When it comes to success, recruiting the best talent for your law firm is essential. Afterall, Steve Jobs once said “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” This point is particular relevant to the legal profession – while having great strategies and operating systems in place is important, the main focus is people helping people. So if you don’t have the right people on your team, then everything else becomes irrelevant.
Attracting the top talent to your law firm can feel like a daunting task, especially when the competition is fierce. According the Annual Report for 2021/2022 published by The Law Society of Ireland, there are over 12,000 practising solicitors here in Ireland. And that talent pool will be growing over the coming years as the intake of new solicitor trainees is at a ten-year high, with trainee numbers up 10% on the previous year. While this is great news for the legal profession, it can make it more difficult for law firms to stand out from the crowd and attract the best talent to join their team.
The interview is the most important stage of the recruitment process as it’s a chance for both parties to assess if this is going to be the right fit. In this article, we are going to share some great tips for recruiting the best talent for your law firm.
Hire at the right time
If you have a position becoming available or perhaps you need to expand your team to handle the workload, then don’t leave it until the last minute to hire new candidates. As we know, when handling legal cases, more often than not, it can be a collaborative process with more than one team members working together for the one client. So it’s important that new employees have a chance to connect with the existing team and are not thrown in at the deep end. If you’re hiring someone at the very last minute, it can be challenging to bring them up to speed on the working flow of your team, which can have a negative effect on the quality of the work for your clients.
Do your homework
Naturally you would expect any prospective employees to do their homework on the law firm they are interviewing for before they step into the room. Most recruitment companies will list ‘Get to know the company’as their number one tip for interview skills. By the same measure, as the employer, you should also adequately prepare when interviewing potential candidates.
Make sure you know their CV inside and out, and prepare your list of questions around their career to date. By taking the time to put together a personalised set of questions, rather than selecting a generic list of interview questions, you’re going to be in a better position to learn more about the candidate and their experience in the legal profession. Doing your homework on the interviewee also demonstrates your professionalism and due diligence in doing your own research.
Set the scene
Make sure the room is professional, tidy and comfortable for the candidate. We all know the importance of making a good first impression and this is true for both the interviewer and the potential candidate. It’s estimated that 30% of interviewers make their decision about an interviewee within the first five minutes of the interview.
It’s a good idea to have the room at a cooler temperature – there’s nothing more distracting than an overheated room which can be really uncomfortable for both you and the interviewee. A nice touch is to have a bottle of water and a glass for the candidate, as there will be a lot of talking throughout the interview.
Ensure that there will be no interruptions during the interview – so take any landlines off the hook, turn off any devices and make sure everyone on site is aware that an interview is taking place so there’s a peaceful environment without any disturbances.
Be clear about the position and your law firm
Whether you’re recruiting for a position in a small family law firm or a large corporate law business with multiple offices, there will be a certain ethos within the law firm. If you want to hire the right solicitor for your firm, you need to be sure that they fully understand the ethos and culture within your law firm. So you, as the employer need to be able to communicate that to prospective employees.
Before starting the interview process, have a chat with your current employees to understand what their priorities are and what their own perception is of the firm. This will help you form a good understanding of how employees view the firm in terms of a place of employment and the future career opportunities and culture within the firm.
During the interview with the potential candidate, be very clear about what your firm’s strengths and where you see this individual fitting in with the existing team. Also be open to hearing what the candidate’s expectation of the position and what their own employment priorities are.
Offer Flexible Working
In fact, according to a recent study by Microsoft, the Work Trends Index found that 50% of Irish workers rated flexible working hours as important. Furthermore, new remote opportunities or a lack of flexible working opportunities were among the top reasons for people switching jobs in the last 12 months.
For smaller law firms used to the traditional 9-5 working day, it can be difficult to compete against larger law firms. Offering flexibility within the working model can give smaller law firms the edge when it comes to recruiting top talent.
Highlight the benefits of joining your law firm
Often in interviews, the employer makes the mistake of focusing on whether the candidate sitting in front of them will be a good fit for their team. But when it comes to recruiting top quality solicitors for your law firm, you should also be presenting a clear argument to the candidate for why they should want to join your firm. You should be able to confidently highlight why your law firm stands out from the competitors and why it is THE place to work for their future career in law.
It’s also a good idea to discuss any benefits that you, as the employer, offer your team – health insurance, pension scheme, bonuses, team building excursions. Remember, top quality candidates will have more than one offer on the table, so be prepared to really sell your law firm as the right move for them.
Finish the interview on a good note
Remember, you want the candidate to leave the interview with a positive impression of your law firm so you should make sure you give the candidate an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the position or the firm. Answer with enthusiasm and positivity so that they feel excited about the prospect of joining your team.
A common elephant in the room towards the end of an interview can be the question around salary. While it’s inevitable that both parties will want to discuss salary expectations at some point during the recruitment stage, there’s no right or wrong time to bring this topic up. The general consensus among recruitment agencies is that this conversation should be instigated by the employer as they have made the decision to hire.
As the employer, it’s beneficial to do some market research into what the salary range looks like for that particular role. There’s no harm in asking the candidate what their own salary expectations are for the position in the first interview. If that figure is more than you had budgeted for, you may have to prepare yourself for negotiating. When it comes to top quality talent, stretching the budget to seal the deal could be worth it in the long term.
Ready to recruit the best talent for your law firm?
We hope these handy pointers will help you recruit the right team members for your law firm. The biggest takeaway from the above is to do your research and be honest and upfront with potential candidates. Remember, it doesn’t matter how highly qualified an applicant may be, they have to be the right fit for your law firm and it may take a bit of negotiating to secure the perfect addition to your team.
On the subject of negotiating, if you’re working out your recruitment budget for the year ahead, it would be worthwhile for you to check out our webinar Negotiating a Pay Rise with Yourself. In this webinar, we discuss a reverse budgeting strategy for prioritizing and managing your financial wellbeing. You can view this webinar and many more on replay here.
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