Houtan is a practicing lawyer in British Columbia with experience as a Barrister & Solicitor in the fields of Commercial and Residential Real Estate, Intellectual Property, Wills & Estates, Secured Lending, Corporate & Finance and Immigration. In the fall of 2021, Houtan joined Adecco’s Search Practice as a Senior Search Consultant and quickly demonstrated a knack and prowess for talent acquisition. Thanks to his first-hand experience working in firms big and small and his genuine passion for the world of law, he has been instrumental in growing Adecco’s presence in the legal market and building long-term hiring and career roadmaps for lawyers, partners, firms and other mid- to senior-level legal professionals.
Houtan, congratulations on your promotion! What is it about your background as a lawyer that enables these productive conversations with clients and candidates to happen?
HS: Thank you! I’m so excited and grateful to be here. I think my legal background allows me to see eye-to-eye with the people I serve. I have real insight into the challenges my clients and candidates face. For example, on the candidate side, I can feel their pain, so to speak—I’m able to empathize with the attorney experience and that resonates with them. As for clients, I have an intimate understanding of the behind-the-scenes operations of law firms and what skills they require from a new hire.
Sadiar Ameri, Managing Director of Search Practice, hired, and then promoted, Houtan for precisely that reason—his specialty in the field.
SA: The future of recruitment is specialization, and at Adecco, we’re investing heavily in cultivating a specialized approach to what we do. Houtan’s success within the legal search group is just one example of the many positive changes happening across all our functions; finance and accounting, health care, HR, engineering, construction and logistics and supply chain. The market is changing. Our candidates want to connect with recruiters who speak the language of their industry and our clients want to speak with consultants who understand their work environment to fill roles faster and for the long term. In my mind, the element of specialization is essential to developing trust in a working relationship, and, frankly, it’s hard to find in the industry.
Houtan, after spending so many years completing law school, the bar, your articling program and then establishing yourself as a practicing lawyer in BC, what was it that made you want to make the switch to recruitment and consulting?
HS: I had some experience in recruitment already, and it was something I knew I enjoyed — I think because I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak and an interest in the sales aspect of business. Recruitment was an avenue where I could marry that interest with my legal knowledge base, which, for me, was a match made in heaven! I also find that talent acquisition demands a certain drive and self-motivation, something most lawyers possess, and so, all in all, my experience stepping into the Search Consultant role felt very natural.
Active as the new Search Director of Legal as of May 1, 2022, Houtan has been quick off the starting blocks. In the short two months since his promotion, he has already added one well-versed Search Consultant to his team and is proactively screening candidates for further additions.
For those who may be interested in pivoting from legal practice to legal recruitment, what can you tell us about the Search Consultant role at Adecco?
HS: The role is dynamic. It’s a 360-degree recruitment and consulting position that varies based on the project—that is, whether it’s a contingent or retained search service. In a nutshell, our role is to work closely alongside clients and candidates to facilitate successful mid- to long-term placements. For candidates, that means delving into the nitty-gritty of their career ambitions by getting to know their expectations for work culture, salary, growth prospects and everything else relevant to their job satisfaction. For clients, that means discussing how to win candidates—whether it be a paralegal or a partner—with the right attraction, interviewing and negotiating tactics.
SA: I like to think of it as a triangle with the candidate on one corner and the client on the other. The magic of the Search Consultant’s role is to bring them both together until they meet at the top in a professional match that’s ideal for both parties. The trick is to guide the client and candidate along at the same pace, which requires a lot of time spent with individuals and quick action at the right times.
In your opinion, why is legal recruitment an attractive career option for lawyers and other law professionals?
HS: There are so many lawyers and legal professionals out there who don’t know how to use their legal strengths outside of practicing law. I personally know many people in my network who are burnt out or want to leave the practice but don’t necessarily want to leave behind their legal education or community to do so. Recruitment offers a fresh change of pace and, often, a better work-life balance. At the same time, while it’s certainly a different career trajectory from practicing law, there is overlap insofar as you still get to tap into your legal background and play an advisory role for your clients.
As the new Search Director of Legal Group, what’s your vision for direct hire at Adecco?
HS: A few things immediately jump to mind. One, I want to grow this agency and to do that, I have ambitious plans to expand my team this year. Two, I want to place a focus on developing recruitment-related thought leadership content specifically geared towards Canadian law firms. I feel that there is a lot of room for improvement within the legal work environment and standards of practice, and my goal is to tackle those issues head-on by not only informing clients about what’s happening in the market, but by stimulating meaningful discussions, considerations and even new strategies for positive change. Ultimately, I would say my big-picture vision is to change the recruitment game and assist every law firm there is, in every part of Canada, to build a better workforce.
Wow! Thank you, Houtan! We wish you luck in your new position and look forward to engaging with your content in the future!
Director of Legal Division, Adecco Canada
Houtan was appointed as Adecco’s Director of Legal Division in 2022 following a successful performance as Senior Search Consultant with Adecco in 2021. Houtan is a multi-lingual practicing lawyer who teaches law in the areas of Contract Law and Legal Ethics. Prior to joining Adecco, he practiced as a Barrister & Solicitor in downtown Vancouver in the fields of Commercial and Residential Real Estate, Intellectual Property, Wills & Estates, Secured Lending, Corporate & Finance and Immigration. He is recognized for his leadership and consultancy skills, problem solving abilities and knowledge of the practice both from the client and candidate perspective.