Q: How do I develop business from an existing client without offending the relationship partner?
A: Ron Wood: When you think there’s an opportunity—you’ve been talking to your in-house counterpart or become aware of something that would be valuable to the client—go to the relationship partner. If you don’t know who the relationship partner is, do a conflicts check. Run the client’s name, find out who at your firm has that relationship, then talk to them about your ideas and ask if they’d like to be part of the outreach to the client. When you show deference and respect to those who have the relationship, they will often say you can go ahead, but be sure to fill them in afterward or have the partner do the call with you and then let you run with it. You just don’t want to be forming relationships and getting new matters from an existing client without approaching the relationship partner first.
Q: How do I get invited onto industry or conference panels as a speaker?
A: Ron Wood: Once you become aware of an event or program, reach out to the organizer. Say, “I see you have a panel on this topic. I’d love to be considered,” and give them a couple of reasons explaining what your knowledge and expertise with the issue are. They will often call you if there is a cancelation or if they don’t have anybody in mind for that topic. And they’re likely looking at content. So, anybody who comes up with something that seems like it would be of interest to the audience gets considered. Even if they pass on you the first time, they most likely will keep you in mind for the next time.
Q: How is the interview process inherently different between associates and partners?
A: Nathan Peart: For associates, the interview process is a bit like speed dating. There needs to be chemistry there for anything good to happen. Interviewing is transactional and to the point, resting largely on the candidate having a stellar resume and cover letter that stand out from the pack. Hiring decisions with associates tend to be made more quickly too, as there are often fewer people in the mix and sometimes firms can make multiple hires. At the interview stage, it’s really about personality fit, as your resume has done all the work to get you there. Skill fit is also essential, and in the current climate is being leaned on more during virtual processes—these can be technical questions, tests or dialogue on your views on a commercial issue. A recruiter can assist in preparing you to give real examples of these attributions. Your dialogue is very important, as associates can overthink the process. A proven track record is important, but so are soft skills like integrity, teamwork and a good work ethic.
Jackie Knight: Partner deals are less about speed and more about strategizing how to move the partner through the process in an efficient manner. The process is also much more data-driven. Firms use lateral partner questionnaires to obtain the raw intelligence they need to make a strategic hiring decision. Experienced partner recruiters know that only half of the process is preparing the partner candidate—they must prep the firm interviewing the candidate as well. Strong client access and communication usually come from years of doing repeat work for these firms. While many associate deals are based upon lockstep compensation, partner deals can have creative compensation packages. Firms have varied fiscal years, guarantee policies and policies on make-whole payments. Recruiters can be your advocate on your compensation package, understanding the economics of your practice, economics of the hiring firm and timing of payments. A recruiter with the best market intelligence knows what searches are priorities and those individuals who are running those searches.
Q: How is the GCC Gulf corporate in-house counsel market outlook for the future after COVID-19? What are the challenges and opportunities?
A: Naveen Tuli: There is no doubt that the economic impact of COVID-19 on the GCC will be significant. Depressed oil prices, a severe drop in tourism and reduced capital markets make for a perfect storm. Additionally, with the cancellation or delay of EXPO 2020 in the UAE and the annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, future opportunities to generate much-needed tourism revenue have been thwarted. Whilst the UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular were able to stay ahead of the curve somewhat with speedy and aggressive lockdowns, the ongoing nature of the pandemic cannot be avoided and some industries have been severely impacted, such as energy, travel, leisure and property. However, as with other locations around the world, other businesses have prospered, such as home delivery, e-commerce and mobile banking.