Key to the success of any law firm, both large and small, is hiring a solid office staff with the right work ethic and skills to allow you to spend your time practicing law and not running an office. Your staff is not only an extension of you as an attorney, but are also responsible for the first impression your clients will have of your practice.
It’s true that finding and hiring the right staff for your law firm can be a challenge. For the most part, you can look for some of the same basic qualities any employer might look for as they hire employees. But there are a few specific skills a law firm staff should have that can make a huge difference for you. Here are three:
- Fake-It-Till-You-Make-It Professionalism
To our attorney friends…there is, perhaps, no other industry in the world that is so closely judged on professionalism as the one you have chosen. People who have never even stepped foot inside an attorney’s office before will enter your office with a highly elevated expectation of competence and demeanor. They’ve possibly seen too many movies and TV shows and expect to see everyone in three-piece suits and $100 haircuts.
Your staff doesn’t have to be highly trained or wear expensive clothing, but you want to find someone who can come across professionally. Remember that it’s not always about looks, but about confidence in their approach and clear communication. Even the novice legal staff can find a way to come across in a professional manner as they learn the ropes.
- Technology Savvy
There are a number of reasons why it’s helpful to have a legal staff that is familiar and up to speed on the latest technology. For one, technology continues to change at a rapid pace. By hiring someone who is comfortable with current systems, platforms and apps, you’re setting yourself up nicely as changes come up down the road.
The advancement of technology has definitely changed the way we practice law. Having to take the time to train someone each time there is a change is time-consuming and can actually hurt your practice. Look for those who seem to have a handle on current technology and will be able to grasp new concepts as new legal technology becomes available.
- Crystal Clear Communication
It’s fair to say that there are many jobs out there in the world that demand good, solid communication skills. The difference between working in those professions and at a law firm is that often even the smallest nuance in communication can have drastic effects.
You need staff that not only speak well to your clients, but also are confident that they have been understood correctly. There are plenty of instances when what was said and what was heard can greatly impact a case. Filing paperwork, providing signatures, showing up to court dates – all of these tasks can be easily missed or misunderstood if you have a staff that isn’t attentive to communication detail. Your staff will be answering phones, greeting guests in the office, sending emails and letters and communicating in various other ways with people that are important to the success of your practice. Make sure they are prepared to communicate in a suitable fashion.