How to Determine Who to Hire for Your Law Firm
14–17 minutes to read
One of the best things you can do to support the growth of your law firm is hiring the right people. Your organization is only as strong as the people running it, and as your operation grows, you’ll need the right people in the right seats to meet new challenges, provide stronger support for your clients, and ultimately help you make your vision a reality.
Take a minute to look around your office. What areas need support? Are there any new positions that need to be created and hired for? Who are the perfect people to succeed in those roles?
Even if you don’t have all the answers, you’re in luck — we’re going to show you a foolproof framework to help you make those determinations. Get ready to learn:
- What Makes a Law Firm Successful
- How to Know What to Hire For
- How to Attract the Best Candidates
- How to Create a Foolproof Hiring Process
What Makes a Law Firm Successful
The legal market is crowded and ultra-competitive. In order to attract the highest quality cases, the best clients, and the strongest team, you’ve got to be able to stand out from the pack and prove to everyone why your law firm is the best (and only) option for them. If you don’t, all of those potential clients and team members will find another law firm and give them their loyalty.
This begs the question: How do you stand out?
Take a look at some of the most successful companies on the planet:
What stands out about them?
They’re not just companies — they’re strong brands.
Consumers prefer to buy products from the above three companies because they trust what they have to offer. In turn, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon have built a dedicated cult following. That’s why you might often hear someone say they’re strictly an Apple user or that they only purchase their groceries from Amazon because of the convenience. Whatever the reason, it’s working — and that’s why those are three of the most famous and successful companies in the world.
These companies not only attract loyal customers. They attract the best and brightest professionals to work for them too.
You may be thinking to yourself, “But my law firm isn’t going to be the next Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon. Why should I even bother trying?”
If this sounds like you, then you’ve got the wrong attitude entirely.
Maybe you’ve heard of an attorney by the name of Alexander Shunnarah. If you have, you’ll remember that Mr. Shunnarah is one of the most recognizable faces in Alabama and beyond thanks to his billboards — two thousand of them and counting — and his iconic slogan: “Call me, Alabama.”
Not only has Shunnarah become a leader in his Southeast market, but he’s also created a brand that people from all over the country recognize (and some of the strongest trial lawyers in the country want to work for). Thanks to his relentless marketing efforts and ever-expanding growth mindset, Alex has built a company that brings in tens of millions in revenue each year.
How’s that for brand awareness?
In addition to creating a lasting legacy for his firm, Shunnarah’s success is due in large part to the capable, aligned team he has assembled.
A great law firm doesn’t just stop at being well-known. A great organization has a strong culture, a clear vision, strong leadership, streamlined processes, and so much more. Brand awareness is only half the battle, because just because people know who you are doesn’t mean the experience you’ll provide will live up to your marketing.
In short: it’s your law firm’s people that are the ultimate game changer.
Want a shortcut to finding and retaining the right people for your law firm? Look no further than the Game Changers Summit this November 2-3. Bring home the tools and strategies needed to make the best hiring decisions for your law firm every time.
You’ll sit on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and you’ll hear from experts from the legal field and beyond about finding and retaining the best team members for your firm, setting your organization up for success long after you’re gone, the importance of relentless marketing, and so much more!
Secure your seats on the field to see Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin O’Leary, David Goggins, Cy Wakeman, John Morgan, Laura Wasser, Michael Mogill, and so many more yet to be announced! Head over to crispsummit.com to ensure a long, happy, and healthy existence for your law firm and its team.
How to Know What to Hire For
Understanding the importance of hiring for your law firm is one thing — but actually figuring out what roles need to be filled is another thing entirely.
Think about your law firm as it stands right now and the positions you currently have in play. What areas are seeing success? Which ones have room for growth and improvement? What departments need more support? Take inventory and see what you need before you start hiring at random.
Take a look at some of these areas of opportunities where your law firm could expand and be better than yesterday:
- Intake: In law firms, this is the process of fielding incoming calls, capturing the personal information that is needed to open their cases, and ultimately acquiring new clients. Think of this as a sales-like position within a law firm. The person answering the phones should be able to convert every client every time, so when you’re on the hunt to fill this role, make sure you’re looking at candidates with a background in sales, customer service or representation, or consulting.
- Case Manager: These roles support attorneys and oversee the case management process at law firms. They organize and maintain case files, help manage caseload requirements, and monitor budgets, timelines, and billing for case completion. If you’re in need of someone great in this position, be sure to look for candidates with a background in planning, project managing, and facilitating.
- Paralegal: Paralegals gather facts of the case and research information on relevant laws and regulations to prepare drafts of legal documents for attorneys and help them prepare for a case. When searching for candidates to fill this position, be sure to look for those with a background in the legal field, and at the very least, look for skills such as filing, research, and scheduling.
