The Hidden Costs of an Empty Legal Technology Seat

It’s no secret that most decisions come with a cost. So it might not be a surprise that there are hidden costs of an empty legal technology seat while you search for the perfect hire. The process of hiring a new legal tech employee can be strenuous, taking hours of effort that you may often feel could be better spent elsewhere. It generally costs 2-3 times the average salary of the role you want to fill to hire someone new. With that much on the line, how do you make the most of your time and money while trying to make the right hiring choice?

Although some employee turnover can’t be helped, it is very expensive as you not only pay the costs associated with hiring, you also pay the cost of being without that employee while you hire. Make your action plan for bringing a new legal IT employee on board as cost-effective as possible by taking all costs into consideration.

The Cost of Being Without an Employee

Law firms are not alone in their efforts to hire the “perfect” employee, but often these unicorns simply don’t exist. A hiring manager can become so focused on a certain skill, degree, background, or experience level, that they miss the smart, capable, and fast learning legal tech candidates right in front of them. Meanwhile, your law firm is losing money and taxing your other employees the longer you go without someone in that critical role. While this is an easy trap to fall into, there are some costs to consider when you’re waiting for that perfect candidate:

  • The cost of the person who fills in while the position is vacant can be high, especially if you aren’t using a contract-to-hire arrangement. While the individual can help you out in the short term, you’ll need to start all over again getting the next person up to speed when you finally hire.
  • You may have an employee willing to step up to perform that vacant job on top of their own. While this can work in the very short term, this individual can often feel underappreciated and burnt out, leading them to decide to leave your firm.
  • If the position is left completely vacant and no one handles the tasks and efforts, you’re losing 100% productivity for as long as you’re without someone in the role.

When you’re looking for a c-level hire like a CIO or CTO, the cost of being without that individual has compounded since this individual sets the direction for your information technology department and must be aligned to other departments as well. Getting the right person on board is essential, but being without someone in that role for too long could do significant damage to your law firm.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t hire carefully—having the right person on your team can be the difference between success and failure—but sometimes hiring someone with potential makes better sense than waiting for unattainable perfection.

The Cost of the Hiring Process

Law firms can’t afford hiring mistakes, and the time it takes to sort through resumes, set up interviews, conduct phone and in-person interviews, and wait for HR to approve the person can be just as costly. While it may seem like you’re adding to your costs, hiring a staffing firm to help with your search can actually be a great investment. Not only can a recruitment firm do the legwork (so you can stay focused on your own workload and priorities), they also may be better connected to the legal technology professionals you want to work with. Recruiters also have time to seek out legal IT and e-Discovery professionals who might not be looking for a job but are willing to make a career change when the right opportunity comes along.

For a c-level or director-level opening, a retained search may actually be your best option for quickly finding the best hire. Dedicated efforts from seasoned executive recruiters specialized in the legal technology niche will do the searching, selection, and background checks for you, so you’re only meeting the best-qualified candidates from both a culture fit and technical perspective.

When it comes to filling an empty seat on your legal technology team, some costly aspects of the hiring process can’t be helped. But you can control the amount of time and effort you spend, protect your law firm’s bottom line, and save your law firm’s technology team from burnout by making a good investment in a staffing firm and recognizing good (while imperfect) talent when they walk through the door.

We’d love to ease the burden of hiring when it comes to your law firm’s legal technology team. Learn more about our services and reach out to begin a conversation with an account manager.

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Follow This Advice to Advance Your Legal Technology Career

Career advice for legal professionals
If you’re a legal information technologist or e-Discovery professional looking to succeed in your current role, to get a promotion or pay raise, or to find a job with more opportunity, read on for our team of experts’ best advice for legal technology professionals:

1. Think Beyond Salary & Ask for What You Want: 

You might be considering making a career move based on salary alone, or there may be other factors that would improve your work life, including potential training, skills growth, benefits, commute, and employer flexibility. While salary is obviously a top consideration, these other factors can have just as much of an impact on your career happiness. As you consider whether you want to look for a new legal technology job, be open with your supervisor about things you’d like to change. Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility, variety, mentoring, and money. Talk about your accomplishments and ask for a raise or promotion. Suggest a project that might grow your skills or give you more visibility within the law firm. Your current employer will respect you for it and be excited to have someone on their team who is seeking professional growth within the law firm. As a bonus, you’ll be improving your career now and building your resume for the future. There are many opportunities for legal technology employees to help law firms innovate and implement new technologies, which could lead to further career advancement for you down the road. Perhaps you’ll find these at your current firm, or perhaps you’ll look elsewhere for those opportunities, but either way, remember that pay isn’t the only thing to consider when looking to take the next career step.

