When Martha Ann Sisson and Charlie Garrison founded a search firm in 1986, neither had much recruiting experience. Both, however, had been solicited by recruiters and found them almost universally uninformed and unhelpful. They seized the opportunity to create a new type of recruiting firm, one devoted to understanding and matching client and candidate needs rather than merely pushing positions and resumes.
Garrison & Sisson’s approach was, and still is, straightforward and atypical. “We do our best every single day and treat our clients and candidates the way they would prefer to be treated,” says Martha Ann. She doesn't think it’s complicated: “Maybe our secret is our simplicity: know the market, listen to people, and help create the best outcomes for all."
That simple approach proved itself over the next 30 years, as G&S grew to be the most highly-regarded search firm in the DC area, expanding from the two-person foundation to an entire team of qualified and committed legal recruiters who share the same philosophy.Though G&S has evolved, along with the legal profession itself, Martha Ann remains committed to the founding vision of high quality research, consistently careful preparation,and clear communications with all parties.
As a founding partner and co-chair of the Partner & Practice Group and In-House Divisions at G&S, Martha Ann focuses on lateral partner and practice group placements in addition to senior-level in-house engagements. With over 25 years of experience, she deeply understands how to orchestrate individuals and organizations into mutually beneficial partnerships. “It’s personally gratifying to help a firm or company grow,” says Martha Ann. “I walk them through what is possible, how is it best achieved, current market norms and conditions, and then help them discover the wealth of talented attorneys in the DC area and wider mid-Atlantic region."
Martha Ann shares her insight and advice on lateral partner hiring, compensation issues, and making in-house searches more efficient. She also is well known for counseling individual attorneys on positioning themselves for the DC market. She has advised corporate law departments on the establishment of general counsel offices and provided related guidance on the structure and roles of legal departments. Martha Ann regularly participates in local and national bar association panels and speaks at NALP and WALRAA sponsored programs.
Martha Ann served for six years on the Executive Committee of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia and is a former board member of a national not for profit organization. She is also a past recipient of the BADC’s Young Lawyer of the Year Award. Martha Ann graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Richmond, magna cum laude. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two Welsh Terriers.
Recent Publications and Speaking Engagements
- Panelist, The Changing Face of the Legal Industry (Legal Bisnow Managing Partner Roundtable, April 2014)
- Speaker, Learn the Lateral Partner Tango: 7 Steps for Choreographing Successful Interviews (NALP Annual Education Conference, April 2013)
- Speaker, Lateral Partner Acquisitions (Association of Legal Administrators Annual Conference, April 2013)
- Panelist, Knowing When And If Another Job Is Right For You (WMACCA Career Development Forum, March 2013)
- Speaker, Cracking the Lateral Partner Recruiting Code: Secrets from the Other Side (NALP Annual Education Conference, April 2011)
- Panelist, Partner and Practice Area Recruiting (WALRAA Conference, March 2010)
- Author, Success in 21st Century Private Practice: Retooling for an Enterprise Culture (UVA Lawyer, Fall 2009)
- Panelist, “All About Recruiters” (Georgetown University Law Center, April 2009)
- Panelist, “Lateral Partner and Associate On-Boarding” (NALP Annual Education Conference, April 2009)
- Author, In Pursuit of In-House: Interviewing Tools (Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Alumni Extranet, 2008)
- Author, Hocus Pocus or Reality: Evaluating the Soundness of Portable Client Relationships and Revenues—Proof or Poof? (Maximizing Law Firm Profitability, Susan G. Manch and Marcia P. Shannon, Law Journal Press, 2008)
- Author, A Primer on Becoming An In-House Counsel (Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Alumni Extranet, 2008)