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This is a really interesting question and has led to this blog after the Head of Legal of a large business suggested today that the candidate that we are representing to them is who we are ‘primarily’ acting for. Which if you carry on reading isn’t really the case!
Recruiting organisations use us and most recruitment companies in primarily two ways: ‘contingent’ or ‘retained’.
Working ‘contingently’ for a business often means we are working on a no placement no fee basis or put another way, only if we present a lawyer to a business that ultimately starts with the business do we get paid. The business might advertise directly or ask more than one agency to assist them in finding the lawyer they are looking for.
When we are retained there is a commitment that the business works purely with BCL Legal and the process is far more in depth with some payment paid ‘up front’.
I guess immediately there is a difference in that when ‘retained’ there is a pre-payment for the work in finding the new recruit. As the business has made a payment up front it is easier to argue that we are clearly working for them. On the contingent route we might be trying to help them but if we decided to do nothing on the role apart from the business never using us again it is not as if we have ‘cost’ the business anything.
I think the business that I mentioned at the start of this blog felt that as there was no commitment to only work with BCL legal our ‘allegiance’ must be with the lawyer that we are representing. In our opinion this really isn’t the case. Having completed hundreds of assignments – both contingent and retained the role of a good recruiter is to try and make sure that we are representing the interests of both parties – equally!
The world of in-house legal is fairly small compared to our counterparts in private practice and therefore the issues related to supply and demand of both ‘appropriate roles’ and the ‘right fit’ lawyer is acute. Therefore in most cases no one party is ‘more important’ (certainly to us) than the other – as they say it takes 2 to tango and unless we represent both parties effectively the coming together of candidate lawyer and client business is unlikely to happen.