Jonathan Skerrett


About Jonathan Skerrett

Jonathan Skerrett is a Director at Rutherford, a London-based recruitment firm that specialises in legal, compliance and financial crime searches within law firms and financial services businesses. After working for a global recruitment PLC where he managed large investment banking account relationships and placed candidates at all levels for companies ranging from Credit Suisse to Goldman Sachs, Jonathan founded his own firm, Rutherford, in 2011.

With more than 14 years of experience in legal and regulatory recruitment, Jonathan specialises in placing Partner through to Senior Associate-level candidates within private practice.

How would you describe your management style?

At Rutherford, we have quite a flat structure, so I try to manage in more of a collaborative style. I try to recognise that I do not have all the answers, and that even where I think I might be right, there must be degrees and scope for healthy disagreement. So much of what we do, like determining a candidate's cultural fit for a client, is about nuance: I therefore prefer debate over diktat. I also want to empower my staff to have a high level of autonomy and trust that within the requirements, they will deliver wha tis being asked of them.

How do you build a team? What are the key qualities you look for when bringing people together?

There are some key qualities I usually look for: mental toughness, resilience, accountability and ownership. I like what Buffet says about hiring for integrity and Ray Dalio about interviewees being almost as inquisitive about the interviewers – great questions can be more important than great answers, and it shows intellectual curiosity. I also believe that, fundamentally, like in any relationship, there needs to be alignment of philosophy and goals.

What changes within the legal and financial services space have surprised you the most in recent years?

I have always wanted big law and global financial services to shout more about the good the sector does in the world. Yes there are huge challenges to overcome, but people sometimes just see the big fine or interesting tax structures, not the capital raising that allows a wind farm to be built or the mortgages that allow families to get their first home.

Some of the most inspiring people I know work in law firms and I believe in-house in the US and UK they are taking infrastructure more and more seriously. As for legal and compliance departments, they are now almost investor-facing functions. What I find refreshing is that this is now not just a media or regulator-led issue, customers and shareholders of financial services firms are demanding more rigour and controls. The rise of interest in ESG is part of this trend – people want good corporate citizens and growth. ​

How would you describe the work environment at Rutherford?

We are a small firm: our size naturally fosters an atmosphere of teamwork. Everyone always helps each other out. We are also always talking: discussing ideas, profiles, clients, etc. Another advantage of our size is we are all highly invested as a team in the searches we undertake.

Everyone is working for each other, which means the client gets all these unseen extra resources and a better process.

How do you define success?

​I obviously want commercial success for Rutherford, but that isn’t the end in itself. I believe business growth allows us to make a positive difference to more clients and candidates, all while offering greater opportunities for personal growth to our own staff.

Finding a legal or regulatory professional their dream job potentially impacts their life in such a profound way: this can’t be underestimated. I firmly believe many of our Partner, CEO and COO clients sleep better at night knowing they have the best lawyer or compliance officer available in position. ​