For start-up or boutique law firms, it’s a simple as this: your people are your most important assets. You don’t have a big, bad brand name with renowned recognition from coast to coast. You have people. Preferably very talented people. And your ability to find, recruit, hire, engage and empower these very talented people is directly related to the success of your law firm.
Your law firm won’t thrive without the proper staffing or talent management, period. And here is why: in our experience, it is easy to get lost in the twisting path of the employee revolving door, as well as in lack of leadership and management—which is the root cause for inconsistent lead generation and cash flow. And it’s just as easy to get out. If any of this sounds familiar, you might be falling into some of the common staffing & talent management traps that prohibit law firms from thriving:
1. Onboarding process: There is nothing worse than a disorganized onboarding process that is not methodically laid out and communicated to clients up front. Clients need to be trained on how to behave, and on what to expect and when, so it’s important to document and communicate your onboarding process. Having a workflow process visually displayed on your website, in brochures, and in your welcome packets will eliminate confusion and onboard new clients quickly. Ensure that everyone in the office understands the process, regardless of their position. When clients don’t know what to expect—and when to expect it—from the first interaction, they tend to find themselves upset somewhere along the way while working with you.
2. Proactive communication: Your clients want to see results. There is nothing worse than silence for long periods of time and then the “oh crap” call out of nowhere, indicating that you cannot complete the work until you get “x.” Or worse, you’ll get the client calling for an update, only to hear that you need something from them in order to move forward. If clients don’t see the value of hiring you, they will never refer you. So check in with them. They spend money with you; talk to them, set up a recurring call, maybe put them in your weekly or biweekly calendar. Even better, surprise them with proactive communication that consists of, “Just wanted to give you an update,” especially when there is nothing you need from them at that point. That goes a long, long way.
3. Accountability cop: The fastest way to lose a client? When you are spread too thin and do not have someone babysitting you, constantly. You have too many projects that you are dropping things on, and you are operating as a rugged individualist, trying to do it all. Alone. You are not able to give clients quality attention because you are juggling too much. So don’t take on clients you can’t help. Never promise more than you can deliver—especially if you do not have a team leader, strategic assistant, or accountability cop in place.
4. You do everything: You take every job that comes into the office. You do parking tickets, wills, guardianships, corporate minutes, even the dreaded litigation case if things get really slow. There are riches in niches, and when you take on everything, you aren’t specialized and focused. You are a master of none.
We are hearing more and more from business owners who are realizing they cannot do it all alone. It’s time to automate and enroll your team (they have been patiently waiting for you to do this) to lead the administrative stuff that has been holding you back. It’s keeping you from focusing on your top revenue-producing activities.
Your employees see and understand that, if you can be freed up to focus on the opportunities and give them the follow-up and project management needs of the business, there is growth and leadership available for them. Imagine this: you invite your only employee to sit through every meeting involved in your process for the next five days, from the first meeting with the client to the last. You then debrief with her and check in on what showed up for her during those meetings, and if she saw the difference your business and process made in the client’s mindset, stress level, and overall life.
But Molly and Laney, you might be saying, what about my clients? Aren’t they my firm’s most important asset? No. Without your people, you can’t service your clients. Furthermore, replacing a client is a dime a dozen. Replacing a talented firm manager, client services coordinator or paralegal? Not easy.
Your law firm is only as strong as your weakest employee. So finding, recruiting, hiring, engaging and empowering those employees should be your main focus. Of course, that’s easier said than done, mostly because, well, you’ve got a few other tasks on your plate (and by “a few” we mean “a whole lot”). Finding and recruiting talented lawyers, paralegals and support staff requires a huge investment of time and money—two things that boutique law firms don’t have a wealth of.
And that’s where we come in. Hiring & Empowering Solutions specializes in talent management for law firms. From finding and recruiting new hires, to submersing them in your firm’s culture, to training, developing, engaging and empowering them to step up and make a difference for your firm, we manage every phase of the talent management process so you can manage, well, everything else.
If you have a new position available at your law firm, we’ll help you define the scope of the role and write the job posting in a way that weeds out weak candidates, or those who are unqualified. We’ll review the resumes that come in and conduct phone and video interviews while you focus on generating revenue for your firm. We’ll conduct background checks—basically, we do everything possible to eliminate candidates who are, frankly, a waste of your time and money. We prepare you for in-person interviews, and help you determine which of your top candidates is a better fit with your firm and its culture. We even help onboard your new hire, and integrate him or her with the rest of your team. And finally, we track and measure the progress of your new hire—at 30, 60 and 90 day benchmarks, to ensure he or she is not just surviving, but is thriving! This is our Smart Hire Solution™ Process and how a rockstar team is built. And how your law firm can bring its business to the next level.
Shifting your focus from customer satisfaction to talent management—just that little turn of the dial—can make all the difference in the performance of your start-up or boutique law firm. When you start to recognize your people as your firm’s most valuable assets, all other areas of your business operations will fall into place.