How To Make Your Law Firm Stand Out in a Hot Job Market and Find the Right Attorneys

By Brandon Vogel

How To Make Your Law Firm Stand Out in a Hot Job Market and Find the Right Attorneys

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The next time, your firm interviews an attorney, consider having a top client interview the candidate as well.

If your top clients can tell you that they would want to work with this lawyer, that’s a great sign.

On the contrary, if they tell you they would never want to work with this lawyer, that’s a great sign too.

“You want to come out of this having hired the right person or having avoided hiring the wrong person,” said Randi Rosenblatt (Upward Stride), on the recent webinar, “How Law Firms Can Hire and Retain The ‘Right’ Attorneys.”

Rosenblatt and Amy Goldstein (Grayson Allen) discussed strategic ways firms can better hire attorneys and, in turn, expand.

How to hire the right people
Goldstein said that to effectively and efficiently recruit attorneys, you must have a plan. “The first step in that plan is to look inward. Think about who in the firm has succeeded and why. The right fit matters.”

She suggested that partners be thoughtful and look at character traits when hiring. At the partner level, more than just a book of business matters. She recalled a high-energy litigator who wanted to switch firms. Despite excellent qualifications, the boutique law firm that interviewed him was more laid-back and it was not the right fit for him and the firm.

Once you’ve established what works in your firm, draft a well thought-out job description, Goldstein advised.

“You are selling your firm; look at it from that perspective,” Goldstein said. “Post-COVID, stability and opportunity are the most important things to current jobseekers. The market is hot.”

The first step in hiring is to share the job with your professional network. You don’t know who your professional acquaintances know, Goldstein explained.

After that, post the job on Linkedin and with bar associations. Consider engaging one trusted legal recruiting firm, Goldstein said. Using multiple firms will likely result in more resumes but no true evaluation of candidates.

“The cost of a poor hire is ultimately not worth it and you can avoid it,” Goldstein said.

New ways to interview

When interviewing, Goldstein said that firms should set the process from the beginning and be present, whether in person or virtual. Video interviews can make it easy to check emails or not adhere to schedules. “It’s a bad look. Show them respect.”

“You need to impress the candidate as much as they need to impress you,” Goldstein said.

Ask relevant questions and provide the candidate with the opportunity to ask questions. Take note of how thoughtful the questions are, suggested Goldstein.

Uncommon questions that might help you gauge the right fit would be to name your favorite podcasts, or to list three words that colleagues say best describe you, or what you learned from your biggest mistake. “We all make mistakes, but the real question is how they handled that mistake. It will show you how they handle mistakes going forward.”

She suggested having candidates meet with all levels of a law firm staff to determine a good fit. “Give them an opportunity to get a sense of the firm as a whole. It’s a very different conversation when candidates interview with partners and interview with associates,” said Goldstein. “People talk. You want the word about you to be positive.”

Rosenblatt said it’s important to ask candidates if they are seeking a revenue-generating role. Some want it; others want to be workhorses. There’s a place for them at firms too. Consider candidate’s experiences that lend themselves to revenue building.

She recommended that firms create a culture of business development support from the outset. It includes both training and budgets for attorneys at all levels. Have your firm members get to know each other and understand each other’s practices as well.

Rosenblatt also suggested counting certain business development hours towards billable hours as an incentive and rewarding attorneys at all levels for revenue generation.

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