When to use a headhunter

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In what circumstances should a law firm consider investing upfront risk capital to utilise the services of a headhunter?

The majority of roles that need to be filled by a law firm in any year can be done through personal contacts or through the general legal recruitment market. However, certain roles need a more sophisticated and research led approach with a more aggressive and personal campaign needed to reach the right potential targets.

For example, a firm may be looking to expand into an area of law of which it has not had much previous experience. It may not know who the main players are in that market, what the issues are, where that market is heading, etc. A specialist headhunter will be able to able to drill directly into the profession and provide an overview of all of the client’s key competitors and the individuals within those departments who are likely to become the relevant targets with the desired skill-set.  My research documents average between 100-200 pages for each assignment.

The market view of a firm or a department within a firm may be lagging the reality. Recent successes and growth may have gone unnoticed. A good headhunter, face to face with a target for an uninterrupted hour, will be able to get across that untold story and hopefully create an interest in their client that would never have been there otherwise. The majority of the targets that I move to my clients tell me that they would never have joined that firm if I had not imposed myself into their life.

For certain roles, there will only ever be a small number of individuals who might be right. These roles might include those with a leadership element or a strong strategic need. Or the market might be a particularly tight one. Without using a headhunter, how else can a firm ensure that those targets know that the role is available?

Whilst there is an upfront cost to using a headhunter, the retainer charged ensures that a law firm has carefully thought through their need for a specific role to be filled. The amount charged is normally set at a level to cover the costs of the research that is undertaken. As the headhunter running the assignment, I will take “ownership” of it and I will always strive to fill the role, not just to keep my client happy and not just for reasons of professional pride but because without succeeding, I will not earn a living!

Contact Jonathan

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