Sanford Michelman - Attorney, Michelman Robinson Law Firm

To what degree do you keep your finger on the pulse of hiring for your ventures? 

Internally, I am directly involved with hiring at the C-Suite and Senior Management level, and trust that those individuals will be smart, savvy and resourceful in filling other positions at the Firm. I also keep up on the latest issues that impact hiring—whether it’s having a handle on the millennial mindset or being cognizant of diversity issues. Externally, it’s important to know what’s trending in the industries we service. For example, is an industry going more tech-heavy? Or, outsourcing more? It’s good to have a 360 degree vantage point on hiring trends when you run a law firm.

How important is it to keep personally connected to the process of adding new talent/personnel to your team?

As the Chairman of the Firm, it’s critical. It may sound cliché, but an organization truly is only as good as its people—hence, I surround myself with the best talent and rely on them to give me constant feedback about our employees and quality of their work.

Do you have any hard-fast rules that are followed in your own selection of team members or those who will be working close with you? 

Yes, absolutely. We give considerable weight to three qualities: a strong work ethic, intelligence and problem solving skills on par with their high education level, and an intention to retire with the Firm. We want to know that our decision-makers are in it for the long haul.

Do you have an anecdote or philosophy to share that comes to mind that would sum up your thoughts about hiring?

Our mission statement, at its most fundamental level, is to provide excellent client service. Hence, we seek attorneys whose goals and values align with this principle.

Best interview question you’ve used?

One question I always pose to senior partner laterals and high level management is whether they plan on retiring with us? Truthfully, about a third say “no”—they have aspirations to be in-house counsel, teachers, writers…professors. And while many may be extremely strong candidates, we are very selective and want full buy in from potential hires.

Any hilarious (or horrifying) interview stories?

While it’s important that laterals ask good questions, there was a time when a junior associate attempted to turn the tables on me and a few other partners in an interview. He really tried to take control of the conversation, and said, “Imagine I’m interviewing you…why would you want to work here?”  Obviously, his approach fell flat, and we all had a good laugh about it later.

What has driven you in building such success?

Building an innovative entrepreneurial law firm, surrounded by a great team of people I call friends, while delivering exceptional service and legal counsel to our clients continues to motivate me. We work on an “okay to fail” model, always trying new initiatives to improve the Firm and ultimately deliver a better product. As such, every day is new, exciting and rewarding.

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