Tag Archives: hiring

Embarrassing Networkinging Stories & Tips For Law Firm Managers Looking To Increase Business

Is your firm considering membership in a law firm network? If you’re already a member, how can your firm achieve more value through your participation?

Formal legal networks, such as Lex Mundi/World Services Group, have long been viewed as advantageous for independent law firms seeking to (1) extend global reach, (2) increase business opportunities, and (3) gain a competitive edge.

But are they worth the cost of membership?

Some firms don’t think so, yet many swear by the enhanced credibility and referrals that membership brings.

But whether your firm is looking to gain clients or associates, networking is only effective if done right. Using a few examples of networking gone wrong—thanks to Intuit QuickBase’s 10 Most Embarrassing Neworking Stories—we have a few guidelines to help:

Make yourself known with a unique introduction.

The problem with networking events is that most people come away without hundreds of business cards and almost no memory of who offered them. Unfortunately, if you’re a Mike, Mark, Melissa, or Mary, common names mean you might be quickly marginalized.

This is why it’s so important to introduce yourself with an interesting anecdote. Make yourself noticed—in a good way:

“I attended a multi-day conference that provided all meals for attendees in an effort to have everyone network during said meals. Breakfast each morning was held in an area accessed by walking down a flight of stairs. I was headed down the stairs, looking into the room to see who was already at breakfast and thinking about who I might eat and chat with. I lost my footing and rolled/bounced all the way down to the breakfast area with my laptop tumbling behind me. Of course, everyone stopped eating and talking and started gasping and staring. Everyone knew who I was after that!”

A trip and fall situation may get you noticed, but for the wrong things. Try to introduce yourself in a way that get’s you remembered in a positive light. For example, if you like to rock climb in your free time, introducing yourself as the 3rd year associate who climbs rocks, characterizes you as somebody willing to take taking calculated risks. It’s also something small, but singular that other people will certainly remember.

Pay attention and remember details of other professionals.

When you’re meeting tons of professionals, sometimes it’s hard to pay attention. While somebody’s pitching themselves to you, it’s quite likely you’ve spent a few seconds dozing off, starting to thing about what’s for dinner, or becoming acutely aware how warm the room is.

Instead, be an active listener. When somebody introduces themselves, repeat their name back to them. “Hi Paul, I’m Patricia. Nice to meet you.” Or, when they mention a specific activity, follow-up with a pertinent question pertaining to it.

If you’re not good with names, don’t risk calling somebody by the wrong one. Here’s why.

“I am very bad at names. I often recognize people, but can’t remember why. I was at lunch one day with a coworker who usually works at another building, and I said to her something about how she knew So-and-So (an older portly gentleman), who was sitting at a table right next to us. She turned and looked, and said, ‘That’s not So-and-So.’ The gentleman, who had heard me, also turned and said, ‘I’m not So-and-So.’ I had mixed him up with another older, portly gentleman. I was greatly embarrassed, especially because he seemed to find the mix-up insulting. From then on out, every time I saw this guy, I made sure to say his name, repeatedly, so that he would know I knew who he was. But a year and a half later, I found out I had still been calling him by the wrong name.” 

Err on being politically correct. 

As in the previous example, it could be said that it’s best to err on being correct—don’t use a person’s name if you’re not sure of it. But, it’s definitely best to be politically correct in a room of professionals. Don’t use networking as the time to try out a new potentially offensive joke. Politics, religion, and personal trials and tribulations are always off the table.

“I signed up for a mentoring program to be matched up with a local executive. I was matched with a guy, and we went to lunch. When I let him know I was pregnant, since it might affect scheduling during the 6-month program, he let me know how much kids ruined his marriage and his wife’s career. Awesome, mentor.”

As a more experienced professional, don’t treat every younger associate as chance to pass on personal advice (that’s what grandkids are for).

Ask questions—lots of questions!

Finally, when networking, it’s important to ask lots of questions. Asking questions is a way to signal your interest in the other person, as well as a method for gathering more information about their professional expertise. Of course, like anything, it’s important to ask the right questions.

