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Solo Practice Management: When to Hire Staff

Making the decision to go from solo law practice to hiring staff

When you launched your solo law practice, it’s likely you were focused on landing your first few clients and tackling the early logistics of starting a business. Long-term growth might have been at the back of your mind, but you didn’t give it much real thought.

When to hire staff

Ready for a full team? When to hire staff is a key consideration for growing law firms.

Now, as your business has grown and as you have added clients, you’re probably a little overwhelmed by workload. At what point do you ask yourself when to hire staff?

Help for business tasks

If you find yourself bogged down with administrative tasks, or if you have been neglecting your marketing efforts, it might be time to hire an assistant or paralegal. Working longer and longer hours and losing sight of any sort of work-life balance is another sign that you might need some additional help. If you have been ignoring calls or e-mails from clients and your customer service is slipping, that is a big red flag that you need some help – before your business suffers.

Assigning research, filing, bookkeeping and other administrative work to an assistant or paralegal can help you focus on your client service and case work. Delegating marketing tasks, such as blogging and maintaining your website, can help ensure that new clients can find you while you focus on your existing caseload. If you would like to begin the search for a paralegal or assistant in the Denver area, start with the Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association or the Colorado Bar Association.

Hiring another attorney

Turning away work is a sign that it could be time to hire an additional attorney to help grow your firm.

If the idea of hiring a permanent associate terrifies you, think about bringing on a new person for a contract-to-hire position. Set a trial period for the job – say a few months – before committing to a long-term hire. That trial period gives you a chance to make sure the associate is the right fit for your firm and also gives you time to add to your client roster to ensure enough ongoing business for your newly expanded practice.

For more advice on when to hire an associate attorney, check out this podcast from the American Bar Association. In addition, this ABA Journal article highlights some pros and cons of creating a formal partnership with another experienced attorney.

Alternatives to hiring full-time staff

If you are not ready to hire, or partner with, a full-time attorney, you can enlist the services of a freelancer. These professionals can be found on law-specific freelance sites, such as Freelance Law, or various general sites for finding contract workers, including Elance and LinkedIn.

In addition to hiring freelancers, consider forming strategic relationships with other lawyers and legal professionals who can become part of your team without joining your paid staff. Part of the reason LawBank exists is to create a community of legal professionals who can collaborate on cases and workload. If you need only occasional help, it might make more sense to bring in another lawyer on a case-by-case basis. Some LawBank members have also formed long-term collaborations, and they work on cases together regularly. In addition, your LawBank membership includes a full-time receptionist who will answer your calls and help free up some of your time.

To learn more about LawBank’s office and co-working options for lawyers in Denver, visit www.law-bank.com.

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