Co-founder and Principal David Sarnoff Discusses His Exceptional Legal Search Practice at Morandi, Taub & Sarnoff

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David Sarnoff
Professional Overview

David B. Sarnoff is a co-founder and principal of Morandi, Taub & Sarnoff, LLC, a legal search firm based in New York. Although the company places attorneys both nationally and abroad, they primarily focus on making placements in New York City, Washington D.C., and Boston. Morandi, Taub & Sarnoff have successfully placed attorneys at law firms of all sizes, mid-size companies and smaller start-ups, and at hedge funds, investment banks and Fortune 500 companies. They have also placed all levels of attorneys from general counsels to partners and assistants counsels to associates, in all practice areas.

Mr. Sarnoff and his partners, Dominic Morandi, Esq., and Jonathan Taub, Esq., cover a broad range of practices including, litigation, corporate (M&A, securities, capital markets, finance and securitization), hedge funds, mutual funds, investment advisers, financial institutions and all aspects of real estate. Mr. Morandi also specializes in intellectual property, including, patent litigation and prosecution.

Mr. Sarnoff combines his knowledge and experience as an attorney and legal recruiter to develop a focused and individualized search to help his clients and candidates achieve their desired goals. His method to recruiting is to direct his candidates through the process with an insightful, honest, and objective perspective. Mr. Sarnoff believes that the exchange of precise information, treated with professionalism and confidentiality, is significant in serving the needs of both candidates and clients.

Prior to co-founding Morandi, Taub & Sarnoff, Mr. Sarnoff served as a legal recruiter at another New York search firm from 1998 to 2003. He has sixteen years of experience as a recruiter. During his career, Mr. Sarnoff has placed numerous attorneys, from a wide variety of practice areas, at hedge funds, investment banks, companies, and at well-known law firms throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.

Mr. Sarnoff also served as a litigation associate at the law firm Gold & Wachtel (known now as Wachtel Missry LLP ) from 1994 to 1998. He specialized in the areas of white-collar defense and complex commercial litigation.

Mr. Sarnoff was born in New York and raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. He received his B.A., cum laude, from Hofstra University, where he served as the Chief Justice of the Student Judiciary Board and was the recipient of the Hofstra University Dean of Students Junior Man of the Year Award. Mr. Sarnoff spent a summer semester studying at the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, Netherlands. He also earned his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, where he made the Dean’s List in his 2L and 3L.

When he isn’t working, he enjoys the New York Giants, photography, family travel and coaching youth sports.

Mr. Sarnoff’s Successful Career Path and Tips for Legal Recruiters

Does Mr. Sarnoff have a top memory from school? He said during his sophomore year at Hofstra University, he “had the opportunity to interview former Richard Nixon Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman for a school project. That interview is now in the Nixon Library and National Archives.” Although Mr. Sarnoff was waiting nervously to conduct the interview in Mr. Haldeman’s living room, he was able to record about two and a half hours of discussion with the man most called “the second most powerful person in the U.S.” Mr. Sarnoff added, “It was a great experience interviewing Haldeman.”

What does it take to become a successful legal recruiter? “It takes someone who has integrity, is self-motivated, has thick skin, possesses great patience, and thinks quickly on his/her feet.”

How does Mr. Sarnoff embody these characteristics personally and professionally? “I embody these characteristics by putting integrity at the top of my list. I’d rather lose a deal then close one that compromises my integrity. I am up front and honest with my candidates and clients. I listen to the needs of my clients and candidates and service their interests to the best of my ability.”

What motivated him to work as a recruiter? “I was motivated to work as a recruiter because I enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of the industry. I also believe that it is well suited to my ability to connect with a wide spectrum of people.”

What is Mr. Sarnoff known for professionally? “I am known for being a straight shooter with high integrity who gives an honest and straight forward assessment. Additionally, I focus on resume and business plan construction and interview preparation and coaching.”

What do you look for to find the right fit? What makes a great candidate? “I look to provide my candidates with the type of firm, fund or company that will have a strong cultural fit as well as compliment their professional skills.”

In regards to what makes a great candidate, Mr. Sarnoff said, “A great candidate is an individual with strong credentials and experience but is also coachable and receptive to constructive suggestions.”

What are his strengths and weaknesses as a recruiter? Mr. Sarnoff explained:

“I believe my strengths are my ability to connect with my candidates and understand what they are looking for and provide them with opportunities that fit their criteria, as opposed to just trying to place them in any position. Having practiced law prior to entering recruiting, I can relate to the circumstances of my candidates and clients. I am also meticulous in resume review and construction and interview preparation. Last, but not least, I bring over 16 years of legal recruiting experience to my candidates and clients. I have experienced a broad gamut of the industry having placed all levels from a junior associate to a Partner with a significant book of business. This also includes all levels of in-house placements up to and including General Counsel.” With respect to weaknesses, “you’d have to ask my wife Paige.”

What is Mr. Sarnoff’s advice to new recruiters? “To introduce yourself to as many high caliber attorneys as you can. If they are not looking, they may know someone who is.”

Where does he see the legal field in the next five years? “Given the reduction in hiring over the past five years, I see a gradual upswing in associate hiring over the next several years.” Mr. Sarnoff continued to say that since the 2008 economic recession, the legal industry has been in flux trying to settle into a new normal. He predicts a stabilized pattern and is hopeful for a gradual expansion in the legal market.

Has Mr. Sarnoff learned something of value from all mistakes? “I believe I learn something of value from all mistakes. I try to apply those lessons to avoid future mistakes.”

What motivates him everyday? “I am motivated to provide for my family. I am also motivated to provide my clients and candidates with great service.”

Where does Mr. Sarnoff derive his confidence? “I derive my confidence from working with my father, who was a Seltzer man in NYC for 30 years. As an adolescent and high school student, I often worked on the truck and helped make deliveries of cases of seltzer and soda to apartments where I had to speak with and engage customers. Also, a good deal of my confidence comes from being active in sports throughout childhood and high school.”

Admiring Mr. Carl LaGrassa

Does Mr. Sarnoff have a mentor? “My mentor was a gentleman named Carl LaGrassa. He was an extremely successful businessman and law firm client, when I was a junior associate, and we became close friends. He taught me that it is more important to work smart than to work hard.”

How did this relationship assist him in his career? “Carl taught me to go after opportunities and not wait for them to come to you. He also taught me the importance of engaging people in business on a personal level and to stay focused on the task at hand.”

A Rewarding Position

Does Mr. Sarnoff find his work rewarding? “Yes. My work is rewarding in that I have had several opportunities to make a dramatic impact in the career paths of my candidates and in their lives.”

Mr. Sarnoff’s Passions

What causes is he passionate about? “Public education, youth sports and community involvement.” I have been actively involved in coaching my kids’ sports teams in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where I was also elected to the Board of Education.

His Parents

Who has the most inspiring influence upon Mr. Sarnoff? “My mother and father. My father overcame great obstacles in his life and never complained or asked for anything. He dedicates his life to family.”

Favorite Quote and Goals

Mr. Sarnoff’s favorite quote is by Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” He said the quote resonates with him “because it is a simple quote but it reminds you that when you are in a difficult situation, you can get through it.”

Does the New Yorker have goals? “My goals are to continue to expand my firm’s business and expand our reach industry-wide. I plan to broaden my professional and social network and pursue new lines of clients.”

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