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The Perfect Time To Hire Your First Law Firm Employee

Many attorneys reach a point in the growth of their practice where they question whether they should hire someone new or put their head down and keep going on their own.

Over the years, I’ve realized that almost every attorney hires too late. They hire at a point where they’re already in crisis mode.

I understand the predicament.

You want enough work and revenue to justify hiring an associate, but once you generate that work and revenue, you aren’t able to adequately supervise, delegate, and train an employee.

Usually, it’s just too late. You’re overloaded with work and you need someone, but lack the time necessary for the hiring and training process.

A lot of attorneys just end up interviewing three prospective employees and choosing one, which is actually the worst hiring process ever invented. It doesn’t guarantee that any of three prospects will be a good fit for you particular practice.

When you finally reach the point where you can pay a new employee, you’re extremely full with work and you end up in a dump-and-run situation. You hire someone, dump a bunch of work on their desk, and try supervising and managing while training them.

The practices that operate this way have an unusually high failure rate for their new hires. They fail to give new employees the proper space to understand how their practice works. Even more, they don’t put together a process manual for how they want things handled.

The Hiring Gamble

The better way to handle this is to hire someone before the revenue is exactly where you want it.

I know for a lot of attorneys this seems like impossibility, but it’s not.

I was in that same position when hiring my first associate. My original thought was to hire a contractor on a part-time basis. Instead, I decided to bite the bullet and hire someone full-time.

When you’re a business owner you must pay your employees first, so this meant I had to take a cut on my personal income. On the upside, this allowed me the space to train them the right way, and it freed me up to market my practice.

An interesting thing happened. I discovered that when you make this gamble— hiring before you can justify it with revenue — the extra time turns into motivation that forces you to grow your practice.

You start looking for ways to make your marketing generate enough business to support the hire.

It may sound scary, but it’s a short-term problem, not a long-term problem.

If you hire a staff member for $70K per year, you don’t actually write a check for $70K on the first day.

Divide their salary by 12 and that’s the initial cost of that employee.

When you think about it that way, you’re actually getting 100% of value from that employee on from the beginning, but you’re not paying 100% of the salary.

You can then create a plan to generate the revenue needed to cover the cost of that associate.

I want to encourage you to start thinking this way. If you wait until you have enough revenue to hire an associate, you’re setting yourself up to make the hire too late.

If you’re worried the revenue won’t materialize, it will really light a fire under you.

It’s one reason attorneys come to our programs. They’ve realized they need to generate more revenue — whether through our marketing services or Practice Growth program — so they come to us to help them get organized and initiate a strategy.

This lets them successfully hire, train, and manage new employees with an extremely low failure rate.

Raj Jha