Headhunter backtracks on sexist column after BigLaw recruiters’ outcry

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A legal headhunter who founded BCG Attorney Search edited himself after law-firm recruiting coordinators took offense at his sexist comments about female recruiters.

In a column posted on LinkedIn and his company’s website, A. Harrison Barnes took aim at recruiters who, in his estimation, “sometimes have more beauty and fewer brains,” Above the Law and the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) report. Barnes removed the offending material after several BigLaw hiring coordinators called the comments sexist and inaccurate.

Barnes wrote that recruiters are usually women and “most are quite attractive and fit.” But some, he said, can “occasionally be a little ditzy” and not have the qualifications for the job.

“Not only do they sometimes have more beauty and fewer brains,” Barnes wrote, “but they also have more beauty and less interest in people, less ability to connect with people, and similar negative characteristics. This means they expect people to treat them as if they are special and sometimes are more focused on themselves than their jobs.

“It is not uncommon for recruiting coordinators to use their workspaces as a hunting ground for mates—and it works. Many recruiting coordinators marry (or get married to) associates and partners inside of the law firm. … Once a legal recruiting coordinator gets close to an associate or partner in the firm, the recruiting coordinator may start playing favorites—and often does. People who are close to the associate or partner may get special treatment when applying to the firm.”

Barnes told Am Law Daily that his intention was to help lawyers understand why they are not hearing back from law firms. He apologized and regretted his language.

This isn’t the first time Barnes’ writings have offended others. “For a guy whose business is based on building relationships with prospective laterals and the law firms that might hire them,” Above the Law writes, “Barnes just keeps going out of his way to make public statements that only seem to alienate everyone he’d theoretically hope to attract.”

The new column “is vintage Barnes,” according to Above the Law. “He could have said that firm hiring folks vary in skill and attention to the applicant’s file—which would probably still irk the firms—but instead he decided to kick it up that extra notch by throwing in a surfeit of retrograde sexism.”




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