Monday, July 28, 2008

Press Release: Halleland Lewis Takes New Recruitment Approach

Minneapolis mid-size firm speaks directly to recruits about firm culture, professional development and salaries through humorous, online micro-site.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (July 21, 2008) - Selling yourself may be a requirement of job interviewing, but in the view of one law firm, young attorney applicants are regularly selling themselves short.

Recent research from the American Bar Association suggests that 40 percent of lawyers are dissatisfied with their job within six to nine years after the completion of their law degree - an indication, says Halleland Lewis Nilan & Johnson, that the recruitment and retention methods historically used by law firms are outmoded and inadequate for today's recruits.
To encourage candidates to "ask hard questions and get real answers," the firm today launches the Lawyer Job Interview Translator, an online recruitment micro-site available at that jabs at the jargon often used in the law firm hiring process and instead gives job prospects an authentic but memorable look at Halleland Lewis's unique offerings and culture. The old approach to recruiting and retaining lawyers is doomed, says Halleland Lewis, and needs to be replaced by an approach that attracts top people to an environment where they'll stay, develop as top-tier professionals and give clients a return on their investment.

For example, Halleland Lewis believes that recent super-sized jumps in salary offers to new lawyers will result in greater pass-along expenses to clients and pressure on newer attorneys to charge for inefficient services, with no corollary benefit to clients. The starting salary jumps, says Halleland, are the direct result of law firms' tendency to recruit by simply matching each others' offers, rather than trying to distinguish themselves to candidates. The tradition is so ingrained that many firms actually stifle their personalities and sidestep hard questions from applicants concerning long-term compensation, performance expectations and prospects for success. As a result, new talent often join a law firm culture they don't like, and end up leaving after a few years. The result is disruption of client work and excessive costs to recruit and train replacements, most of which clients bear.

Site's Viewers Decode Typical Law Firm Interview Jargon
Part of an overall recruitment campaign for the firm, the Lawyer Job Interview Translator features an online "talking head" law firm interviewer who provides pat answers to questions on topics ranging from work environment to professional development to salaries. Using this tool, Halleland Lewis distinguishes its own competitive compensation program, for example, from other firms' salary-matching practices by emphasizing its own opportunities for significant performance-based bonuses.

After the virtual interviewer has given his jargonistic response, viewers of the site can click a "Translate" button to decode the jargon, then learn about the "Halleland Way" of responding to these same questions directly. The campaign also features written materials meant to give an accurate snapshot of the firm's distinguishing features: a culture-rich, "clients first" personality, a bonus-driven approach to encouraging hard work, and a heavy investment in professional development.

The Translator reaches out to a new lawyer population in shorter supply due to greater demand, a national downturn of law school enrollees, and an uptick of associates exiting the profession after just a few years on the job. The potency of these trends have seemingly counteracted threats of economic uncertainty and rising unemployment for the industry. Lawyers' starting salaries skyrocketed again in 2008 - up $10,000 per offer among large firms, according to the National Association of Law Placement.

"We're looking for new lawyers who want to be treated like adults and are willing to accept the responsibility that comes with that. We want people who ask hard questions and press for meaningful answers, because we think those are the kind of people our clients expect to have handling their problems. Our challenge is to attract those new attorneys with top-shelf analytical abilities and client service skills who want to work somewhere that's taking a new approach. Building that attraction starts even before the interview process, by providing meaningful information that allows people to distinguish between firms and decide where they want to interview based on what's important to them," said Matthew Damon, Vice President and founding shareholder with Halleland Lewis Nilan & Johnson. "We hope the Translator will help job seekers see past the standard lingo and think about the nature of their professional contributions, their development as attorneys, and the kind of place they want to work."
Associate Input Used to Design CampaignIn designing the Lawyer Job Interview Translator, Halleland Lewis and its advertising firm partner, St. Paul-based Foote & Co., enlisted the help of an important constituency: its associates. In fact, not only were all of the firm's associates surveyed about hot-button job satisfaction areas, they were enlisted to participate in the initial creative session to capture their ideas.

"The associates were invaluable to the campaign," said Stephen Warch, shareholder and Halleland Lewis' Recruiting Chair. "Too many recruiting efforts are concerned only with what it takes to get talented attorneys in the door. We have always taken a broader approach, as we want to recruit people who will succeed here long-term, not just those that have impressive credentials. That requires an approach that allows them to screen us as much as vice versa. We want to convey to recruits a straightforward message about our firm's culture and values, so they can determine early on whether practicing here will be fulfilling and sustainable."

About Halleland Lewis Nilan & Johnson
Founded in 1996, Halleland Lewis Nilan & Johnson has built its reputation by putting clients first and building a practice centered on values - thus defining the next generation of law firm. Based in downtown Minneapolis, the litigation-strong firm focuses on six areas of practice: commercial litigation, labor and employment, product liability/mass tort litigation, health care, business law and intellectual property litigation.
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