In The News
Bostonian Personnel And Attorney Placement Are Synonymous
by Liz O’Donnell
Approximately 2,400 attorneys enter Boston’s legal marketplace each year. Some are changing jobs, some are moving into town, some have just been admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association. All of them need employment.
That many people entering the legal work force, coupled with attorneys wishing to make a career move, created the need for some type of organization that could professionally and confidentially recruit and place attorneys.
RECOGNIZING THE NEED
Jim Perfetuo recognized that need back in the early 70s. “The supply of attorneys in Boston is greater than the demand,” Perfetuo says. “Although the recruiting business started in New York in the 1960s there hadn’t been much legal placement in Massachusetts.”
But Perfetuo didn’t start legal recruitment in Boston right away. Instead he started a general recruiting and placement firm on Cape Cod. “I didn’t want to learn a new business in a community where the business was new,” he says. So he learned the recruiting and placement business on the Cape until he, and Boston, were ready for Bostonian Personnel.
Bostonian Personnel provides the opportunity for law firms and corporations to meet and to engage qualified attorneys whose training and experience will contribute to a mutually successful relationship. They offer a professional alternative for capable, experienced attorneys to comfortably explore career opportunities which are available to them. Bostonian Personnel also specializes in relocating partners to other partnerships both in this country and abroad.
“We assist lawyers in moving an entire practice from one firm to another,” says Perfetuo. “Recently we assisted five attorneys in moving a department from one firm to another. Our firm can assist in transferring not only one lawyer, but an entire legal capability.”
THE NEED FOR A NEW PROFESSION
“Bostonian Personnel offers a safe, confidential way for clients and candidates to explore one another. It can’t be done any other way,” says Perfetuo.
A candidate meets with one of the legal consultants and gives them a wish list. Clients, which are corporations, law firms and non-profit organizations, give Bostonian Personnel job descriptions. The team at Bostonian Personnel networks to find the right match between client and candidate on paper. Then an interview is set up between a well-screened candidate and a firm whose specialties and needs match the candidate’s. Perfetuo stresses that the entire process is strictly confidential. “We take extra steps to provide that confidentiality,” he says.
“We represent the business side of a career change.” says Perfetuo. “I give full disclosure. If a candidate does poorly on an interview, I find out why and offer to help the candidate. For example, we arranged one interview and the candidate was focusing on the compensation package which was in the $400,000 range, rather than on the position and his would be partners. The position didn’t work out for him, but with some counseling we were able to assist him in finding a more suitable position.”
“When everything is equal, everyone is happy,” continues Perfetuo. “The lawyers have made the career choices they wanted to and the clients have filled their needs.”
The National Network
Jim’s vision for the legal recruitment field extended far beyond Bostonian Personnel. He was also a founding member of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants. As a result he has been elected president of the association by his peers.
Membership in the NALSC has provided a network for Bostonian Personnel that extends from Boston to the West Coast. “Our network also grows because the young attorneys we placed in the 70s are now the movers and shakers of the 90s,” says Perfetuo. “They remember the service we provided them and now they’re calling us looking for attorneys to hire.”
A UNIQUE APPROACH
Not only is Bostonian Personnel unique in that they were the first of their kind in New England, but they also offer some exclusive services to their clients and candidates.
Bostonian Personnel offers the opportunity for confidential and professional methods of locating attorneys and firms whose requirements match. They offer a pool of over ten thousand practicing attorneys across the country. They represent every aspect of practice including: general corporate; litigation; mergers and acquisitions; securities; corporate finance; investments; environmental; patent and trademark; computer law; licensing; real estate and tax.
Bostonian Personnel is efficient and confidential. They screen each candidate and only present a client with someone whose backgrounds and qualifications match the needs of the firm. Candidates know their resumes are only sent to firms who request their expertise and only with their prior knowledge and consent. And most importantly, candidates and clients know that available positions are only discussed with permission and only with a limited number of qualified applicants.
There is a dedicated team of legal consultants at Bostonian Personnel who work with the candidates. Americo Salini, Ted Fisher and Geoffrey Fitzgerald make up the team. “The four of us work together,” says Perfetuo. “We like each other and we don’t compete.” Each member of the team has something positive to say about the work they do at Bostonian Personnel.
“I enjoy talking with attorneys considering career changes, finding various options for them, assisting them in achieving their goals.” says Salini. “There is an aspect of counseling the lawyers that I enjoy. It enables me to apply my experience in labor and employment law.”
Americo Salini’s diverse background is a great asset to Bostonian Personnel. He holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University. Mr. Salini also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts (formerly Boston State College). In 1975, Mr. Salini obtained his J.D. cum laude from Suffolk University Law School and his LLM from New York University School of Law in 1976. He practiced law in New York at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius prior to relocating to Massachusetts.
