Elise K.Y. Lau, Esq., owns and runs EKL Attorney Search, a search firm based in Irvine, California. EKL Attorney Search specializes in the placement of associates in all practice areas with law firms and companies throughout California. The search firm has also made national and international placements in other geographical areas including Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; Shanghai; Beijing; Hong Kong; Taiwan and many other locations.
Prior to her career in attorney recruiting, Elise worked as a tax accountant for a large, national accounting firm and eventually became a Certified Public Accountant. After a few years working as an accountant, she decided to attend law school to further her education with the hopes of utilizing her tax background in the trusts and estates area. After six years of practicing law, Elise yearned to work more closely with people. She also started a family and desired a profession where she could have more of a work/life balance.
Elise saw an advertisement in the Daily Journal for an attorney recruiter at Swan Legal Search. She answered the ad, interviewed, and joined the firm. Elise quickly became a top producer there. After nearly ten years with Swan Legal Search, Elise launched EKL Attorney Search in 2010. She truly enjoys attorney recruiting, and her success as legal recruiter is evidence of her true passion and enthusiasm for this type of work. She enjoys counseling attorneys on their career aspirations and assisting them in achieving their goals. With the breadth and depth of her recruiting experience and her practical experience as an attorney, Elise possesses significant knowledge of the legal market. In addition, her integrity and honesty makes her a wonderful recruiter to work with.
Elise was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated with a B.B.A. in Finance and International Business from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a member of Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies. Elise also earned her J.D. from Hastings College of the Law, where she was a member of the Constitutional Law Quarterly. She served as a judicial extern for the late Judge Harold Fong during her final semester at Hastings College of the Law.
Elise has been married to Eric for sixteen years and they have two children. Her daughter, Lea, is a freshman at Northwood High School. Elise's son, Cody, attends fifth grade at Canyon View Elementary School. Her family takes annual vacations to visit their grandparents in Honolulu, Hawaii.
When the legal recruiter isn't working, she enjoys working out at the gym, taking long walks, and hiking. Elise is an avid badminton player, having picked up the sport a couple of years ago, and plays three to four times a week. One of her favorite restaurants is Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Elise and Eric went to Roy's on their first date.
Elise's Successful Career Path and Tips for Legal Recruiters
What does it take to become a successful legal recruiter? Elise said a successful recruiter has a desire to help their candidates find a position they truly enjoy. She advises candidates to follow their dreams and not to get stuck in a career they do not enjoy. Elise believes recruiters are responsible for listening to their candidates carefully and learning about what they are seeking. She often counsels candidates about their careers and the enjoyable aspects of what they do. Elise added, "Life is short. Candidates should strive to do the type of work they are passionate about and what they enjoy doing."
What motivated her to become a recruiter? Elise candidly claimed, "I wasn't happy being a lawyer. I had given birth to Lea and didn't enjoy the stress and long hours of being an attorney. I wanted to have more interaction with people and assist them in finding rewarding positions."
The businesswoman discussed what she is known for professionally. "I am responsive to people and get back to them on a timely basis. My candidates and clients want to know that I am looking after them. I am also known to be polite and congenial with people. I have been told that I'm not pushy."
Elise also discussed her strengths and one weakness as a recruiter. "A strength of mine is that I can remember details about people from years ago. Knowing the background and details about an individual helps me connect them to a job." As for her weakness, Elise stated it is challenging to manage the inflow of emails she receives daily and it requires a lot of prioritization and organization.
So what is her advice to new recruiters? "The recruiting process takes time. Recruiting is all about building relationships and getting to know prospective candidates and matching them with job listings. New recruiters typically won't make money immediately. This process takes patience and sometimes luck. Once recruiters learn the nuances and culture of the firms, they can be very successful in making placements. Recruiters have to be very patient in this industry."
Considering her thirteen years of experience in the legal search industry, many readers may want to know where Elise sees the legal recruiting field in the next five years. "It's very competitive amongst recruiters and it will continue to be competitive. It takes a certain type of person to do well in this business. The recruiters who are competent will survive and do well."
