Michelle Foster

Member Spotlight

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I am the Founder and Managing Partner of The Foster Group Legal Search, a boutique search firm, that successfully placed 5% of all Partners in New York City (2016), which is quite an achievement for a smaller firm! I am focused on adding value to both the candidates and law firms I work with. With 18 years of experience, I certainly have a wealth of knowledge to share, and a hefty rolodex. Beyond these two essentials, I am wholeheartedly dedicated to the work I do, and the clients I choose to work with. I am constantly told that I put in more effort and take a uniquely tailored/personalized approach, when compared to other recruiters. This is something I pride myself and my business on, and I have reaped the rewards.

I am a lawyer by training, beginning my career as a litigation attorney and earnestly working my way to earning a law firm partnership – which was a milestone that I set for myself and my career.

I transitioned my law firm experiences to a lengthy legal recruiting career where I achieved financial and professional success. Prior to opening my own firm, I was the number one recruiter at one of the largest legal recruiting firms in the country.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

A successful legal recruiter is intuitive, persistent, a good listener and confident in their ability to give good advice. It takes continued enthusiasm to remain even-keeled during the search process, which is mired with highs and lows. It is essential to have a good work ethic, be detail-oriented and have strong organizational and follow up skills. Recruiters must keep focused on the long-term view, because it can be some time before the financial rewards of recruiting keep pace with the reward that comes with finding the right job for the right candidate. I have accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge as to the legal market and built deep relationships with attorneys, Managing Partners, and Hiring Partners over the past 18 years and as a result, I have made hundreds of fruitful placements. Continuing to cultivate relationships and expand my knowledge base remains essential to my continued success.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

The most memorable accomplishment for me was the day I opened my own recruiting business. Following a long-standing litigation and legal recruiting career, I had the confidence and vision to create a recruiting firm that has deepened my law firm relationships and brought fulfilling career prospects to legal candidates. It has been personally rewarding to have been able to do this with my daughter and discover that our partnership is not only a great pleasure, but is extremely productive.

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?

I placed the General Counsel for both Facebook and D.E. Shaw – both searches were incredibly rewarding experiences.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I truly enjoy speaking with attorneys to learn about their career goals and help them progress in their personal and professional advancement. I help candidates move forward with their careers and progress up the law firm ranks, while simultaneously finding a collegial and collaborative culture, where they not only will be successful, but will also be happy. To accomplish this, it often requires that I work closely with attorneys and assist them with business plans, discuss practical steps to build a practice, and work closely with them in preparing for interviews to reach their goals.

I take pride in having a deep understanding of the current legal marketplace and all its subtleties for the benefit of my clients and candidates. I enjoy the art of deal-making and enjoy owning my own firm which gives me the latitude and flexibility to structure deals as I see best. I’ve worked with countless attorneys, who I placed early on in their career, continued to speak with them over time, and who are now Heads of Practice Groups as well as Managing and Hiring Partners of law firms.

What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

Legal recruiting taps into the journey and experiences I gained as the result of being a parent. You need to listen and offer advice when appropriate, respecting their individuality and space, but anticipating when you need to stand behind and push. With experience, knowledge and confidence, I feel I have mastered the delicate art of creating deals.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

Recruiters are in the happiness business. Show up for work enthusiastically, stay educated and look for opportunities to create candidate and client relationships.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

I was a working attorney during all three of my pregnancies. My advice to working mothers is to take it one day at a time. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t stress out too much…the children will be fine! I highly recommend getting a good Nanny. Don’t obsess over every detail and try to teach your children to be independent. I truly enjoy working with talented female attorneys, as their experience really resonates with me. Throughout my career, and particularly in the past several years, I’ve successfully worked with many women attorneys, helping them achieve higher compensation and positions of power within firms. Law firms are very focused on recruiting bright women, and now is a wonderful and opportune time to jump into the market and take a couple of meetings. I think you will find that the wind is at your back!

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I had a wonderful time at an Ellevate Networking event this past Summer, where Sallie Krawcheck shared her insights and vast knowledge. All the women there were exceedingly open, friendly and quite interesting! Networking events can be a bit daunting from time to time, but I’ve found the Ellevate members and events to be engaging, interesting and fun – and, of course, I love Ellevate’s mission!

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