The legal job market is competitive, not only between job-seekers trying to land a coveted position with a firm, but for firms that want to attract and retain quality talent.
Smaller firms are at a particular disadvantage. They don’t have the big salary, bonus packages and fancy offices to entice prospective job applicants. So if you know you’re a top-notch smaller firm and any attorney would be lucky to work for you, how do you attract interest from high-caliber talent when competing with larger firms that have bigger hiring budgets?
The answer is to think outside of the box. What can your firm offer that would be valuable to an employee? Particularly, what is your firm in a position to offer that a candidate can’t get at a larger law firm?
Luckily for small firms, a large salary isn’t the only thing that young legal talent is looking for in a prospective employer. They want to know that you can deliver in other areas as well.
Here are some ways your small firm can compete with larger firms when hiring talent, even if you can’t match their big salaries:
Offer Work-Life Balance
Employees nowadays value flexibility. As an employer, it’s imperative to trust that your employees will get the work done without them physically having to be in the office all day everyday. Allow employees the option to work from home on days that their presence in the office is not necessary. For those with kids that they like to drop off at school, allow them to come in a bit later. For those that need to leave earlier, allow them to come in earlier, so they can leave early and take care of other matters. Consider offering paid vacation or occasional four-day workweeks. Many employees would prefer having more control of their time in lieu of earning a higher salary. Take advantage of that.
Sell the Firm Culture
You will be hard-pressed to find one person that doesn’t want to love going to work everyday and truly enjoy their boss and coworkers. Firm culture plays a huge role in whether an employee will love or hate their job, even when the salary is high. High-caliber talent want to work where they feel a sense of belonging.
If your staff is a close-knit family, pitch that fact to job candidates. The goal when hiring, is to find people that are going to fit in with your culture. So make it a point to mention activities that the staff does together, like lunch/dinner outings, volunteering together, trips, etc. and observe the reaction of the candidates.
Pitch the Potential for Quick Advancement
Many job candidates may see working at a small firm as a dead end. They want to know that there is a real possibility for them to advance and make a difference in the firm quickly. Your job is to show them that there is a clear road map for their advancement and progression within your firm. Spend one-on-one mentorship time with your new associate. Many associates at larger law firms are stuck doing research and document review and never get to see the inside of a courtroom. Play up the fact that as an associate at your firm, they can hit the ground running with substantive experience going to court, meeting with clients and handling cases from start to finish. If the associate brings in a book of business, highlight that there is an opportunity to make partner.
Keep Salary Competitive
Although you can’t necessarily compete with BigLaw salaries, don’t lowball job candidates. If the salary is too low, you will lose out on quality candidates who will look elsewhere and be stuck with a talent pool that is less than stellar.
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