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Davis Search

published February 21, 2023

By Follow Me on

( 27 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)

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Davis Search
Professional Overview

Holly Davis is the founder and President of Davis Search (DS), LLC, an Atlanta based legal search firm that places attorneys and paralegals both nationally and internationally. DS's law firm clients are predominantly in the Southeast and include firms in Atlanta, Savannah, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Alabama. The firm's clientele includes Am Law 100 firms as well as smaller boutiques. DS's in-house clientele is diverse and global including both Fortune 100 corporations as well as small companies looking to hire their first attorney. Their clientele list cuts across a wide range of industries. Recent in-house placements have included junior staff as well as very seasoned attorneys at companies located in Atlanta, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, Utah, California and Florida. In recent years, Holly and her team have worked on international placements in China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, India and London. DS actively partners with other legal search firms throughout the nation stemming from her decades long relationships with other search consultants in New York, Washington, DC, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. These affiliates add very qualified candidates and job opportunities to DS's database.

Holly's experience in the legal placement business began with Wells International in Chicago 25 years ago, then the largest such company in the country. After relocating to Atlanta in 1990, Holly spent ten years with Bellon & Associates, one of the most reputable legal search firms in the Southeast before starting her own firm.

Holly is a true people person and she loves to talk with active clients and potential candidates. She feels that one of her strongest qualities is being an exceptional listener. Holly enjoys working with job seekers and finding out who they are and what their goals are. She takes extraordinary pride in her ability to recruit successfully on behalf of both corporations and law firms. Holly sets DS's standards for the pursuit of excellence.

Born in Trenton, Holly spent her first nine years across the Delaware River from Trenton, in Yardley, PA. At nine, her father was transferred to Chicago and the family moved north of the city. Holly attended the University of Arizona where she graduated magna cum laude with degrees in Political Science and Marketing. When asked to discuss her family, she stated:
"I met my husband AJ 19 years ago at a singles tennis match. We then met again about 6 months later at a party and have been together since. He is a Veterinarian and has known he wanted to work with animals since he was 5 years old! He and his partner have had a thriving small animal practice in Atlanta for almost 40 years. In addition to our children, we have 3 dogs who we consider 4 legged people. My husband is awesome - I'm a lucky lady!

I have a stepson and daughter-in-law who live in Atlanta who I am very close to. I'm so lucky to be able to call them great friends as well as family. We are beyond thrilled with our new granddaughter, Lucy! She's so much fun and is the most perfect baby in the world!"
Although Holly enjoys golf, she admitted that she continues to be in the frustration stage with her golf game. In fact, my husband's birthday present this year is Golf School for the two of us (so I can hopefully improve!) in Orlando. He's very excited. I'm a bit nervous."

Holly is an avid reader. "I love to read! My favorite genre is historical fiction but I love a good story, either fiction or non-fiction. I recently completed The Orphan Train by Christina Kline and am currently reading Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Brunt. They are both good reads. A couple of other books I recently read and enjoyed were The Time In Between by Maria Duenas and The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty."

When asked about her favorite restaurant, Holly claimed, "Most friends would say Starbuck's is my favorite, though I'm a tea, not coffee drinker. I love going out to eat and trying anything new. My favorite food is sushi, which if my husband allowed, we would eat 5 nights a week."

Holly's Successful Career Path and Tips for Legal Recruiters

Does Holly have a top memory from the University of Arizona? "I loved everything about my college experience and really feel like I lived the full college experience. My favorite memories are the fun times I had with my friends. I made amazing lifelong friendships and I still consider my college friends to be among my best friends in life."

What does it take to become a successful legal recruiter? Holly noted:
"Persistence, diligence, hard work and a genuine interest in people and what motivates them. You need the persistence and diligence to be able to constantly and consistently reach out to old candidates and potential new candidates on a daily basis, to not take personally the many NO's that you will be given. I always tell new recruiters that I have hired or those that reach out to me thinking about getting into this business that it can be very rewarding but it takes a lot of time and dedication. It will take at least a year to know if you have what it takes to be successful in this industry.

