Executive Senior Partner Gloria Sandrino Discusses Her Successful Legal Search Practice at Lucas Group

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Executive Senior Partner Gloria Sandrino
Professional Overview

Gloria Sandrino is an executive senior partner at Lucas Group, an executive search firm with multiple functionalities including legal, which has fifteen locations nationwide. She specializes in recruiting partners and partner groups for major firms in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Washington D.C. Ms. Sandrino has also worked with partners in Latin America, Europe, and Asia.



As a former practicing Corporate M&A attorney for ten years in Manhattan, Ms. Sandrino understands the intricacies of business and legal strategy. Her in-depth knowledge is extremely significant as partners progressively change addresses in the legal industry. They are no longer locked into their existing firms and Ms. Sandrino can be a valuable adviser in assisting firms to find top-tier talent and partners find ideal firms.

A graduate of Harvard Law, Ms. Sandrino has a dynamic network of practitioners, partners, former colleagues, and classmates who are senior partners in Am Law 200 firms. She is able to understand the nuances of every partner move and she discretely leverages her professional relationships to access decision-makers at potential firms.

As firms look to expand globally and domestically, they are continually looking for the perfect partner to open new offices or lead new practice areas. Ms. Sandrino serves as a well-informed partner and professional to both firms and partners. She delivers timely market knowledge, deep research, and a high level of familiarity with practice dynamics to every opportunity.

Ms. Sandrino also understands the economics of partner transitions. Moving an entire practice group or a senior partner is a major undertaking, which requires time to pay the desired financial dividends. If not orchestrated in a credible and candid fashion, disputes might arise and the partnerships may dissolve. Regardless of the speed at which moves occur, Ms. Sandrino ensures that both parties understand each other well. She offers knowledge not readily available in the marketplace-from marketing budgets, incentives to liability issues, and compensation systems. Ms. Sandrino pays meticulously to each detail and communicates honestly at every step in the process. She also ensures that there aren't surprises and satisfaction is high for every engagement.

Ms. Sandrino is active in the legal profession and is a member of the ABA Young Lawyers Division -- Committee on Minorities in the Profession, the Hispanic Lawyers Association, the La Raza Lawyers Association, the Harvard Law School Alumni Association, the Harvard Law Women's Network of Southern California (as well as the New York chapter) and the Diversity Initiative in Law.

Ms. Sandrino knows how important senior moves are to families and firms. If you want seasoned legal experience for your career or your firm, she is a recruiting partner who can help you make a change for the better.

Ms. Sandrino was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Lakewood, New Jersey. She came to the United States in 1967, at the age of nine. She and her family were political refugees, and they entered the U.S. legally in one of the "Freedom Flights" permitted under the administrations of Presidents Johnson and Nixon.

Ms. Sandrino earned her B.A. magna cum laude in English and Spanish Literature (double majors) from Rutgers College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Sigma Iota. She also earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984. Ms. Sandrino is married to a lawyer and real estate developer and she has three children, two boys and a girl. Her sons are in college and her daughter is in high school.

When she's not working the country recruiting partners and practice groups, Ms. Sandrino loves spending time with her family. Her hobbies revolve around her children's school and sports (her boys play baseball and football, and her daughter is on a rowing team). A former law professor in San Diego, Ms. Sandrino has always been active in their school's Parents Association; Room Parent; and School Fundraising Chair.

She is a frequent visitor of La Jolla's The Marine Room. Ms. Sandrino is currently reading Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.

Ms. Sandrino's Successful Career Path and Tips for Legal Recruiters

Does Ms. Sandrino have a top memory from law school? "I loved law school! My top memory is the relationships that I made while in law school. Thirty years later, my law school friends are still my close friends."

Did she receive any awards, scholarships, or honors at school? "I received many awards in college. The one that I am the proudest of is the 'Henry Rutgers Scholar' award, awarded for high academic achievement. In law school, I received an award for teaching legal writing to 1Ls, which introduced me to teaching in the legal arena. Many years later, it was the main reason that I decided to become a law professor."

What does it take to become a successful legal recruiter? Ms. Sandrino replied:
"Do you have three hours? There are three important components to be a successful legal recruiter (in my opinion): (i) 'competitive legal intelligence' (not my term), and the interpretation of such intelligence; (ii) an understanding and respect for the enormity of a partner's (I only work with partners) decision to make a lateral move; and (iii) tenacity.