2. Request Flexibility, but Be Flexible Too:

After a year of working from home more job seekers than ever before rank remote work and a flexible schedule as top priorities. While remote work is a huge benefit in today’s world it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker when making a career choice. Assess where you stand as far the necessity of remote work—is it an essential safety concern, a preference, a matter of convenience, or the most effective work environment for you—before communicating what you require. Many law firms hesitant to maintain a formal remote work policy tend to show flexibility for employees who have proven themselves or for the right candidate. Before you decide to leave a great job in order to work from home, ask your employer if they can accommodate your desire to work remotely one or two days a week. Be proactive by providing them with a means to measure your productivity from home or speak specifically about how you’ve been effective and productive as a remote worker in the past.

3. Leverage LinkedIn

They might already have your resume in hand, but most managers will still look at your LinkedIn profile to get insight into your background and interests. LinkedIn is also a great way to be found by recruiters at companies like ESP Legal. There are a few ways to show you’re “available for work” or looking for a new role—both incognito and publicly. Take some time to ensure your LinkedIn profile is not only current but also highlights your skills and industry knowledge. Take some time to review job descriptions and then add skills and keywords to your LinkedIn profile to match your experience and what you’re looking for in your next role.  Like or share thought leadership articles to add depth to your profile and help you stand out.

4. Be Authentic and Honest:

Whether you’re networking, representing yourself on a resume or LinkedIn, or sharing about your background with a recruiter or in a job interview, honesty really is the best policy. While you definitely want to market your skills and experience, it doesn’t mean you need to claim to know or be able to do everything. You’ll find the best way to build relationships and be successful at a law firm long term, is by being yourself.

5. Avoid Generic Phrases and Clichéd Statements:

Have you ever been guilty of telling a job interviewer that your biggest weakness is that you work too much or that you’d always dreamed of working at their law firm (even though you hadn’t heard about it until the week before)? You may think those answers paint you as the perfect candidate, but your interviewer has heard that all before and those statements are unlikely to help your chances of landing the job. Instead of relying on the banal, try personalizing each answer with key points from both your experience and personality.

6. Think Creatively about Medical Coverage:

With rising costs, medical coverage has been a top consideration for many of our candidates. These benefits can vary significantly from law firm to law firm and there are also independent coverage plans that could better cover the needs of your family at a lower cost than your new employer’s plan. Be flexible and consider all your options before accepting or turning down an offer. With this creative approach, you may be able to save some money and still get that perfect job for your legal technology career.

7. Prepare for Interviews:

We know this seems basic, but preparation really is the key to success. Fortunately for candidates, hiring managers often ask the same questions. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? Why should we hire you? Take the opportunity to prepare some excellent responses, using specifics to provide the kind of information your interviewers are really looking for, and practice keeping your interview responses short and to the point.

8. Don’t Worry So Much About Golden Handcuffs:

We see a lot of job seekers pass on great opportunities because they’re waiting to receive their year-end bonus in the mid-Spring of the new year. While for some this might be worth it, if you’re ready to move on from your current role, we encourage you to hear about opportunities and consider making that move before your bonus comes through. There are vast opportunities out there that could not only lead to a significant increase in your compensation, but also greater job satisfaction.

This might be your year to get a promotion, develop new skills, make a career change, or join a different law firm, and if so, we hope this advice will serve you well. We truly believe every individual’s needs and career search are unique which is why our recruiters would love to offer you more personalized advice to grow in your legal technology career.

