Case Studies

Below are assignment abstracts and actual commentary.


With Diligence, our deep-dive, pre-employment vetting product, Decipher offers a comprehensive solution to the pitfalls associated with strategic hires. Diligence’s global reach allows us to elicit first-person human intelligence about any candidate literally anywhere around the globe:

In-House Counsel in a Small Market.

“She has a lot of team building experience. She has been tasked with a lot of the team building exercises related to the company’s preferred provider counsel network. She is very energetic, and she is pretty quick to make-up her mind.”

An AmLaw 50 firm asked Decipher to conduct Diligence on an in-house counsel from a small midwestern market. Decipher elicited relevant intelligence from a collection of private and in-house practitioners, in an incredibly small legal market, who Decipher identified as having extensive professional dealings with the candidate’s company, and delivered a complete report about the candidate in less than ten days.

Ambitious Australian Attorney.

“We have a relationship with the firm, sure, but I’ve never heard of that person.”

An international client enlisted Decipher to confirm an Australian candidate’s book of business. The candidate listed several Pacific Rim clients on their lateral partner questionnaire (LPQ). Decipher spoke with general counsel at several companies based in Australia and Singapore who ultimately denied having a current relationship with the candidate. The firm declined to proceed with the candidate after learning that the expected book of business was much lower than promised.

Boundary Issues.

“He’ll put people in very weird positions where he’ll ask a very junior associate to come over and watch movies, and it makes people uncomfortable, but they’re in a position where they feel like they can’t say no.”

An AmLaw 50 firm had concerns about a candidate’s history of frequent moves. Decipher spoke with former colleagues from several different firms who had intimate knowledge of the partner’s behavior. Sources confirmed that the candidate had severe boundary issues with associates. The firm did not proceed with the candidate.

Out of Work Attorney.

“He’s an embarrassment to the practice of law. He’s unreasonably aggressive. He’s very smoke-and-mirrors, and somewhat prone to hyperbole when marketing himself.”

An AmLaw 25 firm requested Diligence on a candidate who had been suspiciously unemployed for more than a year. Using innovative sourcing techniques, Decipher discovered the details around the candidate’s prior employment, including an aggressive demeanor and a habit of overestimating potential business. The client declined to hire the candidate based on Decipher’s intelligence, and the candidate no longer practices at major firms.

Civil Service.

“He’s not going to be the most accessible person. Those guys work in a different side of the building than us. He’s looking into mob-tied people. He’s looking into potential terrorist finances. Most of his work is behind locked-doors. Some of the cases, or investigations may be public, though heavily redacted.”

Decipher conducted Diligence for an AmLaw 25 firm on a government attorney, looking to move into private practice, who handled classified government cases. Decipher identified the small pool of individuals most likely to have interfaced with the candidate in classified practice, to elicit pertinent intelligence and substantiate the candidate’s reputation and skill set. The firm hired the candidate based on this information.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.

“Let’s be honest. They are a great M&A team. They’re one of the most successful teams in the area.”

An AmLaw 25 firm looked to add a multi-partner team to lead their M&A department. The firm wanted to learn about each partner in-depth, in order to substantiate their market-leading reputations. Decipher spoke with forty (40) leading practitioners and former colleagues in five days and offered comprehensive commentary about each partner for the firm. The firm’s board approved a significant investment based upon our intelligence.

Financial Industry Professional.

“I think you could just see a general sense that she was a bit overwhelmed when the stress levels got high.”

Decipher conducted Diligence for an international law firm looking to hire a CFO. Decipher identified, sourced and interviewed a relevant sample of leaders and former colleagues in the financial services industry to generate a complete profile, and learned that the candidate had challenges with stress tolerance. Our client passed on the candidate and was thankful for the unparalleled intelligence.

Marketing Professional.

“I reported to her for two years, and then when I left, she had been demoted within six months. I cannot tell you for sure why they demoted her, but I can tell you, she’s not a very good people leader.”

An international law firm was finalizing the hire of a Canada-based Chief Marketing Officer. Decipher conducted effective Diligence on the marketing professional, despite the fact that the candidate’s experienced spanned several discreet industries, including Big Law. The candidate, who had a sterling pedigree, nonetheless received criticism from former colleagues surrounding people-management skills. The firm went forward with the hire, but in a reduced role, which allowed them to integrate into the firm more successfully as they grew into the role’s management responsibilities.