In today's world, law partners can get a great deal of information about law firms from the Internet. My job is to systematically gather all of the public information about the legal profession and combine it with information that I get directly from the law firms and interpret it for the partner who is looking for career opportunities. In my opinion, both the gathering and the interpretation of the information make that information 'competitive legal intelligence.' I don't do all of the interpretation myself, I call the Chairpersons of the law firms; members of the executive committees; managing partners; etc. The access that I have to these partners allows me to interpret the information in a way that is meaningful and that a partner can't find in a firm's web site. For example, one of the main questions that I get from partners is regarding the lateral partner integration plans of particular law firms. Information about these plans can't be found anywhere! It has taken me many hours of meetings and conversations to piece together the lateral partner integration plans of firms in the Am Law 1200.

The other use of the competitive legal intelligence is on the 'client side' - the law firms. When law firms call me to tell me about their lateral partner needs, I am able to give them a great deal of information regarding the search. For example, when a firm called me to tell me that they really wanted to expand their IP practice in California, I told them that they needed to think about a San Diego and/or Orange County office, because of the biotech businesses in those geographical locations, and the ties to the IP legal work. The result was that instead of just looking for lateral partners in the IP space, the firm is now considering opening a new office. Their objective is now more strategic.

The second component is an understanding by me of the enormity of a partner's decision to make a lateral move. Partners are not only concerned about their particular legal career, but also their clients. Will the clients agree with partner's law firm choice? Does the firm have strength in the other practice areas that the client utilizes the firm for? There are so many layers to a partner's decision-making process than just the opportunity itself. It is very important for a recruiter to be able to address all of the layers of the process in order to make a successful placement.

On the firm side, the process is also complex. We are not only asked about portable business, but the nature of that business. I have to have an understanding of the nuances of the partner's business long before the Lateral Partner Questionnaire reveals all of this information. Billing rate; billable hours; etc.- early disclosure of all help to make the interview process one that has no major surprises.

Third, a recruiter has to be tenacious. The recruiter has to make a bond first with the law firms and then with partner candidates. Bonds take time and nurturing."
Did Ms. Sandrino transition into working as a recruiter? "Yes, I was a law professor (tenured) for sixteen years at California Western School of Law in San Diego, CA."

She is a former practicing M&A attorney. How does this experience help Ms. Sandrino as a legal recruiter? She noted:
"I know the practice of law in Am Law 200 firms. Not only from my years as an associate, but from my friends that are now partners, Managing Partners and Chairpersons of Am Law firms.

Like all industries, it helps if one has been part of it. I was part of it and have a lot of friends in the trenches! I use my past experience and current contacts to connect with both the law firms (as clients) and partner/candidates."
What advice would she give to someone who's brand-new to her position? Ms. Sandrino asserted:
"I am often asked to give advice to brand-new recruiters. My advice is threefold: (i) know the legal industry; (ii) be strategic; and (iii) embrace 'intellectual humility.'

As I mentioned before, in order to be successful in this arena a recruiter has to know what is going on in the legal industry. What types of partners are law firms hiring? Where? What practice areas are growing and which are shrinking? What firms are hiring lateral partners? Both firms and partner/candidates are looking for recruiters that know what is going on in the legal industry. That is the value-added that we bring to legal recruiting.

The second piece of advice is to use the information gathered above to be strategic. As I mentioned before, there are two components to our job. The first is to work with firms to develop searches for lateral partners. This requires a great deal of work. As a recruiter, the more access we have to a particular law firm, the more information we have regarding the search. The other component of our job is to find lateral partner candidates. This requires cold-calling partners and speaking to them about a particular opportunity (or several opportunities). But before a recruiter picks up that phone, he/she has to come up with a 'target list' (of prospective partners); a 'pitch' (what makes this an attractive opportunity?); and synergies of the opportunity and the candidate.

The third piece of advice is a concept that I read about recently in The Wall StreetJournal. Google's Head of People Operations, Laslo Bock, said that the people that are successful at Google embrace 'intellectual humility.' Intellectual humility requires that a person have a 'willingness to be taught.' In legal recruiting, this is really important. The practice of law is so complex, that as recruiters, we have to be open to learn, so we can pass that along to either the firms or the partners."As Bock notes, it doesn't mean that people can't be confident in their abilities, it just means that they have to have an understanding that they can always perfect their productivity by learning from others."
What's one of the things that Ms. Sandrino finds most challenging about her job? "The most challenging part of my job is the time that it takes to make a partner placement in a law firm (I don't work in-house placements). The largest placement that I made took me one year and three months."

What would she say is the most important thing she learned as a legal recruiter? "The most important lesson for me has been to just listen. When I take the time to listen to what firms are looking for and what partners want in a law firm, then I can make the 'match.' It is easier said than done, because partners don't often have a great deal of time to talk. So I have to keep calling until I get the information that I need."

What is Ms. Sandrino known for professionally? "This is a difficult question to answer about myself, but what I have heard from partners that come to me from referrals is that they want to work with me because I have real access to partners in the law firms. I have the 'ear' of the Chairpersons, members of the Executive Committee, etc."