“Our bank was in the process of merging with another bank. During the merger process, all the teller managers had to attend meetings with people from other banks going through the same process… I started talking to the woman who was running the meeting. She was the equivalent of a district manager and was around my age (early 20s). I was really impressed with the fact that she was at this stage of her career at such a young age, because I was aspiring to rise to the same level. I asked her how she got started, what were her responsibilities, etc. During our talk, she mentioned how she was thinking of going back to finish up school (she said ‘school’ not ‘degree’). Stupid me asks, “Oh? High school or college?’ Thankfully she just said ‘college’ and moved the conversation to another topic. Even though she didn’t acknowledge my gaffe with so much as a blink, I still was praying a sinkhole would open up below me.” 

Whether you’re 12, 22, 32, 42 and above, referring to age is a tricky issue. If you’re at all confused about a person’s age or status, ask more roundabout questions to get at your answer. Instead of “high school or college,” in the above example (which is not as far-fetched an error as it may first appear), the networking teller should have asked, “are you looking at any specific schools?” or “how much more education would you like to get?”

When it comes to age, never make assumptions.

Networking can be a great tool for law firms and attorneys to meet new clients or hire new talent. However, first impressions are powerful. Make sure your firm’s representatives are well versed in the basics of holding productive conversations.

Need some more concrete advice about how your firm and its associates can start to network productively? Take C4CM’s webinar, “Maximizing Legal Networks to Build Relationships, Increase Business and Expand Firm Reach,” on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 2:00 PM Eastern.

This information-packed webinar led by a power-house panel of experts offers step by step guidance surrounding:

  • Potential advantages and disadvantages of legal network membership,
  • Best practices for choosing a network that best fits your firm’s goals and objectives, and
  • Practical methods to get your money’s worth once your firm signs on the dotted line. 

During this comprehensive program, you will learn:

  • How to increase the volume and quality of inbound and outbound referrals
  • Ways to get the most value for your association/network spend
  • How to use network membership to build better working relationships and win clients
  • Global advantages and disadvantages for firms as members of legal networks
  • How to retain your firm’s brand distinction, while maximizing broader branding opportunities

-WB

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Boston Beats Snow Record & Cold Hard Facts About I-9 Compliance For Law Firms

Congratulations (or maybe condolences) are in order. Boston broke the seasonal snowfall record last night with an all-time high of 108.6 inches. It marked the snowiest winter season since the start of record keeping for the city in 1872.

Nearly a decade earlier, Boston saw a similarly snowy season with 107.6 inches in 1995-1996, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts [via Yahoo!News]. However, it seems this year’s Boston wasn’t ready to give up a chance at the title yet. And, with a wintry mix blanketing the streets around 7PM last night, it was finally time to celebrate a very cold clutch hit from the clouds.

There was, in fact, a parade in Boston. But, it wasn’t for the weather. It was for St. Patrick’s Day, which—coincidentally—fell on the same eve as the infamous record snowfall.

Speaking of records, just three years ago, fewer students sat for the February 2012 LSAT than for any LSAT administration in over 10 years, reported the LSAT Blog and The Law School Admission Council. Not only that, it was the biggest percentage decrease of all time, dropping by 16 percent.

Most thought that this was the answer to a declining legal market for jobs and over-supply of lawyers.

Today, however, that tide may be turning. After four years of a steady decline, there is now an increase in the number of LSAT test-takers, up by 4.4 percent to 20,358 total aspiring lawyers.

Why the change?

Some speculate that the well-advertised decline of law school applicants is now encouraging people to pursue a career in law—which may now give them a better chance at admittance to a top school. Since recent grads are still complaining about the job market, law school seems as attractive as any other choice in graduation education.

Others, however, are concerned that this is the start of a new bubble [ATL]. Where an already suffering industry is bound to over-charge itself into the ground.

Law firms face difficult hiring decisions. When it comes to human resources, it’s hard to put a price on your legal help. With so much supply in the form of recent graduates and experienced lawyers who were laid-off, sometimes nitty-gritty paperwork falls through the cracks.

Unfortunately, The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is going all-out in its “bold new audit initiative” to crack down on employers who violate immigration laws; and administrative I-9 audits are ICE’s tool of choice.

If your firm were audited, how would it fair?

