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SMR Legal Search: Catching up with Susan Rubinovitz

published February 19, 2013

By Follow Me on
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( 36 votes, average: 4.6 out of 5)
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Personal Life

Susan Rubinovitz, SMR Legal Search
Susan Rubinovitz owns and runs SMR Legal Search, a compliance and executive legal recruiting firm based in Philadelphia and New Jersey. We've profiled her in the past on LawCrossing, and are glad we had a chance to catch up with her and her firm. SMR specializes in lawyers from all areas of practice and focuses on making permanent placements throughout the Northeast. The recruiting firm also places compliance professionals and in-house attorneys throughout the country as well as placing attorneys overseas. Prior to founding her company, Susan worked at law firms of various sizes. She started out at one of Boston's top Plaintiff's firms. Then she worked at a national mid-size commercial firm, representing banks and other financial institutions. Susan also worked as an attorney handling child abuse matters for a non-profit agency, and she managed her own law firm, where she handled a variety of civil matters and was Court Appointed to represent a number of child abuse and neglect victims. In addition to being an accomplished attorney, Susan was chosen to be a judge at The Lawyers on the Fast Track in Pennsylvania.

What can you expect when you are working with Susan? Kevin Stepanuk, an Associate General Counsel at Exelon, said:
"I have witnessed Susan provide detailed career guidance and resume revisions to attorneys and legal staff and amaze her clients with her devotion to their success, attention to detail, and creative ideas. What impressed me most is that these clients were receiving her services pro-bono, as a part of corporate counsel career development programs for unemployed counsel. Susan could have easily given the effort face-value service and still provided value to those she was serving. It is clear to me that she is an ultimate professional and knows only one way forward for whomever she is serving, full focus and effort! If she puts forth this type of effort when no one is watching, I can't image the attention she devotes to her paying clients. Based on my experience, I will use her personally should a recruitment opportunity arise and highly recommend her."
Steven Balson-Cohen, a Senior trial attorney at Russo & Toner, L.L.P., claimed, "Susan provided outstanding help and professional guidance during my recent job search. The results exceeded my highest expectations. Those who have worked with Susan, as I did, know that she is the most honest and trustworthy of recruiters who cared about finding the right position to fulfill my career goals. I highly recommend her not only for the service that she provides but also because of her integrity as an individual."

Jim Linquito, an experienced business professional, also praised Susan's service as well as her integrity when he stated:
"Our firm has been fortunate enough to become acquainted with Susan and her legal search firm (SMR Legal) since their inception. A few years ago when we were in need of a trial lawyer with extraordinary skills to handle several complex litigation matters we called several search companies before speaking with SMR. Not everyone could help us. We then connected with Susan and her firm to service our needs. Within three weeks time we had the position filled and the lawyer hired through Susan hit[ting] the ground running. Since that first encounter Susan and her company have predominately managed most of our legal search needs for our NJ, NY and PA office locations. We cannot say enough about Susan as she is without question a true professional who continues to be resourceful, open to suggestion, responsive and most importantly trustworthy. To her credit she spent several years working as a litigator before starting in the legal recruiter business. To us that speaks volumes for her integrity, credibility as well as her overall knowledge in the litigation area. In closing I would highly recommend Susan Rubinovitz of SMR to any law firm or corporate entity that may be in need of professional legal help."
Susan was born in Newark, NJ and raised in Livingston, NJ. Family is very important to Susan. You could hear the pride and love in her voice when she stated that her three children are her number one priority and the accomplishment that she is proudest of in life. She stated that her children are smart and hardworking and even more importantly, are kind, honest and have high integrity.

Susan obtained a Bachelor of Arts Cum Laude in Psychology with a minor in Political Science from Boston University. While studying at Boston University, she served as a member of Psy Chi, the Psychological Honor Society. Susan earned her J.D. from Boston University School of Law. The future attorney said, "I always knew that I wanted a career in which I could help people and was deciding between becoming a psychologist and an attorney, thus [a] psychology major and political science minor. I ultimately decided that I wanted to be a trial attorney to help people, which I did for a number of years."

When asked about her hobbies, Susan stated, "I enjoy being outside and getting exercise, especially walking my rescue Lab Mix puppy. I am a huge dog lover and a supporter of organizations that rescue, help and place abused or neglected animals. I also love to be on the water in any kind of boat from sailboat to canoe to motor boat.  Living just outside of Philadelphia, I have become a fan of The Eagles and The Phillies." The legal recruiter explained that she loves the beach and she enjoys boating in the Caribbean, Jersey Shore and Chesapeake Bay. She also loves to travel and has been to Paris, Denmark, Sweden, London and Amsterdam. Susan is currently reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

Susan's Successful Career Path and Tips for Legal Recruiters

Does Susan have a top memory from school? "My top memory from law school was participating in the Boston University School of Law Legal Aid Program. I got to represent real clients in a variety of civil matters including housing, unemployment benefits and other matters. It reaffirmed my interest in becoming an attorney to help people."

