Do you want to know how to grow a company to include the best people possible? In this episode, Adela Zepcan, the Director of People and Culture at a law firm, shares her insights on running a law firm effectively.
Living in a post-COVID world, many companies are struggling with employee retention and high turnover. This has been due to people quitting their jobs to pursue their passions or people leaving for opportunities for more remote work.
Working in HR means you are selling your culture and company to prospective employees. You are bringing everything to the table including the company’s values, missions and what they can offer someone. It is important to use your resources to find candidates whether it be using your connections or investing in trusted job sites.
It is important to create a cheat sheet when going through the process. Keep interview questions clear and to the point to get the best possible answers and make sure the questions match the job descriptions. When you are in the process of hiring, you need to ensure it is quick as many candidates don’t wait and will grab the first option they are given.
During the onboarding process, get your team members involved to assist in giving new employees the best experience. Make sure details like assets and accounts are set up in time and training or manuals are ready to go. If these aspects of onboarding are not prioritized, new employees can feel that companies don't value them or their time.
An employee stays with a company for an average of 2.8 years. When someone is leaving, it is crucial employees leave on a good note. Make sure to thank them for their time with the company, celebrate their accomplishments and wish them well on their new venture.
Ultimately, HR is all about people. It is all about how to attract, retain and grow your company.
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🎥 Watch the full video on YouTube here.
Speaker 1 (00:00:00) - In today's episode, we're sharing a presentation from Max Lakhan 2022. Keep listening to hear Adela Zipkin as we share her talk the HR process. You can also head to the maximum Lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Let's get to it.
Speaker 2 (00:00:14) - Run your law firm the right way. The right way. This is the maximum lawyer. Podcast. Lawyer, podcast. Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson Metrics. Let's partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
Speaker 3 (00:00:38) - All right. So today I'm going to tackle a and kind of how we have navigated our system. And thank you so much for the great introduction. So again, my name is Adela, and so my title is director of People and Culture. And what that essentially means, it's the glorified HR lady, right? And so I am going to show you, I think, a perfect system to run a law firm and kind of grow at an exponential rate. Right? We are on track for the third year in a row to triple our size, and that comes with its challenges, of course.
Speaker 3 (00:01:14) - But making sure that you are prepared for those challenges with the growth in mind and to be prepared to tackle this is it's going to be very important whether you are in the HR profession or you are just an attorney running a law firm, right? Because as small businesses or law firms, startups, we are expected to do everything right from start to finish without any mistakes. And hopefully I can show you kind of tricks and tips that we developed at our firm. So it's I kind of categorized it in four categories. It's not proper HR lingo. I will give you that. So I think of it as four categories my pre onboarding, onboarding, as well as the kind of employee life as well as onboarding, because onboarding is just as important as onboarding. So I will of course tackle the first one and that is how to fine train and keep your talent, especially in this current climate we're in, right? The great resignation Covid hitting us left and right, people wanting and needing to work remote. We have to kind of stay on top of it.
Speaker 3 (00:02:18) - And what I've realized in the last couple of years or in the past five years since I've been doing this is h.r. Is a sales role and you as running a law firm, being the manager, running the operations, whatever the case is, you are responsible in selling your company, you're responsible in selling your culture. So essentially I hunt for candidates just like you look for clients, I hunt or I sell my culture. I sell my companies values, our core values, our mission, my team. Just like you would pitch your services to your potential clients once you have that deciding factor, I think it's very, very important to recognize that distinction because when you're interviewing someone for a position, you have to make sure to sell and smile. And if you're not smiling, you're not doing a good job at interviewing this person. Right? So here's the kind of overall onboarding structure, right? You know, the job description, the resume, sifting, the interviews, screenings. I mean, I've heard companies where they do like five, six hour sessions of interviews.
Speaker 3 (00:03:27) - ET cetera. And that is not a good experience. And you wouldn't want your clients to go through that. So why would you want your employees or potential employees to go through that? So I created a cheat sheet. So this is my cheat sheet. So one of the big things you're going to have to do within the job description is tailor it to the big picture. It is not a to do list. It should never be a to do list of the job. It is the overall like what are the key components that this person needs to tackle? For me to be able to, you know, pass on the mantle of this position, make sure that where you're posting, you're getting your money's worth. A lot of times you're not going to get a lot of return on your investment when you post on these job sites. So if you have a niche, the one that works best for you and you get the best candidates, invest more money in that one than the other ones, right? So ours, for example, is indeed for our international and US hires indeed is the best platform.
Speaker 3 (00:04:22) - Our second best is LinkedIn. And really, honestly, it's word of mouth of employees. A lot of times I find great candidates from part time to full time gigs for our office just by reaching out to my current employees and saying, Hey, do you have anyone in mind that would do this job? And it helps. So as far as the pre screening, when you're reviewing the resume, I want you to think about like what are the key components that this person needs to do in this position and where does it resonate from experience versus knowledge? Like, am I hiring someone that is a five year experienced HR person or am I hiring someone that just graduated and I can't expect the person that just graduated to have five years of experience because they just graduated, right? So that's how you want to tailor that pre screening when you're reviewing and sifting through those resumes. But also keep in mind that sometimes people are really terrible at writing resumes, so you might miss out on really good applicants if they don't use the proper language or terminology.
