Recruiters and lawyers always seem to get tangled out. The Texas Lawyer had an interesting piece about a recently filed Harris County Lawsuit where a recruiter is suing a lawyer at Holland and Knight. According to the article, the recruiter called the lawyer and told him he had a position to discuss, but he would not reveal what it was until after the lawyer agreed he would exclusively use the recruiter. The recruiter alleges the lawyer agreed and the recruiter revealed information about the Holland & Knight position. The discussion was allegedly recorded. The recruiter attempted to contact the lawyer about the position several times after the initial discussion to no avail. A few months later the recruiter learned the lawyer was now with Holland & Knight and another recruiter received the placement fee from the law firm.
So, after a few demands and some back and forth, the recruiter sued the lawyer (not Holland & Knight) for the fee alleging breach of contract, fraud, and a few other causes of action. The article does not mention a signed placement agreement between the recruiter and lawyer so I assume there was not one. Conceivably an oral recruiting contract could be enforceable, but of course the better practice is to have the agreement in writing. So it sounds like we are in for a “he said – he said” fight between the parties. Every recruiter’s goal is to get paid and stay out of court. How could this situation have been avoided? Number one suggestion was is to get the placement agreement signed in writing. Number two suggestion is to at least try and confirm the conversation with an email and attempt to have the agreement signed. Notifying Holland & Knight probably isn’t a real option from a business perspective, clients don’t want to hear about your disputes. We’ll monitor this case and see how it turns out. No lawyer likes getting sued (well most don’t) and the recruiter doesn’t sound like he is going away.