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BOSTON � Law firms continue experimenting with technology and new summer associate program models to enhance recruitment, and an edgy new Choate, Hall & Stewart recruitment Web site is adding entertainment to the mix. The Boston law firm’s site takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to showcasing the nebulous concept of law firm culture. In the professionally acted “Choate vs. Megafirm” clips, for example, the beleaguered “Megafirm” associate is covered in Post-It notes, tied up in a rope or heading to the beach wearing an inner tube over his business suit. Since it primarily competes with national firms for talent, the single-office, 200-lawyer firm wanted to convey that Choate associates have some say in the practice group to which they’re assigned and more responsibility early on, said co-managing partner John Nadas. “There are serious recruiting messages embedded in playful videos,” Nadas said. As competition intensifies for the best associates, law firms are testing a variety of innovative ways to reach potential hires, from tapping technology to improving the interviewing or summer associate experience. While law firms have been using podcasts and Web videos featuring associates in their recruiting and marketing drives for a while [NLJ, 9-18-06], Choate’s videos take the concept a step further. Besides the Megafirm clips, other Choate clips run the gamut from interviews of summer associates and associates about their nonlegal interests, to vintage footage used to convey messages such as how recruits won’t find a horrible boss at the firm to more traditional clips of lawyers talking about their work. A culture section features videos about pizza night at the firm and Choate’s pro bono work for a local educational program. Also in the culture section, a humorous skit about the firm’s family-friendly values shows a lawyer bringing her children to work when her nanny calls in sick, then handing them off to the co-managing partners and a senior lawyer. Choate’s recruiting Web site wouldn’t be unusual for a corporation, but law firms are still somewhat conservative, said legal consultant Sylvia Coulter of Manchester, Mass.-based CoulterCranston Inc. “It’s a good thing to lighten up all around for law firms by getting in touch with what the market might be,” she said. “The partners are not the target market.” Other firms, like Cleveland’s Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff and Boston’s Goulston & Storrs, have recruiting-focused podcasts. Goulston will soon add diversity-themed podcasts to its collection. Recruiting-themed video podcasts are on the agenda for Pepper Hamilton of Philadelphia this fall. White-shoe firms like Debevoise & Plimpton of New York and Boston’s Ropes & Gray are reaching out to potential hires through Web videos about working at their respective firms. Debevoise’s partner perspective videos were viewed more than 10,600 times during the first half of this year, said the firm’s marketing director, Yolanda Cartusciello. “In this era of social networking sites, the days of the online static brochure may be numbered,” Cartusciello said. Other firms are taking a low-tech, experiential approach to wooing summer associates. Greenberg Traurig sends executive committee members and office managing shareholders to interview law students, while McDermott, Will & Emery hones its message and selling points through firmwide interview training for all lawyers, said McDermott’s co-hiring partner, Lydia Kelley, in Chicago. “It’s making sure our attorneys understand the importance of being aware of headline case in D.C. or the pro bono award in the Silicon Valley,” Kelley said. Mock real estate deal Instead of cocktail mixers to meet prospective summer associates, Houston’s Vinson & Elkins organizes volunteer programs for students at a dozen law schools at local food banks or other nonprofit organizations. Harvard Law School alum and Houston partner Kevin Lewis started the program at his alma mater. “It’s a great atmosphere to get to know people and it makes the point of the firm’s commitment to pro bono and commitment to assisting others,” Lewis said. “At the end of the day, making a positive impression is what recruiting is all about.” For some firms, the courting intensifies when law students arrive for summer associate programs. Greenberg Traurig teams up groups of summer associates for a “business challenge” to tackle a law firm business issue and make a presentation to firm lawyers. At Miami’s Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, summer associates have worked on a mock real estate transaction for two hours a week during the past two summer programs, said hiring partner Alvin D. Lodish. The exercise gives associates a big-picture view of transactions and something to talk about when they get back on campus, Lodish said.

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