Speaker 3 (00:05:22) - Now, what I find is the phone screening that we do pre after they pass the resumes, the phone screening tends to be eye opening and we developed a little script for it, which is on the next slide and I'll show you it. And that has been very, very helpful to. A sieve through your top candidates. And if I find that I'm not getting a lot of return from my indeed post, for example, and I got maybe five maybes in a in one Yes. That I'm kind of like I will pick a couple of those maybes and interview them as well. Right? Because my perception will always be biased because I'm going to look for the perfect candidate. And frankly, we're not all perfect, right? So we can't how can we expect someone that is just filling out a resume to be perfectly writing all the terminologies that you're looking for, Right. And then the secondary piece or like the last kind of interview that we do is phone screen or it's usually either in person if we can make it or a virtual video conference with either one of the owners, the manager, depending on what position I'm hiring for.
Speaker 3 (00:06:25) - Right. Try not to make it crowded. Don't make it lengthy. Smile. Tell your team to smile. That is interviewing. Prep them before they join this meeting and so they don't ask questions like So what you've been doing in the last five years, right? It's on my resume. Read it. So making sure that your team that is interviewing is, you know, eloquent, prepared, knows the little backstory is very, very helpful and is selling your culture to them at the same time. Right. Because it is a sales pitch and we need to be very clear about that. Then don't scare them. Right? Sometimes you get serious and passionate when you're talking about things and that can be very intimidating. I am at an interview and you're essentially yelling at me, right? In a sense. Right. It's intimidating. And that is the first experience that that person is going to see of your firm. So all smiles. Even if we're talking about a serious subject and a passionate subject, we got to stop, smile and be kind, right? And if you have a clear idea of who is the candidate.
Speaker 3 (00:07:29) - Right, like everyone on board that interviewed this candidate loved them. So the next step is hire them fast because they're not going to wait for you. They're going to move on to the next company, especially in this kind of climate we're in right now. This is a sample of my little cheat sheet or checklist that I go through when I interview candidates. And the reason I created it, not because I only asked these five, six questions every time, this is my go to point. If I'm having an off day and I'm not on my A-game, I can ask at least ask these five questions within the mindset of like, what am I looking for? Like, what is my immigration like? Are they invested in my company? Can I tell that they're invested in my company based on the questions they're answering? Right. The question tell me a little bit about yourself is gold Absolute gold, because it will let me know how well does this person interview? And it will also let me know how prepared they are for this interview.
Speaker 3 (00:08:23) - And sometimes people are just clicking right. It's it's easy to click on indeed and apply for a position if you have all your information already filled out. So sometimes people are doing that, but you want to try to engage, right? Just just as pushy as we can be when we try to sell something, we want to be as pushy when we're trying to obtain candidates. So if someone doesn't show up on their scheduled interview, I call them and say, Hey, it looks like you missed your interview. Would you like me to reschedule? Let's reschedule it for this time. Does that work for you? I am pushy because if I know that is a good candidate, I do not want to miss out. I don't know if we're going to have time to cover this, but essentially, I created this little script, right? So when you hopefully most of you guys have an assistant or a paralegal or a law clerk or, I don't know, front desk receptionist, whatever the case may be.
Speaker 3 (00:09:10) - And when you're looking for that position, you want them to do everything from answering the phones to all your necessities and needs. The job description assistant is very vague and in most cases it's all encompassing. A lot of things get thrown at an assistant position, so when I find myself reviewing resumes, I might pick a candidate who don't necessarily have assistant experience, even though my job post will say I need two years of experience y I'm going to review their history. If they volunteered somewhere, if they've worked on a big school project or, you know, the question that I tend to ask applicants is tell me a little bit about something that you've done that is not on your resume that might benefit you in this position. You'd be surprised how many candidates will tell me great examples of fitting in the category that they're playing for. So try to be inclusive. I tried to ask my six go to questions and I have like a cheat sheet of like 200 plus questions that I tend to use. But I depending on the position, you have to make sure that you're asking questions that correlate to the job and examples of behavioral examples, specifically of the job.
Speaker 3 (00:10:20) - So for example, if I'm going to do sales, tell me an example where you had to sell something. How do you go about selling it? I remember when I used to work at Oh, it used to be a shoe store. I think I was like 16. In the interview, the person handed me a shoe and said. Sell me the shoe. And that was my whole interview. I had to sell this person as a 16 year old a shoe. And I got that gig. And it was it was a great experience because it makes you think on your feet. So pushing behavioral questions to team members or potential applicants is going to be key. And then if it's a yes, do the basic stuff right? Background check, reference check, send the job offer, be human, called them and offer the job. Don't send them an email. It is impersonal and it does not set a good experience. And then of course, explain the onboarding process when you're offering the job to them.
