Gloria was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to the United States in 1967, at the age of nine as a political refugee, when she and her family entered the U.S. on a “Freedom Flight.” She went on to earn her B.A., magna cum laude, in English and Spanish Literature from Rutgers College, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984.
After graduating law school, Gloria worked as a corporate m&a attorney for several prominent Am Law 100 firms. After ten years, Gloria transitioned from practicing law to teaching it, after her children were born. She later discovered her passion for helping lawyers learn, was congruent with helping them make lateral moves, and she quickly rose to the top of the partner recruiting market.
Gloria and I sat down shortly after she joined Lateral Link, and I asked her a few questions about her background, her recruiting philosophy and more.
What is the largest obstacle you have faced?
Probably the biggest obstacle I faced was to come to a new country and to be left behind in fourth grade. I was kept behind because I didn’t speak English, which only made me want to read more. I felt vindicated when I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English!
What are the fundamental attributes of a superlative partner recruiter?
It is hard to reduce the practice to just a few things, but the three key elements of partner recruiting are: legal intelligence and the interpretation of such intelligence; empathy for the enormity of a partner’s decision to make a lateral move; and tenacity.
In what ways do you add value to a partner’s lateral search?
Law partners can easily access a wide range of information from the internet today. My job (and any good recruiter’s job) is to sort and aggregate all the pertinent data that I collect through public sources and to augment it with the information I receive directly from law firms. My job is to then help partners interpret the data to make the best possible decision for themselves.
The interpretation is not solely mine either; I receive intel and tips from firm chairs, managing partners, and executive committee members, to name a few. This network provides me with the most accurate and nuanced interpretation possible, which gives partners confidence when making life-altering decisions.
I sometimes joke that I forget I am a recruiter and not just a career counselor, but I truly believe that good legal recruiters will advise their clients to make the best possible decision for their career, regardless of the impact on the recruiter’s business.
Lateral Link has a reputation for hiring former BigLaw attorneys as recruiters, do you see this as an aberration or the beginning of a new trend?
With the myriad of specialties in law, and the continual creation of new ones, the complex legal market of today (and the future) requires that recruiters have a fundamental understanding of the law. Even at the associate level, former attorneys tend to be more successful. In the past, building a practice was often as simple as finding lawyers with industry compatible clients. As these practices become more and more niche, these specialties are becoming less and less compatible.
The experience of having practiced in BigLaw is invaluable in allowing a recruiter to help a partner and/or groups with all of the factors involved in the evaluation of choosing a new law firm, such as: lateral partner integration; compensation systems and client development and support. In addition, it allows a recruiter to see the legal marketplace from a global perspective, as opposed to one opportunity at a time.
We both graduated Harvard Law, though at different times, how did Harvard shape both your legal career and life?
Well first and foremost, the relationships I forged at law school are some of my most enduring relationships. Thirty years after graduation, my law school friends are still my close friends.
Harvard, as you also found out, does a superb job of preparing its students for legal practice. There’s a reason no other school is able to produce the same quantity and quality of lawyers every year that Harvard does.
It was also at Harvard that I discovered my passion for teaching. I received an award for teaching legal writing to 1Ls, and this experience later influenced my decision to transition to teaching law full-time. There are few things more gratifying than watching skittish wide-eyed young adults blossom into imperturbable rainmakers. I was especially excited to hear that Lateral Link had set up a scholarship fund with Harvard Law School to encourage disadvantage students to follow their passion of becoming a lawyer. Since every placement of Harvard Law School graduates grows the fund by 10% of the fees generated from the placement, I look forward to helping the fund grow.
We are excited to have Gloria join our team as the new head of our partner recruiting division. If you are looking to make a lateral move, for market intel, or simply wish to drop a line, we encourage you to reach out to Gloria.