I have a client that did a backdoor hire of a candidate that they interviewed through my firm 4 months earlier.Same hiring manager but different position.
Its around a 12k fee but I can sue for 10k in small claims to expedite.
Anyone have any experience here or know how they courts sway in favor of recruiter or client?
Do you have a signed contract? I've had the situation arise several times, and have generally won cases (gotten a settlement) without having to go to Court. I'm not sure small claims would be best, but if you have an attorney write a "demand letter" for a few hundred dollars, that might produce results. If not, let them know that court costs will be part of the suit. You can sue for cost of litigation (if you win). If you really have a solid case, they will have to settle (if you actually file a collection lawsuit), because otherwise they will also lose any money involved in defending themselves. You should probably talk to a contracts attorney.
Do they have any excuse for not paying? It generally is better to sue for more than less... small claims court has never been an option I'd consider, and generally companies will have to pay up.
You might also reach out to them via phone (after the demand letter) and remind them that the process of suing will definitely cost them more money than settling, and that you are 99% certain you have a solid case... a lot of clients who won't pay are simply ignorant of the huge amount of legal precedents that have already been set in previous recruiter cases. Something like a "backdoor" hire is usually a slam-dunk for the Plaintiff.