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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Legal Recruiters and Mutual Assent

A legal recruiter sued Akin Gump for a placement fee, and a New York trial court recently granted the law firm summary judgment.

The recruiter sent an unsolicited email to a partner of the law firm, attaching the resume of a candidate with specialization in Korean law.  The email stated that "[t]he interviewing of any attorney submitted to the firm will constitute acceptance of these terms and conditions unless [the recruiter] is notified to the contrary in writing prior to the first interview."  The law firm partner stated he had no recollection of receiving the recruiter's email.  A few months later, the firm hired this attorney and the recruiter sought a placement fee of more than $200,000.

The court granted the law firm summary judgment, finding the following undisputed facts:

While [the recruiter] may have been the first to submit [the attorney's] resume to defendant, there is no dispute that: (1) the resume was sent unsolicited; (2) it was sent to a non-hiring partner at the New York office, as opposed to either the recruitment office or to the Washington D.C. office, where the Korean practice was based; (3) there was no communication made by defendant to plaintiff acknowledging receipt of [the attorney's] resume or concerning his hiring; and (4) plaintiff never arranged an interview or had any conversation concerning either of the candidates with anyone at Akin Gump.

Thus, as a matter of law, the court held there was no mutual assent between the parties.  And, moreover, even a contract was formed, the recruiter was not the "procuring cause" of the attorney's placement and, thus, there was no breach of contract.

Sivin-Tobin Associates LLC v. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, 107123/06 (Solomon, J.).

[Meredith R. Miller]

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