Most people shy away from taking a leap with new recruitment methods but it is not as daunting as it sounds, so I wanted to get the opinion of someone well versed in recruitment to talk about his experiences. 

Forward thinking company director Scott Brown from Heriot Brown talks about the Company’s growth and success within the In-House sector. We ask the question what makes a good tool for recruiters and how does it work together with the methods we currently use?

We know that recruitment is changing, but Scott tells us how Heriot Brown works to move with the times to grow and develop as a thriving business within legal recruitment. 

Scott Brown
Managing Director Heriot Brown

Heriot Brown focuses specifically on recruiting lawyers In-House, how have you found Atlas as a tool for that specific market?

Scott: We specialise in recruiting lawyers of all levels for In-House clients in the Commerce & Industry and Financial Services markets. This includes both permanent and interim lawyers. Last year, around 70% of our business was from permanent hires. We expect to provide the highest levels of service for our clients whilst operating on a contingent fee basis. Our search methods are similar to those conducted by Executive search companies and since I founded the business, we have been mapping the market for all roles we are instructed. We put the client first and do not sacrifice quality for the sake of filling a shortlist.  Atlas has given us the ability to do this quickly with extra confidence so that we are now able to cover the entire market. It has taken away most of our heavy lifting, so we are now able to reach out to those people more quickly and really use Atlas as a tool to give the client confidence that we are covering the market. As Atlas comprehensively covers private practice lawyers, it has been beneficial for In-House in allowing us to identify first time movers from private practice to In-House. This has given us an edge covering that front.  

Your turn around and accuracy in identifying quality candidates is high but how successful has ATLAS been changing your day-to-day work routine and finding the right people for the select roles you focus on?

Scott: When we consider integrating any new technology processes our buying decision is always based on compatibility with our current processes.  It is important for any change to have some ease of integration because our existing working methods and maintenance of our standards are more important to us than any quick wins . From the first meeting with the team at Atlas it was quite clear that it wouldn’t need that complete overhaul and it seemed like it was going to be easy to implement. What we’ve found is that it is easy to use and it is pretty intuitive, as it supplements what we were already doing. It encourages consultants to use Atlas and to use it more regularly as an additional tool as it works really well. With pre-existing methods, it’s given us an edge in finding passive candidates, getting us quicker results and being able to work faster, whereas many of our competitors don’t have that self updating aspect. So even if those candidates were on our database or our competitors’ database, you might not know where to find them or if a candidate has moved.

Do you use job boards and if so, are they still working?

Scott: We have opted to avoid using traditional job boards. From our experience, we find that it is only active candidates that are responding to the adverts. We deliver high quality service to our clients and to the candidates that we engage with, if we are filtering inappropriate candidates from job board responses then it doesn’t make the best use of our time. Our job is to focus on our core business strategy so I think it works where there’s volume and for particular roles which are not of a specific niche in nature, but I think where you’re looking for a particular skill set or specific background or a specific characters of an individual then taking a targeted approach, as we do, yields better results. 

Do you feel that Atlas has improved your ability to tackle niche mandates?

Scott: The majority of our clients are looking for In-House lawyers and roughly 50 percent are looking for commercial lawyers, so it’s a vast candidate pool and the commercial legal skillset is quite difficult to define. Where Atlas has come into it’s own is in searches for a particular skill set (such as searches we have undertaken recently for Project Finance and Real Estate). We recently worked with a high growth fintech company which was looking to hire a residential conveyancing lawyer for a role in-house. These types of roles are like hens teeth for a residential conveyancing lawyer within In-House (this means we rarely work with many residential conveyancing lawyers).   Atlas was our go-to on that in finding the candidates, and it really was successful with quick results, and we had a very happy client at the end of it.

Have you made any placements so far from candidates identified on Atlas, and has Atlas given you a competitive advantage over incumbents?

Scott: We have been using Atlas for six months, and it’s been really well received by our consultants, and the results have been positive. We have made a handful of placements which have been candidates we found on Atlas that were not previously known to us. Those have been for more niche skill sets, and I think that’s been really good. So going forward if we are working on a specific mandate then we go to Atlas. In terms of candidate flow, we are also able to map candidates with more generic skill sets which are going to be useful for us. We find that we use it for our initial reach out and initial engagement with candidates, that’s when our junior consultants work through to start a discussion with potential candidates. In terms of yield and roi, it’s probably going to be maximised within the next 6 to 12 months, but it has been great for knowing and just seeing how many people are working in particular skill sets within law firms.

How do you feel large data providers like Atlas and LinkedIn have changed the day-to-day of recruitment?

Scott: Although my hairline might suggest otherwise, Linkedin pre-dates my involvement in the recruitment game! I would say that large data providers have been very disruptive in the talent space. LinkedIn is an excellent tool but it is overused by both agents and internal talent acquisition teams. The targeted nature of Atlas gives smaller or boutique specialists in recruitment a chance to level the playing field and gives ease of entry into the market. I think being an early adopter of platforms like Atlas and LinkedIn is where you benefit most. Here at Heriot Brown, we try to be adopters of technologies and processes that we think are going to supplement our key skills and relationships.

Has Atlas been useful in streamlining processes and reducing costs?

Scott: As I have said, we have made placements from Atlas, so there has already been a return on investment. Our process and business model has always centred around outsourcing our non-business critical “heavy lifting” tasks (such as data base management, market mapping, research). We have always been partnered with a provider for this which has kept our fixed costs down. Atlas has moved some of the workload from them and allowed them to focus more on the maintenance of our database and our existing networks, rather than focusing purely on search within law firms, so that would be where we have seen it reduce some costs. It has slightly tweaked our business process, but like I said earlier, I think the ease at which it can slot into where we use it has been the benefit of it as a whole, rather than it being something that required a lot of change. 

What do you like most about Atlas?

Scott: What I like the most about Atlas is the ease of use, it’s a very user-friendly interface and the results have been good. From a customer service perspective, the team is very responsive, and if there have been any queries that we have or any issues with the product, then we have always found that the turn around on those have been sharp. So for us as a whole it’s all about the client’s experience in working with us and using Atlas at the right time. Our expectation was that we would use it specifically for targeted searches in niche areas and that we would have a number of roles over the course of the year and take the benefits from using that. I think in terms of general market mapping, we have seen an increase in the candidate flow, and that’s where we’ve really seen a use for it which I had not perhaps anticipated. We use it as a tool within our business, and on a few occasions, we have taken it to a client pitch, pitching for exclusivity to show them that these are the areas we are capable of covering and these are the number of candidates that focus on this particular expertise. This allows us to manage client expectations and give them further confidence in our delivery capability. Within a competitive industry like ours, agencies that adopt new methods and new processes, rather than following their nose on their databases, are progressive. I wanted to pitch our company as tech-enabled and nimble in the way that we work. – Atlas has been a really useful tool for us.



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