I feel that the most successful recruiters have a real interest in learning about their candidates, what motivates them, their likes and dislikes, what culture do they fit best in, what will give them the most satisfaction. I have always been adamant that I do not feel like a sales person, that I am not driven by money but by making a positive difference in people's lives. I consider myself to be a matchmaker."
What motivated Holly to work as a recruiter? She explained:
"After college, I was living in Chicago, working as a stockbroker and not enjoying it. I was trying to figure out my next steps would be. Among my favorite classes in college were my psychology courses and I always loved to listen and counsel my friends and family. I decided to look into getting my MA in Counseling and started the process of test taking, etc. In the meantime, I needed to find a new job. I answered an ad in the paper for a legal recruiter working for Wells International, then one of the few (if not only) recruiting company in the United States, though it was based in Paris. I reasoned that I always liked the law and recruiting was about working with and counseling others. It was a fit from Day 1. I loved it then and love it now, 25 years later. I never went back to school. To this day, it still fulfills me. I have always enjoyed coaching people, the constant interaction with others and feeling like I've really made a difference in their lives."
In addition to attorney placement, Davis Search also specializes in placing paralegals with law firms and in-house clients. Holly expanded more on how Davis Search is involved in these types of placements: "We have expanded our practice in recent years to placing both paralegals and contract managers with our law firm and in-house clients. It really stems from our clients requests for these types of professionals, especially our technology clients. We put the same effort into finding these individuals as we do our attorney searches."

What advice would she give to someone who's brand-new to her position? Holly asserted:
"-To be persistent and to try not to get frustrated because like most careers, it takes time to gain traction.

-Don't take the rejection personally.

-To always listen to what people have to say and to treat everyone with respect.

-Have a plan and stick to it. When I was starting out, we were instructed to talk to 20 people a day. Back then, it was always by phone. Now there are so many other ways, but it is so important to make the connection and then to build the relationship. It takes a lot of time but with effort and patience it builds up. This is important on both the candidate and client side."
What information does Holly wish she had when she started out? "When I started down this road, I was only looking to do it for a short period of time and found it just worked for me. When talking to people today thinking about legal recruiting as a career, I feel it's most important to be very honest about the effort and time that needs to be put into it. It circles back to knowledge being powerful and allowing people to make the best decisions."

What's one of the things that she finds most challenging about her job? "To be able to fill a very difficult opening in a timely manner."

What would Holly say is the most important thing that she learned as a legal recruiter?" To be a better listener and to never give up. That everyone has a story worth listening to."

What is she known for professionally? Holly acknowledged:
"I think what I am most known for is my highly personalized service and both my candidates and clients knowing I always try my very best. In addition to being a very hard worker, maintaining the highest of ethics has always been very important to me. Candidates feel that I have their back - that I would never (nor would anyone on my team) present them anywhere without their explicit knowledge and consent is very important to me."

Clients know I take the time to get to know them and their particular culture - that I take the time to screen candidates well and only send those candidates who I feel fit. Everyone on my team feels and works in a similar manner.
In regards to what makes a great candidate, she said:
"The 'great candidate' can change with every search. As a generality regarding associates, large law firms as well as larger companies generally look to hire candidates with excellent academics as well as either prior large law firm or highly regarded boutique experience. At smaller and mid-size firms, while credentials and pedigree remain important, specific related experience tends to be the most important. Regarding in-house placements, most companies want specific experience tailored to their need. The request for credentials tends to vary with the corporation and the General Counsel and/or Hiring Manager. Again, this is a broad generality, but I have found that 'the fit' is more important with in-house and smaller law firm searches simply because they're smaller and it's more personal. We all love these types of searches because you really get to know everyone. Partner searches are very different but the successful ones obviously start with portable business.

That being said, our most successful candidates not only have strong credentials, they have a passion for practicing law and are very engaged in the search process. I not only get to know them, they get to know me and we build a relationship and many times, a friendship. We spend a lot of time together either on the phone or in-person meeting, talking and prepping. I always tell them I adopt them during the entire process - and I hope they don't tire of me before it's completed! Once interviews are set up, it's so important to "prep" regarding personalities, practices and information about the company and/or firm. I always stress with candidates that you can't be too prepared. It shows interest and diligence and effort and it's always noticed."
Does Holly have a recipe for a perfect match? "The perfect match comes when both sides are so excited about each other - all the pieces just fit both personally and professionally. And what's even sweeter is when both sides still feel the same years later. It's the best feeling and what I absolutely love about this business. It's like being a kid in a candy shop.

