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LawCrossing Profile: Ralph Blessey, co-Founder & Principal of The MARA Search Group

Recently, LawCrossing.com featured The MARA Search Group in a Legal Recruiter Profile. Read the interview with Ralph Blessey, co-founder and principal of The MARA Search Group, here:


Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Companies Looking to Expand Their Legal Departments

10. Stop relying on internal recruiters to save money.  There are many talented internal recruiters but most have expertise in the industry they work in not the area of law.  It’s asking too much to expect them to get up to speed in an area they’re not deeply entrenched.

9. Stop using executive retained search firms to hire your legal staff.  These search firms are not attorney placement specialists and are therefore not equipped to manage your searches as effectively as a legal search firm with recruiters who speak to attorneys on a daily basis.

8. Stop using multiple search firms.  Using one search firm that you trust will encourage a collaborative relationship and ensure that a uniform and accurate message is being delivered to the marketplace.

7. Make sure the hiring manager is available to discuss the open search with the recruiting firm at the outset.  This will prove invaluable to the hiring manager and will arm your search firm partner with the requisite information he or she needs to source for the best candidate.

6. Make sure your job description isn’t too broad.  The broader the job description the more likely you are going to be inundated with inappropriate resumes.  Focus on the crucial skill-set and, if it really is a multi-faceted position, discuss the breadth of the role during the interview.

5. Take the time to provide meaningful interview feedback to your search firm partner.  “He or she just isn’t the right fit” isn’t going to cut it. You need to truly develop a collaborative relationship with your search firm partner and providing detailed feedback on candidate interview performance is vital in establishing such a relationship.

4. Start hiring “best athletes” especially in esoteric practice areas with limited candidate supply.  Practice area expertise is important but often times can be learned and developed quickly.  Talent can’t be taught.

3. Start hiring “older” attorneys.  You’ll find they are generally more experienced with problem solving and decision-making.  Further, many older attorneys are past the early stages of child-raising and have more time to commit to their job.

2. Start being more flexible about telecommuting.  This will expand your candidate pool significantly and employees will reward your flexibility with hard work and loyalty.

1. Streamline your interview process.  Anything longer than two full rounds is unnecessary and can turn the best candidates off.  Remember that a candidate’s time is valuable too.

Fee Structure


The MARA Group earns a fixed percentage of an attorney’s first year base compensation.   This rate is typically utilized when a client engages multiple recruiters including The MARA Group and pays a fee to us only upon the successful placement of a candidate we have identified.  The fee is due within thirty days after the candidate’s start date.


The MARA Group earns a fee in the same manner as provided in a Contingency Search but generally offers a discounted fixed percentage rate to those clients that utilize us on an exclusive contingency basis.


Retained searches are recommended for partner level hires, esoteric in-house searches and urgent searches that have been in the market for long periods of time with no success.  The MARA Group earns a fixed percentage of the attorney’s first year base compensation.  The fee in this case is divided into thirds: the first third is due upon contract execution; the second third is due after our candidate submission; and the final third is due within thirty days after the candidate’s start date.




The MARA Group employs a search process for each engagement that is rigorous, collaborative, thorough and transparent. Effective recruiting takes years of experience and we continually adjust and customize our process for each client.

Once Mara is engaged to conduct the search we generally employ a four step process outlined below.

Phase 1: Consulting with the Client

  • Meet with client in person (ideally) or via teleconference to understand and ascertain organizational requirements for the position and corporate culture.
  • Discuss industry and market trends and how they may impact search.
  • Identify and understand role requirements.
  • Collaborate with client to draft job description.
  • Develop search strategy and set out timeline.

Phase 2: Sourcing

  • Internal meeting to develop targeted call list and discuss search strategy including assigning a Point Person and Recruiter(s).
  • Recruiter(s) reach out to prospects and gather potential candidates.
  • Weekly updates to client to discuss search.  If needed, collaborate with client to adjust search parameters based on initial market response and/or client’s needs.
  • Send client a profile of a potential candidates to ensure search is on right track.

Phase 3:  Screening

  • Point Person conducts in depth meeting with relevant candidates and performs competency-based assessment of each candidate.
  • Point Person prepares a detailed presentation of candidates for client including a summary of their professional background, skill-set, personality, reasons for leaving their current position, compensation expectations and other criteria that is relevant to the search at hand.
  • Point Person assists client and candidates in scheduling interviews and continues to update clients and top candidates to ensure a transparent interview process.

Phase 4: Offer Stage

  • Point Person consults with client on candidate selection.
  • Point Person communicates any candidate concerns regarding the position and/or offer to client.
  • Point Person collaborates with client on developing and finalizing an offer to the candidate selected.
  • Once offer is provisionally accepted Point Person will conduct reference check upon request by client.

Why Choose MARA?

The MARA Group understands how critical it is to your business to hire the right person and will conduct each step of the search process in recognition of that responsibility.  We have an established track record of building long term relationships with our clients which is the ultimate proof of our capability.  Our clients continually engage MARA to build their organizations because:


We understand that we are an extension of you when representing your brand in the marketplace and value being your partner in building your business.  We are not a volume recruiting shop focused on the “quick deal”.  We make it a point to learn everything about your business and culture so we are well positioned to produce a favorable outcome.


Our process ensures that you spend time interviewing only those candidates with the highest potential for being the best fit.  We carefully screen each candidate and won’t waste your time with the “spaghetti against the wall” style of recruiting.


Our search process is more comprehensive and thorough than others.  It is during the more challenging engagements where our clients benefit the most from our methodology and persistence and where our firm shines. We exhaust the market until we find the perfect fit. Our goal is to find what you want, not to sell you what we have.


We will find candidates you won’t find on your own.  We feel the best candidates are referrals, not ones who are browsing ads and internet postings. We are focused on long term relationships and as such, we have a vast network of passive candidates and referral sources enabling us to identify the best candidate efficiently.


We never give up on a search and pride ourselves on identifying the “needle in the haystack” candidate for our clients.  We consistently receive feedback from our clients that our analysis of candidates and markets are as thoughtful and thorough as they have ever seen.