Non-compliance exposes employers to a wide variety of potential penalties, including:

Hiring or Continuing to Employ an Unauthorized Worker:

  • First-time violators can be fined between $275 and $2,200 for each unauthorized worker
  • Second-time offenders can be fined between $2,200 and $5,500
  • For every offense thereafter, offenders can be fined between $3,300 to $11,000 per employee or worker

Paperwork Violators:

  • Failure to complete, retain or present documents can result in fines of $110 to $1,100 per employee
  • The second violation can cost $220 to $2,200
  • Pattern and Practice Violations
  • $3,000 per alien and six months in jail

Total fines handed out by ICE are now 13 times higher than in 2009. Plus, ICE has made a big effort to publicly emphasize its investigations of employers that hire undocumented workers. In just one year, ICE arrested 238 corporate executives, managers and even HR professionals.

Luckily for law firms, C4CM has a tutorial in “I-9 Compliance Procedures: New Rules and Best Practices of Employee Verification” on March 24, 2015, from 2PM to 3:15PM EST here.

It will help ensure your firm is in compliance, including:

  • Step-by-step overview of the Form I-9
  • Record retention: Pre and Post audit notification
  • Steps to perform an internal I-9 review process to examine your company’s processes
  • Awareness training for personnel who handle I-9s
  • Policies and procedures for acceptable documentation
  • The latest on the use of electronic forms and proper record keeping/storage
  • Penalties for non-compliance
  • I-9s and independent contractors: who’s responsible?
  • Strategies for when you do not have I-9s for all current employees and no supporting document copies
  • If you hire employees from outside the US for overseas contracts, do you need to complete an I-9?
  • Anti-discrimination provision: Are you in violation?
  • When you must reverify, and when reverification is not needed
  • Your liability when contracting out work

There’s still time for Bostonians, too. Luckily for those who insist on putting “win” in winter, the season snowfall record is measured from July 1 to June 30. So, with a mid-week high of 30 degrees, here’s to hoping.

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Funny Job Titles & How To Not Laugh Your Way Into A Labor Lawsuit

file.jpgWould you guess that an advertisement for an “information advisor,” is really a search for a university librarian?

What about internal communications coordinator, family protection consultant, or Process operative? These titles are for a fax-machine operator, insurance salesman, and chicken factory employee, respectively.

When job titles like “lifeguard” start to be replaced with “wet leisure assistant” (seriously, Ceredigion County Council hired for that post), companies need to start reconsidering their human resources strategies.

The problem with confusing job titles and descriptions is that they attract the wrong candidates. And, once employed, workers won’t know what’s expected from them if their actual duties differ from what they were hired, on paper, to do.

Typically, job descriptions include a precise job title, short summary of the responsibilities involved, the specific set of skills or experience required, and a salary range.

Things to avoid? Jargon, legalese, ambiguous list of duties.

If you don’t know where to begin, start writing down the description of your ideal candidate.

Among your employees of similar rank, what kinds of words do you associate with your most valued? Use those same adjectives to seek your future employees.

Most importantly, be precise. Use descriptive action verbs (advise, compile, report, etc.) instead of vague action verbs (be, do, work, assist, etc.). To be precise, you must write in complete sentences that leave no room for misinterpretation.

Prioritize the most important responsibilities of the job. If you are writing “occasionally” next to an assignment, consider leaving it off. Explain these more peripheral functions in the in-person interview.

In addition to explain what and where these job tasks will be completed, consider offering reasons why you need them done and how often. If you want to attract the right candidate for a job, they must be aware of your motivations behind hiring them in for this particular position.

Where does this position rank next to others in the same firm, and why is it so important? Your reasons for hiring a new associate or law firm professional should compliment their reasons for applying to the job.

Finally, every time you hire for a new position, you should take the opportunity to reevaluate the job descriptions for positions already in place. It’s important to ensure there is no duplication of responsibility within your firm. And, it will make hierarchies and reporting systems clear for both new and old employees.

Are your job descriptions accurate and up-to-date? Do they comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Family and Medical Leave Act? If not, your organization may be next-in-line for an investigation by a governmental agency or even a devastating lawsuit.