Ted Fisher feels similar to Salini regarding his work at Bostonian Personnel. “I find it interesting communicating and interacting on a daily basis with lawyers,” he says, “helping them to achieve their professional career goals. It allows me to utilize my 35 years of experience in the legal business.”
Ted Fisher brings 35 years of legal practice to Bostonian Personnel, specializing in commercial matters involving contract negotiations, real estate, secured financing and bankruptcy matters. Fisher received a Bachelor or Arts degree in History from Yale University and an LLB degree from Boston College.
Jeff Fitzgerald also finds his background helpful at Bostonian Personnel. “After being a trial lawyer,” he says, “I like the aspect of matchmaking, forming a partnership between the client and the candidate so that everybody is happy. I like helping people find professional relationships they like.”
Geoffrey A. Fitzgerald’s 15 years of litigation experience includes commercial litigation, eminent domain, real estate, corporate and personal injury. He has also provided litigation services in the fields of employment, insurance, medical and malpractice, military, civil rights and administrative law, juvenile, domestic relations and criminal law. Fitzgerald has 12 years experience as an adjunct law professor. He has authored and edited several articles in the fields of probate, administrative and criminal law. Fitzgerald is studying theology, at the post graduate level, at Boston College.
“We enjoy what we do,” sums up Perfetuo, “because we do the job right. We make a lot of people happy.”
A FULLY AUTOMATED OFFICE
Part of the reason Bostonian Personnel operates quickly and confidentially is that their office is fully automated. The company uses a software package that was designed exclusively for them. Although the computer “doesn’t do the thinking,” according to Perfetuo, it does assist them in matching clients with candidates. The software has the ability to search for candidates and clients based on location, experience, areas of expertise, etc.
Bostonian Personnel is also implementing a networking capability for the computer that enables the legal consultants to access any of the resumes on file in seconds. Along with displaying the resumes, the computer will also inform the legal consultants on the current status of each candidate, such as the last time a resume was sent and to whom it was sent.
THE PERFETUO PHILOSOPHY
Just like his team of legal consultants, Perfetuo’s philosophy is to work hard at something you enjoy. “I’ve always been ambitious. My father owned his own business.” he says. “I try to keep a balance between my work and my family.” Jim and his wife, Barbara, have four children. He continues, “I love coming in here. I look forward to Mondays. Coming into work is never a chore for me. I work 50 to 60 hours per week. I work very hard and enjoy every minute of it.
Perfetuo’s philosophy extends even further than his family and his career. He is also on the board of directors for the Big Brothers Association of Boston. Perfetuo wants to contribute his expertise and energy to raising funds that will ensure a Big Brother for as many children as necessary. It takes about $1,000 to match a child with a Big Brother.
“There are 600 kids in Boston waiting to meet their Big Brothers,” Perfetuo says. “With four children of my own, I realize how crucial it is that children experience sound companionship from an older role model.”
“I think the service will increase as the market place continues to grow,” says Perfetuo when asked about the industry’s future. “Lawyers are always busy; always in demand. Lawyering doesn’t slow down, just the emphasis changes–regardless of the economy. Only the nature of business changes.. Therefore, I believe Bostonian Personnel will continue to grow and prosper as will all recruiting firms.”
“Lawyers want to diversify,” he continues. “They’re looking for new challenges and opportunities. A law firm may hire as many as 35 people fresh out of law school, but not have the luxury to rotate these young attorneys through different departments. Bostonian Personnel can help bridge gaps which would otherwise exist in a lawyer’s developing experience.”
The National Association of Legal Search Consultants
The National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC), founded in 1984, is headquartered on 1350 New York Avenue, NW in Washington, DC. The association was founded to provide a national network for legal search firms. Members receive support from others in the industry and arbitration services when necessary. The NALSC is committed to the provision of professional and ethical employment services to the legal community. To that end, its members have established a Code of Ethics, subscribed to and endorsed by each as a condition of their continuing membership.
Two important aspects of the NALSC ode of Ethics pertain to the Legal Consultants relations with employers and candidates. Regarding employers, the Code of Ethics states that information provided to employers shall be the most accurate information known to the search firm. No firm will withhold information essential to the hiring decision. Candidates will be referred only with prior authorization. Confidential information will be treated accordingly. No search firm shall recruit any attorney from the office of an employer in which it has made a placement for a six month period following the placement. No search firm shall recruit a candidate it has placed while that candidate remains with the employer which paid the recruiting fee.
Regarding relations with the candidate, the Code of Ethics states that information provided to the candidate will be the most accurate information known to the search firm. No search firm will withhold information which a candidate would consider essential. Candidates shall be referred only with prior consent. Confidential information will be treated accordingly. Search firms shall make all referrals which have been authorized and inform the candidate of the results. No undue influence will be exerted on the candidate.