In this Pop-up episode, Tyson interviews Marisa Portuondo, a solo practitioner from Miami, FL. Marisa owns Portuondo Law Firm and focuses on business law and property damage. Listen as they discuss about hiring the right person and go over the different processes and techniques they use in their law firms.
- Difficulties about hiring
- Including instructions in job postings
- 1 of 40 followed instructions in job posting
- Experience VS instructions
- Requiring cover letter
- Require a pdf cover letter
- Awesome Indeed functions
- 3 different proficiency quizzes
- An audio test for people who should use a lot the phone in their jobs
- Other platforms like Craigslist and ZipRecruiter
- Generational hiring
- Using paper
- Using the phone
- Training up and coming younger generations these skills
- Attorneys now are doing a working interview to see how they handle things
- Hiring process:
- Hiring someone who comes from a company, who is already trained
- Put XYZ in subject line; follow instructions
- Tyson’s Process:
- Follow instructions in job post
- Submit the job application before the interview
- Personality test
- Pre interview questions and rate themselves
- Second interview in coffee shop: interactions with other people
- Third interview: stand up presentation in white board: teach us something
- Skills assessment
- Tests from Atticus
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Transcripts: The Hiring Process in a Law Firm ft. Marisa Portuondo
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast. Podcast.
Welcome back to a special edition of maximum lawyer podcast. This is Tyson nutrix. We’re gonna do a bonus pop up podcast with Marissa Portuondo. I probably butchered that again, Marie sub it’s Marisa, do you want to reintroduce yourself? I think when this thing hits, forgive me next week and this week, so reintroduce yourself.
Sure, might isa Portuondo. You were very close. You did not butcher it. I own Portuondo law firm. I am a solo and we focus on business law. And also property damage.
Right. So you and I had an awesome discussion after the last podcast ended. And we talked about hiring. And so I don’t know, 10 minutes into this thing like, oh, my gosh, we should be recording that we were recording it, it wasn’t in the same format. So we will talk a little bit about the hiring in general, some of the things we’ve gone through, and maybe it’ll help other people. So I don’t know where you want to start, I guess what are your difficulties you have with hirings? I know, I get a lot of difficulties, what are the difficulties you have?
Well, I think the conversation started off with your tip, which was to include like a little test or instructions in your job posting. And so that’s how our whole conversation started, because I had actually done it. So, you know, I posted on indeed.com, I was actually impressed with how much how many resources they have available for free. So if anyone wants to, you know, quit a job out there was actually really, really impressed with what you could do. They even have like little mini proficiency tests and stuff that you can, you know, have the candidates take. So anyway, I followed a tip from a friend put a couple of specific things in the job posting very simple things. And out of the 40 Plus applications that I got in less than a week, only one person followed the instructions. And there were people who had, you know, 25 years of of legal assistance experience. I was really surprised. I could not believe how few people followed instructions.
So you know, John Fisher told me he had a very similar experience. I think he had like 80 Something applicants or 60 something applicants, and he also had one, but I mean, I’m tried the whole put in, do something very specific before. And I feel like sometimes it does unfairly eliminate some qualified candidates. And I guess, I don’t know from just looking at it wrong, but or just being overly optimistic about all these people that missed a very basic thing, does that ever worry you
at all, actually went back to my friend and I said, you know, I got some really good candidates here, at least on paper. And you know, this one woman, she’s got 25 years of experience to sound exactly like what I need. And she made a really good point. She said, Well, what good is all her experiences, she just doesn’t follow instructions. And I really couldn’t argue with that point. So I think obviously, it’s a personal decision where you want to give someone another shot. But I put three things actually, in the post, and not a single one of them was followed. So I feel like there was no cover letter that was one of the instructions. And me that shows you’re probably applying to, you know, 200 jobs at a time. I mean, I’m exaggerating, but probably just click, click, click, click, click uploading a resume, you know, applying by just a click of a button, and doesn’t really mean that much to them. I know when I was in job hunting, before I was the CIO, you know, I went out on my own. If I really cared about a job, of course, I wrote a cover letter. And if I was on the fence about whether I even want a job or not, maybe I’d just a quick click. So I think that says a lot.
