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Mo Lee is a legal recruiter at Watanabe Nason & Schwartz, LLC, a search firm based in California. She focuses exclusively on the placement of practice groups and partners with major law firms. Ms. Lee has brokered deals at global AMLAW 100 firms as well as top-tier regional and boutique firms. She is well-known for providing strategic guidance to groups and partners from initial stage discussions through compensation negotiation. She provides expertise and experience to law firm partners determining whether a move will be beneficial in reaching their goals and targeting firms that can expand their interests and practice. Ms. Lee manages this process from beginning to end with extreme competence and experience.
Additionally, Ms. Lee works with law firms on the strategic growth of offices and practice areas. She also advises in areas of practice evaluation, competitive law firm economics, and market dynamics. During her career, Ms. Lee has established solid relationships with firm management throughout California. Although she has made placements throughout California, the majority of her placements have been located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the Los Angeles markets.
She was born in Maryland attended college and law school in Washington, D.C. Ms. Lee received her undergraduate degree in economics and finance from The Catholic University of America. She also earned her law degree from The American University, Washington College of Law.
When asked about her family, Ms. Lee stated, "I have two daughters who are the love of my life. My parents emigrated here from Korea. I'm one of five kids, three older brothers born in Korea. My younger brother and I were born in the US. Family is very important to me."
Ms. Lee's Successful Career Path and Tips for Legal Recruiters
Does Ms. Lee have a top memory from The American University, Washington College of Law? "I remember staying up until all hours of the night studying. I remember the sound of the dot matrix printer printing out drafts of my first appellate brief."
What does it take to become a successful legal recruiter? Ms. Lee noted:
"There are a lot of factors that go into being a successful recruiter. One of the crucial factors is knowledge of the legal landscape including key areas of growth for firms, the economy generally and how that affects current and developing areas of focus. For example, energy, private equity and FCPA work are among the practice areas that are and will continue to be high revenue areas.
Another key to success is understanding the goals of the candidates and matching those goals with the specific firms that have the ability to advance those goals and in which they will have a high probability of receiving an offer."
What motivated her to work as a recruiter? Ms. Lee explained:
"As a young associate, I was often contacted by recruiters. I found the line of work very interesting. Upon having kids, I took a sabbatical from practicing law for several years to devote myself toward raising my kids. Once they started school I practiced law again, but found it incompatible with the needs of my family, so I ventured into recruiting. I have loved being a recruiter and helping people is extremely rewarding."
What advice would she give to someone who's brand-new to her position? "If you don't love it, find something you do love instead. If you do love it, remember it's a marathon, not a sprint."
What would Ms. Lee say is the most important thing she learned as a legal recruiter? "I've learned that in order to do something very well, you must produce excellent work on a consistent basis. I am privileged to work with Larry Watanabe and a great team of recruiters who share this goal."
What is she known for professionally? "I would like to be known by candidates and firms for having provided outstanding service such that they would look back on a deal and say there is no one else they would have rather worked with."
What does Ms. Lee look for to find the right fit? What makes a great candidate? "I listen carefully to a candidate's motivation to move to another firm and assess whether his/her goals are obtainable in the market. During their process of interviewing, I continue to listen to, assist and guide candidates as they further define and refine their interest and goals."
In regards to what makes a great candidate, she asserted, "Competence in their practice area, responsiveness, likeability, and motivation."
Does Ms. Lee have a recipe for a perfect match? "There's no recipe because each search is unique. For me, the perfect match is when both sides feel they've found what they have been looking for."
Where does she see the legal recruiting field in the next five years? "I see the legal recruiting field narrowing down in the volume of search firms. As law firms continue to expand nationally and globally, they become more competitive to attract top tier partners. Working with experienced and well-established legal search firms that consistently bring up these types of partners is vital to the growth and stability of law firms."
Where does Ms. Lee derive her confidence? She asserted:
"Confidence comes from experience. The more deals you are involved in create more opportunities for deepening your skill set. Even those deals in which the candidate ultimately decides to stay at their current firm provide greater insight into the current market. Watanabe Nason has facilitated over 900 partner and group level deals throughout California. In any given year, our firm closes more deals than any 10 of our competitors combined, which gives us a unique position in the market and strong relationships with firm management."
A Rewarding Position and Ms. Lee's Motivation
Does Ms. Lee find her work rewarding? "Yes, it is extremely rewarding to assist partners in moving to a new firm that holds greater opportunity for them. Because so much of our time is spent at work, it is extremely important to work in a place that you look forward to going to every day and where you feel you make a difference."
What motivates her to be a legal recruiter every day? "Helping people."
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