Small Law Firm HR Mistakes to Avoid

//Small Law Firm HR Mistakes to Avoid

While large law firms tend to have dedicated human resources departments, at small firms, HR is typically handled by employees who wear many hats. Because you may not have an expert on staff, it’s not uncommon to experience a few HR hiccups along the way. To keep things running smoothly as you build your legal dream team, avoid these HR mistakes:

Hiring too quickly

Your time is valuable, so you may be tempted to hire as swiftly as possible to get back to your legal work. But making a poor hiring choice can backfire, costing your firm much more valuable time and money in the long run. When your firm needs to hire, set aside the time to recruit candidates and interview them with your best practices and vision for your firm in mind. If possible, plan ahead so you can start the hiring process before the need for a new employee becomes extremely pressing.

Not classifying employees

Classifying employees correctly is crucial to your firm’s productivity and collaboration. It’s also the law. Accurately designating employees as full-time, part-time, temporary or independent affects their eligibility for benefits and may impact how they are paid. To ensure your law firm stays compliant, review the current federal and local laws regarding other special classes of employees, such as interns.

For a better understanding of employee classifications, take a look at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) sample Employee Work Classification policy.

Not updating the employee handbook

Your law firm can save time and avoid confusion by maintaining an accurate, regularly updated employee handbook. Use this handbook to answer employee questions about benefits, office policies, vacation time and more. Not only will you cut back on the number of times you need to answer the same questions over and over, but you’ll have a written record of firm policies should questions or conflict ever arise.

Not providing the proper training

Investing a little time now can save your firm many valuable hours later. By properly training new hires, you can build a firm that works cohesively. Without proper training, your new employees may lack confidence in their work or do things in ineffective ways. Training is a part of team-building: use it to build the best, most productive law firm you can.

Do you manage HR functions for your small law firm? What mistakes have you made and learned from?

By |July 2nd, 2015|

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.