What does she look for to find the right fit? What makes a great candidate? "In a partner, I look for the synergies between what the firms are looking for and the partner's practice, skill-set; etc."

In regards to what makes a great candidate, Ms. Sandrino stated, "A partner who communicates to me what he/she is looking for-even if it is just more money! I need to know that!"

Does she have a recipe for a perfect match? "Synergy!!!"

What are Ms. Sandrino's strengths and one weakness as a recruiter? "My biggest strengths are that I am a lawyer; I work hard; and I am strategic. My weakness is that I sometimes forget that I am a recruiter, and think that I am a career counselor."

Where does she see the legal field in the next five years? "I think that lateral partner moves will remain strong for years to come. It has become the number one way for law firms to increase their revenues."

Where does Sandrino see the legal recruiting field in the next five years? "I think that more recruiters will have legal degrees. The multitude of specialties in the legal practice will require recruiters to have a fundamental understanding of the law. Even at the associate level, recruiters with a law degree tend to be more successful." For example, firms are looking for legal recruiters that understand the nuances of the U.S. Korean Free Trade Agreement if they are looking to build a Korean practice group. It is no longer as simple as looking for lawyers with Korean clients.

How does the businesswoman process fear? "I fight fear with faith!"

How does Ms. Sandrino tackle obstacles? "One step in front of the other. Baby steps!"

Does she learn something of value from her mistakes? "Absolutely!!! I live by the motto, 'Every set-back is a chance to rise.' I embrace it and believe it."

What motivates Ms. Sandrino to be a legal recruiter every day? "I like working with people. I also know that for most partners I can find a better firm for them. On the firm side, I like to know about their particular strategy for growth and then like to find them lateral partners that will help them achieve that growth."

Where does she derive her confidence? Ms. Sandrino acknowledged:
"I know the law and I am a hard worker. I have been a lawyer; law professor and now a legal recruiter. I know the legal industry. My knowledge of the legal industry gives me the confidence to ask questions, so that I can be a better recruiter.

I was an associate in NYC in the 1980s. I worked long hours!! I still do that now. I spend a great deal of time on each search, trying to make sure that I get the best partner candidates for a firm or the best firm opportunities for partner candidates. Once I start working with the candidates, I spend a great deal of time making sure that I can place them." Likewise with law firms, I don't stop looking until I find the best lateral partners for them."
Facing Obstacles, Being a Law Professor, Mentoring Young Recruiters at Lucas Group, Non-Profit Organizations, and People Who Inspired Ms. Sandrino

Has Ms. Sandrino faced any obstacles in her life? "Of course, probably the biggest obstacle was to come to a new country and be left behind in fourth grade. I was left back because I didn't speak English, which only made me want to read more! I felt complete vindication when I became an English Literature major in college!"

What motivated her to teach? "To be honest, it was my desire to have children and be able to have time to spend with them. Academia allowed me to stay in the legal arena, as a teacher and a writer, and gave me a great deal of flexibility with respect to time."

Does Ms. Sandrino consider herself a mentor? "I am a mentor to many of the young recruiters at Lucas Group. I believe that it is my responsibility to give-back and share what I know. I also write for our Newsletter every week, sharing what I have learned with regards to market intelligence, legal recruiting strategies, etc."

Does she work with any non-profit organizations? "Our family is Jewish, so I do a great deal of work with our temple."

Who inspires her? "My mother, father and grandmother! They left their homeland so that my sister and I could have a better life. My mom had two PhDs and a career as an elementary school teacher in Cuba, and yet came to the U.S. and cleaned floors until she learned English, and became a bilingual elementary school teacher."

A Rewarding Position, Favorite Quote, Goals, and Final Thoughts

Does Ms. Sandrino find her work rewarding? "Yes, because I am helping people with their careers."

Her favorite quote is "Every second brings a new opportunity."

Does Ms. Sandrino have goals? "Just keep recruiting."

Is there anything else you care to share professionally or personally? Ms. Sandrino stated:
"Yes, I just want to say a few words about diversity. I think that it is very important to have diverse legal recruiters. I am Latina, black and a woman. It goes without saying, that on a daily basis I bring who I am to the process. I am able (because I can) to discuss diversity (and the need for diversity) with law firms and with partner candidates. I can navigate through those topics which may be more difficult for other legal recruiters to discuss openly. I see this as a challenge and an opportunity. Hopefully, in my own small way, I can make a difference in the legal profession.

I am comfortable discussing with partner candidates about diversity or the lack thereof at the various firms. I feel just as comfortable confronting firms about the same issue."
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