Speaker 3 (00:11:14) - When I kind of set up this job offer, I'm already planning two weeks ahead of their first two weeks, right? I'm involving all the necessary team members that need to be playing a role in training this person up. And then if it's a no, notify the client or candidate that it is a no. Right. But pro tip, if you have a second runner up, say there was one team member that said, I didn't like this question, therefore I don't want this person, but I really like this other person. And so you pick your you pick the team member that interview the best, obviously. But if you have a second runner up, tell that person it's no for now. But if I have an opening, I'm going to reach out. I've gotten a lot of good candidates in the past couple of years by reaching out to my old interviews. So you've got to keep those lines of communication open. And then, of course, onboarding. When you're onboarding the team member, develop those two weeks, prepare them, create an agenda, create trainings, involve the rest of the team members, and of course, encourage, encourage and encourage communication.
Speaker 3 (00:12:16) - The first 90 days are going to be eye opening and, you know, culture shock because they have to learn a whole new company's lingo. ET cetera. Right. So you want to be on top of your game because the first 90 days they're going to be open and okay to ask those questions. After 90 days, they're not going to ask you what is X, Y and Z mean and how do I apply it to my job? And then it's going to bite you in the butt later on because we didn't onboard them properly. Right. So encourage communication. No question is a stupid question is always my go to. I also have a 30, 60, 90 developed in which we cover our core values. The get at one have capacity where we just analyze whether this person gets the job, actually wants the job and has the mental and physical capacity to do the job. And then we analyze their current initiatives like the last 30 days, essentially things we're going to work on the next 30 days and things we can tweak that they have already had exposure to.
Speaker 3 (00:13:12) - And then the best piece is the questions and concerns piece because it allows the candidate an open platform to or in this case, it's an employee to kind of tell us how the onboarding process is going. Have we sold them or have we overpromise something when we originally onboarded them? And I find that my sales pitch is usually on point and people say, Yep, it was exactly how you sold it to me in Dallas. So it works. And of course we're not done. Focus on the employee life. On average, an employee will stay with a company. This is a stat from like 2020, I think. So it's a little outdated and I'm sure it's dropped now since the great resignation. But it's 2.8 years is the average lifespan of an employee nowadays. So you want to make sure that you are kind of preparing for the future. So planning your engagement for the year, making sure that you're doing a quarterly pulse for the team members, your team check ins. I try to do a monthly check in with every single team member.
Speaker 3 (00:14:14) - We have managers do biweekly check ins. We do a yearly self-evaluation and of course we try to grow from within. So if I find that I have a job opening and one of my team members, I can train them up to be in this position, they might not. I'm going to get to keep that person a little longer since I've already invested 2.5 years with them. Right. And let me tell you, it costs a lot to replace so the next kind of thing, I used visuals and of course, I shared the PowerPoint with you guys in the app. So you definitely can look at these. But this is kind of how we do the biweekly check ins with the managers. And then another thing that we kind of do on the side two, and it's going to kind of go over this little picture, but this is like the unscheduled drop bys check ins, right, where you're just like passing by their office saying, Hey, how's it going? And you want to kind of fill out the employee, make sure that they're not too stressed.
Speaker 3 (00:15:06) - And if they have something that is heavy to, you know, like a big project that they're working on, that you can get them enough support to not feel overwhelmed. And then last but not least, don't forget, off boarding, try to make a checklist and stick to the checklist. Don't forget the off wording. It's key. Okay. And what happens when people off board or when a team member leaves, it becomes really sad and people get emotional and sometimes it feels like a betrayal. Right? You're leaving my company. I just invested so much time and. Money in you. And but we have to look at it in a positive and we also have to sell it to the rest of the team. Right. Someone is leaving to tackle on a better, you know, better rate of pay that I can't necessarily afford. Or maybe they're leaving to go finish law school a lot of times. One of the biggest reasons my team members leave is they're going back to law school or getting their doctorates or masters and X, Y and Z, and that is good.
Speaker 3 (00:16:02) - So that means once they finish school, they're going to come back to me, right? If I ended nicely, right. If we ended platonically and had a really nice parting, we celebrated their success and we celebrated the the work they did for us. So definitely making sure that you're thanking them for the service, making sure that you have a game plan for all the work that needs to be now distributed while you hire their replacement. Make sure that you remove their physical and virtual blueprint. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to see like someone's name pop on one of our programs that has been gone a year or longer. And then people are like, Well, who's that and why do you have such a high turnover rate? It's not high. It's just we haven't updated the system. So you want to make sure that the new people are present on the necessary applications and that the the rest of the former team is no longer visible, I guess. And then, of course, do the exit interview and try to analyze that exit interview with leadership to see what what we could have done better.
Speaker 3 (00:17:02) - And that's pretty much it.
Speaker 2 (00:17:06) - Thanks for listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast podcast. Stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content content. Go to maximum lawyer.com. Have a great week and catch you next time.
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