Question & Answer
Bribe and Prejucice
May 22, 2012
Firmhunter.com, a legal recruiting firm, offers $10,000 back, in hard cash, to the associates they place and assures that the firms won't find out about it. What's your opinion of this?
Why are you interested in my opinion on this? Surely you know what I think. I suspect you have visited my firm, and several of my worthy competitors, and told us about this other firm if they actually exist and have tried to get any one of us to come up with some cash offers in exchange for the privilege of representing you. Thanks, but no thanks.
The key to figuring out what I think about this situation is located in the fact that this search firm assures their candidates that the firms won't find out their little payout. I wonder why that smacks of something similar to a bribe.
For your information, many of the law firms have a clause in their fee agreements that ask the search firms to agree to abide by the National Association of Legal Search Consultants' (NALSC) Code of Ethics whether or not they are members of that organization. Within that Code of Ethics is a paragraph that states, "No search firm shall withhold candidate information, which the employer would reasonably consider essential to its hiring decision."
Now, I can't definitely say that taking a cash payout is essential to a firm's hiring decision but then again, it might be. I do know that in the NALSC Code there are very specific clauses that prohibit NALSC member firms from doing what "Firmhunter.com" is attempting to do: "Except for fee-sharing agreements between search firms, no member shall make payments of any kind to gain business referrals or to induce others into a relationship as a client or candidate."
It is very clear to me that offering a payment to induce someone into a candidate relationship is unethical and not the way I would ever conduct business. Is that how you would try to get a new client to give you their legal business?
I have tried to find Firmhunter.com online and cannot locate the firm anywhere. The truth of the matter is that I have never heard of them. My guess is that even offering a goodly sum of money to potential candidates was not enough to keep them in business. The attorney search firms that stay in business over the years are those who are ethical and honest and hardworking and know how to place their candidates in the best positions out there. What they offer are skills instead of bribes.
Anytime someone tells you that the employer won't find out about something, think twice. The employer will always find out about it in the end and you will look as if you were hiding something . . . which you were. Best wishes.
Ann M. Israel