Legal staffing can present its share of challenges. Law firms and corporate legal departments often face one of two problems: Either they don't have the time or resources to recruit the skilled legal professionals they need, or their recruiting efforts aren't yielding viable candidates. These scenarios are common – and they present good reasons to consider engaging a legal staffing firm.
But if you've never worked with a legal staffing firm, you're probably unsure about how to select the right one and how the relationship will work. The following questions can help you evaluate staffing firms and weigh the various benefits they can bring:
What are your staffing needs?
It's important to work with a legal staffing firm that can meet your unique requirements. But first you have to identify what those needs are. Do you need temporary, full-time or project professionals? What combination of people, services or solutions are you looking for – law clerks, lawyers, legal secretaries, project teams or eDiscovery experts?
Some legal staffing agencies are best at placing temporary professionals. Other firms may focus more on eDiscovery projects or legal project solutions. Others still are strong in all areas and can be a good solution for organizations that seek a variety of services and solutions.
Be sure to identify your specific requirements and look for a firm that best suits your needs. Legal organizations may even find value in establishing a relationship with a key staffing firm that can get to know its corporate culture over time and provide solutions for an array of needs.
Ask detailed questions of the lead recruiter.
As you evaluate potential legal staffing firms, don't hesitate to ask the lead recruiter probing questions that call for clear answers. Here are some specific questions you may want to ask:
- What is your firm's referral-to-hire ratio? What's the duration of your average placement? Do you specialize in contract, temporary or full-time placement?
- How long have you been in business? Do you place candidates in law firms or legal departments, or both? Large or small firms? How many clients do you have among large international companies or law firms?
- How do you recruit, evaluate and select highly skilled candidates? What is the breadth and depth of your candidate network?
- How do you check candidates' references? How do you validate their licenses, degrees and certifications?
Does the staffing agency guarantee its contract employees?
Many law offices hire new employees on a temporary-to-full-time basis, which gives them time to evaluate a candidate's fit before making a full-time offer and helps to reduce hiring mistakes. In addition, many staffing agencies offer a replacement guarantee if, before a certain amount of time has passed, the client decides a professional the agency placed isn't the right match for the position or organization.
What are the fees?
Don't hesitate to engage potential legal staffing firms in a candid discussion about fees and how they are paid. A reputable firm is always willing to communicate its fee structure clearly and in writing.
Do your research on potential legal staffing firms, which includes asking the right questions and conducting a thorough evaluation. This will help ensure you find the right ally to help your business maintain a steady and comprehensive recruiting effort that will allow you to satisfy whatever staffing needs you may have.