I got my job at a yard sale: the importance of being “out there”

Jill Rorem, Esq., Senior Manager, Legal Staffing at Blackman Kallick (www.blackmanstaffing.com). Jill oversees the successful recruitment of attorneys, paralegals and contract legal professionals. Jill (and the Blackman team) staffs document reviews using qualified contract attorneys and thus, works with attorneys in transition daily.

Eight years ago, I moved home to Chicago after living in LA where I worked as an “Agent in Training” at ICM, a large talent agency (see previous entry for details). I came home flat broke. Fortunately, the next day, I would be starting my new job at a staffing agency as a director. But, I had no money for lunch on Monday so I had a yard sale. My dad donated his Star Trek and Indiana Jones videos to my cause and it was those antiquated items that attracted the eye of my current boss.

Gary, my boss-to-be, was walking with his wife past my home and stopped when he spotted the movies (I still make fun of him about that). We chatted for a long time. Gary is the kind of person who can get the life story out of anyone he meets and I am an open book. Gary was the partner in charge of the search department at Blackman Kallick. He himself placed partners into law firms and facilitated mergers of the same while his team placed accounting and administrative professionals. I told him that I was heading in to a similar position, but I was to be placing paralegals and lawyers. His immediate reaction was to ask me to abandon that position and come place partners with him instead, claiming that he could tell that I “had what it took.” When I politely declined (who was this guy?), he asked for and I gave him my contact information. He then bought The Wrath of Khan and The Temple of Doom and continued on his walk.

Gary proceeded to wine and dine me for 18 months until I finally saw that this was an exciting opportunity and took the position. Plus, when I made it to Blackman, I was able to command a higher salary (turns out I had a knack for staffing). I had a shot at building a practice within the Search group that did not yet exist — placing associates and paralegals. It was successful and Blackman has since proved to be somewhere I could continue to evolve and expand on new business ideas (i.e., document review staffing).

There is a lesson in this story: if you are home watching Law & Order, or shopping on Rue La La, or eating alone at your desk — you are not “out there.” When you are “out there,” whether it be at a networking event, a charity event, out to coffee or even at a garage sale — you allow things to happen that could lead you to the next phase in your career or to that next piece of business. Keep reading future posts, I have other tales of being “out there” that could help attorneys move out of transition.


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