I completely agree. Something that I’ve been doing is I’ve been putting the cover letter requirements down below. And I think and remind me if I’m wrong on this, I think he indeed can even have you check a box where it says require a cover letter. I’ll check that. But I’ll also put down on the bottom my post that you have to submit the cover letter, do you do anything similar to that?
I don’t remember if indeed, how to place where you would require it. They certainly didn’t require them to do it to submit their application because I got very few cover letters. And you know, that wasn’t my instruction. I’m sure I would have clicked the box if it was an option. But my instructions in case you’re curious was you know, send a cover letter, attach your your resume, and your cover letter in PDF format, and write legal Ataman at the top of both documents.
Those are pretty basic. So with that, but the PDF thing was a tip that my buddy gave me. That’s what I gave the other day. And he’s like Eustoma, how shocking it is that people cannot figure out how to convert a document to a PDF document. And we have to do that on a regular basis. I thought that was really interesting.
But do you think it’s up? They don’t know. How do you think it’s just that they just didn’t care enough to read the instructions carefully and go through the you know, 32nd exercise? I don’t know that.
That is a great question. I think it’s a combination, I’m gonna cop out, I’m gonna say, to combination of laziness for some candidates and the lack of know how for other candidates, but probably for the most part, a lack of attention to detail and the lack of just the laziness of them is probably a big part of it. Okay, so I want to talk about the awesome indeed functions. So I’ll let you go. First, you talk about what you like, first, I’ll tell you what I’m talking about things I like,
Well, it’s been a few weeks, and I’m trying to remember exactly, but I know they had, you know, maybe three different proficiency quizzes that person can take, I don’t really know what it’s like on the applicants side, because I haven’t ever done that on Indeed, as an applicant. But you could pick from three different things. I believe one of them was like an attention to detail thing. And other one was maybe like basic grammar, and maybe a typing test, I think was another one. I’m not really sure. But I really was impressed. You know, if you want to put an ad out on Craigslist, you gotta pay. And they had just, I thought it was a better way to do it. And it was free. So I mean, no brainer, as far as I was concerned that you can pay, I believe, to have your, your job featured, as you know, up on the top of the search or something like that. But I was actually really, really surprised by what they offered.
Yeah, you can definitely promote it, and you get more out of it. I’ve done the paid one a couple times, I guess. But the free one seems fine to me. But so the one that I like, and if you’re, if you’re looking to hire someone that’s going to be on the phones quite a bit. There is one where they have to do a deal by phone. And I’m like you, I don’t know what the exact questions are. But you can get an idea of what the questions are. I think one of them was like, you know, what interests you about this position. And then another one was like, you know, what is one of the challenging thing about your current job or something like that, and you hear these people on the phone? It is, it is quite interesting to hear the people that clearly stalled out, and they were not prepared. And they did not read anything about the job posts. I mean, it is it is kind of crazy, because they’re just kind of generalizing, you know, I really think your company’s amazing online, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but but you’re the people are just terrible on the phone. I mean, it is really, I like my favorite one now is to do that one and not the one with the skills test. Because on the skill says all they do is they give you like that little diagram that shows you like where they are on this spectrum compared to other candidates. Right? To me, it doesn’t really tell me a whole lot. They show me okay, are they proficient with a below average, above average, that kind of thing, but the one where you really can see, they’re here? You know what they’re about? Is that audio? And you should check that out.
Yeah, I didn’t even notice that. That option. That’s an that’s part of the free offering.
is completely free, which is shocking to me.
That’s Wow, that’s impressive. I completely must have missed that. Yeah, you can tell a lot about someone you know, just with a few questions and like you said, whether they even paid attention to the job posts or not. It’s almost like the generic cover letter. You know, Dear Sir, or Madam, I’m interested in the opportunity at your organization. You know, I guess you get a point for actually giving a cover letter but
if you don’t have recruiter, it sounds like you’ve done some like you’ve done Craigslist. I’ve been critical Smith, garbage. Can you get so many terrible candidates. But have you done Craigslist and zip recruiter?
