Whether you need someone full-time or part-time, an employee or a contractor/consultant, hiring for personal injury law firms requires a strong process. Any gaps in law firm staffing, or employees operating in “exit mode” can seriously disrupt workflow and case processing times. Such problems can have knock-on effects for everything from client satisfaction to cash flow. In this post, we’ll discuss how to build a process that keeps your firm running smoothly.
A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”) shows it takes an average of 42 days to fill an open position. If you don’t have a strong hiring process in place, the time it takes your firm could be even longer - without even accounting for outside factors that might impact hiring for personal injury law firms. During this time you still need to manage cases, deal with clients, go to court, and generally keep your practice running as smoothly as possible. Fortunately, there are advanced preparations you can make to decrease the time to hire.
- Create a file of job descriptions for each position (or group of positions), requirements, and job descriptions (basically your recruitment ad). These can simply be pulled up, quickly edited if needed, and posted. It’s much quicker than starting from scratch each time.
- Prepare a list of recruitment channels for your job ad - websites, recruiters, industry groups, etc. that you can contact as soon as you decide to start recruiting.
- Keep interesting résumés on file. If you’ve received unsolicited, but interesting applications in the past, keep those on file. The same goes for second choices from previous hiring rounds. Reach out to these people, to see if they’re still interested. It could save you loads of time and result in great candidates.
- Hire an HR Manager. If you can’t hire a dedicated HR manager, then appoint someone to handle and manage the process (the office manager, a senior paralegal, an attorney, etc.). They should keep job descriptions updated, be in charge of posting, screening applications, etc.
- Offer a referral bonus to your team. If you’re a good boss and have created a good working environment, your team can be the best source for candidates. Reward the time and effort they put into taking up your firm to their networks and you’ll see an increase in qualified, quality leads.
Read the signs
Keep your finger on the pulse of the firm and the team to help you identify the right time to start the recruitment process. Indicators that it’s time to create a new position include:
- You’re turning down cases on account of being too busy to handle new cases.
- You are failing to communicate with your clients on time and missing deliverable deadlines.
- You have no time to take a break/vacation (which can lead to burnout, causing numerous additional problems).
- You have no time to focus on important administrative and management tasks, like creating and implementing a growth strategy.
Indicators it’s time to prepare for a potential departure include:
- They’re taking a lot of personal days, time off, etc.
- They’re unmotivated and distracted.
- They’re unwilling to commit to long-term projects.
- They’re unresponsive and act differently towards management and colleagues.
Being aware of what’s going on, can help you get ahead of the process and find someone faster - cutting down on gap time.
Best practices for interviewing candidates
As you can see, preparation is key to a strong process when hiring for personal injury law firms. Preparedness is definitely one skill that easily transfers from legal practice to the business side of running a firm. For interviewing candidates, being prepared will reduce recruitment time and help find the best fit.
- Consider what you’re looking for when hiring and prepare your questions and talking points accordingly. Take into account the role’s duties, seniority, coworker personalities, and firm culture.
- Ask the right questions. Don’t focus exclusively on skills and related experience. Try to learn more about them as a person and to identify areas where they may be able to help the firm improve.
- Encourage candidates to ask questions. You can gather important insights about a candidate’s level of talent and experience based on the questions they ask.
- Remember cultural fit. Make sure to communicate your values and your mission. Even the most skilled candidate won’t be the right match if there’s a major gap in office culture expectations.