A recent case filed in Dallas provides some guidance for recruiters, especially when they recruit lawyers. Lawyer Chris Gilbert sued recruiter Diane Caldwell, the recruiter who convinced him to move from Nashville to Dallas and work for Patton Boggs as a partner. The petition asserts claims for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, negligence, and breach of contract.

The case is  profiled in  The Texas Lawyer and the crux of the dispute are representations allegedly made by the recruiter where she stated she was independent and working directly for Gilbert, not the law firm.  The lawsuit alleges the recruiter was actually retained by the firm and was neither independent nor representing the interests of Gilbert.

In response, the recruiter filed her answer and asserts there is no fiduciary duty.  We’ve previously discussed the legal significance of fiduciary duties because it places the burden on the fiduciary or defendant as opposed to other traditional causes of action.

This case illustrates the importance that recruiters be explicit when interacting with job candidates.  Recruiters should avoid representing they are "independent" if they have been retained by the employer and should disclose the existence of this relationship to the prospective employee.  Of course, the recruiter should also always be cognizant of any representations that they make about a potential new employer.  There is a fine line between selling and outright fraud.  We’ll continue to monitor this case as it develops.