Are you considering a move?

Is your firm looking to fill a strategic need?

Interested in market information?

Topside, based in Washington, DC, provides search and placement services to lawyers, government relations professionals, and law and government relations firms throughout the United States. Unlike other placement firms, we don’t accept retained searches that steer candidates into whatever job we’ve been paid to fill. Instead, we deliver a client-driven, comprehensive, market-based commitment to results. For every candidate, and every firm, we conduct a broad-based, confidential survey of the marketplace, tailoring each search to specific needs. Our clients know the full range of possibilities available, and have all the insight and information they need to enable informed, lasting decisions.
Topside. Your search is over, we’ll take it from here.


Leslie K. Miles, Esq., Principal

Leslie established Topside in 2010 after five years as a legal recruiter with a boutique Washington legal placement firm and a wide career in law, politics and public service. After law school she worked as a civil litigator, then served on the professional staff of a Presidential campaign, as a Legislative Assistant to a United States Senator, as a lobbyist for prominent national organizations, and as an Associate Director of PBS.
Her broad contacts, discretion, and market-driven methodology have enabled Leslie to successfully place partners, practice groups and associates in law firms throughout the American Lawyer Top 100, in prominent government relations firms, and in leading international law offices, in areas including energy, antitrust, intellectual property, private equity, mergers and acquisitions, government relations, government contracts, insurance, international trade, and litigation.
Leslie served as President of her former Washington neighborhood’s community association and of the historic preservation society, and held elective office there for six years, serving as Chair of the ANC for Logan Circle. A former Board member of the Women’s Campaign Fund, she now lives with her family in suburban Maryland, where she served as Member and Chair of the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission, served as Chair and as Trustee of the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation, and is a member of the Class of 2015 of Leadership Montgomery. She is a member of the Kennedy Center Circles Board and Past Chair of the Board of Adventure Theatre MTC.
She holds a BS in Journalism and a JD, both from Boston University, and is a member of the Bar in DC, Massachusetts, and New York (inactive). Conversationally fluent in French and Spanish, she is studying Italian, and enjoys travel, golf, skiing, and sailing.


Do I really have time to make a move?

  1. Do you have the best platform for your clients’ work? If they are taking any part of their business to another firm, you are not taking care of all of your clients’ needs. Do they have business where your firm does not have an office? Could they, and you, benefit from a stronger practice in a particular area? Do you feel the need for more depth in the bench?

  2. Is your firm structured to recognize and reward your contribution? Every firm credits work differently, and some give credit in ways that better encourage growth. Does your firm overcompensate for certain aspects of client development and undercompensate for others? Are conflicts resolved in your favor?

  3. Are your credentials on par with those of your colleagues? Or does your standout resume really stand out at your current firm?

  4. Is your practice a strategic growth area for your firm? If not, you won’t be able to grow your business. Are you getting the attention and budget you need for marketing and development?

  5. Is it time to find out if the grass may be greener? An anonymous, confidential market survey, not connected to you in any way but gathering the data you need to assess opportunities, could tell you if you are more valuable to the market than you are to your current firm.

Topside. Your search is over. We’ll take it from here.

Can't I just call my friends in other firms?

  1. Confidentiality. A good recruiter will make inquiries without identifying you until it is clear that there is interest and need, and not just curiosity. Once you call your friends, they will know you are on the market

  2. Juice. You may think your friend has a strong position in the firm. But he is unlikely
    to disabuse you of that notion, whether or not it is valid. He may have had a bad year, he may have lost a battle for origination credit that skewed his numbers, he may have used his political capital to advance another candidate. He might not be willing to take you to his partners, and your candidacy might be stuck for reasons he will never disclose to you.

  3. Negotiation on your own behalf. If you do get an offer, you will be in the uncomfortable position of negotiating your own deal, across the table from your future partners. It is always best to let the unpleasant aspects of finalizing the deal fall to someone else– your recruiter.

  4. You can still call your friend– once you are in. After your candidacy has been presented and advanced, you can of course speak to your friend and ask for his help. He’ll be more willing to give it when the burden does not fall on him entirely, and he can get credit for helping to close the deal.

  5. Know the whole market. Of course, you are an expert in your practice area and know who the players are. But things change all the time– new firms open in the area, practitioners move, new clients create new needs. A good recruiter will survey the entire market and show you opportunities you did not know existed.

Topside. Your search is over. We’ll take it from here.

Do I really have time to make a move?

Here are five things to look for if you need to look for a new firm:

  1. Did the recruiter call to tell you about a particular opportunity? It does happen– a firm really wants you and asks a recruiter to see if you are interested. But usually, it means that a firm has retained a recruiter to fill a need, paying part of the placement fee up front.

  2. Will the recruiter survey the marketplace and find every opportunity that suits your needs? If the recruiter has been retained, he won’t. He has an obligation to the firm that has retained him, which means more to him than the obligation he has to his candidate.

  3. Why do you need a market survey? A good recruiter will meet with you, ask you lots of questions, and get to know you. Then, she will contact every firm that could be appropriate for you, without referencing you in any way, and learn what the market offers right now. A months-old survey is stale. A good recruiter will call her contacts every time, for every candidate, and report about every firm’s needs before crafting a plan for each individual.

  4. Don’t I need to use a recruiter who has an “in” with a firm? Would you go into partnership with someone because a friend referred him? The role of a recruiter is to find all the options, present the information she has to the candidate, to know who to call at every firm to get things done, and to advance your candidacy where appropriate, not to send you to firms where she has a friend. No firm will move forward with someone who does not meet its needs, and all firms will talk to a professional recruiter with an attractive candidate. Whether the recruiter is a personal friend is irrelevant.

  5. How can I be sure of having complete confidentiality as I explore the market? A good recruiter spends more of her time listening than talking. She is collecting information about the firm’s needs, its strategic plan, its client base and synergies with yours, its environment, and its growth opportunities. She will never say anything more than is necessary to gather her market intelligence. And she will never say anything that could lead back to her candidates without their express, written permission to disclose that information, ever. Any recruiter who tries to get your authority to disclose before you know why the firm is serious, and not just curious, is not worth your time.

Topside. Your search is over. We’ll take it from here.

Can't I just call my friends in other firms?

Generally, a partner at a firm needs a book of portable business to consider moving to another firm, especially in this economy. But what if you are either a brand-new partner, or a government lawyer, or an in-house counsel? Are you box-office poison to the law firm world?

The short answer is, I’m afraid, a fudge. You may not have a book but perhaps you have something else of value– contacts.

If you have been in practice, you have worked with other attorneys, either on the other side of a deal or the other side of the courtroom. If you are a GC you have worked with your colleagues and with lawyers at other companies. They have opinions of you. If you have impressed them, they will be willing to take your call. If you have a law firm behind you, perhaps they would be willing to hear your pitch to provide legal services better, or cheaper, or more locally or internationally, than the firm they are currently using. That list of contacts is what amounts to your business plan. It is the work you would do for your first three months at the firm– calling those contacts, working with your new colleagues to set up pitch meetings, and establishing your ability to generate business from your network.

So, in short, are you willing to put together that list, and to convert your contacts into potential business? If you are, you have a plan, and if you have a plan, you may have a way into a new position.

Topside. Your search is over. We’ll take it from here.