Law Firm Hiring Tips for Success: How to Build an All-Star Team

Build your best office by hiring the right staff.Hiring is an integral but often overlooked component of running a successful business.

With the right team in place, you can crush any goal you set for yourself and achieve extreme growth in your firm. But with the wrong team in place, you may find yourself facing a much more sinister outcome.

Hiring and training can be tricky processes to master. Crisp has spent six years trying to perfect our hiring and training processes, but we still find ourselves making updates to continually improve.

But I wanted to share some insight into our own processes because we’ve found them to be incredibly effective. After all, our team is the reason we were recently honored in the Top 10% of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies.

Which Candidate Would You Hire?

What quality do you think is more important: an impressive resume or a strong culture fit? Would you rather hire someone with ambition, drive, but lacks professional experience, or someone who has a decade of professional experience but isn’t aligned with your mission?

Your success as a business owner depends on your ability to find the right people and put them in the right role. A lack of clear hiring processes in the legal industry leads to high attrition rates, which costs you both time and money. So while you think you should hire the candidate with the laminated resume, you might want to consider hiring the person who is completely aligned on your goals but may require some additional training.

After all, you can train someone to learn a skill, but you can’t train someone to have ambition.

The Benefit of Personal Assessments

Did you know that fewer than 5% of law firms in the country use personality assessments during the hiring process? Or that staff turnover in the legal industry can reach rates as high as 23%? That kind of turnover rate costs the legal industry $9 billion every year.

Crisp uses a variety of assessments (both personal and professional) to determine whether or not candidates will be a good fit for our company. The majority are not: we hire only one out of every 1,000 applicants.

The first assessment occurs during the interview phase: we require each candidate to submit a test assignment before they meet the team. This is a skills-based assignment (unique to the role) with a 24-hour deadline designed to measure the applicant’s ability to work quickly, effectively, and meet deadlines. Past test assignments have included:

  • Their ability to respond to a challenging email
  • Creating a sample social media strategy
  • Analyzing marketing metrics

We also leverage a variety of personal strength assessments that measure a candidates cognitive, conative, and affective strengths. This allows us to gain additional insight into how the person will naturally operate within their role and within our team.

Here are the assessments we use:

  • Kolbe A Index: Measures natural instinct to determine how you’re likely to operate within a role
  • Gallup StrengthsFinder: Measures natural talent to give insight into where an employee’s strengths are
  • Wonderlic: Assesses cognitive ability, motivation, and personality to predict job performance

These assessments require a significant investment, but they’re worth their weight in gold because they allow us to ensure every team member is working in the right role for their skills.

Perfecting Your Hiring Process

How many steps are involved in your hiring process? Do you accept candidates directly from job posting boards, or do they need to come in through your company’s website (or perhaps in person?)

Nailing down a hiring process is key to building the right team.

We use a 5-step hiring process that’s designed to weed out underperformers and measure a candidate’s attention to detail. While this may not meet your firm’s needs, it’s important that you create a process that allows you to find the best fit without investing too much of your own time on bad-fit candidates.

Crisp’s process is as follows:

  • Step One - The Application: Our online application details specific instructions that instruct applicants to call a phone number to learn the details of the application requirements. If they email, call, or stop by the office with their application, we do not consider them for the role because they have shown they cannot follow instructions.
  • Step Two - The Phone Interview: We keep our phone interviews short and sweet. You only need enough information to determine if it’s worth bringing them in to meet the team.
  • Step Three - The Test Assignment: This is the assignment I referenced above. It’s a skills-based assignment (unique to the role) with a 24-hour deadline designed to measure the applicant’s ability to work quickly, effectively, and meet deadlines.
  • Step Four - The Team Interview: Before coming in for a final interview, we bring candidates in to meet with the department they’d be working in. Our team has been trained to look for red flags but also to decide whether or not they could see themselves working with this person.
  • Step Five - The Final Interview: The final interview is the last step in the hiring process. As the business owner, this may be your first time meeting the applicant.This is your opportunity to ask the hard-hitting questions that will determine whether or not they should join the team.

Defining Your Core Values

Admittedly, it can be difficult to hire the right person if you’re not sure what your company’s mission, goals, and values are. That’s where core values come into play. Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a business or organization; they act as an unwavering guide or foundation on which your team works. We use them in the hiring process to measure whether or not a candidate is aligned with our core values. You can pose situational questions to the applicant to gauge how well they promote your values.

How to Find Out What Your Core Values Are

Not sure what your core values are? That’s not a problem. Our team created a step by step guide that you can follow to determine what your core values are. After that, you can begin implementing them in your hiring process and also in your current team so that everyone knows the values they’re measured against.

My best advice for hiring is this: invest in hiring high-performance employees. Build and maintain a culture that rewards high-performers, and weeds out continuous, unimproved low performers. Additionally, protect your company culture at all costs. It is one of the most influential factors on your law firm’s success.

You can download your Law Firm Guide to Defining Your Core Values here.

Michael Mogill is the President & CEO of Crisp Video Group. Crisp Video provides video production and marketing using a method they developed for telling your law firm's story in a way that creates an emotional appeal while sharing what separates you from a sea of competitors. They provide premium legal video marketing for attorneys and law firms that simply want the best. Michael is a highly sought-after public speaker who has presented at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish meaningful growth in business.