Best Hiring Practices for Small and Medium Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments

If you own a small or medium-sized law firm or manage a corporate legal department, then “high performance” hiring practices dictate that you create best hiring practices that create and support an aligned workforce. Best hiring practices result in the hiring and retaining a smart and intellectual workforce that eventually increases the productivity and profitability of one’s businesses. With this preface in mind, here are six of the best hiring practices according to my experience.

First, develop an understanding of your organizational needs by defining and communicating your long-term company objectives and goals. This may sound basic, and perhaps it is, but you would be surprised how many small businesses -especially Law Firms- do not define their long-term firm objectives and goals, much less communicate it to employees and recruits. Developing a strategy according to Long-term objectives and goals is the first step to developing uniformity and purpose among employees. Also, it facilitates your future hiring plans and prospects.

Second, effectively communicate your firm’s goals to prospective employees as part of your recruitment strategy. In other words, once you have developed your long-term objective, communicate it not only to your employees but also to those who have a potential interest in, or are associated with your business. It’s not about what questions we can ask, its more about what questions we may have to answer while interviewing applicants. The most desired applicants invariably look for what the company’s goals and purpose are. They want to know, they want to understand – they also want to ensure that your firm’s goals and purpose are similar to their own.

Third, spend time and thought upfront to create a tailored application process and interview questions that will best solicit information about a recruits current talents, future potential and future goals. Due to the scarcity of quality time to reflect, too many small law firm owners do not refine their applications and interview process to develop the right questions. Use logical, behavioral, opinion and competency based questions that test a candidate’s judgment and ability in a real world setting. Such questions shall require an applicant to think, project, reflect and act in those tricky situations in real business scenarios. If you think it’s time consuming and question the utility of developing a dynamic and proactive application and interview process do yourself a favor – estimate the true cost of hiring, training, and profitability loss due to incompetence of an employee for any specific job.

Fourth, just developing a proactive and dynamic hiring strategy doesn’t automatically yield results. While it is critical to discern the capabilities of an applicant, an interviewer should not only judge a prospect but also understand what is important in the job and matching that to what is present in the applicant. Many times small and medium-sized don’t think through the ability and potential of an applicant to perform functions other than what they have applied for. There are many instances where the “shoe doesn’t fit, but they put them on anyway.” The results then are easy to predict, the employee leaves either during or just after training; this leads to a huge loss of time and money.

Fifth, assess, identify, understand and match an applicant’s potential with the company’s long-term objective. One phrase that can characterize a company’s failed hiring practice “it is short-sighted.” You call an applicant for a reason – that is to assess and understand their short and long term potential. Make use of the opportunity that you get to analyze an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T). More important to any hiring strategy is to establish a transparent atmosphere so that applicants can open up and talk more, as it has been said rightly that, “Interviewer is the one who does all the listening, and Interviewee who does all the talking”.

Sixth, sometimes it is better to tailor job description as per the employee than tailoring the applicants; and cutting short all their natural talent and potential. Too often small enterprises stick to their old books and sound rigid, due to which they lose highly skilled and talented human resources. Enable job responsibilities to better fit an individual’s natural potential – by understanding their natural talents, and adapting the roles and responsibilities as suited to meet their strengths. An interviewer should be insightful and should possess assessment instruments and tools to understand these talents and strengths, because a small investment in doing so can pay huge and long term dividends. When you identify such talents and strengths, make all the possible adjustments to the job profile to fit applicant’s natural talents – and then encourage him/her to pursue and excel in those endeavors; because soon you will see the blooming results and a big growth in your business.

Growth of every individual in an organization leads to overall growth and success for that business. To conclude time spent on hiring and implementing best hiring practices into your small business is time well spent, nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people; because at the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.