In fact, just one poorly written job description could leave your company exposed. Job descriptions are typically the first document looked at in legal disputes or during a regulatory agency’s inquiry.

And with the rise of disputes stemming from the employer-employee relationship, particularly claims arising under the FLSA, FMLA, and ADA, you need to take keen look at your job descriptions to ensure they’re legally compliant.

Attend The Center for Competitive Management’s “how-to” event, “Writing Accurate & Defensible Job Descriptions that Comply with the FLSA, ADA, and FMLA,” on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM Eastern.

You will learn easy steps to create job descriptions that are:

  • Accurate, clear, and defensible under the FLSA, ADA, and FMLA;
  • Written in a manner that clearly defines the responsibilities of employee positions; and
  • Consistent with best practices under other federal employment laws.

Before you start advertising for a “waste management and disposal technician” to empty your trash, think about whether or not it’s really your job titles and descriptions that should be thrown out.

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How To Successfully Manage Millennials At Your Firm

If only you could get inside the heads of your law firm employees. It would surely make hiring decisions, salary negotiations, and case work easier.

For your Millennial employees, however, there is some good news. Because the younger generation believe that technology is near and dear to their very existence, managers can actually take a look—via blog, facebook, or twitter posts—at the this generation’s thought process.

Here are a few generalizations about Millennials (and how your firm can respond to them).

1. Millennials are looking to be the best at something… but something meaningful.

Millennials have read Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book, Outliers: The Story of Success and know that to become an expert you need to put in 10,000 hours. But, these days, it’s not enough to be an expert on a subject, Millennials want to work toward a higher goal.

Whether it be humanitarian, technological, or constitutional, Millennials are looking for a purpose for these 10,000 working hours.

Law firms should engage their younger employees in pro-bono work right off the bat. Encourage them to work for your firm’s foundation. Give extra time off to employees who volunteer at places outside the practice.

Through impromptu or informal interviews, ask your younger associates what motivates them to work in law or life. A happier employee is a more productive one.

And, although law school graduates are a dime a dozen, the ones worth keeping at your firm, that million-dollar legal mind, may not be as common.

2. Millennials are good at networking… and they like it

Millennials graduated in a difficult economic climate, and they unabashedly networked and made phone calls and sought out persons to hire and help them.

Millennials know the value of networking, and they do it well. So take advantage of this quality. Encourage your employees to attend legal networking events. Host happy hours and social events for friends and family of your employees. Find out who they are and what they do (and if they need representation).

Give incentives for recommending new hires. In general, tap into this resource. People enjoy doing favors and, in the end, are more likely to do favors for somebody they’ve previously helped (say, a manager or senior partner). It’s called the Ben Franklin effect.

In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the 18th century Pennsylvania legislature:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

3. Millennials are looking for mentorship… and you should give it to them

Self-help books are popular with Millennials. They’re reading The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt; How to Find Fulfilling Work, by Roman Krsnaric; and The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter, by Meg Jay.

Everybody needs a role model, from the small school-age child to the adult working-class parent. We need somebody to look up to. The workplace is no different.

To give your law firm a sense of purpose, to encourage networking, and to instill a culture of teamwork and community, create “hiring classes” or groups of new hires that get trained together.

Organize a week or two-week long training camp so that new employees meet one another, bond, and generally become attached to their work. Each new hire in this class should be assigned a mentor. Make sure that more senior mentors meet with the younger associates. By doing this, your firm will create a supportive, family-style culture, which will help retain your Millennial employees.

These steps will also encourage new associates to ask questions, which reduces mistakes and increases the productivity of your office.

You may not relate to the Millennial mindset, but you should try to understand it.

The business of law has changed dramatically. Firms of all sizes are under more pressure than ever to overcome fee resistance, deliver added value, and secure decreasingly loyal clients.

Tune in to The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s audio conference on Thursday, September 11, 2014, titled “Top Five Profit-Killing Business Development Mistakes Firms Make, and How To Avoid Them.”

