Good Morning Everyone,

OK here is my dilemma of the day.  I was referred an Attorney with an IP background.  This candidate has a strong corporate background and has an IP background as well.  Here is my dilemma his law school grades are not good and he is a senior in the workforce.  I want to be able to help him but am not sure how.  He did some good things at his last firm that I may be able to use in my presentation but want to know how to get around his grades and his work age.  Any help that any of you can give me would be much appreciated.

Thanks so much.  I look forward to some great ideas.


Views: 337

Comment by Charlie Allenson on May 15, 2012 at 9:29am
Hi, Theresa. It appears your candidate is on the more "mature" side though you haven't said that specifically. If he is, at this stage how important are grades when compared to how well he can do the gig?
Comment by Greg White on May 15, 2012 at 9:55am

I guess it depends on when they graduated law school. How long has this "senior in the work force" been out of law school? Is this their second career? If they have been out for awhile let the emphasis fall on the cases/deals/etc. they have litigated/settled/etc.

Comment by Christopher Perez on May 15, 2012 at 9:55am

I'm with Charlie. Is it a nuance of the legal profession that grades continue to be a factor even for seasoned attorneys? I place senior level folks in a highly regulated industry (continuing medical education) and I've never been asked for a transcript, even once (hence my curiosity).

If grades are a major factor in legal recruiting, and his aren't all that, then why would you need or want to "get around" his grades? Are you saying he's not a good fit for your client, or are you deciding whether you can market him proactively?

Likewise, his age is what it is. Make a virtue out of his experience, ability to mentor, connections in the industry, and/or his specific accomplishments. There are plenty of good attorneys who mailed it in during law school but found a way to be competent and successful in the real world of legal practice.

This reminds me of my best friend in college. He's a great guy, full of personality, smart, but an academic slacker of the first order. When he got a "D" in French in his final semester of undergrad (he had to beg his prof for it) he drove up to our apartment waving his grade slip through the sunroof he had cut in the top of his Ford Pinto hatchback, and honking his horn as if he had just been accepted as a Rhodes Scholar. He went on to law school and had a nice career practicing with his dad and brother before he "retired" to buy and run a couple of laundromats in his college town. One time while he was studying law we were talking on the phone. He said "Chris, do you know what they call the guy who graduates last in his law school class?" "No, what?" "An attorney."

Of course, none of this addresses the big questions I would have: Why is your candidate available for new opportunities? What are his circumstances? His motivations? The answers to these questions will also help craft a good presentation if there is one to be had. When it's all said and done, you do the best with what you've got to work with, and you do it with transparency and integrity. Good luck.

Comment by Theresa Hunter on May 15, 2012 at 10:34am

Thanks for the advice.  To answer your questions yes grades matter even for a senior associate and yes they do ask for transcripts.  To Christopher your friend went into practice with his father and brother so they did not care about his grades just could he do the job.  I don't care about his age even though that could be a factor I am more concerned about his grades.  I had a client turn down a cum laude law school graduate because he did not graduate high enough in his particular law school he was 25% in his class and for that school he needed to be at 20%.  About the only time that grades kind of don't matter is when you are dealing with partner level attorneys that have a million dollars in portable business and with that being said I did have a client looking for a partner that grades did matter.  The candidate has been out of law school for 7 yrs and should be on partner track which means that he should have portable business which he does not but he does know how to run a company and go from start up to success so that is a good selling point for him.  Yes, Chris I am trying to market him proactively as I do not have a client with this need right now.  I had been recruiting for several years before getting into the legal industry and my clients wanted someone who could do the job and do it well, it was hard for me a first to wrap my head around how important grades were even for someone who had been doing the exact job that the client wanted for 4 or 5 years.  

Comment by Christopher Perez on May 15, 2012 at 10:46am

Thanks for the add'l insights, Theresa. I enjoy learning about the recruiting idiosyncrasies of other industries; mine certainly has its share. And fair point about my buddy going into the family practice. That anecdote was more for some light humor than as a way to buttress a particular position.

I have always found it interesting that attorneys craft the non-compete agreements that are common in my industry, but they typically aren't constrained by them themselves. Again, good luck with this candidate.

Comment by Theresa Hunter on May 15, 2012 at 10:54am

Thanks Chris.  Yes, the legal industry I think is unique to most other markets.  With the grade situation being one of them.  In most industries you are recruiting someone for an opportunity so a client will look at someone no matter where they came from as long as they are qualified and a good cultural fit.  In legal you are recruiting peer to peer so sometimes it is hard to talk about opportunity when they are coming from the same type of firm that you are recruiting for.

Comment by Russ Recruits on May 15, 2012 at 12:06pm

Is age a legal factor in the US? - over here you are not permitted to ask the age of a candidate, and in theory it should not matter as laws are designed to prevent age discrimination.

Obviously you can work the age out by the dates they graduated from Uni - but I would be in hot water for even discussing a candidates age, sex, religion, married status and family circumstances.


Comment by Theresa Hunter on May 15, 2012 at 12:30pm

Hmmm good question and legally they can not discriminate based on age but they can give another reason why they would not want to see the candidate and his grades could be that reason.  I had a senior (mature) candidate presented to a client and I did not put his undergrad graduation year for that simple reason and the client came back and ask me for it.  Since the candidate does not know the discussion that go on about them they would have no reason to know why they did not get presented it is my job to give that reason and again in this case it could be his grades for law school that will get him not presented.


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