When downtown L.A. firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP hired a full-time videographer, the internal reaction was about what you’d expect.
“Everyone scratched their head and thought, ‘Really?’” said Chief Marketing Officer Vickie Spang. “It struck people as perhaps a little extravagant and foolhardy.”
Destri Martino, at the time an assistant to the chief talent officer in the firm’s downtown office, had minored in film production at USC and worked for several years in the film industry. So she volunteered for the role of video communications producer when she heard rumblings about the position.
She was at first tasked with shooting and archiving continuing legal education classes for attorneys. The firm gradually found other uses for her, and today there’s almost not enough of her to go around. Martino shoots recruiting videos for the web and, in April, put together video profiles of each of the firm’s 10 offices for a partner retreat.
Upcoming projects include filming associate training, and interviews with partners who made lateral moves from other firms that can be given to other prospective lateral recruits.
Martino, 35, said that attorneys got on board when they realized she wasn’t an amateur.
“There was one practice group that did videotape (continuing education) programs before, but the quality was really bad,” she said. “Having someone come in and set the camera in a place that made sense so people can hear them properly, it makes a big difference. That helped to sell it so people would actually watch, instead of looking at something and thinking, ‘I can’t stand to look at it more than a few minutes.’”
Spang and Martino said they had not heard of any other local firms who have a similar full-time position.
Call it the summertime blues.
Of the 114 law firms that responded this year to American Lawyer Magazine’s summer hiring survey, 19 reported that they hired more than 100 summer associates in 2009.
This year, there were only two: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP, both L.A firms. What’s more, their hiring was down. Both reported class sizes of 110 this summer; a year ago, Gibson Dunn had 150 and Latham 156.
“We made adjustments we thought were appropriate given the economic conditions, but the firm’s been busy,” said Steve Sletten, chair of Gibson Dunn’s hiring committee. “Our practice is running on eight cylinders across both litigation and corporate groups.”
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