Are you suffering from the “success dilemma” in your firm?

It’s one many women law firm owners seem to be struggling with right now… they are so successful that they are turning away work and yet, they can’t hire the talented A+ associates, paralegals and admins they need to meet the demand.

If you are feeling the hiring pinch, know it’s not just you, and it’s not an illusion. Daily media reports are filled with stories of the “Great Resignation” and the U.S. labor shortage. Apparently, law firms are not exempt.

Today, on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer® podcast, I share five strategies to help you cultivate the team you need to grow your firm and work fewer hours—even though, right now, good help is hard to find:

  • Why “Think Different” will be the hiring mantra of growing firms for the next decade
  • How to use the factor of “specificity” to find hidden talent in your network, eager for a new opportunity  
  • The employment ad secret that pre-screens for top candidates before they ever apply
  • And more…

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

Davina Frederick: Hello, and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. We believe all women lawyers deserve to be wealthy women lawyers. Our mission is to provide thought provoking powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick. Let’s get started.

Hi, everyone, it’s Davina. And today I want to talk with you about what to do when you’re finally ready to hire. But you can’t find good help. Does this sound like you? Do you say I want to hire but good help is hard to find. Or no one is responding to my ad for a paralegal or an associate. Or whatever position it is, you need to fill right now. Or do you say I’m feeling so overwhelmed that I’m turning away work, but my last two hires were just total duds. And I’ve tried hiring before, but it’s never really worked for me. If any of that sounds like you, I hear you. But I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. 

Even some of my own clients who have decided to ramp up because of their expansion. They have just, it just seems like the whole world has gone on vacation. And people have stopped looking for new jobs. So as I’m recording this, we are in mid July. And it definitely seems to be an employee’s market out there. I’m sure many of you have been following the news, or maybe just trying and get service at your local restaurant. And you know, this is true, right? I mean, did you see the one with the Burger King, where everyone on the staff quit all at one time. And they put a sign up on the marquee, apologizing for all quitting at once and saying that they just couldn’t take it anymore. 

So it’s definitely a real thing. And we need to acknowledge that that is going on. I know many law firm owners who are placing ads and they’re getting back nothing but tumble weeds. And you know, at one time, many of us can tell you that we would place ads and get hundreds of resumes. And now you may, you’re lucky if you get one or two. And you know, your choices are really limited. So my take on this is that it’s a temporary situation. Everyone has been cooped up so long because of the pandemic, that they just couldn’t let another summer go by without taking a trip someplace. And I know that certainly a lot of lawyers are doing that as well. I’m seeing all of your lovely photos on Instagram and Facebook from all those wonderful trips you’re taking. 

So I think that that’s perhaps what a lot of a lot what’s happening with regard to attorneys trying to hire and not been successful in doing so. I also think that we’ll start to see an uptick in folks wanting to return to full time employment in the fall. So maybe after kids get back in school. It will be interesting to see how school is handled this year with the Delta variant kind of running rampant right now. But I think you’ll start to see a change. And that said, we’re also likely going to see a lot of people looking for jobs, where they can work from home, at least some of the time, you know. And we may see people who really, really want to go back to the office because they’re tired of being cooped up with the spouse and kids all day long. So only time will tell. I do think we’re definitely in state of flux. 

So the question for those of you looking to expand your law firm, and wanting to deal with this issue of not being able to find good people, though, is what do you do? Right? So there’s, there’s your question, what do I do in the meantime, while this is happening? So here are some ideas for you to consider. First and foremost, I recommend that you look at other opportunities to expand your firm’s capacity. Okay, so think of it this way. Growing your law firm and, and your ability to make higher revenue to become more profitable to impact more people’s lives in a positive way, is all really about expansion. Expanding your capacity, expanding your mental and emotional capacity for wealth, and then having your business mirror that expansion, that mental and emotional expansion that you’ve made, having your firm be a reflection of that. 

