How legal recruiters can be more valuable to clients - by challenging them

In this week’s instalment of the Aspirant Analytics Podcast, we talk to Edward Parker, Director at Fides Search, a Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Hires Consultancy and Recruitment Firm. 

Fides Search still.png

Fides’s point of differentiation is that they work globally and that they look to execute more than just a client’s search request. Instead, they always take a step back and boil a search request down to first principles, asking what the client really wants to accomplish. 


0:00 - 1:20 Introduction, Background to Fides Search

1:20 - 2:40 New Approaches to sourcing: Data & Intelligence

2:40 - 4:30 Example of applying data to a search

4:30 - 6:00 Going beyond the brief of a search - crunch the data beforehand

6:00 - 7:40 Other agencies copying the Fides approach - imitation being the sincerest form of flattery

7:40 - 9:10 Data has made a big difference, but not single-handedly delivered the result. 

9:10 - 12:35 Example: How data has helped with key insights about long-term lawyer success; Challenging clients with a fixed binary view.

12:35 - 16:00 Teasing out from clients what they really want through intelligent questioning

16:00 - 19:00 Good questioning can save the client money by not hiring partners

19:00 - 20:50 On politely pushing back to clients and keeping open, honest relationships

20:50 - 22:45 Working with Aspirant Analytics

22:45 - end On recruiters being data-fluent, wrap-up, more about Fides Search

Pushing back to move forward

Often, a client’s wish list for an ideal candidate is very large, and some trade-offs will be inevitable. In our interview, starting at 10:45, Edward mentions the case of a challenging senior hire in a specialist area. Most clients look at the candidate’s billing history, usually at the last three years. 

However, Edward and his team learned from the data at their disposal, that in highly specialised areas, it’s not important what a person’s historic billing rates have been. It’s more important what do they know, what they’ve specialised in and what’s their reputation. As a result, Fides Search have successfully placed great candidates from in-house positions (without a billing track record).

“Sometimes if a client has a very fixed view and we believe it’s not executable, part of our job is to use the data and experience we have to try to open them up to other ideas and different ways to realise the outcome.”

This kind of gentle pushback on the client’s priorities is in high demand. A trusted partner in people search needs to be on par with the client. They cannot be expected to agree with everything the client says but instead need to help course-correct a client and suggest a different path. As Edward says: “Sometimes if a client has a very fixed view and we believe it’s not executable, part of our job is to use the data and experience we have to try to open them up to other ideas and different ways to realise the outcome.” 

Data has been crucial in this type of course-correction work for Fides Search. Understanding the existing competitor landscape, for example, helps manage a client’s expectations as to what kind of hires they will be able to get. Some clients who don’t have the name recognition of the largest law firms need to be aware of their employer brand and what is possible to make happen with it. This conversation can be difficult to be had, but using data can make it easier. 

Questioning with data can also save the client money

For example, when a client is set on getting a new hire at partner level, a good search consultant can suggest to find another way: If the firm has a 3-5 year time horizon with that hire, why not hire at a pre-partner level (which will cost significantly less) and develop that hire to partner level. 

That, of course, will be to the detriment of your own revenue. But of course, any search firm worth its salt will disregard this fact, fully knowing that a short-term hit like that will be more than offset in the long run. “We pride ourselves with getting the best possible outcome for our clients”, says Edward, adding diplomatically:  “It’s not a given that that’s how our industry works.”

We hope you enjoy listening to the entire interview.