I have not actually the friend that gave me the tip is the one who, who used Craigslist. That’s how I knew what it cost. And then another attorney recently was on the hunt for a legal assistant. And he’s the one who told me oh, you know, Andy’s got great resources. It’s free. So I thought, Okay, I’ll try it out. I was shocked at how many people apply within just a few days. Some of them I mean, with the exception not knowing how to follow directions, like really good quality applicants. I was I was really pleasantly surprised. This is
ziprecruiter. I tried that last I did like their free four day trial, which you can’t get a whole lot in four days. But it it was okay. I mean, the candidates were okay. I think it’s probably a little bit better system. And again, I only had it for four days, but it was a better setup, I guess, then, indeed, overall. But if you go past I think the fourth day, I think they charge you 250 bucks a month or something ridiculous compared to what you would spend on Indeed, it’s kind of crazy. So I think in DC the money for what you get is far easier. And then I’ve used Craigslist, Craigslist before. And Craigslist is kind of insane. With the number of candidates you get, you get a lot of bad ones. And you get people just they’re basically just clicking buttons like what you’re talking about and you get, you get inundated. We did that last year. We only had it on for a week. And we had to stop it because we’ve done like 85 candidates and they were just terrible candidates. So we didn’t want any more. So I don’t recommend creating lists. So you and I had a conversation earlier this week just in general about new generational hiring. And I’m of the opinion and I think you’re too late. The people that are our age are better. You shooted going forward over the next, say, five to 10 years with technology and with succeeding in the legal arena, because of the skill sets we have, we’ve sort of gotten in this inbetween zone where there was the paper at some point in our life, and then there’s the computers at another part of our life, if you would have a little bit about your, your viewpoint on that as well.
Yeah, I completely agree with you, we’re kind of riding the fence there where I mean, when I started practicing, you had to print out copies of everything, you had to, you know, stamp the envelopes, you had to copy everyone by paper, and by fax, so you could have a confirmation that they received it. I mean, it was insane. And, you know, we grew up with these skill sets that I completely took for granted, I thought they were just common sense that anyone had, you know, anyone with half a brain had these skills. And really, you know, became obvious to me when I started working with younger people that it’s, it’s not, it’s not an innate skill, it’s something that we learned. When we were kids, we had to call our friends and we had to speak to parents. And that right there is, you know, you got to learn phone etiquette, and you got to learn how to ask for people, and you got to learn how to leave a proper message. People you know, who are just now coming into the workforce, they’ve never had to do that. They’re in direct contact with their peers, they hardly speak on the phone to begin with. Everything is written by text, everything is email, text, social media, it’s just such a different world. And I really think they’re crippled in a little bit in a way because offices don’t operate like that, at least not law firms. And it shows it shows when they have to make you know, professional calls, it shows when they have to send a letter, just this lack of skills that we take for granted. They don’t teach them anymore, and they’re not learning them in their day to day life anymore, either.
So I want to get your viewpoint on some of that. So I mean, I think that most of what we do in life can be trained, I think most of what we do, as lawyers can be trained. But something you said really kind of worries me, because you talked about a second ago. And then the other day, how, you know, growing up, when we want to call someone, we had to pick up the phone, we had to speak to the parent, we had to be polite on the phone and know what we were saying and be prepared. And it was different etiquette was sort of worries me. So is there a way where we can train these up and coming kids to talk on the phone? Or is it? Is it something that’s just ingrained in them that we’re gonna have to worry? Well,
I mean, we learned how to do it right. So I guess you can train someone to do almost anything if they’re, if they’re relatively intelligent, and they’re willing to learn. But yeah, I mean, it’s, I don’t think it’s going to be an easy thing. And, you know, back, kind of bringing it full circle with the hiring. I know a lot of attorneys now we’re doing what’s called like a working interview, they’ll narrow down their field of candidates, and they’ll invite, you know, 123 of them to come in on one day and work for a few hours, they’ll actually pay them for their time. And they’ll have them do tasks while they’re there. And they’ll tell their friends, Hey, call on the phone, and pretend you’re a client, calm zone, pretend your potential client and they just kind of watch these people and see how they handle things. And they’re like, you’d be amazed at what you can learn about someone in just a few hours, and you’ve not invested in actually hiring them at this point.
That is incredible segue and I’m sorry if I catch up, but I use nano garlands. I want to hear about your hiring process, because and I’ve gone through multiple hiring processes before but our coach recently had us put together a process familiar us every time it was something we were being weird, inconsistent. And so what is your hiring process? Like? What is the sequence that you put people through?
