How do you make new hires at your law firm feel valued?

admin by: Jonathan Shapiro, Chief Snack Officer

A law firm recruiter’s main role is to find the creme of the crop when it comes to incoming first year associates. This task can be daunting because there is quite a bit of competition. Firms need to determine how to make themselves stand out from a culture perspective to prospective and incoming new hires. Most large law firms ultimately have very similar business models, mainly being set apart from one another by their culture. If firms don’t pay attention to this, associates will feel no sense of loyalty and will jump from firm to firm searching for a better culture experience since there’s really no reason to stay at a firm that is otherwise essentially the same.

Differentiation is key if firms want to not only attract, but keep top talent. It’s always pertinent to remember that finding top talent is difficult, but retaining top talent in an ever competitive market is even more difficult. So, what can law firms do to separate themselves from their competition?

Most incoming associates are Millennials or Generation Z’s, and one of the most important factors taken into consideration for recent law school grads when choosing where to launch their career is the firm culture. Yes, compensation is important, but realistically, major US law firms are paying upwards of $160k for first year associates and these incoming associates are choosing work/life balance to be an increasingly important aspect to their decision making process. New hires want to know that they are going to be valued, and that their hard work will be appreciated, but they also want to know that the place they will be spending a large majority of their time is going to be an enjoyable place to be. Remember, you’re dealing with a new generation of new hires who are not only going to rely on statistics to make their decisions, but they’re going to research and they have many ways of doing so with blogs such as Above The Law at their disposal.

Sometimes it’s a simple small gesture of gratitude that goes A LONG way in solidifying that associate’s desire to stay with your firm and continue to produce his or hers best work. The more you motivate and the more you provide an office culture that promotes success, the better the end product, and the longer that talent stays with your firm.

The first impression you give to new hires is one of the most important, and making them feel welcomed shows that you’re serious and excited about them being there.

Bar Exam Prep Kits One example of how firms can help new hires feel appreciated and excited is to send a Bar Prep Kit box. Your firm can choose from a variety of options, but WorkPerks offers a great option with an exciting variety of healthy snack options to keep incoming new hires fueled and focused as they study for the Bar. Your firm may also choose to include some fun firm swag items in the box as a nice branding opportunity as well. A small gesture like this shows appreciation and excitement for incoming new hires during an extremely stressful and busy time by providing some much needed brain fuel and motivation.

Host Lunch & Learns If the potential new hires are based locally near the firm’s office, you may even consider hosting a lunch and learn, inviting the potential new hires. You can have it focus on an intro to the firm, or maybe have a partner share insights and thoughts about a particular hot topic in the legal world. Always look to continue to provide value to the employer employee relationship. It is also important to find out from these incoming hires what is most important to them regarding gaining value out of their employment with your firm. Additionally, finding out what made them choose your firm over other similar firms is vital. You can utilize those insights to not only market the firm to future prospective new hires but to continue marketing to your current employees – which is increasingly important.

It’s all about cost effective execution While law firms tend to be highly profitable, we do understand that often marketing to current employees isn’t an area highly budgeted for. Budget can be a large hurdle in initiating various culture initiatives for new hires, and results in firms often falling to the typical “corporate norm” of an office culture. But there are simple ways to implement culture elements into your office:

Upper Management Buy-In: It all starts with upper management buying in. Their support and involvement can make a big difference in the success or failure of office culture initiatives.

Host a monthly in-office happy hour: Wine Down Wednesday anyone? Hosting a fun wine tasting event is a great example of a way to bring the office together, and show appreciation for everyone’s hard work.

Internal networking: Create networking opportunities for new hires to meet other associates and partners in the firm. Maybe find out what other practice areas new associates might be interested in outside of their current practice, and match them up with an associate or partner in that area to grab a coffee or lunch. In 2017, Cooley was named number 18 on the top 100 Best Companies To Work For by Forbes. Review how Cooley’s employee-centric culture has helped them remain competitive.

Remember, retention is just as important as the hiring process, if not more important. It’s one thing to attract the best talent, but it’s another thing to retain it. It’s more costly to attract, hire, and train new talent than it is to retain existing talent, thus having a strong focus on employee retention helps the bottom line of your firm. This is a fairly easy concept, but it’s always good to be mindful of this.

Focus on Exit Interview Trends Implementing a positive working environment and culture helps to strengthen the commitment of your team to the firm. For employees leaving your firm, take some extra time to focus on how you can get the best out of the exit interview. Look for trends, then turn those trends into actionable processes to continue to push the positive experiences to the top of your focus and attention, ultimately using that information to brainstorm solutions to the negative experiences employees have.

Think about a superstar in your litigation practice who many attorneys at your firm consult with on various cases, and who always comes up with the perfect outside the box approach to successfully win the case. Now imagine if that person left your firm. Who would all those attorneys consult with to solidify the strategy for their case? Not only is retention important from a cost/time to hire and train new employees, but it’s also important from a collaboration and business strategy perspective. You lose that superstar, and you can see the firm’s success going along with that person.

As the firm recruiter, you hold a great deal of power regarding first impressions of a firm, both with potential new hires and new hires alike. You have the ability to implant positivity and excitement about the firm into new hires minds and engrain the concept of the firm’s culture. Focus from within and show them that not only should they be excited to be joining your elite firm, but they should be proud.