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How to Retain Top Legal Technology Employees

6 strategies for retaining employees [text over a work from home desk set up]

Legal technology professionals ensure law firms remain secure, competitive, and efficient—and they’ve completely revolutionized the legal industry. But what happens after you fill your legal technology roles? In today’s market, retention is just as—if not more—important as making a smart hire. As the uncertainty caused by the pandemic subsides, recent surveys have shown between 25-40% of employees are considering leaving their job within the next year, at least in part, because employee expectations for work-life balance and remote work options have shifted dramatically. The following recommendations will help your firm avoid the losses associated with filling an open position so you can instead focus your energy on taking advantage of the latest legal technology trends to serve your clients.

1. Stick with Remote Work & Flexible Hours Options

Work-life balance perks are among the top concerns of technology candidates in the legal market today. They want the option to work remotely—at least a few days a week—to flex their hours, and to take sick and family leave, among other benefits. If you weren’t planning on continuing your pandemic-created remote work policy, we urge you to reconsider. 42% of employees in a recent survey said they would quit if their company didn’t offer remote working. Offering hybrid or fully remote work options will help you to stay competitive with other law firms. Ensure your employees feel empowered to take advantage of your policy and that there aren’t any unwritten cultural norms, pressures, or biases holding them back.

We’re all about seeking win-win solutions at ESP Legal (we even put it in our values statement), so let us be the first to remind you: offering the option to work remotely is as beneficial for your firm as it is for your technology professionals. In meeting the desires of employees to work remotely, the law firm will also likely experience cost savings by reducing office space and expenses. Some employers are securing and retaining their employees by offering back some of these savings in the form of a stipend for home office equipment and expenses. Communicating clearly about these effective and employee-pleasing benefits will help your retention efforts, and will likely benefit your team when it comes to attracting new talent as well.

2. Offer Childcare and Family Benefits

One of the biggest revelations during the pandemic was that work-life balance is a myth for anyone—especially working women—who were caring for children or elderly family members. As a result, employees are looking for better, more flexible childcare and elderly care benefits from their employers, and some companies plan to deliver. 63% of senior leaders told the Harvard Business Review they plan to increase their company’s existing childcare benefits and 41% plan to newly offer or expand senior care benefits. Childcare and Family benefits can include on-site child care, but also might include a paid membership to an online platform helping an employee find childcare, flexible work hours, new parent support, paid family leave, or subsidized backup care.

3. Keep Compensation Competitive

The Association of Legal Administrators and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) are great resources for detailed compensation guidelines, and ESP Legal also publishes a free annual salary guide revealing average legal technology and e-discovery compensation trends, including legal technology executive salaries. While not all retention-promoting benefits are strictly compensatory, you’ll want to ensure that, at the very least, you are paying your legal technology professionals a fair wage—especially considering that wage increases are expected after the strong financial performance for law firms in 2020. Offering regular raises and promotions shows your current legal technology employees that you see and appreciate them and it can prevent them from searching for greener (and higher-paying) pastures.

4. Focus on Medical Benefits, Including Mental Health

The cost of medical coverage can vary drastically from one firm to the next and can be a big factor for job seekers. The pandemic also brought to light the mental health crisis in the United States, only made worse by the challenges and stress of COVID-19, and prompted many employers to finally prioritize the mental health of their employees. As law firms look toward their 2022 medical benefits plans, serious consideration should be given to allocating an increased amount of resources for mental health benefits—whether directly through the health plan or as an additional internal benefit.

Baseline medical benefits continue to be important to employees and prospective employees. With ever-rising medical costs, it’s important to compare your company’s out-of-pocket insurance premium with the out-of-pocket expenses generated by some of your competitors’ medical plans. Once you’re confident your firm is offering a solid benefit, leverage your medical plan and promote it to your legal technology professionals in a way that helps them see more tangibly the cost savings afforded by your policy.

5. Train and Mentor Your Team

Gen Z is at particular retention risk as a result of burnout from the pandemic. More so than other generations, they’ve felt unable to contribute ideas and feel less engaged or excited about work. Intentional mentorship programs are one way to help the younger generation succeed, giving them the opportunity to share ideas with someone more experienced, as well as receive encouragement. Paid training and education is a practical and effective retention tool as well. If a legal technology professional is able to grow their skills and receive promotions internally, they are far less likely to look elsewhere for career advancement.

