The Street Smart Law Blog

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  • Frederick L Shelton

Why We Turn Down So Many Clients

I'm a member of several social media groups for recruiters. I mostly observe what my competitors and peers have to say. Most have the same goals. They want to get as many clients and job orders as they can possibly get.

They consistently ask and answer questions about the best way to get clients in the door, how to fill job orders as quickly as possible etc. The focus is almost universally on gaining the highest number volume of clients and job orders.

We do the exact opposite.

"We turn down approximately 70% of the potential employers with whom we speak"

We require potential employers to schedule a call with us, so that we can fill out a comprehensive Client Intake Form. This takes 30 - 60 minutes to complete. While we're filling this out or when it's completed, we let the firm know whether we will accept them as a client. We turn down roughly 70% of the potential employers with whom we speak.

Why? Because if we wouldn't want to work there, we're not going to send someone else to an employer.

There are firms that still operate on 100 year old business models and don't even try to innovate. There are firms with bureaucracy that's so bad, it's nearly impossible to get things done or more importantly, get a new client in the door. There are firms with old school "Louis Litt" types who feel that yelling, patronizing and demeaning associates or staff is acceptable.

We don't.

To get on our client roster, an employer must have demonstrated evidence of collegiality and collaboration. They must have modern software and be open to new fee structures. We won't take a client who wants to work their attorneys to death. You spent 20 years, working 60 - 70 hour weeks to pay your dues? That's nice. Welcome to the 21st century where we'd rather make less money and also enjoy fewer divorces & estranged kids and skip the heart attacks.

We also require that a client has demonstrated their commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. We realize that not all firms are going to have the percentages of representation they want - especially in certain markets, where the pool to draw from is limited. But they must have either Mansfield Certification or a formal DE&I Plan and Director or we won't work with them. We have less than 50 active clients. Each of them have been vetted and we can tell any candidate precisely why each would or would not, be a great fit for them. Because our ultimate responsibility is to protect our candidates. We can't do that by focusing on make as many placements possible, with every firm who wants us to work with them. To that end, Less is More.

Frederick Shelton is the CEO & President of Shelton & Steele. He has been quoted and published in Forbes, American Lawyer, Attorney at Law Magazine, Success Magazine and more. He can be reached at