A New Approach to Hiring for Your Law Firm
Hiring, Staffing, and Growing a Law Firm
9 min read
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Now that you know the roles of your firm, you need to fill them with amazing team members. We see too many lawyers struggle with law firm staffing. Most small law firms don’t learn enough good practices for hiring and managing effective teams. We’ll show you a better way.
Whether you are seeking a full-time employee or a part-time contractor, you must build a law firm hiring and staffing process that benefits you both. This means understanding your values and creating an effective hiring process that finds the best person for your team. Doing so not only helps staff your team with the right people. It will help your firm stand out in a very competitive job market with employers fighting for the top talent.
Knowing the right time to hire is tricky. If you hire too soon, you risk financial trouble. If you hire too late, you’ll act out of desperation, possibly hiring the wrong fit for your firm.
If growth is one of your goals, know how to identify the red flags that signal it’s time to hire.
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, now may be the time to hire help. It’s quite possible your law firm’s success depends on it.
In our Complete Guide to Starting a Law Firm, we detail why your team’s core values are part of the foundation of your firm. Your core values clarify the types of people who will be great fits for your team. This also allows you to avoid costly mistakes. With estimations of a bad hire costing an average of $15,000, it’s worthwhile to do the hard work on the front end.
Because your values are so ingrained in the fabric of your firm, it’s hard to remember that they really are unique to you. It’s easy to assume that everyone would approach their work in the same way you do. That simply isn’t the case. Your values help define your team’s unique working style so you can find people who will excel in your environment.
Let’s examine an example for more context. At Lawyerist, one of our core values is “Experiment Like a Lobster.” Despite the funny phrase, it essentially means we love trying new things. We’re always experimenting. We’re always questioning the status quo and challenging how we can do things better and faster. There are plenty of amazing workers who love routine. They want to know what we expect of them each day so they can come in and effectively mark off those tasks. That type of employee would not likely thrive on our team. They may find the pace of our work chaotic. They may see our desire to test, challenge, and improve to be unpredictable and unsettling. And, that’s ok! Finding out during the hiring process that someone thrives on long-established routines and therefore wouldn’t be a great fit for our team means the process is working.
If you haven’t done the work to discern and identify your team’s core values, do that first. It will make the entire hiring process easier and, ultimately, more effective.
Does this sound familiar?
You finally decide to hire—you’re excited. You search the local ads for a position similar to yours. You copy and paste the job posting with a few minor tweaks, run the ad, and start the process. Resumes come in and you review them and decide to interview a few folks. During the interview, you ask some general questions, mostly about their past work. Then, you go with your gut or who you “liked” and make an offer. They start, and it doesn’t go as planned. Don’t worry. We have a better way.
Once you’ve decided to hire, your next step is to build a hiring process. This happens before you look at the first resume. The hiring process is a critical time for you to gather information about candidates and provide them with the information they need to self-select in or out of the process. Think of it this way: your candidate pool starts with everyone in your hiring area. Your job is to whittle it down to the one person who is best suited to your team. You need to be deliberate and methodical.
Here’s how to get started:
You’re more likely to hire the right person for your team if you have a thoughtful process. Hiring takes time. Rushing the process because you are underwater leads to hiring the wrong people for the team.
A great hiring experience sets the stage for a great onboarding and team experience. We’ll tackle that below.
Diversity and inclusion matter. Strong diversity and inclusion practices in business improve employee engagement. They open the door to various perspectives that increase creativity and innovation. Plus, 65% of employees feel that the respectful treatment of all employees is an important factor in their job satisfaction. Additionally, inclusive companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow.
Even with their benefits, diversity and inclusion in law firms aren’t the norm. To help fix this problem, small law firms must take it upon themselves to prioritize hiring diverse teams.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Finally, don’t forget that your hiring process sets the stage for what it will be like to work with you. Don’t forget: you are recruiting throughout the process as well. By being intentional about your hiring process, you can not only find the right person for your team, but you’ll also get them excited about working with you long-term.
You also need to be intentional when you decide to work with a contractor. No, you won’t take them through the same interview process as you would potential hires, but you shouldn’t take it lightly. Determine how you can evaluate the contractor’s core values. How do they work? What do they need to be successful? Are you set up to work well with them?
Also, use this as an opportunity to add diversity to your team. Consider looking for a diverse contractor or minority-owned business to work with.
Now that you’re ready to hire amazing team members or contractors, we’ll cover setting your team up for success with onboarding and training.