Is This the Time to Hire?

Kathy Fortin

July 30, 2020

 

Is This the Time to Hire? 

Every law firm has ongoing needs for sufficient staff: lawyers, paralegals, and administrative support, to service client work and assist in the business requirements of running the firm. While Covid-19 and remote working presents challenges both to employers and employees, many of our small law firm clients are looking to hire.

I share some of my current observations from my work with a variety of firms:

  1. Many states are delaying giving the Bar exam which is causing newly graduated lawyers to be more eager than ever to land a job as a clerk or some other interim position. Now may be a good opportunity to try out an associate hire, even if it turns out to be for the short term. If the fit turns out to be right for both of you, you may be lucky enough to retain the lawyer after they have passed the Bar. If not, it will have been an opportunity to experiment, with little lost.
  2. Hiring is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate need. When some lawyers get very busy they decide they need to hire right away, only to find, sometimes quickly, they made a mistake. Despite the challenges of Covid, now may be an opportune time to see what the market has to offer, but remember that the rule to “hire slow” applies even more today.
  3. The interviewing process is different. Some firms are conducting in-person interviews, while others choose virtual interviews. Each firm must do what is best for them and the applicant. While flexibility is necessary, it seems reasonable that a first interview would work in a virtual setting, but I recommend making every effort to meet the candidate in person before making a final decision.
  4. Some paralegal applicants have asked if the position can be performed remotely. Law firms have realized that remote working requires new policies. They also realize that a policy created today may change over time, as the firm continues to learn what works best.
  5.  Additional issues related to remote work include how to train and integrate employees in offices where remote work is the new norm. Different hires will have different needs. Those with the desired skill and experience will make the training process easier, limiting it to the offices’ specific procedures and getting to know co-workers. However, training of an inexperienced hire, particularly one with no knowledge about law firms, may not be a good idea, as the training required may be too extensive. Planning out what the training needs are, how to accomplish them, and who in the firm will participate, will take new thinking and ingenuity.

 

In my fifteen years experience as a consultant I have found that the hiring and management of staff, while viewed by some as a mundane necessity, is key to a firm’s success. I encourage law firm owners and managers to take a fresh look at their approaches and how they can improve their methods to achieve the best results.

 

If you would like to join our monthly Zoom sessions to discuss the topics addressed here or have other topics to recommend for discussion contact me at kwf@arthurggreene.com or see instructions that appears in our ad in the July and upcoming issues of the NH Bar News.