As you look for ways to raise up your employees, especially consider how you are empowering and encouraging your female technology professionals to claim ownership over their positions and grow to become leaders in your technology department. Intentionally providing opportunities for diverse voices to be heard contributes to the overall health and innovation of your Legal IT team.

Developing your management team is also key to retaining your legal technology employees. Managers set the tone for an employee’s experience with your law firm. Make sure you have the right managers in place, and grow your managers’ soft skills and help them understand the culture you want for your firm and legal IT department in order to retain your valuable IT and e-Discovery professionals.

6. Outsource Your Recruiting

One of the biggest reasons law firms lose technology employees boils down to poor hiring decisions. Luckily, this is also one of the most avoidable factors crushing your retention rates. When you solicit the help of a trusted recruitment firm like ESP Legal, you see and interview only those candidates who are going to add value to your team in the long run. We consider things like the alignment of compensatory expectations with what your firm is able to offer, culture fit, and how the long-term opportunities provided by your company might align with a candidate’s aspirations.

In addition, working with a recruitment firm saves you time and speeds up the hiring process, which puts less burden on the rest of your technology department to make up for the lost productivity that results from the open position—thus helping you avoid the pitfalls of losing excellent legal technology professionals to burnout. 

 

When you empower your legal technology employees to succeed, you directly impact your law firm’s ability to thrive in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving legal landscape. By staying competitive and aware of industry trends, you’ll ensure your firm’s many positive qualities and culture shine through and keep your legal IT professionals committed to succeeding as a part of your team.

If you’re looking for more personalized advice, our ESP Legal account managers would be thrilled to discuss your unique retention challenges and help you find the best solutions.

Get in Touch with an Account Manager

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How Client Demands are Changing Technology & Hiring at Law Firms in 2021

A lot has been learned at law firms in the last year, perhaps the most important being that technology investment and information security are mandatory for keeping clients.

Client Demand

In the age of self-help and easy online access to everything from our bank accounts to our child’s daycare photos, law firms are moving swiftly to provide tools for their clients to efficiently and easily check the status of their case, pay their bills, and stay on top of case details online. Client expectations for these self-help services could now make the difference between securing or losing a prospective client. In response, law firms are making decisions to innovate and help their clients have better control over their legal matters, which in turn has impacted their legal technology hiring needs. Law firms are seeking developers with technical languages and skills that have rarely been needed in the legal niche before. Developers with Python and Tableau are being hired to create user-friendly dashboards and applications to serve the demands of the firm’s clients.

While these technology advancements are important and necessary for keeping clients satisfied with their law firm, they also create new risks and require new safeguards, increasing the need for risk assessment and security engineers. Clients, particularly those in sensitive information industries like healthcare, government, banking and finance, and insurance are demanding more security, information governance, and compliance protocols from their law firms. While this was handled by the CISO in the past, as these requirements grow in volume and complexity, so does the need for dedicated Information Governance Directors and other personnel to manage the information governance process for the firm.

Benefits to the Law Firm

Beyond securing and retaining the valuable business of clients, new technology implementations benefit law firms by giving valuable time back to their attorneys. New developers on law firm technology teams are creating digital dashboards to provide all of the data an attorney needs to speak intelligently with their client at the click of a button. Implementation of these business intelligence and artificial intelligence tools has also created an opening for data scientists to draw data from the firm’s various databases, synthesize, analyze, and then, most importantly, identify how the law firm can leverage it.

Adapting your Hiring Strategy

For many of these roles, hiring managers will need to look to the corporate world for recruitment, and may need to adapt their pay structure to meet candidate expectations. While sign-on bonuses are quite common in the corporate world, they are less common at the law firms we work with. Law firms may need to consider creating a sign-on bonus for these new legal technology roles or offer a slightly higher annual salary in order to attract the best candidates. As workplaces return to or find a new normal, law firms will also need to compete with the remote work-friendly policies and flexible work schedules being offered in the corporate world.

Law firms may also want to consider advancing the careers of their current Legal IT professionals by providing training opportunities. IT support staff could become valuable Business Analysts, using their knowledge and expertise with users to document and help developers successfully program accordingly. Legal IT professionals with backgrounds in information security could also be successful in the information governance field with the right training.  Investing in your current employees can be an excellent way to meet the talent gap for these new technology hiring needs, as well as retain valuable legal technology professionals.