And so the way we talk about expanding your capacity is by adding team members and creating systems based law firm businesses, right. And that’s really going to help us to make more money, but also pull us out of some of the day to day we may be doing right now, and that feeling of overwhelm. And so, you know, one of the key recommendations is that you have to have a good team, right? So when you’re in a situation where you can’t hire good people, how do you do that. 

And this first suggestion I have for you is that you look at, look at your current resources, and sort of think outside the box for other ways to help your team, get the job done, and expand your capacity in other ways, besides adding team members right away. Alright, so you may really want a full time employee in a certain position. But until you find that person, how could you team up with other attorneys to get your needs met? Could you hire a contract attorney? Could you hire contract paralegals? There are plenty of virtual paralegal services out there. Could you job share a paralegal or a legal assistant with another solo firm. So let’s say you already have a team with a paralegal, a couple of paralegals and an attorney, and you’re really committing expanding and you’re feeling the overload starting to happen, a contract paralegal or a contract attorney may be able to just help take some of that workload off of your existing team. And get you out of that feeling of being overwhelmed, you know, having too much on your plate, right. 

So as a temporary measure, that may be a good solution, there are a lot of those services out there, you can reach out to and give it a shot. Just like hiring employees, you’re you’re going to find that sometimes you’ll hire a contract person, and they’ll be good, and sometimes you’ll hire, they won’t be up to snuff. And that’s okay. Because when you’re working with contract attorneys, then you can easily make that change a lot easier than you could with an employee. So also consider where can you apply technology to help relieve you and your existing team of some of the heavy lifting you may be doing now? So do you need to improve your systems? Now’s the time to really drill down and do that and say, how can we improve our system and apply automation to some of these functions that we do repeatedly? And let’s make that less burdensome for us. Can you shift some responsibilities among your current team? Maybe now’s the time to move some people around and shift some of the workload among different folks. 

Be sure to incentivize them and reward your existing team for their contributions and hard work. What would you do without them, right? So perhaps it’s time to look at promotions and pay increases and bonuses and paid time off, and other incentives. Now, I’m not saying this is true for every employee. But if you have those standout employees, you want to make sure that you are incentivizing them, and really show your appreciation for them in all kinds of ways. So that it makes it difficult when a headhunter comes calling, it makes it difficult for them to want to leave because they really love working with your organization. So just check in with your people and make sure that those people that you are already that you’re loving on your team, that they’re loving you back, right, because I have seen headhunters busy at work services swiping other people away from other firms. So you want to make sure and shore up your employees against that. 

Next, I want you to take a good look at your ads and ask yourself, in what ways may my ad for a new paralegal or an associate or another position? What in what ways may it be repelling good prospects? So it’s okay to have special requests to make sure people are fully reading the ad and the weed out some of those former, you know fast food employees who are now applying for paralegal positions when they don’t have the experience or the education as paralegal I mean, it happens, right? How many of you have gotten resumes from people and you’re like, why is this person even applying for this job? They’re nowhere near qualified. But consider whether you may be going overboard and turning people off. So it’s really important to convey your core values and your deal breakers in your ad. You do want to repel those who would never be a good fit, so you can avoid wasting everyone’s time. 

And if there are certain mandatory skills required, you want to make sure that those are in there as well. I want you to consider though if you only want to pay $12 an hour for a position. Whether requiring somebody to have a bachelor’s degree or 10 years experience is excessive. Also, you may you may want your social media manager to show that they have the ability to use video technology with ease by submitting a response via video. However, if you have such a request in an ad for an experienced paralegal, they might not be comfortable with this, and it’s likely not going to be a part of their job anyway. So why make this a requirement in your ad just to show that they can follow instructions or jump through hoops. Make sure that your ad is really a good fit for screening and testing and screening out and testing those folks who for that particular position, okay, not just having something in there, that’s superfluous for that position. 

