(NEW YORK, NEW YORK) The matter of legal recruiting fees has become thornier than ever, as law firms, increasingly, seek to renegotiate placement fees—shortly before (and sometimes after) an offer has been made and accepted by a high- powered rainmaker. Recruiters are well advised, as are law firms, to ensure clarity in their arrangements–at the beginning of the process–to mutual satisfaction. Gone are the days when a handshake will do.
While most law firms put their own drafted fee schedule in front of the recruiter, with a demand to sign or scram, exceptional recruiters escape from this potential rigidity, at least enough to modify terms. And the most accomplished recruiters set their fees and terms with clients, just as the best law firms do—by presenting their own agreements and allowing their clients to negotiate reasonable changes —not the other way around.
Many recruiting fee disputes evolve because of bad practices on the part of both the law firms and the recruiters with whom they work; the notion of a resume’s shelf life is chief among them. If both, the employer and the recruiter recognize that the recruiter must be responsible for the placement, and mean by that phrase, that the recruiter’s referral efforts must rise to the level of substantial cause of the placement —life would be so much easier. The “but for” rule, meaning but for whose efforts did the placement occur, has become a much murkier two edged sword and often leads to far more debate. Let’s get out of conjecture and rely on facts!