This power-packed webinar explores how successful firms are building cultures in which business development, cultivating relationships, and clear rainmaking goals increase revenue per lawyer and overall profitability, including:

  • When and how to begin business development training
  • Methods to include meaningful client contact for every lawyer (including first year associates)
  • What constitutes practical training and which efforts are a waste of firm time
  • The mentoring key and how firms are flubbing it
  • How to teach attorneys to see and address the profit potential of every relationship
  • Pros, cons and considerations of offering billable credit for lawyers who spend time developing rainmaking skills
  • A step-by-step outline for building a firm culture that promotes business development (with a defined path and essential steps for successful communication, engagement, and rewards)

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10 Behaviors By Summer Associates That Should Make Your Firm Think Twice Before Hiring

Congratulations, you’re a summer associate. With the right attitude and work ethic, you may become a salaried lawyer one day!

Condolences to law firm managers. You have to deal with a bunch of 20-something interns who haven’t a clue (but think they do).

There’s a time for forgive and forget and there’s a time for strict standards. When it comes to your summer associates, pay close attention. With so much competition these days, there’s nor reason your firm shouldn’t have the best that law schools have to offer. The following 10 behaviors by summer associates should make firm partners think twice about hiring:

1. Makes a bad first impression

Some people make bad first impressions. That’s understandable for a cocktail party or date, but not a professional event. If your summer associate can’t make eye contact, circulate the office and shake hands with everybody, or shows up to work in wrinkly or inappropriate attire, imagine the first impression they’ll leave on a judge or jury. The air of incompetence is not in-style this summer.

2. Avoids social events

Most summer interns are afraid of drinking too much and making idiots of themselves in front to firm partners, but that’s no excuse to eschew work events. If your summer associates can’t even attend events mostly designed to make them feel welcome, what are they going to do when you ask them to attend important after-hours events with potential clients, or professional galas that look well on the firm? Avoiding social events may be a sign your intern has no room in his or her priorities for the firm.

3. Is slow to answer your emails or calls

This is a no-brainer. You need associates who are serious, hardworking, creative, and—well—constantly available. That’s the nature of the law, it never sleeps, and your inters (for the first few years, naturally) shouldn’t either.

4. Doesn’t get along with other associates or summer interns

Yes, it is a cut-throat process, getting a job offer. But, it’s probably a bad sign if one summer associate doesn’t seem to get along with all the rest. Sure, the group may have disparate personalities or work styles, but so does the firm. You need a team player, not a lone-wolf in this business.

5. Name’s unknown to the partner

There’s flying under the radar and not getting noticed at all. If none of the partners ever know a summer associate’s name, it’s likely this person either (a) didn’t have any noticeable achievements or accolades from colleagues, or (b) doesn’t know how to network. Either way, it’s not the type of lawyer your firm needs in this do-or-die industry.

6. Doesn’t respect the support staff

Associates shouldn’t just be known by partners, they should be liked by support staff, too. A summer associate is lower on the food chain than support staff. They’ve not been hired, they’re here on trial, and they haven’t earned their place at the firm. Any associate who treats support staff like subordinates has no respect for the food chain—which sometimes means doing nitty-gritty and menial work and certainty not scapegoating support staff.

7. Makes too many mistakes on documents

There should be a learning curve in legal work, especially for summer associates. But, you should start to be concerned when an associate shows too many mistakes. Already, summer interns are given the lowliest jobs, which means it shouldn’t be too difficult to handle. And, mistakes are a sign that an inter was too afraid (or too arrogant) to ask questions of a colleague or classmate. Simple spelling mistakes reflect a carelessness (or lack of technical skills) that your firm just can’t afford. Another thing that’s costly? Constantly re-checking the work of one of your lawyers. You’ve got to have faith that your associates know the answer, know where to look for the answer, or know the right questions to ask to get it from somebody else.

8. Constantly appears frazzled

This is a difficult job. There are long hours. If your associate already feels overwhelmed after a summer, you should question their stamina for the “real world” of the law.

9. Says “no” too often

There is a time and a place to say “no” to work. But, your summer internship is not one of them. Saying “no” too often may be a signal that an associate has eyed another senior attorney or partner and plans on exclusively working for them, which means when hired, it will be more of the same. Or, saying “no” might signal poor organizational skills, where the associate is incapable of multitasking or managing his or her workload. Either way, take note of the person who says “no” too often.