Opportunities for IT Professionals

These changes at law firms also create opportunities for IT professionals to be on the cutting edge of technology in the legal industry. Law firms are looking for:

  • Web and Applications Developers to develop custom in-house software solutions.
  • Business Analysts to design and build sophisticated queries and prediction models and support firm-wide data analytics.
  • Information Security Analysts to ensure security requirements are included in technology-driven projects.
  • Applications Architects to create and implement new portals or to design and develop custom applications.
  • Security Compliance Managers to coordinate vulnerability assessments, penetration tests, and associated remediation activities.
  • Enterprise Applications Engineers to research, develop, implement, and maintain global software solutions.
  • Business Intelligence Analysts to plan, design, install, and configure flexible and reusable data systems or to implement data reporting, data, visualizations, or research projects.

While technologists who have worked outside of the legal niche may have years of experience with the work described above in the corporate world, it’s still relatively new in legal and it’s growing fast. Current legal niche technology professionals also have the opportunity to grow their skillset by pursuing certifications or training based on their law firm’s new staffing needs. These exciting changes at law firms create the opportunity to be one of the leading innovators in legal IT, which can then give you tremendous opportunity for advancing your career.

Technology is always changing, which creates new client expectations, and the need for law firms to adapt accordingly. When it comes to implementing new technologies and innovating to meet your clients’ needs, having the right people on your legal technology team makes all the difference.

If you’re looking to hire IT professionals to meet the demands of your clients, or you’re looking for a technology role in the legal space, contact us today.

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7 Questions to Ask Your CIO To Ensure Legal Technology ROI in 2021

Client expectations and feature requirements for their law firm are higher than ever before. Technologies that allow clients to “self-help” on tasks traditionally executed by their lawyers, or modern communication technology like website chat, video conferencing, and online portals are no longer just a way to differentiate, they might actually be necessary to secure or retain an account.

Investing in and implementing technologies that monitor progress and budgets, improve your knowledge management system, use AI or predictive coding to review documents, and/or help you better manage projects or provide e-learning, can not only make your lawyers more productive, but studies have shown these investments result in better financial performance. After the introduction of eDiscovery many years ago, AI is now transforming how law firms provide legal services when it comes to reviewing litigation, expertise automation, legal research, contract analytics, contract and litigation document creation, and predictive analytics. According to the American Bar Association, “Lawyers of the future will not need to be able to “code,” but they will need an intimate and continuing understanding of how to identify and use AI solutions to meet their clients’ needs.”

Of course, all these investments also come at a cost, and as the executive leader in your firm, it’s up to you and your technology leader to determine if the return on investment is worth it. The ability to make a strong business case for legal technology investments is a key skill for technology leaders. But that’s only half the equation—as the executive leader, you also need to know what questions to ask in order to get at the less tangible aspects of ROI. Here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What can we use to measure quantitative ROI?
In asking this question, you’re essentially assessing whether or not your CIO is taking ROI seriously. You’re probably being pitched an investment with good quantitative ROI if they say they’ll be measuring the cost of the technology investment over the monetary value of the benefits during the number of years they believe the technology will be effective, taking into consideration the probability of success. If they can “show their work” quantitatively, you can be assured that you have an IT department leader who has the best interests of the law firm in mind and has thoughtfully considered the return on investment before coming to you with the request.

2. How will we measure qualitative ROI?
Qualitative or soft ROI are the benefits of technology that can be more challenging to quantify but have high impact on your law firm. They can include:

  • Improving operations
  • Boosting employee morale
  • Enhancing employee retention
  • Serving as a recruiting tool
  • Making your attorneys or Legal IT team more effective
  • Enhancing your customer or client experience
  • Making you more competitive in the marketplace

The more boxes you check when running through the list, the better ROI you’re likely to get from the technology investment. However, if your CIO is claiming the technology will benefit one or more of these areas, it’s a good idea to ask them how they plan on measuring that benefit. How will effectiveness be measured? How will the client experience be improved, and is there a way to prove it via surveys or other methods? What is the data or evidence your CIO is using to assert that these qualitative measurements of ROI will likely be achieved through this technology investment?

