How to Recruit a Rainmaker (with or without a following) – Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment

Recruiting a rainmaker is the holy grail of most partners in law firms. We get telephone calls every week from firms that go:

“Hello, we would like to recruit a solicitor – 3 years PQE for corporate commercial work, with a proven track record, a good level of ability and experience in a reasonable law firm.”

Excellent we think, but then:

“By the way, they have to have their own following.”

This is the killer requirement for us – these lawyers on the whole simply do not exist. There are solicitors with a following – immigration solicitors who get regular referrals from interpreters, crime solicitors with candidates who follow them from firm to firm, family solicitors with regular referrals from charities, corporate clients with companies who follow them and of course solicitors in the fortunate position of being related to managing directors of businesses etc..

However, the vast majority of candidates have none of these. A very select few have this level of following – most simply have 3 years worth of experience, a bit of marketing under their belt, and at best a couple of personal connections to potential sources of work.

So how do you recruit a rainmaker?
The simple answer is that you need to look at exactly what you want to recruit. The other option smaller firms go for is an experienced solicitor who they think will generate them work more quickly than a fairly recently qualified solicitor. Smaller firms can invariably not afford the services of an experienced solicitor and instead need to offer commission levels or profit share.

We think this is a mistake.

Firstly, do you really want to recruit a solicitor with a following?

1. Solicitors with a following cost a lot of money – they almost always only want to move if there is good regular income on offer, otherwise, why would they want to join your firm? A recent example is a commercial property solicitor who has a personal following of £130,000, and expects £105,000 as a salary.

The profit for the firm is only £25,000 each year.

2. Solicitors who are 15 years PQE and do not have a following (and are prepared to accept commission based pay or similar) tend to have baggage to go with them and probably do not wish to take a role where they will be rainmaking. Usually they are interested in “ploddy” work, as a partner recently termed it.

We think that the solution to recruiting rainmakers is to identify a future potential rainmaker. For example a solicitor who has recently qualified but who has included information on her CV about her marketing activities, demonstrated how she added value to the department she worked in, and given you an actual figure for this.

A potential rainmaker is a solicitor who indicates on their CV that they have suggested marketing ideas to the firm she is working for, or one who not only goes to networking events but also give you an idea of the results from that event.

 If you have a budget of say £4,000 per month for a new solicitor and a new department/source of work, you would get a solicitor for say £2,000 basic, and this leaves you £2,000 for marketing.

If you recruit a solicitor and pay £4,000 per month to the solicitor, this leaves you no budget for marketing.

We accept that the solicitor you get for £2,000 is not going to be as experienced or able to handle work as one for £4,000, but it may be that the solicitor is able to make more profit for you than the more expensive one.

Afterall, working on the old adage of 3 x salary, a solicitor taking a basic of £24,000 only has to generate £72,000 in work to justify their existence, whereas a solicitor on £45,000 will need to get £135,000 in.

Think carefully before asking for a following or a rainmaker. Are you sure?