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The Client Perspective
The Chassman Interview

You don’t sound like the average recruiter.

My philosophy I think is different than other people’s, is because I am not a former burned out lawyer who doesn’t want to work in a firm anymore and is leveraging their legal experience. I was originally a filmmaker who worked in Hollywood, and discovered I was very agent-focused; my interest was really on the talent side of the business. My second degree is in psychology from Columbia and I worked as a therapist, counselor and coach to Wall Street lawyers and executives.

I am not going to be the ultimate critic of someone’s skill as a securities lawyer but I am extremely good at knowing what candidates have not just the right credentials but the magic combination of personality elements that are right for certain firms. I genuinely see the process from a deep knowledge of the client and an understanding of who the candidate really is beyond their résumé, and what they are really looking for. That fit between the two is what it is all about.

How do you find stellar candidates?

I take the time to listen closely and research using a network built up over a decade of doing this. Recruiters uniformly say that they have state-of-the art databases to identify the best candidates, but it is not so codified and simplistic. It really doesn’t reflect the reality that there are flesh and blood people with significant needs you have to really understand on both sides of the equation.

You cannot discount the role that intuition plays in understanding what is truly a good fit between client and candidate. What makes a good recruiter is what makes a star candidate; it is something special, something different, a special ability to communicate and a special ability to make relationships. I use a lot of my training as a talent agent and as a therapist. Recruiters disappoint because they often don’t dig deep enough, they work on the surface and don’t take the time to understand what the client is really looking for on all the levels and what kind of person is going to thrive at that firm.

What advice do you have for associates?

I encourage people to look around early; they should be assessing their career all along at critical points. Associates often believe in their firms and are loyal to their mentors and realize too late in the game that they may not be in the right place.
Associates also need to understand what their real motivators are, is it being guaranteed a partnership, is it working in Europe or being in a firm that values women, is compensation the most critical factor? If you are a gay candidate the compensation may not be as critical as being in a firm that doesn’t want to closet you. There are many aspects to working in a law firm and every individual should understand how they prioritize them personally. And my biggest piece of advice is stand up to recruiters who are notoriously pushy and can be intimidating. Don’t get pushed down the wrong path by someone who appears to know better than you what you should want for yourself now and in the future.

Do superstars really need you?

Superstars need a topnotch recruiter and so do clients. There are plenty of unhappy superstars who need help making a change. They can feel overworked, undercompensated, they can want to run their own practice, the partnership structure may not work for them and they just may not like the culture of their firm because they don’t share it’s values. Firm culture is easily dismissed but it is so important. And, from the client perspective, they cannot ever appear to be poaching talent from a competitor so we are the broker, so to speak.

Chassman Associates, Inc. | 210 Riverside Drive | Suite 8B | New York, NY 10025 | Phone: (212) 932-2554 | Mobile: (973) 600-2554
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