3. How much time will it save us?
As the executive leader of a law firm, we know you’ll never underestimate the value of time. A technology investment might be able to make your files more accessible or increase download speeds from the cloud. It could protect you from server downtime or help your litigation support team search files faster. Whatever the technology implementation may be, asking your law firm’s technology leader how much time it will save your lawyers or other team members is a great way to identify ROI upfront. For best practice, use time-tracking to actually measure the time savings of the technology investment. That way, if a partner or member from the executive committee questions the value of that technology, you and your technology leader have data to back you up.

4. How much money will it save us?
Of equal importance is whether or not it will save your law firm money, and if so, when. Technology always costs money, especially if you are doing a firm-wide implementation. You’ll want to know the cost versus benefit upfront. But you’re also asking your information technology leader if it will save the firm money in the long term, and if so, how much money over how long of a term. With efficiency at top value at law firms, time is money for your lawyers, so be sure to include any time they save in your cost analysis.

5. When would you anticipate seeing ROI? or How long can I expect it to be before we see ROI on this technology?
Some ROI might be evident immediately, but most often it will take some time before the effects of the technology implementation are realized. Asking this question simply gets you and your CTO or IT Director on the same page and may give you an outline of the project timeline as well. By gaining at least a vague picture of the kind of ROI your technology leader expects, you are able to make a more informed decision. Agreeing on a timeline for results has the added benefit of being able to set expectations for the whole executive committee, and if necessary, gives you a message to communicate to lawyers who might complain that it seems like a waste of money.

6. What’s the risk associated with this technology implementation?
Any new technology comes with some amount of risk associated with it, but planning well can significantly help mitigate the risk. If you’re hit with a crisis unexpectedly, you’ll lose dollars and time trying to fix it. The answer to this question will help you be aware of the risks upfront and plan for ways to avoid them. It also provides you with an appropriate counterbalance to the benefits of the suggested technology investment, which you can calculate into your ROI analysis.

7. Are there other technology investments that are a higher priority?
While this question doesn’t have direct bearing on ROI, technology moves at such a fast pace that it’s important to evaluate which technologies need to be implemented when. Most likely your technology leader has a whole string of technologies they want to implement, with strong cases for the benefits of each for the law firm. A good technology leader will be able to prioritize effectively to make the most of your resources. Hearing about the other technologies on the docket also helps you speak to the priorities of the law firm if your technology leader has not already been a part of those discussions.

 

Whether your technology leader is pitching an investment in AI, security, or knowledge management, their ability to explain the value of the proposed technology is essential. Asking these tangible questions about the return on investment is your first step toward your decision on implementing a new technology for your firm. With these 7 questions in mind, you’re bound to make the right choice, and because you’re meeting client demand, you’ll benefit from the efficiency, cost savings, and soft ROI that legal technology can bring to your law firm.

If you’d like more advice on analyzing the ROI of technology or are looking for a new CIO, CKO, or IT Director to join your team, contact us today.

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You may also enjoy:
How to Align Your Technology Department to Your Law Firm’s Strategic Plan

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3 Ways For Legal Tech Pros to Succeed at Interviewing Your Interviewer in 2021

3 Tips for Answering "Any Questions for Me?"Don’t be fooled when your interviewer turns the tables, usually near the end of the interview, with an innocent “do you have any questions for me?” Your questions, or lack thereof, will be used to analyze at least three things: 1) Did you research the law firm? 2) Did you listen effectively in the interview? 3) Do you want this role?

This important opportunity to ask questions is often used to assess your eligibility for the job, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to assess the firm and your potential manager. Making a career transition is a big deal, so make the most of your chance to evaluate if the role and the law firm are right for you.

We’ve got three ways to stand out and seal the deal while interviewing your interviewer:

1. Show You’re A Culture Fit

Your website emphasized that ___________. What would you say is the most important aspect of your culture?

What are your law firm’s values and how do they play out in the workplace?

I’m really excited you emphasized how important a healthy culture is here. Can you tell me more about what you like about the culture, and how it impacts your day-to-day work?

While “company culture” can often be mistaken for the “perks” a company offers or the personalities and interests of members on the team, it is really about the values a law firm upholds. In asking one of these questions, you demonstrate not only a desire to align your values with that of the organization, you also show that it’s a top priority for you to be at a law firm that has great values and has woven those into their culture.

