Bob Lindsey Attorney Abilene Tx – When John Lindsay left the civil service as an Assistant United States Attorney (and later on the New York City Planning Commission), he pursued a career in a lesser field. He became a founding partner of the New York legal search and consulting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, and he trusted his courage to lead him to the right next step in his career.
His pain was real. Nearly 30 years later, he has helped the firm become the leading legal search firm in the US and shine a light on the importance of legal recruiting as an industry. While advancing the careers of successful lawyers and public officials, he executes smart placements using creativity, innovation and a deep understanding of the best His clients and candidates His trailblazing leadership and decades of exemplary service in the recruiting industry made Lindsey the obvious choice for the Hall of Fame’s inaugural group of nine consultants and advisors.
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But this success was not given to him. When Lindsey set up the company’s New York office, the entire company (New York, San Francisco, and Texas) could fit comfortably around her kitchen table—”the table wasn’t that big,” she notes. Now, the New York office has grown to over 70 team members and his company has grown to over 300 people in 29 offices, including 200+ recruiters at the top of their field. Of this growth and recognition in the company, Lindsay says, “I couldn’t be more proud.”
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: Before you were a legal consultant and recruiter, you were a federal prosecutor. Is that experience still relevant in what you do now?
John Lindsay: Sure. During my six years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, I tried more than two dozen civil cases representing federal agencies ranging from the EPA and Department of Agriculture to the Secret Service and the IRS. Convincing a working litigator—a judge or jury—that your point of view should prevail requires (among other things) summarizing the relevant evidence, anticipating potential problems, mastering the technicalities of the applicable rules, and reading your audience.
All, in slightly different ways, help successful partners (and senior lawyers returning from public service) join new law firms.
LD: Well, to say you’ve helped a lot of lawyers make that transition is an understatement. Your firm has been repeatedly recognized as a leading legal search firm, highlighted by your induction into the Hall of Fame. To what do you attribute your and your company’s extraordinary success?
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JL: First of all, about the Hall of Fame. While I was honored by the selection, my first thought was to make sure it wasn’t some kind of Irving Thalberg award going to an actor they weren’t sure would make it to the Oscars next year. When I saw that out of the other 8 people inducted into the Hall of Fame, they were younger than me, I felt confident.
JL: More seriously: More than any partner placement or team or law firm merger, I think our greatest success is that we’ve built a firm that is consistently voted the best legal search firm both nationally and in various markets. where we work
We are the largest legal search company in the world by a huge margin; Although this gives us certain advantages in gathering market knowledge and building relationships with customers around the world, quality is much more important. McDonald’s is the biggest restaurant (by number of servings) and although I love their fries, Michelin has not awarded them stars.
Major, Lindsey, and Africa have been blessed to not only be the greatest—to place the General Counsel, the Most Inner Counsel, the Most Associates, and the Most Associates—but also to say that others, not just me, are the best.
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JL: Sociologists talk about “accumulation of advantages” – success begets success, the rich get richer, or whatever you want to call it. Bob Major founded our firm in 1982 at a time when lawyers who studied law in high school did not dream of becoming a head of law. Bob did, and his reputation for integrity, intelligence, and insight later attracted others of a similar caliber to join him.
JL: Today, our recruiters include a large number of former AmLaw 50 partners, former G.R.s and other stars from every segment of the legal profession. But it has to be built over time.
When the GC of the 12th largest firm in the country joined our firm, lawyers across the country took notice. When the respected veteran chairman of a billion dollar law firm joined us, others were inspired to consider not only our firm, but our profession as one they should consider. Good people doing great work attract other good people doing even more great work.
LD: That’s right. Now, over the years, what advice would you give most to lawyers looking to change offices?
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JL: That’s the question we explore in our lateral partner satisfaction survey. I’ve done four of these over the past two decades, where we ask tens of thousands of partners what was most important to them when moving between companies and what brought them the most satisfaction in their new homes. A consistent finding – in 1996, 2006, 2014 and 2020 – is that culture trumps cash.
LD: Oh, interesting. I think most people expect a higher salary to be the most attractive.
JL: It’s not something we’ve seen in over 20 years. Money is not important, but the ultimate difference between what you can earn at one company and another is usually not enough to make a difference. Although company culture can be a confusing concept, if there are disagreements between you and the rest of the company about how you practice law, how you communicate with your colleagues, how you play in teams, how you think about the future, and hundreds of other KPIs exist. – Probably an unhappy trip, no matter how much money you make.
Of course, it is not always easy to determine the culture of a company from a few meetings with pre-selected partners – I try to find a company that does not say “we are very collegial”. This is another reason why it is helpful to work with an experienced recruiter who has received inside information from partners in both the companies you are considering, both leaving and joining.
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LD: You’ve talked in the past about lawyers who may realize they want to move into your field – what advice would you give to someone who wants to be a legal search consultant, and what qualities do you think make someone an ideal recruiter?
JL: I’ve thought about it a lot over the years. In the spirit of David Letterman, I have a list of the top ten qualities of being a successful legal recruiter.
Number 10: Perseverance. Pick your favorite cliché (“If you’re not in it, you can’t beat it,” “You’ll lose 100% of the shots you don’t take,” etc.), but you have to move forward.
9. Ability to accept failures calmly. This is not a profession for the faint of heart. Sometimes you do everything right and for months or even years you get nothing for all your efforts.
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8. High organizational ability. It is important to get the ball rolling on what can often be an incredibly complex process (of course, financially and emotionally, but also various aspects such as sequencing proposals from different companies, managing conflicts, refining business plans, reviewing LPQ, convincing people. Show when and where they are intended, etc.) . Like a producer of a movie or a Broadway play, you have to see all the moving parts and be able to peek around corners to see the Mack truck coming head-on.
7. Strong communication skills. For all the obvious reasons, the ability to write clearly and speak intelligently is essential.
6. Ability to digest a large amount of information about companies and then connect why that company’s or clients’ experience is the best match for a given candidate. One of my partners, fellow 100 Award winner Jackie Knight, is particularly adept at this.
JL: Creativity is number five. Some of the most satisfying jobs I’ve done are the ones where a year or two later the partner says, “I would never have considered [Firm X] if you hadn’t brought me to the first meeting.” Not every successful move is the brightest company.
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4. Confidence backed by performance. You have to believe in your heart that you are making everyone better (the candidate and the client) and then you have to make sure you actually do it.
3. Be good listeners. As “Hamilton” tells us, “Talk less, smile more”. It’s about the needs and wants of your candidates, not your customers