Vinson & Elkins has hired Hy Pomerance from Cleary Gottlieb as the new chief talent officer while the firm works to boost recruitment in a tight market for hiring lawyers.
Pomerance, who joins the firm in New York, spent three years as chief talent officer for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. He’ll oversee human resources, professional development, and diversity & inclusion, according to a Vinson & Elkins statement Thursday.
“I was initially attracted to Vinson & Elkins and their long-term growth strategy,” Pomerance said in an email to Bloomberg Law. “Once I began meeting with members of firm leadership, I found them to be incredibly aligned and open to change and innovation. Vinson & Elkins has all the right pieces in place and a vision that puts their talent at the center of everything they do.”
He replaces Patty Harris, who is retiring as chief talent officer at the end of the year after three decades with Vinson & Elkins.
In one of the tightest talent markets the legal industry has seen in years, some Big Law firms are facing high levels of attrition as workloads rise and associates are asked to work 100-hour weeks.
As of Aug. 20, the top 200 firms in the country had hired more than 8,500 associates, a 24% increase from the previous three-year average, but a limited talent pool means some firms have a more difficult time attracting and retaining talent.
Vinson & Elkins is one of the largest firms in the U.S. with more than 660 lawyers and $780 million in gross revenue. Pomerance’s addition comes as the firm faces a net loss of more than 90 associates and partners in the past 12 months, according to data from Leopard Solutions.
“Today’s competition among law firms to hire, develop and retain top-tier talent is as intense as it’s ever been,” said Vinson & Elkins’ chair-elect Keith Fullenweider in the statement. “Hy’s experience in building, developing and maintaining a first-class team of lawyers and professional staff will play a crucial part of our future.”
Pomerance said he only expects the talent war to intensify over the next few years, with a focus on “which firms will be able to provide the best employment opportunities in a flexible environment.” Vinson & Elkins currently is not requiring lawyers to work in-person, but encourages as much in-office work as possible.
“While recruiting has always been important, the focus has dramatically shifted to retention and flexibility,” Pomerance said.
Before this, Pomerance worked for QBE Insurance in London, the New York Life Insurance Co., and UBS Investment Bank, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“The firm already has a stellar reputation as one of the most competitive and successful firms in law school and lateral lawyer hiring,” he said in the statement. “I look forward to building on that reputation.”
In May, Vinson & Elkins announced a new, expanded leadership model that involves a four-member executive committee comprising chair Fullenweider and three vice chairs.
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