You need help in your law firm and decided to hire a new team member. That is great.
Now, how do you do it? What do you look for?
From years of being a lawyer, and owning my own solo practice for 16 years, I do know first hand about the process of hiring. I made some fabulous hires and I made some spectacular mistakes. Let me share some of my top lessons in hiring…
🔎 Hiring Tip #1
Have a crystal clear job description.
If, for example, you are hiring a paralegal…. a paralegal means a million different things in as many law firms.
👍 You want to be crystal clear about what you want your new hire to do.
👍 What are the outcomes that you expect?
👍 How will you measure those outcomes?
The clearer you can be about what you expect, the better your hire will be.
🔎 Hiring Tip #2
Hire for personality first, and experience second. Two of the best hires I ever made were employees who had no experience in a law firm. One had never been in a law firm and the other had only been in a law firm to get her own divorce. But they were fabulous employees.
Hire for personality. This means hiring the personality for the job you want done.
For example, the two employees I was just talking about were both going to be in client facing positions. I knew that personality would be key in those particular positions. So I was looking for friendly people with customer service experience.
Here’s another tip for evaluating personality. When setting up the interview, I made sure there were two interviews. One-on-one with me, and one with the Team (without me). What I found is the questions the candidates would ask me were very different from the questions they would ask the team. And the questions I was asking were different from the questions that the team would ask. This way I was able to get a much broader knowledge base of who the interviewee was before making a decision.
🔎 Hiring Tip #3
Is this candidate somebody who I believe is capable and willing?
Does the candidate have the mental ability to do the job? And are they willing to learn how to do it? And are they willing to do it the way we do it?
Yes, I was always open to suggestions, and ways we could improve, but where I ran into problems was with those who couldn’t adapt to our specific processes. We developed the processes that worked for the firm and I needed new hires to accept those processes.
🔎 Hiring Tip #4
Ask for and check references, or make the call yourself
Sometimes references don’t mean a lot, but ask for them AND check them, because you never know what you may find out.
Here are some red flags for references:
🚩 The reference will only confirm past employment and is not willing to offer more information.
🚩 The reference was nor advised to expect a call from a potential new employer.
🚩 The reference was not the candidate’s supervisor.
When I did a reference check, I wanted answers to specific questions.I would make the call and ask…
Do you know this person?
What can you tell me about her ? What was her best quality as an employee? What was an area where she could have improved?
Do you know who she reported to at the firm? Then I would call the supervisor.
I wanted to know positives AND negatives.
Running a successful solo or small law firm is exciting, and it’s challenging, and it is a lot of work. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you certainly don’t have to go it alone.
I hope you found these hiring tips helpful. And let me know Do you have any tips yourself? What’s your experience been like? In hiring? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.
Here are a few free resources for you to try out for your solo law firm…
Replace The Rat Race With A Bold, Thriving Law Business
With 16 years in a solo law practice, Sharon Christie discovered that the secret to thriving instead of merely surviving lies in the ability to land great clients…consistently. Sharon cracked the marketing code — catapulting her law practice clientele from ZERO to HUNDREDS in under 9 months — and now reveals her proven 3 step formula to other female lawyers who are ready to replace the rat race with a bold, thriving law business.
Part of her 3 step formula in action is frequent lecturing to professional and community groups, including NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore, the Brain Injury Association of Maryland, the Lupus Foundation, Let’s Talk Sarcoidosis and the Sinai Return to Work Program, and authoring books for her law practice clients such as the 2 books on Social Security Disability benefits, The Unofficial Guide to Social Security Disability Benefits and Can You Win Your Social Security Disability Case?: The Blueprint You Need to Get Social Security Disability.
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