Increasingly, employers are embracing the concept that having the correct people on their team, from a culture fit perspective especially, may be the most important thing for their success. The surest test for how committed a company is to upholding their values and building a strong culture, is how hiring managers and employees talk about it. Once you’ve heard what they share, be sure to relate to their response and express how you share those values as well.

2. Show You’re Ready to Make an Impact

What challenges is the law firm or legal tech department facing that someone in this new position could help overcome?

What technology or soft skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire? 

What personal characteristics do you think would be ideal for someone in this position?

Most law firms are looking for legal IT professionals who are ready to take on challenges and get results. By identifying the law firm’s challenges—and how you can help alleviate them—you show your potential employer that you don’t just want a job, you want to make an impact on the legal tech department and the firm.

These questions also have the added benefit of giving you a clear window into where the team stands today, why the tech team is hiring, and what managers value in their legal technology employees. Asking about the qualities a candidate needs to do this job well demonstrates your desire to understand how you as an individual can uniquely contribute to the organization beyond the job description. In addition, your interviewer may realize that the person they just described sounds a lot like you!

3. Show You’re Results-Oriented

If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priorities on my to-do list?

What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 60 or 90 days?

What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?

One of the most essential things you can do in an interview is gain an understanding of what the job is actually like, day-to-day. At the same time, you want to show your interviewer that you understand that “a day in the life” is only a part of the equation. By asking about priorities, long-term accomplishments, and how performance is measured, you can get a real feel for the job, while also making it clear that you value planning, prioritization, and being measured on results. In addition, asking these kinds of questions will help you gain insight into your day-to-day work life, while also making it clear that you understand not all tasks are created equal, which is key to success in any position.

“Any Questions for Me?” is usually your last opportunity to impress the interviewer—what you ask matters. The questions should be mutually beneficial: they allow you to make a statement about yourself that helps the interviewer learn more about you and they give you the opportunity to assess if you’re a good fit for the law firm’s IT team.

Go prepared to your next interview with several questions in mind, as the worst thing you can tell an interviewer is that you don’t have any questions. If much of what’s been detailed here has been covered in the interview and you’re willing to be bold, ask: do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? Asking this question means you’re willing to talk about your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and receive coaching, which is highly valued by law firm employers. It also gives you the opportunity to address concerns upfront. Instead of leaving your interviewer ruminating on those hesitations, they’ll be focused on all the reasons you’d be an asset for the technology department.

If you’re looking for your next legal tech opportunity and want personalized interview advice:

Contact one of our IT recruiters today! 

Note: This blog was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to reflect current trends and practices. 

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ESP Legal Releases 2021 Salary Guide

ESP Legal's 2021 Salary Guide for Legal Technology & Litigation/eDiscovery roles

Our 2021 legal technology salary guide presents data gathered and analyzed from a wide range of law firms and includes salaries from ESP Legal’s recent placements as well as national and local research. Due to the pandemic, pay rates remained relatively stagnant in 2020, but with many law firms delivering strong profits, employees will be looking to get pay increases in 2021. 

Law Firm Retention & Hiring Trends in the Midst of a Pandemic

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most law firms initially held onto their technology staff because they needed the support to shift to a virtual work model. As 2020 progressed, some office-related IT roles were eliminated as they were not needed for the remote workforce. Many firms also asked employees to take a temporary reduction in salary. However, as firms saw they were doing well financially—despite the pandemic—many of those pay cuts were removed.

We saw a huge reduction in the number of available candidates in 2020 as job security became the number one concern for candidates. A “passive” job seeker is gainfully employed but open to hearing about opportunities in line with their career goals, but with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, this type of candidate was all but eliminated in 2020, leaving many law firms struggling to fill difficult positions.

Benefits Matter: Flexibility & Remote Work

Benefit offerings appear to have a high influence on passive job seekers, with 52% saying that they would leave their job for one with the “right” benefits. In nationwide surveys, 3 in 5 workers reported wanting to continue working remotely. For law firms to be competitive in 2021, flexibility and remote work options are key.

