Law Firm Hiring: How to Get the Most out of Your New Hires

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Law-Firm-Hiring--How-To-Get-The-Most-Out-Of-Your-New-HiresGetting the most out of your new hires is probably one of your major goals when it comes to staffing and managing employees. But how can a small law firm do that in a way that’s beneficial to the entire firm and the individual attorney? Let’s take a look at a few tips.

Allow Autonomy

Allow new hires the flexibility to tweak processes they are heavily involved in. Even if you feel that your existing work processes operate perfectly or at least worked perfectly for the last person to hold the new attorney’s position, it’s almost a guarantee that there’s room for improvement.  What you want to do is make the process as effective for the attorney doing the job and as efficient for the law firm as possible. But to do that, you will need to resist the urge to demand a rigid adherence to the existing process.

  • Ask for the new hire’s assessment of existing work processes. When a new hire first onboards, they may be nervous about speaking up about existing work processes that don’t accommodate them or that they feel simply aren’t efficient. On the one hand, this means that they will work hard to operate within the confines of your work processes but on the other hand it could mean that they are a lot less effective than they would be if they felt comfortable making necessary adjustments. It’s up to you to clearly state that you want the new hire to assess any work processes they’re involved in.
  • Tolerate mistakes and misunderstandings.  Even as your new hire assesses existing work processes and experiments with changes, there will be misunderstandings and mistakes. Sometimes a work process is inefficient because it must be to avoid errors or other problems, but the new hire won’t automatically know that. When you recognize mistakes and misunderstandings, take the time to explain the “why” of an inefficient work process.
  • Get everyone involved. Anytime you’re making changes to an existing work process, it will impact more than just one person. That’s why it’s important to get everyone who will be involved in the work process to also give input on any proposed changes. Even if they are “lower on the food chain,” it’s important that you take the input of all employees seriously if you want to get the most out of them in terms of productivity and maintain their morale.

Set Team Goals

Every new hire you bring onboard to your law firm is part of a bigger team. It’s important that when you set goals for your new hire those goals are set with that reality in mind.

  • Clarify law firm goals. Sharing your law firm mission statement is not enough to get your new hire onboard with your firm wide goals. You must thoroughly explain the law firm’s goals and help them understand the “why” of those goals and how they fit in to helping those goals come into fruition.
  • Connect the dots. Once you’ve helped the new hire understand how they can help the law firm goals become reality, it’s important to connect the dots in terms of how each team member working together helps those goals become reality. Since no attorney or admin is an island, they need to understand how each team member helps to fulfill the law firm’s mission.
  • Allow diversity in tactics. While it’s important that each team member uniformly works towards the law firm’s key goals, it’s also important to allow a diversity of tactics. Each new hire should be allowed some leeway to decide how they will execute their tactics to achieve goals.
  • Provide your staff with the right productivity tools. Implementing a case management system will not only allow your staff to better collaborate, but also give them the ability to see what each employee is working on, easily locate the status of a matter, or see remaining tasks.

If you want your new hires to be effective, efficient, and productive, encourage their autonomy while helping them understand how they fit into the bigger law firm vision.

By |August 18th, 2017|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.