Do you have ambitious growth and profitability goals for your law firm in 2023? If so, then no doubt you want the best and brightest candidates for your team. But how do you make sure you get the right candidates? Attracting top talent is an art form, but with a few simple tips, it’s one that any attorney can master.
Let’s take a look at some of the best tactics for successful hiring in 2023 … and beyond.
Signs It’s Time to Hire
Growing any type of business is an exciting process, but it can also be difficult to manage. This is especially true for small law firm owners who are simultaneously managing clients, court deadlines and casework.
One key element of success when expanding your law firm is knowing when it’s time to hire additional help. Here are some signs that suggest you may need to start looking for new talent sooner rather than later.
1. You’re running out of time.
Running a business is time-consuming, and time is money for attorneys. Are you constantly rushing to meet deadlines? Are your days jam packed with meetings and client work? If you’re finding that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, it may be time to hire additional staff.
2. Working more hours than you would like.
Have you pulled any all-nighters in the last month or two? How many? Hard work is admirable. But working yourself into a pulp is not good for anyone – you or your clients. One way to get insight to how many hours you are working and what kind of work you are spending most of your time on is to go back and review your bills for the last few months. Look for any pieces of work that took large chunks of time or caused you to work late into the night (or over the weekend). Think about who you would need to add to your team to start delegating those types of work.
3. You’re losing customers.
If you are noticing customer service slipping or customer satisfaction dropping, it could be a sign that you need additional help to streamline operations and maintain high customer service standards. Are your clients complaining that it’s taking you too long to return calls or revise documents? Add to your time to continue providing great service before clients start switching attorneys.
4. Referring clients out.
In the past few months have you been referring out potential new clients because your case load is already maxed out? In a way this is a good problem because it shows that there is huge demand for your services and talent. On the flip side, this is not a smart business move because you are losing out on clients that you could add to your book of business if you had the proper staffing at your firm.
5. Your team is stressed out.
If your current employees are telling you that they feel overworked or overwhelmed – take note and believe them. This is a huge sign that you may need to hire additional staff to provide assistance and alleviate the workload of existing employees. Cultivating a healthy law firm culture is key for employee retention. No matter what practice area you focus on, the practice of law is stressful. However, one of the best strategies to keep talented team members – whether its an office manager, paralegal or associates – is creating the type of work environment talented attorneys want to join.
6. You have big growth goals.
Are you striving to increase profits 25%, 30% or more in 2023? In order to do so you will need to focus on business development, bring on more clients and bill more hours. If you are already working more than you would like, it will be nearly impossible to see huge growth in profits without growing your team. If you have ambitious growth goals but don’t have the capacity to meet them, it may be time to hire new talent who can help your business reach its goals.
We encourage you to be honest with yourself when evaluating if it is time to hire. Use this list of signs as a guide to do your own self inventory to determine if you need to come up with a hiring strategy for your law office in 2023.
Hire for Your Future Firm
One strategy many attorneys overlook is to get ahead of your hiring needs. What does this mean? The simplest way to approach this is to always strive to hire for the team you will need in six months.
This may seem like a big leap to hire that far out in advance but you need to factor in how long the hiring process can take (more on that in a minute) and also time to properly train and onboard a new team member.
What does this mean from a practical standpoint for your law firm and you as a law firm leader?
Let’s say you have a family law firm and right now you are the only attorney. You want to grow revenue by $250,000 this year. To do so, you plan to hire an associate which you can bill out at $250 per hour. This means the associate needs to bill and collect at least 1,000 hours for your firm. Now, of course this example doesn’t factor in overhead expenses but we’ll get to those.
In order to find the right associate with the level of experience you need to help work cases and bill hours you need to start now so that they are hired, complete onboarding and fully trained in six months.
Traditional Hiring Is Slow
Traditional law firm hiring is an arduous process that can impede the growth of a firm and its ability to reach success. It usually requires large amounts of time and resources to find suitable legal talent who possess the required skills and qualifications. This makes it difficult for businesses to hire quickly, which can be detrimental when trying to fill important positions in as little time as possible. Plus, keep in mind that administrative time spent on hiring is time you could be working and billing clients.
Lateral hires can take as long as three to twelve months, or longer. A lateral hire is when you hire an attorney to join your firm at the same level as they were at their old firm. For example, if you want to hire a 5th year associate for your firm you would interview 5th year associates currently working at other law firms.
Entry level hiring of new attorneys fresh out of school happens twice a year. The majority of those entry level hires happen in the late summer after law school graduation and taking the bar exam. Many firms need to hire now rather than spending months going through the recruiting process and waiting for a new attorney to complete the bar exam.
Most solo attorneys and small firms will find that their staffing needs are not best served by the traditional hiring method. The traditional law firm hiring strategy is to bring on a full-time associate. These full-time associates are expensive and can take many months to find and hire. Most law firms are typically looking for specific skills and qualifications, making it difficult to hire quickly.
