’m trying
to say, I might think about how we’re com-
municating. Do they engage in small talk?
Do they want to move the conversation to
another topic? You can use that informa-
tion, if you’re aware of it, early on in the
Dawn Marchand, vice-president of mar-
keting with the Canadian Bar Insurance
Association, once met with a group of law-
yers and was gently chided for using too
many exclamation marks in an e-mail.
While punctuation might seem trivial to
some people, a subjective matter of per-
ception, that’s precisely the point. Mar-
chand says people generally fall into one of
four dominant personality types—ana-
lytical, driver, amiable and expres-
sive—and anyone who wants to persuade
needs to recognize their audience.
“The lawyers agreed with my comments,
but with them being analytical and me
being expressive, to them I overused
exclamation points,” Marchand said. “I
realized that I can make my point without
driving it home like that.”
The key, Marchand said, is adapting to
your audience. “Most people are so wor-
ried about getting their point across that
they don’t look at the objective.”
Of course, persuasion isn’t a one-way
street. Marchand warns that the best,
most sincere efforts might quite reason-
ably not carry the day. “You might only be
able to get them over 60 or 70 per cent,”
“If you’re speaking to them in their language, and they’re still not coming around,
then I suggest that you consider what
they’re saying very carefully.”
Recognition: Be aware of your audience
Continued from page 21
PORTISHEAD1 / ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
Be bold, Page 23
Not only is top talent being
pro-actively retained by their
current employers, other
firms (and companies) are
regularly approaching stars
to test whether they might be
open to making a move in the
market — whether directly or
The Counsel Network
We are currently seeking an individual for the combined role of General Manager,
Corporate Services/County Solicitor/County Clerk.
This posi�on is responsible for the overall performance of the Corpora�on’s Corporate
Services Division, which includes the Legal Services/Clerk’s, Human Resources and
Informa�on Technology departments. Repor�ng to the Chief Administra�ve Officer, this
posi�on will also be responsible for the County’s legal affairs and be relied upon to provide
forward-thinking legal advice to senior management and Council.
The ideal candidate is a progressive leader with, at a minimum: an LL.B. or J.D.; ve ( 5)
years experience providing legal advice in fast-paced, complex environment; ve ( 5)
years of progressively senior management experience; a proven track record leading and
managing a high calibre group of professionals; and strong wri�ng, planning, priori�zing
and organiza�onal skills.
Qualied candidates are invited to view and apply for pos�ng J0317-0408 on our website
at www.lambtononline.ca/jobs before Friday, April 7, 2017.
The County of Lambton is an equal opportunity employer serving our diverse communi;es. Personal
informa;on required by this pos;ng/adver;sement is collected under the authority of the Municipal
Freedom of Informa;on and Protec;on of Privacy Act, 1989, as amended, and will be used in
reviewing your applica;on. This document is available in an alterna;ve format upon request, to
accommodate individuals with a disability.
General Manager, Corporate Services/
County Solicitor/County Clerk
Are you a seasoned solicitor with extensive experience in corporate/commercial practice, or a
general practitioner focused on solicitor’s work? Tired of all the long stressful hours and lack of sleep?
Interested in a regular paycheque, benefits, vacation, pension, a collegial work environment?
You’re experienced in business contracts, commercial leases, technology agreements, debt collection,
property security matters, some employment/labour - and can work with a diverse clientele. You have
sound judgment and a proven ability to analyze legal issues and provide sensible advice.
If you’re ready for a change, LAO is ready for you!
Apply online at http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/careers/
Staff Lawyer, GCO