She discussed her strengths and one weakness as a recruiter. Holly candidly admitted:
"I think my strength is my absolute devotion to serving both my clients and my candidates. I get to know what my clients are looking for both professionally and personally and then I go out and do my very best to make a match. I have always considered myself to be a professional matchmaker. The best compliments I get are the personal referrals I receive. I never tire of them - they make me feel so appreciated.

If I have a client or candidate in Atlanta, it is very important for me to meet them. I want to learn as much as I can about the client and the culture of the firm or corporation. Meeting candidates and putting the face to the voice is paramount in this process.

I think my weakness is that I don't like to say No to anyone. I want to try and help everyone and I always feel badly when I can't."
Since Holly has been operating her business for fourteen years, many readers may want to know where she sees the legal recruiting field in the next five years. She noted:
"I think recruiters who are able to incorporate the old methods such as cold calling and new social media techniques will be best able to navigate the changing legal recruiting field. It's necessary to be flexible and stay up with an ever changing market place and new trends. I don't think anything will ever replace meeting someone in person - that's what it's all about to me. As big a part as website portals and online advertising are to firms and companies, nothing will ever replace the relationship that a recruiter has with a particular firm or company. A great recruiter has taken the time to learn the personalities of both his/her client and candidates and that will never be replaced."
Where does she see the legal field in the next five years? Holly revealed:
"Over the past five years, we have observed a very necessary retrenchment in the legal field. Though the economy is slowly and steadily improving, I don't believe firms will ever return to the hiring they did prior to the recession. Nor should they, in my opinion. Firms don't want to go through massive layoffs again and as a result hire much more carefully. It has become a more difficult search process for attorneys graduating from second tier schools or those who don't have experience in either large law firms or well-known boutiques.

In-House positions are opening up more as the economy improves but hiring managers and General Counsels appear to have become more careful in their hiring process as well. Spot on experience to the need is very important."
What motivates Holly to be a legal recruiter every day? "I'm motivated every day to find the right candidate for my client's needs. At the same time, I have the opportunity to help people get to a better place in their career. I get tremendous satisfaction when I know I've helped people."

How does the businesswoman tackle obstacles? "I feel that knowledge is power so I try to know as much as I can about something, make a plan and then tackle it. I may not always be successful but I know I always tried my best. That's most important to me."

Does Holly learn something of value from her mistakes? "I am constantly learning from my mistakes both personally and professionally. I strongly feel you don't really learn from your successes, you learn from your failures."

Where does she derive her confidence? "From my family and close friends where I have always received total acceptance. Also, from life's experiences which teaches you so much."

Holly's Mentors and Mentoring Others, Professional Associations, Facing Obstacles, and Her Passions

Who are the people that inspired Holly? "My early mentors in legal recruiting were Karen Davidson and Stacia Foster Blake. Karen was based in Los Angeles and Stacia in New York - in my early years, I reported to both of them and they really taught me the business, how they navigated it and the processes they used to be successful. I don't think I would be where I am today without their initial training and support."

Is she a mentor? "I love serving as a mentor to others. Sometimes it's to my team, sometimes it's to a son/daughter of a family friend who needs help with their career, resume writing, interviewing, etc. and sometimes it's spending time with people that contact me who are unsure what to do next. It's what I love most about my job and one way I feel I've been able to give back."

Are there any professional associations that she currently holds a membership with? "The Greater Women's Business Council."

Has Holly faced any obstacles in her life? "I have faced large personal obstacles in my life with personal strength and total support from my friends and family. Along the way I learned how to take the overwhelming apart and break it into smaller bits so it's not overwhelming any longer. I also learned the very valuable and important lesson of forgiveness."

What causes is she passionate about? "I am really interested in the empowerment of women. In particular, I work with teens and women in our community with regards to how to search for a job, what kinds of jobs to search for, how to put a resume together, how to interview, and how to dress appropriately for both an interview and the work place.

