Integral to every successful law firm is a talented support staff of paralegals, legal secretaries and legal assistants. To keep your firm functioning at the highest level possible, you need to recruit and retain the best of the best for these roles. Here are four law firm management tips to help you do just that:
1. Attract the best candidates.
The first stage of recruitment is deciding exactly what you need: a law clerk, legal secretary or legal assistant. The training and expectations for each of these roles are distinct. So before writing your job posting, consider the responsibilities of the position, as well as which skills and abilities are must-haves.
That job posting should be thoughtfully written. This is especially true in today’s hiring climate, as job seekers with highly sought skills and experience have an increasing number of options. Your posting should obviously include a job description and hiring criteria, but also insight into the workplace environment and corporate values, and an idea of the types of cases and clients you work with. Make your firm stand out.
Make certain you offer a competitive starting salary, as lower salaries aren’t always the best value. They can turn off high-caliber candidates and attract those who deliver less or require more training than you’re willing to offer.
2. Make the right choice.
Although recruitment efforts are time-intensive, they’re far less taxing than hiring the wrong candidate and dealing with the fallout of a bad hire. Analyze candidates’ applications closely — from the small but essential points such as spelling and grammar, to evidence candidates have the technology skills and client service experience you need.
You’ll also want to verify applications by contacting references. For example, check with professional or awarding bodies to confirm that claimed qualifications have been legitimately earned. As law clerks, legal secretaries and legal assistants will be privy to sensitive information, you may also want to consider a criminal background check.
3. Motivate your team.
Today’s job market is candidate-driven, so you’ll need to evaluate your retention efforts to keep the stellar staff you’ve recruited. One excellent means of retention is to motivate members of your legal support staff on an individual level to ensure they stay interested in working for your firm. The best way to know what your law clerk, legal secretaries and legal assistants need and want is to ask: Check in with them regularly about their career satisfaction and goals.
Once you have an idea of where they stand, help staff realize their aspirations by providing training that extends their qualifications. Beyond adding to the pool of skills and resources available to you, this effort can go a long way toward making your employees feel valued.
Additionally, encourage staff to occasionally tackle projects outside their usual scope of activity, and offer opportunities for career development and advancement. This shows you have faith in your employees’ abilities and provides professional challenges that can keep their work interesting. You can also help individuals attain goals in their personal lives by promoting a better work-life balance and offering flexible working conditions.
4. Keep your staff loyal.
One crucial aspect of law firm management is to be sure you don’t allow the efforts of excellent legal support staff to go unnoticed. Nobody enjoys a superior who scrutinizes every task, but well-timed praise lets employees know their work is valued. Remind your staff they’re part of a team by providing support in times of struggle, keeping criticism constructive when things go badly, and giving credit when things go right.
Like many law firm management goals, recruiting top support staff and keeping them loyal to your mission require ongoing efforts. But the time and energy spent are a worthy investment for any firm that wants to thrive in today’s business environment.