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When approached to write an article that provides tips for other firms to use in attracting and hiring associates, my first thought was, “Do I want to share our secrets with our competitors?” On second thought, I realized that the true “secret” to Cummings & Lockwood’s success in attracting associates is our emphasis on the “basics.” Although the following tips may seem obvious, they have been an important part of our recruiting success. CHOOSE THE RIGHT PEOPLE Choose your team of on-campus and in-house interviewers carefully. If your interviewers don’t create a good first impression, you won’t have a chance to make a second one. Choosing the right interviewers may help you attract candidates who are undecided or have not seriously considered your firm. This is precisely what happened with Moy Ogilvie, a sixth-year associate in our Hartford office: “The attorneys who interviewed me at the BLSA Job Fair in 1993 had a tremendous impact on my decision to work in C&L’s summer program. “At that time, I knew very little about the firm; in fact, I hadn’t even signed up to interview with C&L. When the firm had a last-minute cancellation, they contacted me and asked if I would consider interviewing with them. “The partner and associate who conducted the interview were great salespeople who enjoyed what they did for a living. They displayed their human sides, and their enthusiasm for working at the firm was contagious. These attorneys definitely played a major role in my choosing C&L as the place where I wanted to practice.” BE RESPONSIVE It may sound simple, but the old adage, “The early bird catches the worm,” really applies here. When associates are choosing between competing firms, their decisions often turn on which firm worked hardest to recruit them. By quickly returning calls, mailing materials of interest to them and accommodating schedules, you can create a lasting good impression. Consider the comments of Ali Jacobs Wice, a fourth-year associate in our Stamford office: “Above and beyond some of the more practical considerations (like salary and location), I accepted C&L’s offer over those from other firms because of how my application was handled before, during and after my interviews. “The recruiting director worked tirelessly to accommodate my travel requirements and availability. She demonstrated that the firm was flexible and willing to work hard to get qualified candidates through the door. She ensured that all members of my prospective group were available to interview to avoid extra trips. “Several partners went out of their way to meet with me, including one who drove from Stamford to Hartford and another who met me on a Saturday. In addition, the head of the group got back to me very quickly with an offer and promptly followed up with greater details, which included direct responses to some of the questions I raised during my interviews. The content and delivery of the offer played a large part in my decision to join C&L.” MAKE OFFER HARD TO REFUSE Get to know the candidates, including their professional and personal interests, and then connect them with someone at the firm who has similar interests. Involve your summer associates in meaningful projects and, when feasible, invite them to work during the school year following their internship. Make candidates feel they are part of the firm before they are hired. We accomplished this goal with Chris Calio, a first-year associate in our Hartford office: “Since I was a dual JD/MBA candidate, I was interested in corporate law before I joined C&L’s summer program. C&L recognized this and allowed me to spend much of my summer in the corporate department, where I worked closely with the senior partner. Throughout the summer I worked with a partner on numerous interesting projects, most notably drafting proposed changes to provisions of the Model Business Corporation Act. “Cummings & Lockwood then offered me a chance to work part-time during the school year. This allowed me to gain valuable experience by working on a large transaction and helped me develop solid relationships within the firm. I ultimately decided to join the firm because of my interest in the work they had allowed me to do and the relationships that I had developed.” TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE ADVERTISING You have successful hires at your firm, so take advantage of them. Summer associates and law clerks who have accepted offers to work at your firm full-time have connections on campus. They can return to their schools and encourage others to accept positions with you. Heather J. Rhoades, a second-year associate in our Hartford office, states, “As a second-year law student, I faced the decision of choosing the ‘right’ law firm for a summer associate position. After interviewing with a few firms, I discovered how difficult this decision could be. Everyone I met was very friendly, extolled the virtues and benefits of working at their firm, and promised that I would be working in the area of law of my choice. “Choosing a law firm based on interviews alone seemed impossible. So I turned to my friend, Rob Gallo, now a third-year in our Hartford office, who had spent the previous summer at C&L. I spoke at length with Rob about his experience. He gave me uncensored insight into the attorneys that I would be working with and the type of work that I could expect. Listening to the recommendation of a trusted friend enabled me to make the informed decision that C&L was the best firm for me.” EXPAND YOUR CONTACTS Encourage your attorneys to keep in touch with former classmates, co-workers and attorneys who have represented the other side on cases or transactions. Ask them to cultivate relationships with former law school professors and judges. This is how we came to hire Chris Cerrito, a fifth-year associate in our Stamford office: “When I was thinking about switching firms three years ago, the first person I contacted was someone with whom I used to work, but had since moved to C&L. This person was a senior associate in the practice area I was looking to join and, because I regarded this person as a friend, I really valued his opinion. I am at C&L today because I kept in contact with a former colleague who convinced me that the firm was the right place for me.” Of course, the “basics” summarized above are just the beginning. It takes a substantial amount of time and commitment on the part of everyone involved in legal recruiting to create a lasting good impression and ensure that your firm stands out when compared to your competitors. Wendi J. Kemp is the hiring partner at Cummings & Lockwood. She was assisted in writing this article by Lisa G. Miers, director, and Sandra Romaniello, manager, Associate Recruitment & Career Development.

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