Hiring Your Way to Business Success


Hiring Your Way to Business Success

Someone once told me, “If you hire the right people, and do nothing else right, your business will probably succeed, and if you hire the wrong people, and do everything else right, your business will probably fail.” Neither a quick google search nor my memory can attribute this quote (apologies to the originator), but I wholeheartedly endorse it. In a professional service industry, like law, it is particularly apt.

So how do you hire the right people and avoid the wrong people? I don’t have all the answers, but as an employment lawyer for 18 years and leader of a growing law firm for six years, I have learned a few things about hiring. The proof is in our awesome team at Forte Workplace Law.

Recruiting is a long game

It can be frustrating when the timing does not work out to bring someone great into your firm, but don’t give up. It might not be the right time now, on your end or on theirs, but that does not mean you won’t eventually work together. Maintain connections and relationships with potential hires and it is amazing what can happen over time. Several of the lawyers on our team have eventually joined our firm after the timing was not right in earlier discussions.

Always check references

Not sometimes, always. People have suggested to me that references are useless when they are provided by the candidate. I disagree. It can be tempting to skip reference checks in a tight labour market when you are trying to make a quick decision. There are no time savings when it becomes apparent after a few weeks or months that it is not a good fit, and you need to let the person go and start over. When you are checking references have a set list of questions to ensure you cover off any key job requirements or concerns raised by the interviewers, but also be prepared to go off script. An excellent question to finish is “would you hire this person (again)?”

Values alignment is critical

Do you know your firm’s values? That is the first step. Our firm’s values are heart, kindness, and courage and these inform everything we do, including our hiring decisions. You can ask candidates to speak to values alignment in their cover letter, ask interview questions about behavioural examples, and canvas values with references. If there is not a culture and values fit, it is not going to work out, so it is worth investing time up front to consider this carefully.

Diversity matters

It is easy to attract and hire people who are like you. We tend to know and be connected with other people who are similar to us. Diversity adds incredible value to your business, but it takes effort and intention. We have worked through many revisions to make our job posting language more inclusive, we prefer to post jobs rather than hire from our network without posting, and we focus on building a more diverse network of potential new hires. Diversity adds value to your team internally, and it also expands your referral sources and client base.

Plan for the end

Law firm employment is (thankfully) rarely ‘til death do us part, but not enough firms plan for the end. This can lead to costly and stressful disputes when it is time to move on. Law firms should consider and discuss resignation and termination with job candidates before hiring and prepare a written employment contract. A few key issues that are best canvassed up front are resignation notice, termination notice/ severance, and what precedents or other materials can be taken. If there is compensation based on collections, think about how you will address work done but not collected on departure. Clarity on these terms at the start can save a battle (and a bundle) at the end.

Happy hiring!

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