10. Lacks social media or technical skills

Today there’s no excuse for poor PowerPoint skills or lack of Excel knowledge. Even law firms can’t get far without a website or social media presence. These are not skills left to the support staff. Rather, they represent the general willingness to progress and grow with the speed of new technology and a desire, on the part of an associate, to become more efficient and productive at what he or she does. You’d really have to go out of your way these days to lack such technical skills. And, as clients demand more innovative law firms, you can’t afford to hire one more traditionalist who favors to the yellow legal pad to an iPad.

As a manager you face unimaginable pressure to streamline costs, improve profitability, and do more work with fewer employees. In order to be successful in today’s harried corporate culture, you need to master the critical skills and competencies required for building and maintaining a productive and profitable workplace.

Take advantage of The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s course on Friday, August 1, 2014, 11:00 EST to 12:15 EST, Smart Manager’s Guide to Building a Productive Workplace: 10 Proven Strategies to Boost Personal and Employee Productivity.

This interactive, practical and effective event, explores 10 proven tips to boost personal and employee productivity. During this information-packed session, you will learn how to:

  1. Build a workplace atmosphere that encourages cooperation, productivity,
  2. Better enable employees to do their work, without excessive oversight, and
  3. Remove common obstacles that prevent productivity.

Whether you’re a new manager, or have been in the trenches for years, this event will get you up to date on the latest productivity enhancement techniques for:

  1. Reaching quick and innovative decisions
  2. Reducing decision-making anxiety for you and your employees
  3. Holding timely meetings that remain true to a core purpose
  4. Making intelligent decisions by battling groupthink
  5. Brainstorming effectively

Plus, you’ll also learn which workplace productivity apps really work and how to get started using them today!

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Hiring At Law Firms: Do’s & Don’ts For Finding The Right Fit

Despite the seemingly low employment rate for lawyers, law firms do a lot of hiring. From expert witnesses to consultants to legal interns, there are quite a few positions to fill at law firms. And, it’s not always easy—amid the myriad of candidates—to weed out superb from scallywag.

Here are a few tips for finding the right applicant for the job.

1. Conduct blind CV reviews

On paper, it’s hard not to be biased by certain traits. Sometimes firms are biased toward certain institutions—a local university or an Ivy League one. Or, as a reviewer, you may not realize you favor candidates with certain extracurricular traits.

It’s even possible to cross-off a qualified candidate for, say, an expert witness because of an idiosyncrasy that happens to bother you (but not the rest of the firm!).

During the preliminary stages of hiring, one way to avoid these prejudices is to conduct blind reviews of CVs. In fact, one of the UK’s leading law firms, Clifford Chance, has done just that.

Clifford Chance, in an effort to stop hiring biases toward Oxbridge and other leading independent schools, is adopting “CV blind” policies for hiring. The overall object is to make sure we never lose out on talent, wherever it comes from,” said explains Laura Yeates, graduate recruitment and development manager at the firm, to the Independent.

“We need to make sure we have the very best people spread out across the whole of the UK in terms of institutions.”

Another way to identify the best candidate for the position is through additional written assignments outside a typical CV and cover letter.

Ask the candidtes to write a 250 to 500-word essay on a topic important to the firm. You’ll be surprised how many candidates won’t bother with the extra work, which is a great way to weed out non-serious applications. In addition, it will give a glimpse at their writing style as well as beliefs regarding the law, which may help identify those candidates who fit in with your current corporate culture.

2. Skip the phone interview

Lawyers often live on the phone. Whether it’s phone calls to clients or the courthouse, you’ll often find a lawyer’s life tied to his or her cell.

Telephones are certainly an efficient tool to conduct business, but interviewing candidates is probably not among its best applications. It’s difficult for both parties—the interviewer and interviewee—to really sound energized oor engaged over the phone.

How many times have you answered the phone at home in the middle of your morning routine and the voice on the other line asks you, “did you just wake up?” In most of these instances it’s embarrassing to admit, no, you haven’t. Your voice just doesn’t have the same tone as it does in person.

