25 Apr When to Strengthen your Law Practice with a New Hire
Owning your law firm is a constant balancing act between interest and expense. While many industries view expansion as a positive aspect, for those in the legal industry, it can often lead to more responsibility with only negligible changes in our profit margins. So, when considering a new hire, think critically and make certain your firm would be strengthened and not weakened by the addition of a new employee.
Consider the following before taking on a new hire:
- Could it be that you have attorneys or staff that are slowing down your practice rather than improving it? Are you seeing constant and repetitive errors being committed by associates that have been with you for 2 or more years? Maybe their learning curve is over and its time to ask them to move on. No one likes firing employees so, before doing so, consider implementing programs to improve the cohesiveness of the office environment and efficiency of in-house practices (more on this below).
- Consider which areas your practice is lacking: If employees are always making errors and each error is different every time, consider the possibility that your method requires the training and management infrastructure that could help make it thrive. We understand that you are overworked, but taking responsibility for the managerial climate of your law firm can do wonders for your efficiency, and it can be less stressful once you get your practice running self-sufficiently. Try structuring hour-long, bi-weekly progress meetings or implementing an associate training program.
- Benchmark your firm against others in the industry: How many associates do other firms in your industry work on given client, lawsuit, or per billing hour(s)? Use indicators that make sense in your case. Even if you know which indicators to use, benchmarking can be quite complicated as you must find a way to try to normalize yourself against others, but if you are reaching to make sense of your scenario, this can be very helpful. Consider reaching out to an industry consultant for this.
- In which areas could your practice improve efficiency: This is very important. When looking at hiring new attorneys or staff you need to know precisely what (not who) are you looking to hire. Do you need a workhorse to crank out summaries? Maybe you can hire an hourly employee. Do you feel like there should be support for office management? Hire a consultant to revamp your structure. Are you sick of wasting time driving for an entire day to take an obligatory deposition that is mostly just an in-person form interrogatory? Hire a recent graduate to do that for you.
Inviting someone new to be a member of your law practice is an important decision. Hiring is expensive and onboarding is time-consuming. Once your new hire has settled into the work ethic and experience, they’re personalities shape the work environment and help make your practice what it is. We really want to encourage you to walk through these valuable food-for-thought exercises before making such an important decision. Consider your strengths and weakness and know what it is that you are looking for.