This is an awesome discussion! I will get paid, but at the cost of a client....BUT I decided not to work with them the moment they emailed me and told me the role they hired me to fill was filled on their own, after blowing me off and lying to me about why for two weeks. This is one of those instances where if I had followed my own rules; 1 - not working with CPA firms, 2 - not working until they pay the retainer, and 3 - recognizing a bad search for what it was and accepting it and moving on. The discussion here was not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of others who have not encountered this scenario (I have been doing this for 12+ years, but all that says is I should have known better).
Bottom line, my contract says I will get paid, regardless of the source of the hired candidate. BUT......the legal costs would far outpace the fee fairly quickly. 1 - they are an out of state client, most likely jurisdiction would fall in their state, Hunt Valley, MD; 2 - the Partner heading up HR is a former attorney, and 3 - the Managing Partner is a former Partner at Arthur Anderson (fight for every stingy penny and even half a penny). So the gold I am taking away from this discussion here is one of being creative (BOD discussions, etc.), being a pirate (cleaning house for them), and sticking by my guns on collecting the retainer up front regardless of how strong the contract language is. Maybe I will file in small claims court and get at least the $5k max limit (less a third of the fee of $16.5k but probably more than if I took it to Superior Civil Court, small based on our averages, another red flag I should have listened to). Any more thoughts?
I would ask for 1/3 of the placement fee. This way you still make something towards your recruitment cost.