Placements And The Law

Feb 1, 2008

With a quarter of a century of writing for The Fordyce Letter, I am honored beyond words to be recognized by Paul for my contributions to the search and placement profession. After 25 years, you’d think I’d be used to Paul’s brilliance, integrity, and responsiveness. I’ve never known anyone like him, and now ERE is the beneficiary of that relationship. Thanks to ERE for taking over with such class.

Twenty-five years ago, TFL was a fledgling little eight-page monograph serving the “EPF” (employer-pay-fee) segment of the largely “APF” (applicant-pay-fee) placement industry. Paul had acquired the newsletter from Thorne Fordyce III. He kept the name out of loyalty, integrity, and modesty – three of Paul’s most endearing qualities.

To say that our industry was in the midst of a change is an understatement. It was in the midst of an all-out civil war.

Retained search recruiters considered contingency-fee recruiters “unprofessional,” contingency-fee recruiters struggled to distance themselves from the many applicant-pay services (although most quietly still did APF placements), traditional “employment agencies” fought against a century-old reputation (the originals were brothels), temp businesses changed their names so they could run “perm” desks, and a variety of other businesses (domestic agencies, nurses registries, nanny importers, career counselors, résumé services, etc.) added to the public’s confusion. If you told someone you were an “executive recruiter,” ducking was a viable option.

Every day of those 25 years, Paul advised and steered the industry as it extricated itself from government employment agency regulation, survived tanked economies, learned to love the Internet, and matured into a respected mainstream business.

This wouldn’t have happened without Alan Schonberg. Alan is basically the inventor of contingency-fee search procedures, multiple-office operations, and networking as we know it. He’s a most gracious person, too. You’d never guess that he founded Management Recruiters International and guided it into becoming the world’s largest and greatest search organization. And the backbone of our industry.
Paul introduced that first “Placements and The Law” article in the March 1982 TFL this way:

Much of our mail confirms the fact that the field of battle upon which we toil is fraught with legal landmines. And who of us hasn’t experienced the frustration of having to teach our attorney the basics of our business before they take up the sword on our behalf? Unfortunately, bad advice is the rule rather than the exception when dealing with attorneys who are unfamiliar with the unique character of our business.

Every month from then until now, a “Placements and The Law” has focused on a different issue. Increasing your number of placements, collecting your well-earned fees, protecting your trade secrets. Keeping you ahead of the curve. Keeping you sharp. Always mindful that if you don’t make it happen, it doesn’t.

Only those who’ve worked a desk know the loneliness and relentless rejection of using the Internet and phone to identify, screen, motivate, move, recruit, refer, coach, sell, and place some stranger into some even stranger job at some yet stranger place with a bunch of strangers who weren’t sure who they were looking for in the first place. Even in a room full of people, recruiting is a one-on-one, tougher-than-nails, sixth-sense way to earn a living. Technology can never change that.

TFL fills a need all right. It’s the third-party recruiter’s lifeline to their other family. We call it “the Fordyce family.”

Since I was an HR manager for almost a decade, I know how different things look from the other side of the switchboard. Therefore I’m pleased that through ERE, human resourcers will now have access to the information. It can only help to make the hiring process more efficient.

So on this auspicious occasion, I promise you the PTLs will continue to be real-world, street-wise, and bottom-line. If it will help you, it’s there. If it won’t, it’s not. You’re in a game where anyone can play, but the rules change. I’ll continue to let you know about those changes, and whenever we move the ball marked “placement law.”

Thanks for all your friendship and support over the last quarter century. Now let’s get back to business!

Jeffrey G. Allen, JD, CPC, turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. For over 32 years, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade-secrets cases, and assisted more search and placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of many best-selling books in the career field. He can be reached at Law Offices of Jeffrey G. Allen, 10401 Venice Blvd., Suite 106, Los Angeles, CA 90034; (310) 559-6000;

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