Breaking and associated brands will be offline for scheduled maintenance Friday Feb. 26 9 PM US EST to Saturday Feb. 27 6 AM EST. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Linda Sloan-Young and Melba N.G. Hughes were once so close they shared an office at their legal recruitment firm, Atlanta’s Hughes & Sloan Inc. The two women founded the firm in 1988. But in 1998, Sloan-Young took a leave of absence from the company. And after her return 14 months later, Hughes and Sloan-Young say they decided to go their separate ways. They agreed that Sloan-Young would buy Hughes’ share of the business. The purchase agreement ends a 13-year business relationship. In 1984, Hughes, now 47, ended a four-year partnership with Atlanta legal recruiter Lee Ann Bellon. Hughes’ departure from Bellon & Hughes touched off a legal fracas that lasted more than three years: Bellon & Hughes v. Hughes, Civil Action No. 88-2584-8 (DeKalb, Ga., Super. Court March 8, 1988). Bellon sued Hughes and others following an abortive three months of severance negotiations. Bellon alleged that, for six months prior to leaving Bellon & Hughes, Hughes and Sloan-Young conspired to destroy Bellon & Hughes. At the time, Sloan-Young was an independent legal recruiter. The case finally settled, according to a book by Ellen Goodman and Patricia O’Brien about women’s friendships, “I Know Just What You Mean: The Power of Friendship in Women’s Lives,” (Simon & Schuster, 2000). Bellon says Hughes relinquished her shares in Bellon & Hughes. Goodman and O’Brien’s book includes a detailed account of Hughes and Sloan-Young’s friendship and business relationship. The authors visited the recruiters on the day the two women decided to erect a partition in the office they had shared for more than 10 years. “I have horrible separation anxiety,” Sloan-Young told the authors. Hughes, the book says, told Goodman and O’Brien, “We’ll probably never close the door.” Hughes & Sloan was a success, both women say, serving eight of the “ Fulton County Daily Report Dozen” firms, plus national firms with offices in Atlanta. Paul M. Talmadge Jr., president of The Partners Group, a legal recruitment firm, says there are 22 such firms here. Of the 22, he says, Hughes & Sloan is in the top five in terms of placements and revenue. He says Hughes & Sloan was the second legal head-hunting firm to establish a presence in Atlanta. But in 1998, Sloan-Young, 55, took a leave of absence. “I was a little burnt out,” she says. When Sloan-Young came back, the two discussed buying out each other. Sloan-Young decided to buy Hughes’ share. Neither would reveal details of the deal or how the two came to the agreement. According to Hughes’ attorney, Kilpatrick Stockton partner W. Randy Eaddy, Hughes and Sloan-Young have agreed to make the purchase retroactive to Jan. 1 for tax purposes. Sloan-Young will buy the Hughes & Sloan name and will become sole owner, president and CEO of the firm. Hughes will sign a noncompete agreement, Sloan-Young says, that will “significantly restrict” Hughes from recruiting. Hughes says she doesn’t know what she’ll do. “It’s an opportunity for me to be away from something that I’ve been doing since I was 29 and look at the world from a new perspective,” she says. She says her departure will allow her to spend time with her teen-age daughter. So what led these two business partners — and close friends — to reduce their relationship to a buy-out contract? Neither would reveal specifics. “We just came to the decision,” Sloan-Young says. “This was in the best interest of all concerned,” says Hughes. Sloan-Young says her leave of absence made her realize how much she enjoys legal recruiting. When Sloan-Young returned, Hughes says the business continued to operate as it had during Sloan-Young’s absence. As for whether Sloan-Young’s transition back to the firm created tension, Hughes says, “In terms of the business, no, not for me. I don’t know if it created any for her.” Hughes says, “I think people would probably say that in general, I’m more nurturing. I think people would say Linda is more about the business of business.” Sloan says she doesn’t think her style differs from Hughes’. Two former employees suggest Hughes and Sloan-Young had different styles. “I always said that if Melba left Hughes & Sloan that I would leave,” says Tania Cunningham, one of the firm’s former recruiters. She says the staff was surprised by Hughes’ departure. Cunningham says she resigned the day the change was announced. “I can tell you having a baby in November had nothing to do with me leaving. I wasn’t going to work without Melba,” says Cunningham. Robert Drury was with Hughes & Sloan from 1992 to 1999 and now works for Bellon’s firm. “I always enjoyed working for both,” Drury says, but adds the two women “had different business and management styles.” Hughes & Sloan employs seven legal recruiters and two staff researchers, Sloan-Young says. The firm’s clients include Alston & Bird, King & Spalding, Kilpatrick Stockton, Troutman Sanders, Powell Goldstein Frazer & Murphy, Ford & Harrison, Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, Morris Manning & Martin, Dow Lohnes & Albertson, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Long Aldridge & Norman, and Kritzer & Levick, according to Hughes & Sloan’s Web site. Fulton County Daily Report staff reporter Jennie Bell contributed to this story.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.