- Attorney: As a law firm owner, you know that an attorney is someone who is not only trained and educated in law, but is also experienced taking cases to court. If you’re looking to bring on the best attorneys, be sure they have managed or led past cases and initiatives, have experience with negotiations, litigations, and mediations, are excellent communicators, have all the necessary qualifications, and have been doing this for a substantial amount of time.
- Marketing: Marketing is a key component to running a successful law firm — that’s because it’s the practice of attracting new potential clients to your firm. Whether that’s through social media, blogging, digital advertising, or something else, you’ve got to have strong marketers on your team. To find the perfect candidate, consider those with backgrounds in paid and organic marketing, promoting, content writing, conversions, and more.
- Finance: Those who work in finance at your law firm will be in charge of all things money. You’ll need to hire for this kind of position if you struggle with bookkeeping, cash flow, collections, and so on. If you want to find the best people for the job, make sure they have a background in finance, accounting, or billing.
- Client Relations: If your firm doesn’t have a role like this already, consider making it one. A client relations manager is the person who works to build, maintain, and strengthen your firm’s relationships with its clients long after their case has closed. Following up with your clients is one of the best things you can do to maintain the bond you’ve made throughout your time together, and by having someone in charge of that function, you’ll be investing in future referrals and lifelong loyalty. The ideal person for a client relations position should have a background in customer service, client management, and excellent communication skills.
If your organization is lacking in any of these areas, that’s a good sign that you may need to hire an A-player to fill that need.
Once you have a better idea of what functions you may need to fill in your law firm, you can begin to clarify how to find the perfect candidates to fill those positions.
How to Attract the Best Candidates
When it comes to hiring people to work for your law firm, which candidate would you prefer to have on your team: the first available or the best available?
You want the best available — so why are you still hiring the first candidates that apply?
Any business is only as strong as its weakest link. Without a great team, there is no great business. That’s why being aligned behind one common goal is the most important aspect of being a successful law firm — and the only way to ensure that you have a great team is if you start with a strategic, repeatable system to bring them to your law firm.
The best candidates are out there; they just might not know that you’re looking for them. This is why you need to start viewing your hiring process as a marketing process. Look at it this way:
Marketing = the process of getting potential clients interested in your products and services.
Just swap out “clients” for “new hires” and “services” for “job openings” and you’ve got the definition of hiring:
Hiring = the process of getting potential new hires interested in your job openings. The key word in this definition is “process.”
See? Hiring is marketing. It’s time to start treating it as such.
The key word in this definition is “process.” Leave the guesswork out of it for good and start getting strategic.
Before looking for the great candidates, you need to clarify what great would look like. Take a moment to ask yourself a few questions:
- When someone leaves a position at your firm, what is the most common reason for their departure?
- Would you enthusiastically re-hire every single member of your team as it stands right now?
- What does your ideal candidate look like? What qualities do they possess that would help them succeed at your law firm?
Once you know what kind of person you’re looking for, how are you going to get the perfect candidates to apply?
The same way you are searching for the ideal fit for your law firm, potential applicants are searching for the perfect career for them. Again, hiring is marketing. Make sure you are positioning your law firm as a unique place to work — so the candidates who will connect with your one-of-a-kind culture will be attracted to your organization over all others.
Once you have a better understanding of who you’re looking for, where to find them, and how to attract them to your law firm over any other options, you can then structure your hiring process to find those people.
Culture is your competitive advantage, and it’s either by default or by design. Culture is how things get done in an organization. Even if you don’t know it, your law firm has a culture: it’s one that you either allowed to happen or designed yourself.
When you enforce a culture of excellence, it’s a huge game changer when it comes to attracting the right people to join your team.
That being said, finding smart, capable people is just half of the battle. No matter how impressive someone’s resume may be, if they don’t align with the core values your law firm has in place, they’re not going to fit in with the culture and the rest of the team members who do abide by the values.
If you want to build a culture that will achieve your law firm’s vision, start with determining what your core values are.
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. They not only impact how you treat your ideal clients, but they also help with attracting and retaining the right team members.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining your law firm’s core values:
- Think back to some of your favorite jobs and/or bosses. What made them so memorable?
- When it comes to collaborating with others, what matters most to you? Is it time management, finding solutions, or respectful discourse?
- Do you prefer asking for permission first and planning astutely or diving in first and asking for forgiveness later?
- What kind of people do you choose to surround yourself with?
- What do you consider a non-negotiable for anyone working with you? Are you okay with flexible hours, but missing deadlines are unacceptable? Do you have firm expectations about everyone
- being in the office to collaborate during certain times?