Honestly, it’s changed so much. The first person that worked for me was a friend of mine, the second person came recommended by someone who I really respected. And I kind of said, hey, you know, I know you have a job. But is there anyone out there like you. And now I’m actually working with someone who came through a company. So there’s so many ways to hate this expression. But to skin a cat. It’s nice when you’re solo, and you don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to the hiring process to work with a company that’s already done it for you, you know that you know, this person is trained, you know, that they’ve been screened, you know, they have a certain level of just quality work. And so for me, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m happy with my assistant so far. She’s great. But I would really recommend anyone you know, do the test thing. When you put out that job opportunity on Craigslist, I was going to make the point. And I forgot you can actually really narrow people down, which is what my friend did. She said put XYZ in the subject line. And she said I didn’t even open the emails if they didn’t have the proper subject line. So that really saved time because we’re talking about, you know, getting inundated. So I would certainly eliminate, you know, a ton of people that way, but if you don’t answer if you don’t follow directions, I’m not even going to consider you as a candidate. And then if I had to do it all over again and not go through a company, I definitely do the working interview. I think that’s just such a great idea. It never even occurred to me because once you hired And when you’re kind of invested, you’re not going to send them home that same day, at least most people wouldn’t. So I think that’s the way to go.
I completely agree with you. And I did the subject line burn the boats a while ago. And it was amazing how many people the percentage of the people actually got that, right. It was very simple. And we, I plastered it all over the job ad, you know, put in your subject line, burn the boats. And I’d say probably 35% of people got it, right, I’m just making up that number. It was it was a small number of percentage, whatever it was, I’m not really sure what the percentage was. But it was crazy. And this was it for an associate attorney. So this was for an attorney. This wasn’t for a paralegal and for legal assistance for an attorney, and they all got it wrong. It’s just it’s kind of crazy. And what kind of sucks for us is that we’re, the job market is really bad for employers, right now, it is great for employees, because you’ve got you kind of get you whatever you want, you can have at this point if you qualified, but if you’re an employer looking for qualified candidates, you almost have to steal them away from someone. And so it is kind of tough. And I want to tell you about my my process and see what you think. So I spent a lot of time on this, just to kind of get it right. And I think I did. So what we do is whenever they apply, whether it’s doesn’t matter where they apply through, so through a website, or through a deed or zip recruiter, whatever it is, they get an email, or the email, we make them fill out. A we send it to them a PDF, it’s actually automated through Infusionsoft where they get a PDF of the job application, and they have to submit the job application at least one day before their interview. If they’re selected for an interview, we also have them do a personality test, which is something I’ve added to it, which I think it’s gonna make more of a difference than I thought it wouldn’t initially. But I think that that is a big part a big component that most people are they overlooked because they’re not willing to do that little bit extra work to figure out who’s a good fit, who’s not. So we’ve had them do that. So that’s before the the first interview. Once we’ve selected them for an interview, we send them another PDF. And that’s a PDF of them to fill out these pre interview questions. And they’re more big picture stuff. And we also have them rate like their energy level. And we had like this rate, this ranking system with things that they were they put themselves on the scale, they have to submit that before their first interview, and then I’d get a set number of 20 questions and I have it downward yet they have to request the exact same questions. You cover the exact same topics when it comes to explaining the role. And then you open the floor for them to actually ask questions. So I’ve got that each time. And then on the second interview, second interview is more informal, we’re actually have them they’ll go to a coffee shop, and we’ll meet, I want to see how they interact with other people. And then on the third interview, is where we actually will have them do a stand up presentation at a whiteboard. So they’ll stand in front of our whiteboard, and not have to teach us something. And I tell them in the first interview, I said, if you’re uncomfortable doing that, then you know, it may not be a good fit for you. And so they’ll have to actually teach us there. Like I say, it can be anything, it can be how to butter bread, I don’t care what it is, you have to teach us something and actually see how they’re how they react on their feet. And then we’ve got the fourth interview is if it’s a close call, let’s say we’re down to two candidates, we choose that final candidate. What’s your feedback on that process?
