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Can you be too honest in recruitment…

Having just lost out on the opportunity to assist a UK business looking for its first time lawyer, I think the answer is yes!!

The US legal team was recommended to BCL Legal by the law firm they use in the UK to help them with their recruitment of an in-house lawyer for the UK and Europe.

After an initial discussion with the US lawyers about the in house legal landscape in the UK and in particular the Yorkshire market where this lawyer was to be based the feedback was…. “we were very impressed with the information that you provided to us.”

A meeting was set up with the local FD and HR Director. We subsequently learnt that the organisation had been looking for sometime and that a lawyer had turned down the offer of joining them.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half and the more we learnt about the role and the company the more we understood about the role, the long term opportunity and ‘who’ might be right for them- and also what a great opportunity it was! During the meeting the client explained that the US and UK differed on who/ what they felt was needed. In a nutshell the US thought a senior lawyer was required; the UK felt it suited someone more junior, c2 year qualified.

Every in-house recruit has its own particular nuances and this opportunity was no different. At the heart of the role it was a basic contract review role for a company that sells nuts and bolts – in itself not overly ‘sexy’. In addition it’s rural location and office environment (a warehouse with internal offices – with a lack of windows) you can understand that on first impression this might not be everyone’s dream job!

Given the client had admitted that they had been looking for a while and that the first offer had been rejected I felt it important to explain the ‘challenges’ of finding them what they are looking for. The lawyer of c2 years qualification that they are looking for is likely to currently be working in a glass office in Leeds city centre, enjoying all the benefits that that has too offer- drinks after work, easy commute to town etc! Having said that the ‘right’ person who wants a great in-house career would not care about leaving the city behind for this great role- the trouble is there is a small talent pool who may have more than one opportunity being presented to them.

In short we had laid out the positives and the potential perceived negatives of the opportunity and we all knew what we would need to do to make this a successful piece of recruitment. On leaving the meeting we were truly excited to assist them with this piece of recruitment and knew that we could find them the right person for their role.

Unfortunately for us we will probably not get the opportunity to see if we were right or wrong- they decided to work with another recruiter. I can’t be sure and it may be for another reason entirely… But I got the impression that our open and honest approach about the ‘challenges’ facing this piece of recruitment was our downfall…

As much as it hurts when we don’t ‘win’ I can’t see us changing our way of working – for us honesty is the best policy!

Mark Levine is the Director of In-house Legal recruitment at BCL Legal. For an honest conversation he can be contacted via marklevine@bcllegal.com

 

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