The word training written with a markerWe’re 90 percent of the way there. We spent the last two days discussing when your law firm should decide to hire employees and, assuming you need to, how lawyers can make better hiring decisions. Today we’re going to make sure that the people you hire remain productive and that they are a good investment of your time and money.

Attorneys are notorious for hiring someone and throwing them to the wolves. This creates two very large problems. First, it leads to unhappy employees who aren’t going to stick around. Second, it leads to your office performing inefficiently over a prolonged period of time. By investing a small amount of effort in training your new employees (regardless of the task they’re performing) you’re going to gain far more productive workers who, in turn, earn you more money.

Lawyers often expect people to “learn as they go” and do not provide employees with an initial training period. Here are examples I’ve seen in law firms I’ve consulted with:

  • An attorney hired a woman fresh out of paralegal school and expected her to immediately begin drafting various family law motions and handling discovery. Obviously, her work product was not up to standard.
  • A lawyer hired a woman to work as his receptionist and did not train her on any type of phone pitch, how to deal with clients and potential clients, or how to answer people’s questions.
  • Multiple lawyers hiring legal assistants and immediately filling their inboxes with numerous assignments.

Some of these employees quit rather quickly because, as an employer, you’re getting off on the wrong foot with people by loading them up with work on day one. Giving someone a few days to ease into a job makes the experience much better for them and they are more likely to stay and learn. More important though is the fact that it’s far more efficient to ease someone into a job and take the time to make sure they are being trained correctly.

Giving someone a limited number of assignments for the first few weeks they’re at your firm allows them to absorb your policies, procedures, substantive knowledge they need, and to learn how things are done in general. You’ll find that keeping someone on a limited workload for at least few weeks will result in them becoming a much more productive worker in a much quicker fashion.

Today’s action item is simple. If you are preparing to hire someone, or when you do in the future, make sure you spend a period of time easing them into the workflow and training them. This will increase your profits dramatically. This comes with an understanding that the first few weeks someone is at your firm that you need to be patient with them and you may actually see your workload increase in the short-term as you are now in “training mode.” The long-term payout from this, however, is well worth it.