I think that’s awesome. And as you’re going through your process, I’m realizing Yeah, I didn’t even just glossed over the interview, the phone interview and all that other stuff that you would do before you had the working interview. I don’t know why I just skipped over that. I think that’s great. I love the the automation side of it. You know, I’m a big fan of that. I think that’s awesome. I love that you’ve made it. Like you said you were kind of all over the place. And now it’s the same thing over and over again, that’s always the right way to go. I guess if you’re trying to be efficient, and the coffee shop, I would have never thought of that. That’s, that’s great. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re in a people business. And if the person you’re hiring has been dealing with with people, I mean, unless they’re going to be locked into the closet doing legal research the entire time, they’re going to be in contact with your clients and your potential clients and all that that’s, that’s huge. I’ve never even heard of that for any field. So I love that
I left one thing out and it’s during the whiteboard presentation. It’s they they get this from Jim Hart. So Jim Hart has been going through the abacus program, and they have a skills assessment that they have to do. And there’s actually three skills assessment tests. One is a filing one where you have to put things in a certain order. Another is a attention to detail, one where there’s a variety questions that attention to detail each or one sheet each. And then there’s a third one, that’s grammar and spelling. I forgot about that part. That’s the same day as the whiteboard test, which is quite revealing. It will eliminate 90% of your candidates. It’s all basic stuff. It’s nothing complicated, but it gets rid of the people that don’t know how to use the different variations of their in to and things like that.
Well, I guess that’s kind of the same working interview concept right there. Come into your office and doing that.
Yeah. So what we’ll do is they sit down, they’ve got 30 minutes to complete it, they complete it. And we will give them their instant results. But then we’ll then we’ll go into the whiteboard test. Do that. And then we’ll grade them. And I had a candidate last week actually only get three wrong, which was the best of anyone. It was kind of incredible. Because I mean, people get half of them wrong easily. And their basic stuff. I mean, I can send it to you. It’s the craziest thing. But yeah, I don’t want a high score. Okay, it’s funny. I had one, I had one test that I had gotten from the internet. And I would say most attorneys would fail it, easily fail it. And there’s like, Okay, this is too complicated. And then I found the one through Atticus, which I can put in the show notes, Abacus makes it for free online. So I’ll just give the link to that. It’s, it’s pretty cool. I mean, I think I think you’d like it. It’s pretty neat.
I’ll have to check that out. So I have to ask, Why do you do that test so late in the interview process?
Good question. Well, I think, here’s why I think I think it’s more important that they’re a good person and a good fit, before I rule them out. Because I mean, here’s the truth, if I found a candidate, that was amazing, but was terrible at grammar and spelling, like I would I would hire someone or send them to some class to help make that better. So I think it’s more important to hire for the right person than it is to rule them out so early, because my thinking on that. And maybe that’s flawed. So if it’s false,
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I think it really just depends on what matters more to you. I also think it depends on what they’re applying for. Right? So I mean, if this person is going for my legal assistant, like, I mean, some of the best attorneys I know are terrible scholars, and don’t have the best grammar. I actually had a co counsel. And she would always tell me, I need you to read my motion over because you just write better than I do. And she was not a great writer. She really wasn’t as far as grammar and all that. But she just had this brain for litigation. She was amazing litigators stores, not thinking about her in the process. So I really think it depends on what you’re hiring for. For me, if you’re going to be my assistant, you better know proper grammar, you need to know how to spell you need to have attention to detail. So as far as an assistant hiring, I would probably do that really early on in the process before I’ve spent time going to a coffee shop with you and you know, spending time that I could be making money elsewhere. But if you’re gonna if you’re an attorney, you know, an associate or a law clerk or something like that, then I’d probably agree with you where you know, the personality and being a good fit is more important and more of a gut thing.
You know, you’re making me think about this. So I mean, maybe I do need to move it up a little bit. And is this a perfect system? No. So I’d be happy to move it up and test it out and see, which is better. So that’d be that’s a good point, though. So tell people how people can get in touch with you if they want to reach out to you?
Well, they can go to the website. It’s www dot P, like Paul l like Larry F like Frank miami.com. That PLF stands for Portuondo law firm, which is the name of the firm, obviously, the phone number is 786-440-8615. And probably the easiest way to get in touch with us is to go on that website, we have a contact page, they can fill out a form, and they’ll get a call back real quick. And everything will get the ball rolling. We’re all on Facebook. We’re all over social media. So at four to wonderla is our handle pretty much across all the social media outlets