Strategic Hiring: Building a High-Performing Legal Team

6 minutes to read

It’s more important now than ever before to have a high-performing team to gain a competitive edge in the legal industry. Building such a team requires strategic hiring — a process that goes beyond filling positions and focuses on finding talent that will contribute to the success of the organization. With an average cost per hire of $4,700, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, getting it right the first time is crucial.

In this article, we’ll explore the key elements of strategic hiring that can help you build a high-performing legal team. Following these best practices ensures a seamless hiring process and attracts the best candidates to join your law firm’s team.

Assess Your Staffing Needs

To build a high-performing team, start by evaluating your firm’s future needs by looking closely at your growth projections. Consider where you see your firm in the next year, three years, and even five years and how your roadmap will get you there.

When assessing your staff needs, consider your current team. Are there skills that are lacking? Do you have an appropriate number of team members to support your current workload? Are there any subject matter experts that you need to add?

It’s also important to consult your strategic plan to ensure you have the best team in place to help you reach your firm’s goals. How many cases do you anticipate? What new markets or practice areas are you aiming to enter? Are there any new projects on the horizon?

Maybe you foresee a rise in technology-related cases but lack a team member with a strong background in this area. Or perhaps you’re expanding geographically and need someone with knowledge of the legal landscape in the new region.

The goal is to strategically fill positions that will support your firm’s future objectives and expand its capabilities. By aligning your hiring plan with your growth projections, you ensure that your team remains robust, adaptable, and ready to tackle future challenges.

Craft Enticing Job Descriptions to Attract Top Talent

To attract top talent, your job descriptions must be both compelling and succinct. According to data from Insight Global, job descriptions under 300 words see an 8.4% higher response rate, with applicants dedicating only about 14.6 seconds scanning them. Clarity and brevity are your allies.

Start with an attention-grabbing headline that encapsulates the role’s essence and your firm’s ethos. Follow with a concise overview of the role, emphasizing how the position contributes to the firm’s mission and growth. Highlight essential skills and qualifications but also weave in what sets your firm apart — the type of cases they will work on, a vibrant team culture, your leadership style, or the technology you use.

If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry. Access The Do-It-Yourself Job Description Builder for Law Firms, a step-by-step workbook that will guide you in building your winning job description.

Use your job descriptions to help candidates envision themselves thriving within your team. By doing so, you’ll not only attract candidates with the right skills but those who are genuinely excited about the opportunity to contribute to your firm’s success.

Conduct Structured Interviews and Evaluations

Structure is key when it comes to conducting interviews. With candidates eager to showcase their skills and experience, it’s crucial to craft an interview process that allows them to do so effectively while also giving you the insights you need.

Prepare a set of questions that cover technical competencies and skills related to critical thinking, problem-solving, customer service, and teamwork. Combining questions in this way will help you better gauge how a candidate might perform in real-world scenarios and how they align with your firm’s culture.

Evaluating candidates should go beyond the interview. Review work samples, create practical test assignments, or offer short-term consulting assignments as part of your evaluation process. Each of these assessments gives you a clearer picture of how a candidate operates and offers valuable insights into their real-world capabilities and problem-solving.

By conducting interviews and evaluations systematically, you can confidently identify individuals who are the best match for your team’s dynamics and your firm’s long-term goals.

Onboarding Practices for Seamless Team Integration

Welcoming a new team member to the firm is as crucial as hiring the right candidate. A smooth onboarding process ensures new hires integrate seamlessly into your team and make them feel valued from day one.

Start by setting clear expectations and providing comprehensive trainings on your firm’s systems, processes, and culture by creating a roadmap for their first 100 days. Assign a mentor or buddy from the team to guide them through their first few weeks, answer questions, and help them navigate workplace dynamics. Having a go-to team member to lean on enables faster adaptation and adoption while also fostering a sense of belonging and community.

Don’t underestimate the power of regular check-ins. These meetings are opportunities to connect one-on-one with your new hire to address any concerns, gauge their job satisfaction, and provide feedback. Create an agenda for your meetings where you can document what was discussed and capture any action items.

A thoughtful onboarding process is an investment in your team’s future success and cohesion. Supporting new members helps them feel valued from the start, which will significantly contribute to their productivity and overall performance.

Hiring Practices to Keep in Mind

When you’re on the hunt for new talent to join your team, keeping a few best practices in mind can set you up for success. Here are three key components you should consider:

Diversify your recruitment channels

Potential candidates are everywhere in today’s digital age, so sticking to traditional hiring platforms may limit your reach. Explore a variety of channels including professional networking sites, legal industry forums, and social media platforms to advertise your job openings. Additionally, participating in career fairs and university recruitment events can tap into fresh talent pools. A diversified approach allows you to cast a wider net and increases the likelihood of finding individuals who bring the needed skills to your team.

Emphasize culture

While technical skills and expertise are non-negotiables, the importance of a candidate’s alignment with your firm’s culture cannot be overstated. A team member who resonates with your firm’s values, work ethic, and vision contributes positively to the workplace environment and is more likely to have a longterm impact. During the interview process, ask questions that help you gauge a candidate’s personality, work style, and values to ensure they complement your existing team dynamics.

Encourage and reward employee referrals

Your current employees are your best brand ambassadors and can be a valuable source of potential candidates. They understand the company culture and the demands of the job, making them well-placed to recommend individuals who could be a good fit. Implementing an employee referral program not only streamlines the recruitment process but also boosts team morale by involving staff in the growth and evolution of the firm. Plus, referred employees often have higher retention rates, saving time and resources in the long run.

Keeping these practices in mind will ensure that your strategic hiring efforts lead to the formation of a robust, dynamic, and highperforming legal team.

Final Thoughts

Creating a high-performing legal team doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of thoughtful planning, smart strategies, and a keen eye for the skills and the people behind them. By focusing on both the big picture and the fine details, you’re establishing a foundation for a team that’s truly exceptional. Keep these strategies in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a law firm that’s equipped to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Happy hiring!

Additional Resources

This special edition episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast features some of the industry’s most forward-thinking ideas and insights when it comes to attracting and hiring high-performing talent.

You’ll experience key conversations with:

  • Dan Martell: CEO of Saas Academy and Best-Selling Author
  • Cy Wakeman: Workplace Drama Expert and Best-Selling Author
  • Joey Coleman: Award-Winning Speaker, Best-Selling Author, and Retention Expert
  • Alex Repas: Crisp Chief Operating Officer