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Setting New Law Firm Hires Up for Success

Dana Moran

Written by

Dana Moran


March 14, 2022

Setting New Law Firm Hires Up for Success

Your small firm is ready to grow slightly larger — you’re in the market for a new attorney, paralegal or staffer. Congratulations!

However, even before you start interviewing, you need a plan for how your new law firm hires will add value to your firm. Not only will it help ensure a right fit for both your firm and the new hire, it will position them for a strong career.

Let’s explore how you can set new law firm hires up for success.

Have a plan in place from Day 1

There’s nothing worse than joining a new company and being unsure of where you fit in. Without a clear roadmap, new law firm hires feel surplus to requirements — and any initial excitement about their role quickly disappears. The firm struggles to make the most of their new hire’s capabilities and begins to doubt their value.

By having a plan in place for all new law firm hires, you’ll ensure:

  • They know what they need to do and why, and how they are contributing to the firm’s success. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace reveals only one-third (34%) of American employees are engaged in the workplace. If your firm is among that group, you can expect top-notch productivity and reduced turnover. You’ll save not only the cost of training and onboarding, but also the cost of a recruiter (typically around 25% of the attorney’s annual salary).
  • Your firm gains value from the new employee as soon as possible (after all, that’s why you hired them).

How to create a solid plan to get new law firm hires up to speed

First, realize that, while important, the process of building a plan for new hires takes time and thought. There’s no point haphazardly designing a plan of action for new hires that doesn’t actually add value to your firm.

Experience — that of your current attorneys and staff members, and your own — is possibly your most valuable asset when building an onboarding plan for new hires. Ask employees which resources, either physical, digital or human, they most relied on when they first joined the firm. What support was missing? And what key tasks and responsibilities on their plates today could most easily be passed to the new hire? Their answers should inform your job description as well as the new-hire plan.

Third, use technology to map out your new hire’s first weeks on the job. Thanks to Smokeball’s brand-new Global Dashboard, they’ll see a snapshot of their entire day, including calendar appointments, important messages and to-dos, from the moment they start working.

Using Smokeball’s Tasks & Workflows feature, assign specific tasks to new law firm hires and set up end-to-end workflows to guide them through each step of their key deliverables. Rather than simply telling a new hire to handle a clients’ pre-decree temporary orders, you can point them to the specific workflow in Smokeball that outlines all necessary steps: creating a draft petition of the dissolution, reviewing it, filing it, drafting up a parenting plan and so on.

Attach any key document that they might need to get the job done so they don’t waste time digging around for the right document. And thanks to Smokeball’s Daily Digest feature, new law firm hires will know exactly what they need to complete that day, ensuring they always have a clear plan in place.

Mentoring (both formal and informal)

Great mentors play a crucial role in helping new law firm hires live up to their potential — especially for junior attorneys who are just starting out. Pre-COVID, 91% of employees with mentors in place were happy with their jobs, while more than 4 in 10 workers without a mentor had considered quitting their job in the three months before the survey took place.

While mentors provide significant long-term value to their mentees, including firm operation, key skills, development and accountability, mentoring isn’t just about skills and progression. These programs must also include a focus on wellness. Junior attorneys often feel pressure (perceived or actual) to work around the clock, leading to an increased risk for burnout. Mentors are often in the best position to provide a check on their mentees’ physical and mental health, affording them permission to pump the brakes.

Unfortunately, 57% of attorneys say mentorship has suffered at their firm since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And with hybrid work on the rise, informal mentorship —the kind that happens in hallways and over a casual lunch — is more difficult to come by for junior attorneys. That’s a real problem in a profession where 72% of millennial attorneys say an informal mentor has played either a significant or crucial role in their career; just 33% say the same about formal mentors.

That’s why firms need to update their formal mentorship programs to better meet the real needs of their teams, both for new law firm hires as well as for more established members of the team. While it’s not a perfect solution to the informal membership program, asking attorneys what they would like to gain from formal mentorship, then delivering on those promises, goes a long way toward establishing trust and a successful long-term career path.

Get the right software in place

With software like Smokeball, your firm can help new law firm hires get up to speed from Day 1. Smokeball acts as an all-in-one hub, outlining daily deliverables, firm-wide workflows and providing all necessary documents to help them along the way.

If disaster strikes, is your firm prepared?

Join Attorney and Smokeball Legal Technology Advisor Jordan Turk for our next FREE CLE webinar on December 15th at 1 PM CST.

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