Almost every time we send a Big Law resume to a small firm looking to hire, we get the same bewildered responses: We can’t compete with that salary. They have high billable hour requirements. They’re worked to the bone—they don’t care about the things our firm can offer, like work-life balance or culture…

The rationale checks out. Why would an attorney or paralegal from a big law firm be interested in taking a pay cut to work for a small firm? So…we did the research. We called big and small law firms across the country and spoke with associate attorneys and paralegals to learn about their day-to-day lives—their KPIs, salaries, billable hour requirements, work-life balance, etc. And what we found was really surprising.

We spoke with one paralegal at a large firm. She was responsible for 16 attorneys, making it incredibly easy for her to meet her billable hour requirements and start racking up a bonus. In fact, she had several different bonus structures contributing to her salary, as well as unlimited time off. But she was looking to make a move for two reasons: one was that she hated her long commute, and the other was that she was simply uninspired.

In another instance, we spoke with an associate attorney at a big law firm who was looking to move to a firm that provided a partner track. She had been with the firm for many years, and had never had a billable hour requirement. In talking to her about moving to a smaller firm, we were able to enroll her in the salary, the incentive-based compensation plan, the culture, the work-life balance…but she wasn’t willing to take a job that had billable hour requirements!

So, it turns out it’s not just about salary. And it’s not about work-life balance. It’s about something different for each and every individual. The bottom line is is: don’t be intimidated by a dazzling Big Law resume. You never know what that individual is looking for until you ask…

Another piece of legal staffing advice: don’t be afraid of a resume that lacks years of experience. Human characteristics—emotional intelligence and energy—can’t be trained. Someone who is smart, openminded, willing to learn, motivated, an overachiever, a hard worker, and simply a pleasure to be around could be the best hire your firm ever makes…

And our final piece of advice: if you’re thinking about adding to your team in 2020, start your search now. NOW is the time when talent starts making their moves, so get ahead of the game and start recruiting before you miss your chance to hire someone really great! We’re here to answer any questions you have about recruiting and legal staffing—schedule your discovery session with Molly to learn more about our Smart Hire Staffing Solution and how the right hire can change everything about your firm…for the better!

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