So remember, the purpose of your ad is twofold. Number one, it is to help you attract qualified candidates. And number two, it should function as a screening device to sift out those who will never really be a good fit. Just check in to be sure that you are not also repelling candidates who could be a good fit, because your ad is too complex. So you have the interview process to help you drill down into the details of their qualifications. Don’t try to make your ad do all the heavy lifting. Alright, so number three, my third recommendation is to think about alternative ways that you can network and connect with others who may be able to refer good people to you. Much in the same way you must get creative with your marketing when business seems to slow down, you may need to get creative when headhunting new employees. So think about your alumni networks, recruiting out of state, reaching out to different bar associations than the ones in which you are a member. 

So perhaps affinity bar associations or volunteer bar associations, recruit overworked and underpaid public defenders or assistant state or district attorneys. If you’re looking for good litigators, and learn the names of all your local paralegal schools, use social media to let people know you’re hiring, perhaps with a fun reel or Tik Tok, but also be sure to put your ad on zip recruiter or indeed. Blow the dust off your company profile in LinkedIn. I know a lot of you don’t love LinkedIn, and use their sales navigator function to do some reconnaissance. Be your own headhunter. So dig a little deeper in looking for that ideal employee instead of just relying on an ad someplace. 

Fourth, you don’t have time to be your own headhunter. And, quite frankly, who does right? That’s why you’re looking to hire somebody anyway, then hire one. I don’t know about you. But I personally do not love the process of hiring with creating the ad and doing the preliminary interviews. And so I really, I often will hire someone to help me, when I’m looking for a new team member. You can either hire a headhunter, who will actively go out and seek prospective employees for ease, sometimes by reaching out to people who are already employed, and offering them a better opportunity. That’s gonna be yours, right? Or you can simply hire someone like a recruiter to handle the whole hiring process for you. So that’s everything from writing a great ad, to conducting the preliminary screening, to narrowing down the front runners to just one or two people for you to consider. Okay, so these, these people are experts in human resources. And because of that, they’re generally much better at helping you find that just right person for the position that you need, right. And so of course, there are fees associated with their services. I mean, you know, they’re professionals, just like you have fees associated with your services, they do too. But if you really find the whole hiring process, a hassle like I do, and you’d rather be billing your $300 an hour doing what you love, then it’s definitely worth the investment to do that. 

So lastly, take a page from the real estate industry and relist when the market is in your favor. So how often have you met real estate brokers, who will tell you that now is not a good time to be on the market and you should pull your ad until the spring? Now, obviously, that’s not a situation right now with the real estate market in terms of selling your house, but it’s the same sort of concept. If you feel the market to hire good employees is not right, right now, if you’re not getting very many resumes are the ones you’re getting are just crap. Then wait a few months, really focus on how you can improve your existing processes with your existing team. And then in a few months, when perhaps the job market is a little bit better for employers. Put your ad out there then. Relist right? 

So that doesn’t mean you don’t keep looking or putting feelers out there. It just means that maybe you take a step back from that particular focus, because what we’re really focusing on when there are not an abundance of potential good candidates, we really start beginning to focus on the lack. And the problem and not the solution, we tend to become laser focused on the problem. And you know that whatever we focus on is what we attract more of. So what I’m just suggesting here is maybe you just shift the focus a little bit to what you can control in your business. And then in a few more weeks, couple months, six weeks, put your ad back out there again, at a time when there may be the summer has come to an end. And there may be a different focus for a lot of people out there. So I hope some of these ideas help you begin to shift your attention to solutions instead of the problem of lack. 

And if you have you enjoyed today’s podcast episode, please leave me a review. And let me know that on whatever podcast app you’re using, if it allows reviews. I really appreciate those reviews because it helps others to be able to see the podcast or the more reviews we have that were popular it becomes and the more people we can help and impact with this great content that we’re creating here to help you grow your law firm business. If you would like to be part of our community, then join us on Facebook. We have a free group, Wealthy Woman Lawyer is the name of the group. You can search it in Facebook. Join us there, we’d love to have you if you are a woman law firm owner who is excited about growing your law firm business and needing some support around that. It’s a great community of other women law firm owners and we’d love to have you there as well. So thanks so much for listening.