We look for the candidates with “special sauce.”

A Conversation On Life In The Law With Laura Zilmer, Our Attorney Recruitment Administrator

In this week’s leadership profile, we had the pleasure of talking with Laura Zilmer, our firm’s Attorney Recruitment Administrator – also known as the “Den Mother” for many of our new Fennemoids during her 26 years here at the firm!

What does the current legal landscape look like for law students as many firms are now competing for top students? And what should legal professionals know about a career at Fennemore?

Fennemore has always competed for the best talent – that is not new.  Our catch phrase in the recruiting department is we recruit “the best of the best.”  That doesn’t mean we only recruit the law students with the highest grades or attorneys with the shiniest resume.  We look for the candidates with “special sauce.”   We seek candidates who are involved in law school or the community, who are proven leaders or valuable teammates, who overcame obstacles to achieve their goals. 

Legal professionals should know we are not a midnight oil burning firm.  Our lawyers have lives outside the office, which makes them happier when they are in the office.  The support system at Fennemore is incredible.  I was a newlywed when I started and now, I’m an empty nester.  While my kids were growing up, I always had other parents at the firm with whom I could seek advice and counsel, share funny stories and give and receive support during difficult times (which sometimes meant a rough parent-teacher conference, if I’m being honest). 

As law students are back on campus this fall, what would you tell an individual currently contemplating a career in the legal profession?

I’m not an attorney but I’ve certainly worked with a lot of attorneys through the years.  I was in the hospitality industry before I joined Fennemore.  Coming from a customer service industry, I was nervous to transition to the legal field, as I assumed all the attorneys would be distant or too busy to interact with me.  I could not have been more wrong.  I immediately noticed four things about our attorneys:  they are extremely funny, they are approachable, they are collaborative, and most importantly, they have integrity.

The legal profession is a client service industry, which made my transition from hospitality a smooth one.  I have had law students ask if they should include their customer service or non-legal jobs on their resume.  My response is they absolutely should include that experience.  Attorneys come from a variety of backgrounds and those prior experiences can prove valuable when working with a client.  The communication skills and problem-solving tactics they learned in their prior jobs can only help them in their legal career.

Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?

I’m the proud daughter of a World War II veteran (US Army Signal Corps).  My dad was older when I was born, but I never noticed he was older than my classmates’ parents until I was in high school. He had fun at work, had fun at home and had the best laugh.  He retired from a 44-year career with Sunkist Growers when I was a senior in high school.  After he retired, he volunteered at a hospital for over 29 years.  His loyalty to his employer and his family have had the biggest impact on me. I’m married to a Desert Storm veteran who was also in the Army Signal Corps.  What a strange coincidence!

Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?

I don’t like to focus on failures.  I’ve certainly had my share of mistakes, of course.  The recruiting season is cyclical – we recruit law students every fall and spring and host a summer program every year.  I never want to be guilty of saying “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  I think that is a trap that can only lead to failure.  I try to be open to new ideas, stay on top of current trends and seek out feedback on what worked well and what we could have done better.

What advice would you give to your son who now plays football at New Mexico State University about his future career aspirations?

When I was a student at Arizona State University, I worked in the academic office in the Athletic Department.  I was able to interact with almost every student-athlete when they met with their academic advisor every semester.  I observed how they dealt with time management, perfected their craft and took care of their bodies, while staying on top of their academics.  It was impressive, to say the least.  

As my son was being recruited as a kicker while in high school, I had an idea as to what his life was going to be like as a college athlete.  I knew it would not be an easy road for him, but the lessons he has learned are invaluable.  He has not played as much as he would like, but he still gives his all at practice.  He is always warmed up and ready to jump into the game at a moment’s notice.  He supports and mentors the junior players on the team.  The resilience he has developed will only serve him well, and I know his future employer will notice those qualities from his career as a student-athlete.

What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming? And what’s your go-to take-out food order?

Seth Meyers recently started a podcast with his brother, Josh, called “Family Trips with the Meyers Brothers.”  They have different celebrity guests talk about their family trips when they were growing up. Our annual family trips to Portland and Spokane are some of my favorite memories.

Go-To Take-out Food Order? 

Anything that happens to include an avocado, whether that is an omelet, a burger or a salad – I’m not picky!

You and your family and friends are hosting a lavish dinner party, Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you would invite.

Only funny people at my party, please:   Tina Fey, Bill Hader and Conan O’Brien. Done!

Many thanks to Laura-Z for her amazing insights!

For more information about careers at Fennemore, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/careers/attorneys/