Legal Consultant Limelight: Jeffrey Conta

Our latest guide to the nation’s best consultants and strategists to the legal industry has a number of high-quality recruiters whom law firms trust with their most important acquisitions. A smaller subset of that group also brings to the table a significant prior career as a lawyer. Such is the case with Jeffrey Conta, who spent 20 years as a litigator before joining powerhouse recruiting firm Lippman Jungers Bala. Conta credits co-founders and fellow Lawdragon honorees Sabina Lippman and Mark Jungers for convincing him to make the career switch.

 Lawdragon: Can you talk about what you focus on at Lippman Jungers?

Jeffrey Conta: I have been a legal recruiter for the last nine years, after 20 years as a complex civil litigator. I work with global law firms with their placements in Greater China and elsewhere around the Asia-Pacific, as well as in many cities around the United States, including in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee. I am fortunate to work with many firms, of all different sizes and types. This includes dozens of firms in the AmLaw 100, as well as many regional firms and boutiques. This gives me the opportunity to offer candidates all sorts of options. 

LD: What have you liked about being a recruiter?

JC: When I was a litigator I often worked across the table from fantastic lawyers, but due to the nature of advocacy, at times it was quite contentious. Now, as a recruiter, I get to meet and develop enjoyable relationships with lawyers of all types of expertise and personalities. In order to effectively advise candidates it is essential to get to know them, and them you. 

Similarly, I have appreciated developing relationships with key hiring partners, global practice leaders and internal law firm directors of hiring, who turn to me for their hiring needs. It is intriguing learning about how successful law firms operate, including integrating their United States and Asia-Pacific practices.  

LD: How did you end up developing an Asia-Pacific expertise, and are there particular challenges with that type of recruiting?

JC: Sabina started the Asia-Pacific practice, and I was brought on to focus on the region.  We worked together to bring the practice to the next level, with me eventually taking over the lead role.  During my nine years working in the region I have learned a lot about the differences in the legal communities from one country to the next, which helps firms and candidates navigate challenges that are not present when a candidate is based in the US.  I feel my unique expertise in this area has allowed me to cultivate a relationship with a strong majority of the decision makers of US based international firms with offices in the Asia-Pacific. 

LD: What led you to make the move to recruiting?

JC: I was a litigation partner at von Briesen & Roper, a phenomenal regional firm headquartered in Milwaukee. Although I really enjoyed working with their lawyers, Sabina Lippman and Mark Jungers (the founding partners of Lippman Jungers Bala) thought I could excel as a legal recruiter, and convinced me to join them. It was a great decision. Sabina and Mark are two of the most highly regarded legal recruiters, and I have learned a great deal from both.  To have the best of both worlds, I also now help von Briesen & Roper with their recruiting efforts. 

LD: How would you describe your style as a recruiter?

JC: My recruiting style is to be adaptable to the needs of the candidate and firm, and to read the particular situation to give the best advice possible. Dozens of items need to fall into place for a placement to move over the finish line. How to address each item can differ significantly from deal to deal, and so a cookie cutter approach does not serve a candidate’s or firm’s needs. Whether I am working on the placement of a team in Chicago, or an individual partner in Hong Kong, it is exciting analyzing all the unique intricacies of each matter to get a great match between candidate and firm.

LD: What are some trends you are currently seeing?

JC: The market is very hot right now, with firms looking for good candidates of all experience levels and practice expertise. This often gives candidates a strong selection of firms interested in them and to choose from. Some of the current areas of particular interest to firms are private equity and M&A; investigations and compliance; and healthcare.