These are all compelling reasons why it is time for a fresh look at the law firm business model. Attorneys need a way to hire faster and without burdensome overhead.
Traditional Hiring Is Expensive
Hiring new law firm employees can be an expensive endeavor, especially when using traditional approaches. The expenses associated with hiring range from the cost of advertising a job to the hours spent interviewing and onboarding candidates. All of this time is time spent away from billable work which makes streamlining the hiring process incredibly important.
As law firms grow, they often find themselves needing to hire additional talent in order to keep up with the demand for their services. Smart attorneys know that hiring another attorney should be a profit center – not a cost to incur.
Most attorneys know that hiring a full-time associate to be an employee of your firm is a major financial under taking, at least in the short term while they are getting up and running. In addition to the person’s salary, you must also calculate the costs for benefits, training, CLE, insurance, equipment, bar dues, office space and much more. The latest Legal Trends Report from Clio has some great data that can be helpful in calculating salaries and cost of benefits. Another excellent resource is the ABA’s Profile of the Legal Profession which provides salary range information based on years of practice.
In general, a good rule of thumb is to calculate their annual salary and add 30% to 40% more to cover their overhead expenses. Another resource is this article which provides a deep dive into the true cost of hiring a law firm associate attorney.
When it comes to recruiting top talent, one size does not fit all. Consider developing a multi-pronged approach to recruiting candidates from various sources such as job boards, online resume databases, social media sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter, and professional organizations like bar associations and law schools. This will give you access to a wider pool of potential candidates and help ensure that you don’t miss out on any great opportunities.
Get More Work Done with LAWCLERK
Certainly, tools like legal marketing, a CRM and practice management are key to the success of your law practice. Having the foresight and leadership to proactively hire is just as critical to the long-term growth of your small business.
The good news is there are many alternatives to power your law firm that don’t involve hiring a full-time, in-office associate attorney. Legal outsourcing has truly become mainstream. Outsourcing is a fast, flexible way to get the help you need. LAWLCERK is one of many alternative legal services providers helping thousands of law firms across the country.
How can we help? Well, in a nutshell LAWCLERK helps lawyers get work done. Thousands of law firms rely on our talented freelance lawyers and part-time remote associates to bill more hours, reduce overhead and increase profit. We offer Project based, Hourly and Subscription services to get you the exact help you need, when you need it.
There is no fee to create an account with LAWCLERK and there are no monthly fees. You only pay when you are getting help which makes this a flexible, affordable way to staff your firm as compared to hiring a full-time attorney.
We offer three powerful options to get work done: Projects, Subscription and Hourly Associate.
Our marketplace can help you connect with talented freelance lawyers for work paid at a flat fee rate paid per Project. Whether you need help with written work like discovery, brief writing, or more complicated tasks, LAWCLERK makes it easy.
Projects are an easy, fast way to get help when you need it. You set your own flat fee price and you select the best applicant from our pool of talent.
Let’s say you are a busy estate planning attorney. One of your long time clients comes to you and needs a contract for her new consulting business. This would be the perfect time to log into your LAWCLERK account and leverage the time and talent of a freelance lawyer to write a Consulting Services Agreement via a single Project.
The possibilities for using Projects in your busy practice are truly endless. And don’t worry about the flat fee pricing. Our team of Dedicated LAWCLERK Advisors will be there to help you calculate the right price and select the top talent for the work.
The next option we call Hourly Associate allows you to hire a remote associate to help with ongoing work and pay them by the hour. This is a flexible option that allows you to give as much or as little work to your remote associate as you have.
With Hourly Associate, you can get help with written work when you need it and pay as you go based on the hours worked. You can assign as much or as little work to your remote associate as you have. The LAWCLERK Dashboard gives you easy access to your remote associate’s billing records for billing to your clients.
The Hourly Associate option is best used for ongoing work when it’s difficult or impossible to estimate the amount and scope of work you need.
Last – but certainly not least – our Remote Associate Subscription Program allows you to hire as much or as little of a remote associate as you need on a monthly basis starting at just 30 hours per month. This is a smart option to grow your firm without increasing overhead.
Subscription is unique in that it can be used for help with written work but it can also be leveraged for a full associate. This means if certain criteria are met, your remote associate could help you with client meetings, depositions or court hearings.
Subscription is best used for associates you intend to build long term relationships with, whom you want committed to firm work and on standby ready to get work done. Some of our hiring attorneys have now been working with the same remote associate via the Subscription program for two or three years now!
Your Future Law Firm Will be Staffed Differently
The reality is that the business and practice of law will continue to evolve and adopt new technologies and tools. Most likely your future law firm will be staffed very differently – and that’s exciting!
At LAWCLERK, we know a thing or two (or many) about hiring associates. That’s why we have built a variety of tools to help busy attorneys get more work done.
Have questions? Feel free to reach out to us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (888) 479-5728. Or you can book a time to speak with us about your firm’s needs – just click HERE.