It is always an exciting time when law clerks return to my firm in early September. Their tanned faces and lighter clothing signify that we’re approaching the busy part of the year when we service our clients, solve many internal and external issues, and hopefully remain profitable.
I like to think that these young, unlicensed lawyers and paralegals return to Brinen & Associates because they are hungry for the work as they make names for themselves, but also because they have been so well-trained that returning to the office should be a natural process.
I’ve tried to establish my firm and its operations in a way that is efficient and fair, especially when it comes to training.
Success and peace of mind stems from training. As a small business owner with my name on the front door, it’s my obligation to train them, personally. I started at an accounting firm and there were all sorts of bad managers there. Between the ones who only looked out for number one, the combustible ones and the cold fish, I quickly learned to swim. It turned me off to accounting and on to certain areas of the law.
When an employee is not well-trained, he or she will immediately begin looking elsewhere. I’ve got one paralegal who will look to go and do something else. Practicing law is not her forte, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve the same training and focus that is given to the co-worker, who attends law school at night. My employees have responded well to the direct attention and training I’ve provided, which is why many of them are still here or have maintained a positive relationship with the firm.
Sure, I’m tough — I work my people and I expect their best contributions. I’m not their buddy, I’m their boss. The business and practice of law is cutthroat and in many ways it’s beneficial for them to see the brash side of lawyering from me ahead of time so they are prepared for an opponent’s tactic. If they’re looking for a completely relaxed and laid back employer, I can refer them to some marijuana shop owners I encountered recently in Colorado. They may not pay as well, but there are lots of free brownies.
There’s a difference between a trade and a profession. Law is a business, but any business should be something more: It should be a profession. The older generation should be passing on their knowledge and savvy to the next one. You also want your business’ reputation to be accurately reflected, especially online. Would you rather have a Glassdoor.com review headline of “Tough, But Fair” or “Run Like Hell”?
That’s why I’m committed to the idea of training my clerks and support staff. I run my business the way in which I wish my managers had and I believe it’s the best way to operate. Employees aspire to do good work for their resume, portfolio, client base and the company, and hopefully be able to list you as a referral down the line. Unless you have a neutral reference policy, helping them reach their next step — whether it’s a full-time position with your company or elsewhere — will prove to be mutually beneficial. If you see the potential, then foster the growth. You may need to partner up with them down the line.
For more insight about best practices in training, contact us.