What does Elise look for to find the right fit? What makes a great candidate? "I listen to each candidate's needs. I also evaluate whether they would be a good fit for what the firm is looking for."
In regards to what makes a great candidate, Elise noted, "A perfect candidate has three to five years experience from a top firm, top academic credentials, and was a member of the law review. If a firm is seeking specific experience, however, the perfect candidate will have the type of experience the firm is seeking, and perhaps academic credentials might not be as important. Other qualities of a perfect candidate include someone who is organized, responsive, and has a good idea what they are seeking in their next firm."
Does Elise have a recipe for a perfect match? "I consider my candidate's career goals, the reasons why they want to move, and whether the firm meets their goals."
How does the businesswoman tackle obstacles? "I think about the obstacle and the best way to handle the situation. I take some time to review the scenario in my mind and once I make a decision, I just go ahead and do it."
Has Elise learned something of value from her mistakes? "Yes. I try to learn something positive from my mistakes. After learning from my mistakes I move on."
Where does Elise derive her confidence? "I am passionate about recruiting. When I do something I am passionate about, it gives me confidence to help people."
Elise's Mentor, Motivation, Facing Obstacles and Favorite Quote
Does Elise have a mentor? "Delia Swan helped me get into the legal search field. I have to thank her for taking a chance on me and for showing me the inner workings of this business."
What motivates her to be a legal recruiter everyday? "The thrill of helping attorneys better their careers is very motivating to me. I'm driven by the number of placements that can be made. You have to be self-driven and motivated in this business. No one is going to hold your hand and make cold calls for you. You also have to think outside the box and be able to generate your own business."
Has Elise faced any obstacles? She decided to leave Swan Legal Search and started her company during a recession. Elise explained that she had to envision her company before it actually came into fruition. "I like the saying that if you can conceive and believe, you will achieve. Believing in myself and my abilities made all the difference for me."
Elise's favorite quote is by Nike: "Just Do It." She said the quote resonates with her because sometimes you need to just take a leap of faith and plunge right into it and trust that everything will work out just fine. Elise was able to successfully launch and establish her business in a sluggish economy.
Elise's Passions and Her Goals
Elise donates regularly for causes that deal with woman and children issues. In particular, she likes to support organizations that assist abused women and children.
Does the Hawaiian have goals? "Professionally, I will continue to expand my business and exceed what I have done in prior years. Personally, I love traveling overseas." Elise has visited China, Southeast Asia, and Europe. She plans on traveling more in the future.
What to Expect When Working with Elise
A corporate associate at the Los Angeles office of a national law firm claimed:
"Elise worked tirelessly on my behalf and helped place me at a top law firm at a time when very few firms were hiring. Elise took the time to learn my background and get a good idea of the direction in which I wanted my career to move. And when positions would open up she would talk them through with me, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each job. She never pushed me to apply to any opening. Instead, it was clear she wanted me to find the best job for me, one where I would be happy. I highly recommend working with Elise as a legal recruiter. In fact, I've already referred several of my friends to her, and each one has had a similarly positive experience working with her."
An estate-planning associate at a San Francisco law firm acknowledged:
"I work in a niche practice area where openings are few and far between. Elise Lau called me with a dream opportunity closer to family and helped me polish my resume for the position. After I was rejected without an interview, I was devastated. Elise thought I was the right fit for the position and kept pushing the firm's recruiting coordinator to take a look at my resume again. Her persistence paid off for me: I got a screening interview, which led to a callback and ultimately a job offer. I accepted and am now raising my young children closer to their grandparents and cousins. Thank you Elise!"
A labor and employment associate at a labor and employment boutique stated:
"While a lateral move is not exactly a pleasant experience, I am happy to say that I was quite pleased with the services of Elise Lau. Elise was a great resource, particularly because I was planning to move to California from out-of-state. My anxiety due to my lack of familiarity with the job market in California was eased by Elise's solid experience in this area. She was there every step of the way, providing me with sound advice, which was critical to securing my desired employment. She was also diligent and kept me updated on a regular basis with new developments. I highly recommend Elise Lau."
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