- When someone leaves a position at your law firm, what is the most common reason for their departure?
- Would you enthusiastically re-hire every single member of your existing team? Why or why not? What is it about the “weak links” that dampers your enthusiasm?
- What would “great” look like for each member of your team? Think about your favorite team members. What do they all have in common?
- What makes your law firm different from your competitors’? Why do people apply to yours over others?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can begin to put together your list of core values — and enforce them in your law firm.
Take a look at Crisp’s core values:
- Results Driven, Not Effort Driven – Keep your focus on achieving metrics and objectives; stay committed to the end; never lose sight of the goal.
- Vested in Client Success – Go the extra mile; find a solution no matter what; ensure clients’ best interests are in mind.
- Better Than Yesterday – Hold yourself to the same expectations you hold teammates; learn from your mistakes and make progress; create better standards for yourself and your teammates.
- Solution Focused – Make impactful and effective changes; speak up when something is not working; keep your mindset focused on finding the right solution rather than only bringing problems.
- Take Ownership – Step up and step in rather than waiting for others to take action first; be accountable for the results of your actions; take the initiative to bring positive results and learn from moments of failure.
- Team First – Jump in when you see your teammate in need of help; be proactive in finding ways to add value; focus on our five-year vision that we can all be constantly working together toward achieving $1 billion in impact.
- Consistency – Repeat your behaviors until your habits become second nature; be consistent with your work, habits, mindset, and grind; be a game changer every single day.
Every Crisp team member abides by these values in everything they do both in and out of the office — they don’t make it through the hiring funnel if they don’t. In fact, we use them to measure the success of each of our team members, and as key indicators during the hiring process for whether a candidate will be a culture fit at our organization.
Creating a Foolproof Hiring Process
Don’t have a hiring process in place? That could be why you’re wasting your time as well as the time of bad-fit candidates.
Introducing the hiring funnel:
If it looks intense and in-depth, that’s because it is. Companies that aren’t using this extremely thorough process aren’t making the best hiring decisions from the beginning. That means they’re wasting time, money, and resources on people who are not great fits for their organization.
The goal of a hiring process is to weed out bad fits and to move only great fits through to the end.
That’s why we at Crisp have developed this unique process to remove the wrong people early, excite the right people every step of the way, and ultimately hire the right person the first time. This pipeline is our proven formula and one of the keys to our growth as a company.
Here’s a breakdown of each step for applying to Crisp:
- The Job Description: Be honest and straightforward about your needs for this role. Don’t settle for the first available applicant.
- Call the Number: This step gives candidates instructions for what to do next, including how to apply and what to submit to us. But they must call the number to get those instructions. If they don’t do this very first (very easy) step, that tells us right away they are not detail-oriented, don’t follow instructions, and likely won’t be a good fit for our bigger-picture values.
- Submit Application: Just sending a resume with no personality should not be enough for you. Screening for initial indicators at the application stage will help you gauge if they align with your firm’s culture and values — and save you time talking to bad-fit candidates.
- Phone Interview: Remember, you are marketing this role and your organization. Have a pitch ready for your first encounter with a potential candidate. Give them unique reasons to join your firm — but also ask strategic questions to screen out bad fits from the start.
- Test Assignment: Having a candidate complete a test assignment will tell you so much about them — and it will give them a sense of what the role they’re applying for actually entails day-to-day. Be sure to give them a hard deadline so you can see if they are committed to getting the job done. If not, drop them out of the process.
- Assessments: We’re talking about the kind of assessments that have no right or wrong answers. The purpose of this hiring step is to understand who a potential candidate is and how they best operate and interact with others. We use the Wonderlic, Kolbe, and PRINT.
- Final Interview: You’ve done the groundwork in learning if a candidate is a good fit for the job by this step. Now, the final interview is your opportunity to get to know them at a deeper, personal level and make a final decision on whether they are the best fit.
- References/Background Check: We ask for references for two reasons. The first is to help us confirm all the information a candidate has provided, and the second helps us gain insight into how successful they were in their previous roles. Always ask past employers, “Would you enthusiastically rehire this person?”
- Offer Letter: You and the candidate should be on the same page at this point. At Crisp, we don’t like to send out offer letters we will not get back, and we believe you shouldn’t either. Everything should be settled upon, such as compensation, benefits, etc.
When it comes to hiring, you can’t afford to choose the wrong people to work for your law firm — and that’s exactly why you’ve got to put processes in place to avoid making costly mistakes.
When you understand what makes a law firm successful, you can begin to build the perfect team of game changers who eat, sleep, and breathe your culture.
Now that you’ve got the tools needed to make great hires every time, go forth and find your people.