Susan was asked what it takes to become a successful legal recruiter. She replied:
"I think that it takes a number of qualities to be a truly great legal recruiter, some of which are tenacity, truly listening to both your clients and candidates, thinking outside of the box in terms of how to find the types of candidates that your clients are requesting, a love of people and good people skills, the desire and ability to develop and maintain long term relationships with both your clients and candidates, honesty, integrity, a knowledge of the various practice areas and inner working of various size law firms and corporate legal departments, and perhaps most important is a good old fashioned strong work ethic.

Another important thing that makes a good recruiter is the ability to hear very sensitive and confidential information and keep it confidential. One of the things that makes me a good recruiter is that I hear very sensitive and confidential information and understand how important it is to keep it confidential and do just that. I have never had a breach in confidentiality.

I strive every day to work as hard as I possibly can to fill my clients' positions and give it my all each and every day. In addition, I think outside the box and have a number of different and interesting methods of sourcing for candidates. I have worked at law firms of different sizes as well as at a non-profit agency, and am very familiar with the inner workings of law firms of different sizes, not for profit organizations and corporate law departments. I develop long term relationships with both my clients and candidates and am very consultative in style. I consider myself a partner with my law firm and corporate clients and work with them to not only find the perfect candidates but with any other issues they may need help with such as diversity initiatives and business development. On the candidate side, I go above and beyond what many other recruiters do for their candidates. I assist with resume and business plan drafting and provide mock interview skills training. Providing excellent customer service is of the utmost importance to me. The feedback and constant referrals that I receive from both my clients and candidates is an affirmation for me that I am doing a good job with customer service. The most important thing for me is not to earn my fee but to make the right match that will last long-term. That is what I strive for on every single job search I work on. Also, attending law school and practicing law have taught me about a number of different practice areas and that is very helpful in being a good legal recruiter."
Did Susan transition into working as a recruiter or was she always involved in the field? The businesswoman explained:
"Prior to becoming a legal recruiter, I was a litigation attorney for a number of years. Then, I decided that I would like to stop being in an adversarial role and a [be in a] role that helped everyone involved. I worked for one of Philadelphia's oldest legal recruiting firms before starting my company, SMR Legal Search. I knew from the start that it was the career for me. I enjoyed all aspects of it from the career counseling and help that I gave to the candidates to the consultative role that I played with my law firm and corporate clients and the hunt for the best possible candidates for them. I am a real people person, and talking to and helping people is a great way for me to make my living."
Why did the recruiter enter the industry? "I entered the industry to use my knowledge of the law combined with my people skills and desire to help others to help make the perfect job matches for both employers and job candidates. I love what I do and have never looked back."

Susan discussed what she is known for professionally. She noted:
"I have a reputation for going above and beyond for my clients and candidates and being there for them 24/7. My clients and candidates who I am actively working with all have my cell phone number, and I meet with and talk to them when it is convenient for them, whether that is in the evenings or weekends or the regular workday. All e-mails and phone calls are answered promptly, and I go out of my way to make sure that I find the right attorneys for my clients' positions. I am known for thoroughly vetting all candidates. In addition, I am known for having my pulse on the market, being good at assessing attorneys and providing great career counseling. I have given career advice presentations including one to in-house attorneys on how to make their careers more successful. In addition, I was chosen to be a Judge at The Lawyers on the Fast Track in Pennsylvania."
Susan also discussed her strengths and one weakness as a recruiter. "My strengths are that I am very hard working and tenacious, provide excellent customer service, think outside the box, am honest, have high integrity, and really care about making the right match for both my clients and candidates." As for her weakness, the legal recruiter acknowledged, "My weakness is that sometimes I care too much and am very disappointed when a candidate I think would be perfect for a position does not get the position. However, I pick myself up and dust myself off and keep trying to find other perfect candidates for the position and other great jobs for the candidate."

So what is Susan's advice to new recruiters?  She answered:
"My advice to new recruiters is to never be at all dishonest in any way to try to make a match, and remember that the most important thing you have is your integrity and your reputation. My advice is also not to get discouraged if you don't make a lot of placements at first. In addition to the fact that you are learning a new business, it takes a while to build the necessary relationships and contacts to be very successful. Just keep making those phone calls and sourcing for the right candidates and be honest and true to your clients, candidates and yourself, and the hard work will eventually pay off."
Considering her eight years of experience in the legal recruiting industry, many readers may want to know where Susan sees the legal field in the next five years. She explained that legal jobs will pick up again and pointed out that mortgage, healthcare, energy, bank regulation and compliance will pick up in the next five years. Although Susan recognized that legal hiring has picked up steadily, she admitted it will not be the same as it was in 2007.

