Why Law Firms Should Hire Veterans (Or At Least People Like Them)

For the U.S. government, jobs were the first docket item of the new year.

The U.S. Senate voted on a bill to help veterans find jobs. More specifically, the Reid bill:

  1. Provides $250,000 to be used for grants to hire veterans as law enforcement officers and for priority hiring for federal law enforcement jobs.
  2. Requires every federal agency to consider giving preferential treatment to federal contractors who have workforces made up of at least 5 percent veterans. This would apply to all contracts valued at $25 million or greater.
  3. Strengthens federal enforcement of employment and reemployment rights for veterans, including more oversight to determine when employers have a pattern of resisting full compliance with the law. Repeat violators would be barred from receiving federal contracts. [via New York Times]

Veterans are appreciated by the U.S. government for their service to the nation. Veterans strengthened the economy by leading to fuller employment. And, veterans remind businesses the value of experience.

In fact, Veterans have so much to offer the market, they are eschewing big business in favor of opening shop on their own.

Veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to dive into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience, reports a May 2011 study from the SBA Office of Advocacy, according to Entrepreneur Magazine.

Their unique vision, employment position, and resourceful attitude are some of the reasons why Veterans are idea-generators and great businessmen.

“This could be because military training develops organizational skills and risk-tolerance, says Thomas J. Leney, executive director for Small and Veteran Business Programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” writes Entrepreneur Magazine.

The dichotomy of new ideas generated from previous experience is a valuable one. In fact, the legal services market is the perfect environment where old and new can collide in a positive way.

Experienced lawyers have plenty to bring to the table. As do their young associates. When it comes to hiring employees—who do you choose?

In a study about innovation and knowledge-diffusion, research found that firms who hired inventors tended to use their new recruit’s prior ideas significantly: by approximately 219% on average.

Essentially, when firms recruit inventors, these businesses acquire the inventor’s skill. However, talent is not the only value add. It turns out, according to Singh and Agrawal’s 2011 study, “Recruiting for Ideas: How Firms Exploit the Prior Inventions of New Hires,” firms also access a new hire’s stock of ideas and inventions.

What does this mean for law firms?

New recruits and associates bring baggage with them—the good kind. When debating between two possible candidates, it’s important to look beyond their intrinsic value—intelligence, ambition, or specialized knowledge.

As a firm, it’s possible to gain access to physical assets from this recruit as well: inventions, patents, training manuals, datasets, previous research, or software, for example.

However, take stock of these things without actually taking stock. Don’t objectivize employees, but do decide whether or not your recruit is a “producer” or a “dreamer”. It’s wonderful if your attorneys are looking to make life-changing policy change. But, for every other day, hire those people who are industrious.

Law firms, like Veterans, need staff who can get the job done.


Reference: Singh, Jasjit and Ajay Agrawal (2011). “Recruiting for Ideas: How Firms Exploit the Prior Inventions of New Hires.” Management Science, Vol. 57, No.1, pp..129-150.


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