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Law360 Pulse: Ex-MLA Recruiters Open National Boutique Legal Search Firm

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

By Tracey Read | Law360 (May 11, 2023, 2:43 PM EDT) -- Three former Major Lindsey & Africa recruiters have reunited to open their own boutique legal search firm with a presence in both Southern California and New York.

Dan Hatch, Jennifer Henderson and Michelle Fivel said Hatch Henderson Fivel will focus on matching high-quality lawyers seeking their ideal career paths with law firms seeking talent across the country.

The firm's Los Angeles office — where Hatch and Henderson are based — officially opened Wednesday. Fivel will work virtually from the metropolitan New York area.

Henderson and Fivel discussed the move in a joint interview with Law360 Pulse Thursday.

The duo said they enjoyed their experience optimizing MLA's very large platform, but their new, much leaner platform will allow them to better respond to the needs of both clients and candidates.

"Firms are thinking more nationally in how they staff their teams," Fivel said. "They're more and more agnostic with respect to where their attorneys sit, as long as they're within an easily commutable distance to one of their offices. And having a platform where we don't have the geographic boundaries that we operated in before under the MLA platform allows us to be much more nimble and provide more seamless service to our clients."

Henderson agreed, saying, "We aren't constrained by geography, and we're recruiting in every market that our law firm clients are in."

The HHF trio has more than 60 combined years of experience making long-term placements in top regional, national and international law firms. All three of the firm's partners practiced law at major firms prior to becoming recruiters.

Henderson said HHF's business model is different from those of other recruiting firms because it's based on relationships, rather than merely making placements.

"When firms do have openings right now, they really do need to be strategic in how they're filling those openings," Fivel said. "And they call upon the recruiters that they have strong, long-standing relationships with to assist. We feel like because we've been doing this for so long, and we have such deep relationships, we are going to be the people to get the first call. And in fact, those calls are already starting to roll in."

Hatch was most recently a founding partner at Hatch Gamble Brown LLC. He was an MLA partner from 2003 to 2018. Before that, he was senior counsel at The Home Depot's Western Division.

Henderson and Fivel began their new endeavor directly from MLA. Hatch hired and trained both women when they all worked together at MLA, and has long been a mentor to them, Fivel said.

Henderson added that "Michelle and I sort of have a hybrid practice and work with attorneys at all levels," while Hatch "really has always focused on only representing partner candidates in making a lateral move."

Henderson said that although the demand for associates, especially junior associates, has waned over the last couple of years, the hiring market is not as dire as recent news headlines may suggest.

"You know, there's layoffs, and everything's different," she said. "However, the market is not gone for lateral movement. There are firms that are busy. There are definitely great opportunities for strong, midlevel candidates that want to make moves. We're seeing firms say that they're getting busier. There are certain practices that are much busier than they had been, including litigation and labor and employment."

Henderson, a graduate of University of Minnesota Law School, was managing director at MLA since 2007. She is also a former associate at Hodel Briggs Winter LLP and O'Melveny & Myers LLP.

Before becoming an MLA partner in 2006, Fivel was an associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP. She began her legal career as an associate at Jones Day and then Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.

Hatch has expertise in facilitating significant lateral partner transactions, including numerous AmLaw 50 office openings in major markets. His signature placements are often listed on The American Lawyer's annual short list of the top lateral partner moves worldwide, according to HHF's announcement.

"We are thrilled to officially launch Hatch Henderson Fivel and offer the market a vastly superior legal search firm," Hatch said in a statement. "HHF is based on building trusted relationships of value with partners, up-and-coming lawyers and major law firms seriously interested in strategic growth."

In addition to helping associates and partners make career moves, Fivel and Henderson also serve as career strategists to lawyers in all stages of their careers, and advise client law firms on lateral market trends and the recruitment process.

Hatch graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Law, while Fivel is a graduate of Albany Law School.

Read the original article here on Law360 Pulse.

--Editing by Scott Russell.

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