What does Susan look for to find the right fit? What makes a great candidate? The legal recruiter stated:
"I try to find out as much as I can from my law firm and corporate clients, not only about how many years and what type of experience they need in a candidate, but also about the office culture. A candidate may look like a good fit on paper but may not be the right fit for the personality and culture at a certain law firm or company. I try to find out as much information as possible from my clients to make the right fit. I interview all candidates at length to assess honesty and integrity as well as their work experience and academics."
In regards to what makes a great candidate, Susan expressed:
"Of course, great academics, large firm experience, and the types and amount of experience my client is looking for make a great candidate. However, so much more goes into making a great candidate. Great candidates are very honest, real team players and have a strong work ethic and a personality that fits the culture and personality of the law firm or company. They also tend to be very organized, [are] able to juggle multiple projects and assignments at once and have not only book smarts but also emotional intelligence."
How does Susan process fear? "I process fear by analyzing the situation, and trying to rationally explain to myself why I should not be fearful. Then, I go with the fear that is still left and let the adrenalin help."

How does the businesswoman tackle obstacles? "I tackle obstacles by breaking them up into parts and developing a plan on how to tackle each part of the obstacle."

Has the legal recruiter learned something of value from her mistakes? "Absolutely. I definitely learn from my mistakes. I view every mistake as an opportunity to learn and do better next time."

Where does Susan derive her confidence? "Success breeds confidence, and the more successful placements I make, the more confident I feel as a legal recruiter. In addition, the fact that I receive so many referrals from both clients and candidates helps me feel confident that I am doing a good job."

Professional Associations, Admiring Non Profit Organizations, Facing Obstacles and Favorite Quotes

Does Susan hold a membership with any professional associations? "I am a member of The National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC), a voluntary organization of legal recruiters that adhere to the highest ethical standards in the profession and attend numerous best practice classes. I am also a member of The Philadelphia Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association."

What non-profit organizations does the recruiter admire?  She acknowledged:
"I admire many non-profits, especially those that provide free legal assistance to those who cannot afford to hire an attorney such as The Support Center for Child Advocates, Philadelphia VIP, and the Senior Law Center. I greatly admire Frank Cervone, Esq., the Executive Director of The Support Center for Child Advocates. This is an organization in Philadelphia that provides excellent legal representation and other services to victims of child abuse and neglect. Frank has such dedication and has done so much to help victims of child abuse and neglect that he is my hero. I am a member of the Marketing and Public Relations Committee for the Support Center for Child Advocates and was on the Event Committee for their Annual Spring Benefit in 2011 and am honored to do so again in 2013."
Although Susan has faced great obstacles, she has learned to treasure significant individuals in her life. She shared:
"I lost both of my parents pretty young, my father at age 55 and my mother at age 59, and those were very heartbreaking events. My father never even met my husband, and my mother died when my oldest child was just 11 months old.  That really gave me a different perspective than many other young people have.  I learned not to sweat the small stuff, and to cherish those in your life who are important to you and remember to tell them how you feel."
Susan has two favorite quotes: "The harder I work, the luckier I get" and "Believe you can and you're half way there." She explained that the first quote is a truism to what she sees as a direct correlation between hard work and success. Susan explained that the second quote is by Theodore Roosevelt and embodies her belief that believing that you can achieve something is half the battle of actually achieving it.

Most Inspiring Influence and Motivation

Susan's father had the most inspiring influence upon her. She said her father used to own his own business and he taught her at a young age that you need to do everything you can for your clients. Susan's father told her, "There are no short cuts in doing well." The legal recruiter admires her father because he also taught her about integrity and honesty. She learned that the most important thing is your reputation, if you don't have that in business and in life, you have nothing.

What motivates Susan? "I would be lying if I did not say that earning a good living motivates me, because of course, it does. However, making the right matches and helping both my clients and candidates really does motivate me! The feeling that I get when I make that perfect match and have a happy candidate and client and know in my heart that this is a great match for both of them that will last long term and help all parties is pretty terrific!"

It is easy to see from talking with Susan and hearing what other individuals say about her that she is a very knowledgeable, dedicated, hardworking and honest legal recruiter, and that those lucky enough to work with this recruiter are in very good hands.

published February 19, 2013

By Follow Me on
( 36 votes, average: 4.6 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.