When people learn that I’m a legal recruiter, they often assume that I’m a lawyer. I have always had a passion for law and originally planned to attend law school after graduating from the University of Georgia. But an opportunity to work in the legal industry arose immediately upon graduation and I decided to seize it.

My legal career began working for an arbitration group and it was there that I become well-versed in the law and the attorneys who practice it. My path took me from Atlanta to New Orleans and back to Atlanta again, gradually evolving into recruiting. It’s been a winding, interesting career and a journey that regularly finds me fielding the question, “Exactly what does a legal recruiter do?” While my day-to-day work involves business development, sourcing, consultative selling and lots of negotiation, I view what I do as representing the soft side—the human side—of the legal industry by helping attorneys, law firms and corporate counsel better manage their firms, their departments and their careers. Legal recruiters are the connector to growing law firms, enhancing companies and advancing careers.

Having been at Lucas Group since 2007, I’ve had the opportunity to reshape our Legal Practice Group and develop an outstanding team of legal recruiters. I did so by emphasizing entrepreneurial effort, outstanding service and a strong ethical foundation. When hiring for my own teams, I learned that it wasn’t always easy, and I made my share of mistakes.

But over time, I’ve been able to surround myself with truly great people who care about what they do and with whom they work. And I ultimately realized that three important attributes are essential to being a great legal recruiter:
• We listen. It sounds simple. But research shows that truly listening with an empathetic ear makes a real difference in relationships. Careful listening allows my team to understand the strategic and tactical objectives of a law firm or corporate counsel staff and the career aspirations of a candidate.
• We do our homework. There is no substitute for reliable information. Whether it is turnover rates in a specific practice group at a law firm, or significant trends in firms’ geographic expansion, my team stays abreast of the legal industry on a daily basis and delivers real value.
• We’re honest. It’s easy to tell people they’re great. It’s tough to deliver less flattering feedback. But you eventually learn that loyalty and candor are complementary and that providing constructive feedback is essential to an effective relationship.

While far from exhaustive, this narrative provides a good overview of the qualities required to be a premier legal recruiter. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by four of them, and I always keep my eyes open for new people with great potential to join us. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV. But I love what I do and the people with whom I work on a daily basis.

What other qualities do you think are important to being a successful legal recruiter? I welcome your comments below.