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 three of the highest ranked law firms in the country, serving as Chief Recruiting Officer at both Sullivan & Cromwell and Paul Weiss, and as a recruiting coordinator at Davis Polk (her first job). She also worked as Chief Administrator for the legal department of a Credit Suisse. In the public sector, Morrissy helped Ken Thompson set up his legal hiring program following his election as the Brooklyn District Attorney, and also served as 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 launched her own search firm earlier this year in March, 2021.
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 within the public sector.
LD: What do you like about working with lawyers?
PM: Senior lawyers are invariably the smartest women and men I know. I love working with them because their perspective is always on the cutting edge of political, social and economic trends. Thus, I am always learning, and the range is extraordinary. For instance, on any given day, I might learn about legal issues surrounding biosimilars, and on the same day, come to understand 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. The pandemic only served to amplify this trend, resulting in one of the hottest talent wars I have ever seen. That’s a big statement after 30 years in this business.
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. I am humbled to be entrusted by firms and candidates at the top of their profession.
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, and most importantly, trust me to be discreet.
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. The most savvy candidates will interview a few recruiters until they feel comfortable they have found the one they want representing them.
LD: There are many high-quality recruiting shops out there. How is Morrissy Legal Search unique?
PM: By virtue of my lifelong career recruiting lawyers, my access to the highest reaches of law firms is unmatched. I have credibility and access that few others can offer.
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.