If you must interview over the phone, The Muse offers some advice to keep up your enthusiasm for the job. Although geared toward the candidate, the advice holds true for law firm managers interviewing candidates. For example, don’t forget to smile. Smiling can actually alter your voice to sound more enthusiastic.

In addition, try standing up as if you were speaking at a conference during your call. It will keep you “on your toes” in more way than one.

For more tips on phone interviews, read here.

3. Conduct 2 rounds of in-person interviews

Finally, consider shortening your interviews but offering two different ones. Most interviewees will make their mind up about a candidate within 15 minutes of talking. So, why bother going further?

Instead of conducting one hour-long interview, schedule each candidate with two hiring managers or lawyers for 15-20 minutes each. Take only those candidates with unanimous approval.

Try getting two interviewees with different interviewing styles—maybe one who is formal and the other more relaxed. Make sure at least one of them will ask questions that address whether or not the candidate shares corporate culture values with your firm.

In the end, the best candidate for a job fills the requirements of a position, not preconceptions about the requirements of a CV.

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How To Achieve Walmart-sized Success: Boost Your Firm’s Benefits Package

On April 15, the day Americans dread, a number of news sources focused on taxpayers’ dollars in public assistance. Specifically, they highlighted the fact that Walmart workers cost taxpayers $6.2 billion in public assistance aid.

Although this number may sound enormous, it’s nothing compared to the entire public assistance bill that Americans foot each year, approximately 131.9 billion, according to welfare statistics.

It’s not surprising, then, that employees of this supergiant Walmart make up 4.7 percent of this welfare-seeking population, seeing as Walmart aims to hire low-wage workers and targets the unemployed for its job positions.

In fact, President Obama recently told Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper, “What we have done is to gather together 300 companies, just to start with, including, some of the top 50 companies in the country, companies like Walmart, and Apple, Ford and others, to say let’s establish best practices,” which includes not screening out people from the hiring process just because they’ve been unemployed for a long time.

Although Walmart denies this figure, calling it “inaccurate and misleading,” its spokeperson Randy Hargrove does stick by Walmart’s policies, stating, “The bottom line is Walmart provides associates with more opportunities for career growth and greater economic security for their families than other companies in America.”

“Our full and part-time workers get bonuses for store performance, access to a 401K-retirement plan, education and health benefits.”

For many Americans, the retirement, education, performance-based, or health benefits of a job are as or more important than the wage. So, for law firm professionals, boasting your benefits plan can be invaluable in hiring employees or retaining high-performing ones currently on payroll.

To find out exactly where the value-add of your benefits program lays, send out an anonymous survey among your employees. Ask them if there’s a health benefit, i.e., low premiums or mental health coverage, that they value over others. Ask employees what benefit is not covered that would make a difference in their day-to-day job satisfaction.

These benefits may include health benefits, discounts to gyms or spa services, professional fees and expenses, moving expenses, income security and retirement, flexibility and alternative working arrangements, parking or transportation, counseling and employee assistance programs, tuition reimbursement, or extended associate training and mentorship.

Finally, investigate your internal HR compliance requirements, from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to Workers’ Compensation. That way, you are aware of what your firm is required by law to provide, and which among your benefits make your firm go above and beyond.

It’s only what your firm can offer employees that others are unwilling to that, in the end, will transform your small legal storefront into a giant success story, like Walmart.

If you need advice, attend C4CM’s online event, geared specifically toward HR needs of law firms, “Leave Law Intersection: Avoid Dangerous Detours on the Road to FMLA, ADA and Workers’ Compensation Compliance,” on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, from 2pm to 3:15pm EST. The event will be held by Tracy M. Billows, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Ms. Billows is a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP concentrating her practice on representing and counseling employers throughout the country in the entire range of employment law matters. Her work has included the representation of Fortune 500 companies, as well as medium and small sized employers. Ms. Billows represents employers in single plaintiff, multi-plaintiff, and class action litigation matters related to employment discrimination claims under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and similar state discrimination laws.

Prior to her legal career, Ms. Billows was a human resources executive in the corporate community. With first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by her clients, Ms. Billows is able to advise them in all areas of labor and employment law including employment policies and employee handbooks, training programs, and the application of federal, state and local employment laws, and various other compliance issues.

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