Staffing & Employment

Staffing & Employment

What type of legal practice do you have or want? Immigration law? Family law? Real estate, criminal defense or elder care law? Where do you want to geographically locate? Have you researched the area in terms of existing practices and competition? Is there someone retiring who might sell you his/her established practice? Do you have a nest egg of a minimum of six to nine months of cash to pay for start-up expenses? A conservative but probably realistic approach is to reduce your projected revenue by one-third and increase your expenses by one-third; assume this is what your first year financials will look like if you are starting from scratch.

Finding and Hiring Staff

Another important question is, “Can I afford to hire anyone my first year in business?” If you save by not hiring help, are you willing to spend time typing, filing, paying bills, collecting fees and answering the phone? One of the biggest eye-openers for lawyers starting a practice is the amount of time spent on “administrivia.” It is probably wise to hire at least a part-time secretary.

Another way to optimize the start-up year is to forgo a brick-and-mortar office. Many office complexes allow you to rent a small space with office equipment for a reasonable charge. Sometimes, even existing small law firms will allow you to use their space for a rental charge. As for the “law library,” subscribe online.

Until you are established and beyond the uncertainty of start-up, it is probably best to minimize the number of full-time employees on your payroll. Not only do you have a number of tax obligations (social security, Medicare, unemployment, etc.), but legislation requiring paid benefits continues to place the burden of things like medical insurance, paid days off for sick leave and paid holidays squarely on the backs of small business employers.

Once you have defined the talent you need (either on an on-going basis or on a project/client basis), it is time to assemble the folks who will assist you in achieving your business goals. Most law offices start with a legal secretary, then add a legal assistant, a paralegal, a law clerk, and possibly another lawyer. There are a plethora of people with the education and training to fill the roles and duties usually associated with each of these legal employee classifications.

In today’s world, it is also a must to make certain that every person you are hiring is fully trained and fluent at using today’s virtual workplace tools. This training should include knowing how to maintain the integrity of e-files, e-storage and all forms of communication medium, so that the integrity of your clients’ information is uncompromised.

So, if you need to hire people who have the skills, certification, training and experience mentioned above, where do you find them? A quick internet search will give you contact information for schools and other facilities which provide training for the kinds of hires you may be looking for. Also, with today’s social media, using your list of key contacts by letting them know you have a specific employment need will probably satisfy your talent search faster than you can imagine. If you use your search engine to query “employment agencies near {zip code},” not only will you get names of a variety of hiring agencies that can relatively quickly provide you with suitable candidates but you will also see a number of boards on which you may post your job opening at virtually no cost.

Please refer to the Human Resource information for further suggestions and ideas on finding and hiring employees and staff.