Dossier gives you peace of mind that there are no surprises in a candidate’s background. Decipher uses proprietary data infrastructure and specialized intelligence-gathering techniques to generate an objective profile of your candidate:

Liens, and Other Financial Irregularities.

An AmLaw 50 firm considered a candidate who had moved firms twice in the past five years. The client sought a better understanding of the objective risks associated with the individual. Decipher uncovered several objective irregularities – the candidate had close to one million dollars in outstanding federal and state tax liens, and had failed to disclose an equity interest in an existing financial services client. The firm, recognizing the potential liability, terminated discussions with the candidate.

Proof of Erratic Behavior.

An AmLaw 100 firm tasked Decipher with the Diligence of a candidate whom they had been courting for years. Decipher discovered several red flags, including: a contentious divorce with rather wild accusations; very public and pornographic social media activity; and several hundred thousand dollars in outstanding tax liens. Surprised by this new information, the firm declined to move forward with the candidate. Decipher completed this project in two days.

A client instructed Decipher to Diligence the acquisition of a small west coast litigation boutique. In a matter of days, Decipher uncovered an intricate financial setup of the firm’s principal partners in an attempt to shield them from both tax and legal liability, several law suits involving allegation of fraud, associated bankruptcy proceedings, and a family law matter which resulted in a civil contempt charge. The client passed on the potential acquisition, which had been under consideration for the better part of a year.

Concealed Criminal History.

A client was finalizing its offer for a candidate who had voluntarily disclosed a DUI on their LPQ. Decipher’s standard objective checks discovered that this candidate not only had another DUI, but also had been served a temporary restraining order for domestic violence relating to a divorce.

An AmLaw 50 firm asked for a quick “red flags” search on a candidate, expecting a rather pro forma Decipher discovered a speeding charge, along with an ensuing police chase, that resulted in a charge of resisting arrest and a follow-on bar complaint. Decipher confirmed that the candidate’s children were in the vehicle during the incident. A social media screen also disclosed frequent posting of inflammatory political material on Facebook, including photoshopped pictures of prominent political figures. Discussions with the candidate were concluded quickly thereafter.

Concealed Disciplinary History.

An AmLaw 200 client requested a “red flags” search, as they were encouraged by the ongoing discussions with the candidate, and were proceeding towards an offer. Decipher’s intelligence analysts uncovered evidence of a federal investigation involving the candidate and an ensuing resignation before a formal charge could be levied. Source commentary suggested that the candidate had a history of workplace bullying and discriminatory behavior in multiple professional roles.


Decipher’s Discover product utilizes our investigative intelligence platform to identify relevant and leading talent, fully consistent with your specific strategic growth criteria. In addition, Decipher provides the intelligence that paints the full picture of how a given market functions, and where your targeted talent fits within that market. Simply put, our clients receive the most targeted candidate intelligence and a roadmap for their recruitment, at a fraction of the cost of external recruiters, putting the firm solidly in the driver’s seat:

A Tough Decision in a New Market.

An AmLaw 100 client was looking to open in a new market on the strength of two major banking client relationships. The firm instructed Decipher to identify the local partners who held the strongest relationships with those clients, as well as other market trends that would assist in growing the new office. Decipher isolated the most relevant intelligence sources and provided the Board with a full picture of the market’s dynamics. Intelligence analysts spoke with in-house counsel and leading firms in the area to discern the two most salient points that would inform the ultimate decision: (1) that one small, local firm owned the best relationships with these banking clients; and (2) that much of the more commodified work was being outsourced to larger firms in the Midwest. The client reshaped its investment decision based on the critical intelligence.

Discover Your Clients’ Counsel

An AmLaw 25 client sought to expand its corporate practice in a mid-sized Midwest market. The firm asked Decipher to identify relevant individuals who (1) possessed strong relationships with the firm’s existing corporate clients, and (2) would be attractive and well-positioned for a lateral move, considering the market dynamics. Decipher used specialized data and research techniques to identify the individual partners/teams who had significant experience representing the firm’s core corporate clients, and who were most likely willing to move based on several pertinent factors, as identified by Decipher. Decipher delivered a timely report profiling the key targets, emphasizing the best approach for each. The firm began discussions with a potential team, less than eight weeks from the point of instruction.

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