Patty Morrissy has built her career advising lawyers about their careers. Her long-standing reputation as a trusted career advisor to the legal community spans both the public and private sectors. Morrissy worked at two of the highest ranked law firms in the country, serving as Chief Recruiting Officer at both Sullivan & Cromwell and Paul Weiss. She also worked as Chief Administrator for the legal department of a major investment bank. In the public sector, Morrissy was head of hiring for the Brooklyn District Attorney and Dean of Career Services at Cardozo Law School. These experiences have given her an expansive understanding of the legal hiring industry, making her immensely qualified to advise attorneys on their career paths. Morrissy is currently Managing Director at the legal recruiting firm Mlegal Group.
Lawdragon: What area of recruiting do you focus on?
Patty Morrissy: I focus on group and individual partner placements in law firms.
LD: How long have you been in the field?
PM: I have been a legal recruiter for more than 30 years, and have experienced legal hiring literally from every angle, including on the law firm side, in-house side, and public sector.
LD: What do you like about working with lawyers?
PM: I enjoy building relationships, and doing so with the smartest women and men out there is extremely rewarding. I love working with law firm partners in particular because their work is on the cutting edge of political, social and economic trends. Thus, I am always learning about new developments in an array of specialties; on any given day, I might learn, for example, about legal issues surrounding biosimilars or the impact of local laws on real estate finance.
LD: Are there any trends you are seeing in legal recruiting in terms of the types of matters keeping you busy these days?
PM: The traditional stratification of the legal market is being challenged as never before, and Mlegal is at the heart of some of the most interesting and complicated moves, not just in New York but also in London, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.
LD: Did any experience from your undergraduate work push you towards this type of career?
PM: As an undergraduate, I had an internship as a probation officer, which definitely sparked my interest in the law.
LD: How has your profession changed since the early part of your career?
PM: In the early days, when a lawyer wanted to make a lateral move in New York, there was essentially one respected recruiter, and you needed to have her stamp on your resume to be considered a viable candidate. Today, there are many more legal recruiters in New York so the industry is much more competitive.
LD: How would you describe your style as a recruiter?
PM: I have built my reputation on discretion, honesty, and professionalism. Both clients and candidates trust my advice.
LD: What advice would you give partners in terms of how to most productively work with a recruiter?
PM: Find the one recruiter you are most comfortable with, and only work with one. When your goals are aligned, you get better results.
LD: There are many high-quality recruiting shops out there. How is Mlegal unique?
PM: Mlegal Group is unique because we work collaboratively across regions and share information with each. At other search firms, recruiters are not incentivized to work together. Our unique culture serves our clients and candidates better than any other search firm.
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?
PM: I love painting, especially portraits. I also love traveling, the theatre arts, dance, music, and of course, spending time with my family.