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Lateral Partner Movement Today: What Candidates Should Be Considering


Speaker(s): Andi Cullins, Ellen Dougherty, Stephen Nelson
Recorded on: Apr. 5, 2016
PLI Program #: 172236

Andi Cullins specializes in placing partners at law firms and corporations and assisting law firms in merger situations. Creative and insightful are words used to describe Andi. As a problem-solver who considers the overall needs of an organization, she employs a consultative approach and develops long-standing client relationships through value-added services. Representative engagements include: representation and placement of very high level government professionals, executive recruiting and coaching to build local offices of major law firms, and strategic planning for a number of law firm and professional services clients.

She has worked for The McCormick Group for more than 20 years, serving as an executive search consultant, a manager, and a corporate trainer. Andi first joined The McCormick Group in 1978 and came back in 2001. Throughout her career she has received numerous performance awards, including Rookie of the Year, Account Executive of the Year, Outstanding Achievement Award for Management, and designation as a member of the President’s Circle.

During her hiatus from the company, she served as Regional Vice President for Staffing and Mobility at Citibank – Mid-Atlantic, President and Principal Consultant for the Cullins Consulting Group, and Management Consultant for Knowledge Workers, Inc. Her experience includes developing programs in behavioral interviewing techniques for managers, training in diversity management and sexual harassment avoidance, communication and negotiation skills workshops, consulting skills training, performance management planning and coaching, and succession planning.

Andi served as a commissioner for eight years for the Arlington Human Rights Commission. She is a graduate is Leadership Arlington and a former chair of the Leadership Arlington Youth Leadership program. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Catholic University and is certified in two forms of behavioral interviewing.


Ellen Dougherty brings more than 25 years of law firm administrative and recruiting experience to the The McCormick Group’s lateral partner recruiting and consulting practice.  Her prior work in national law firms has included the management, expansion and enhancement of attorney recruitment, including lateral partner hiring, partner integration, attorney evaluation and retention. 

She has worked with a number of AmLaw 100 firms over the last 25 years, including Dentons, K&L Gates and Howrey & Simon.   Ellen has broad experience in developing lateral partner recruitment protocols and tracking recruitment data metrics.  In addition to working at law firms in the recruitment and development areas, Ellen also ran her own consulting firm focused on law firm hiring.

Her consulting work has guided clients through the transition to improve their recruitment and development programs using:  information data mining metrics, applicant surveys, white papers, applicant focus groups (all levels), retention surveys and employer “perception” market analysis.   Most recently, law firm clients have focused specifically on improving and expanding their lateral partner hiring and integration initiatives.

Ellen has given presentations at the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the Washington Area Legal Recruitment Administrators Association and moderated roundtable discussions in the legal community.


Steve manages the legal and government affairs groups. As a former attorney and after 17 years in legal journalism and publishing, he offers clients a breadth of experience unparalleled by other search consultants. Steve serves as a business advisor to both employers and candidates and uses his significant knowledge of the legal field to solve employment challenges.

In addition to managing the company’s attorney placement operation, Steve coordinates the activities of the law firm management group, which handles high-level administrative placements at law firms. He conducts partner-level searches, searches for in-house counsel for corporate law departments and other organizations, and searches for high-level business development and marketing professionals for law firms. He represents partner candidates, executive level business development and marketing candidates, and senior recruiting and professional development candidates. In addition, Steve serves as a consultant for law firm merger planning, practice area expansion, and the interplay between marketing, public relations, and recruiting. He has advised firms on whether to maintain particular offices and whether to start or further develop particular practice areas.

Before joining The McCormick Group, Steve served as Managing Editor and News Editor at the Legal Times and as Executive Editor and Director of the Washington office for Prentice Hall Law & Business. Career highlights include revamping the “Almanac of the Federal Judiciary” and development of an annual directory of the largest law firms in the country. Prior to his career in publishing, he practiced antitrust and trade regulation law at Arent Fox.

Steve received a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo. He is a prolific writer, particularly on the subjects of recruiting and professional development, and his work regularly appears in the Legal Times, Of Counsel, and Professional Development Quarterly. He was recently elected as a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, an honorary organization which formally recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of law practice management. In his spare time, he performs stand-up comedy at local venues. Steve is originally from Wilkes-Barre, PA.