I am also really interested in helping displaced dogs find new homes. I have done this through my husband's animal clinic and in conjunction with no-kill shelters in Atlanta.

Favorite Quote, A Rewarding Position, Holly's Goals, and Final Thoughts

When asked if she had a favorite quote, Holly replied, "I don't have a specific favorite saying but was always taught to do my very best every day. That's my motto. And also never forget to laugh a lot and be able to laugh at yourself. Most recently, I really connected with what Russell Wilson, The Seahawk's quarterback said was his motto from his dad - 'Why Not You?' I love that."

Does she find her work rewarding? Holly stated:
"As I have said throughout this piece, I love what I do and garner so much satisfaction from helping others. Over the years, I have obtained a tremendous amount of knowledge about my clients and that in turn has helped me place the best possible candidates for any particular opening. I take a lot of pride that I have been placing attorneys for over 20 years with the same clients (over 100 at some); attorneys who I placed years ago are now the decision makers. And not just me, there are other members of my team who can say the same thing."
Does Holly have goals? She expressed:
"Prior to starting Davis Search, I spent 10 years at Bellon & Associates. While I was always happy there, I didn't want to reach retirement and say to myself 'shoulda, woulda, coulda.' It was scary to start my own company but I have been very fortunate through the years. My professional goal now is to continue placing qualified candidates with my current clients while adding new clients. I would also like to focus more on partner and group searches. Individually, I really enjoy coaching and counseling individuals and assisting them in the process of exploring different career opportunities."
Is there anything else that Holly would like to share about herself professionally or personally? She claimed:
In addition to our home in Atlanta, we own a townhouse in Vail and always look forward to our time out there. Both summers and winters are beautiful and offer lots of outdoor activities. I'd like to say I play golf a lot there (maybe after golf school) but mainly lots of walking and hiking in summers and skiing in the winter.

We love to travel. Our last big trip was to Africa, which was life changing and just amazing in every way, and we are in the planning stages for our next trip to Australia and New Zealand.

On a workout note, I love Pilates! I've been doing it for about 10 years and it's been life changing.

Outside of work, I spend as much time as possible with my both my friends and family. I'm very close to both and consider my close friends my family."
What to Expect When Working with Holly

Russell Hochman, a deputy general counsel at Harsco Corporation, said:
"Holly was instrumental in my placement at Harsco Corporation. I can say without hesitation that Holly is one of the finest recruiters I have ever worked with. Holly doesn't just make connections -- she invests herself personally in her clients and candidates, positioning each one for success. She genuinely cares about both. Holly's interview preparation and follow-ups are amazingly detailed and extraordinarily helpful. I would highly recommend Holly for any search opportunity."
A. Verona Dorch, a Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer & Corporate Secretary at Harsco Corporation, noted:

"I have worked with Holly on a number of searches including my efforts over the past year to build my Legal and Compliance leadership teams given my new role at Harsco. Without a doubt Holly is one of the best recruiters I have worked with over the years as she has taken the time to not only personally understand each position and the skill set needed, but has also worked diligently to ensure that there is a good fit with each recruit, whether with regard to personality or otherwise, not only with Harsco and its values but also across the team. I also appreciate the fact that Holly periodically follows up with the attorneys and other professionals that we have hired to help ensure a smooth transition into Harsco.

As we continue to build a 'dream team' of lawyers and compliance professionals at Harsco I have no doubt that we will continue to work with Holly on these future searches, as her level of attention to detail and understanding of the big picture has been instrumental to our success."

Michael T. McAlhaney, a worldwide talent & organization capability/global learning advisor acknowledged:
"I started my recruiting career in 1993 as an assistant legal recruiter supporting Holly Davis. I worked initially for Holly and eventually as her recruiting colleague at the same company in Atlanta, GA until 1998 when I relocated to NY, NY. Holly taught me everything I know about recruiting and has a work ethic and dedication to the field like few I've known since.

I have always stayed in touch with Holly and have also used her company's services over the years to recruit legal talent to Pfizer's Legal Division. She is incredibly well-connected in the legal world and is someone I trust implicitly. I can highly recommend her skills, her work and her firm without reservation."

See Atlanta legal recruiter ranking on LawCrossing.