Orrick sets up jobs board for associates to help them leave firm for clients

It’s unusual that an organisation actively helps its workers to leave its employ, but that’s what is now happening at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.

The firm has set up a jobs board listing career opportunities with its clients, in an effort to help those lawyers who do not want a long-term career with Orrick to move on.

“The idea that you sign some kind of blood oath when you become a first-year associate has had its day,” Siobhan Handley, the firm’s chief talent officer, told The Lawyer“We recognise that Orrick may be an important part of many lawyers’ careers, but equally they may want to join other organisations, such as the government or one of our fantastic clients, so we are trying to bring helpful information into the hands of our associates and counsel. ” 

With that in mind, the firm has brought in a series of alumni speakers who previously departed to join the likes of start-ups, the government and financial institutions, and set up the jobs board about six months ago. Three lawyers so far have won new roles at clients as a result of it.

“The great thing is it’s confidential: we don’t monitor who’s on it, and we make that very clear to associates,” Handley said. “We are working on making sure there is no stigma about using it, although many associates are already very open about the fact. The partners love it, because it helps them provide a service to clients and associates. I imagine it will continue to grow as clients learn more about it, and our associates get more comfortable with using it.”

Orrick appointed one of its lawyers, Washington DC-based litigator Wendy Butler Cole, as its chief innovation officer to look at how the firm could transform its delivery of legal services and she works closely with Handley to think about how it uses its talent pool. Orrick is one of six firms that signed up to the Reignite Academy in London to get lawyers who have taken a career break back into the City, and has a similar scheme, called ‘onramping’, in the United States.

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