In our conversations with legal technology and eDiscovery professionals, we’ve heard that most who are looking for new opportunities desire the possibility to work remotely between 60-70% of the time. Increased flexibility in their work schedule is also desired, with work-life balance being a primary concern for professionals in 2021. For years, benefits have been a driving factor for many professionals as they weigh career options; the pandemic has somewhat changed what benefits workers want, as well as solidifying benefits as an important component of the compensation package.

High Demand and Growth Areas

The technology jobs in highest demand for law firms are:

  • Cyber Security Engineers/Analysts
  • Cloud Engineers
  • Business Intelligence Analysts
  • Business Analysts
  • Enterprise Applications Engineers
  • Data Scientists

We are also seeing more demand in the area of Information Governance and Risk, and the use of eDiscovery grew in the remote work conditions of 2020 and early 2021. In addition, several positions within technology have unemployment rates below 2%, including IT Manager, Network Architect, and Software Developer.

With twenty-five years of legal staffing expertise, ESP Legal continues to monitor and analyze hiring trends, including compensation and benefits in this rapidly changing economy in order to best serve you.

View Legal Technology and Litigation/eDiscovery Salary Guide

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How to Find Top Legal Technology Talent during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hiring the best talent is critical to a law firm’s success, and with the increased remote workforce due to COVID-19, you may be questioning how to find the best person for your IT job opening. Finding top IT talent and leadership to support attorneys and staff is an imperative part of any firm’s business strategy.

There are two types of job seekers: an “active” job seeker is someone enthusiastically looking to make a change immediately. They may be unemployed or just eager to move for a variety of reasons. A “passive” job seeker is gainfully employed but open to hear about opportunities in line with their career goals.

In a soft hiring market, like we are experiencing now due to COVID-19, the passive job seeker is more likely to stay in their current role and avoid risks involved with making a change, especially if they are not 100% certain it is the right career move.

While some outstanding legal technology staff have been let go during the pandemic, most firms are doing their best to keep existing IT staff on board to solve new technology challenges caused by remote workers and related data security risks. Vertex Advisors’ Frank Gillman notes “the rapid expansion of the remote workforce has significantly increased the attack surface of corporate networks, creating multiple vulnerabilities for hackers to inflict chaos or to steal sensitive information for profit” and how to address it.

With a limited talent pool of fewer active job seekers in addition to the reduced number of passive job seekers, finding the right legal technology talent is more critical than ever. These four steps can help successfully guide you along the path:

Step 1: What can your firm offer to the candidate?
Most firms are facing some challenges during this unprecedented economy. Make sure to strongly tout any positive information to prospective candidates. Here are some topics worth consideration if applicable:

Financial Stability or Improvement:

  • Strong Q1 & Q2 financials.
  • Partners taking larger pay cuts to ensure staff has had minimal impact.
  • Decrease and/or repayment of pay reductions after a stronger than expected financial performance.
  • Remaining committed to complete important technology initiatives, where this new hire is needed, despite staff reductions in other areas.

Improvement of Employee Benefits and/or Firm Culture:

  • Expanding or modifying remote work policies. For example, according to Law.com, Linklaters is offering a new Agile Working Policy allowing staff and partners to work remotely for 20-50% of the time.
  • Making sure your benefit plan is in line with the competition. If it’s already a better plan than other firms have, don’t be shy about sharing the overview!
  • Providing education and training for staff. IT employees heavily value opportunities to earn certifications and stay up-to-date on technical knowledge.
  • Supporting participation in legal industry events for IT staff. i.e. ILTA
  • Creating social events when people do return to work, such as a coffee barista on Monday mornings, free lunch on Tuesday, or casual Fridays for the next few months. Anything firms can do to alleviate the stress or anxiety of a return to the office can be a positive recruitment tool.

Step 2: Plan with your ideal candidate in mind.
Firm priorities have likely shifted over the last few months. You want to add the right resources to meet those priorities so set the bar high by investing thoughtful, strategic time in dreaming up your ideal fit.

  • Where should this person be located? If the right person is not available in that area is there another viable location worth consideration?
  • Clearly define the job role and craft a detailed working description of the position. Identify what the new hire should accomplish in their first 90, 180, and 365 days working at the firm.
  • Present the draft iteration to key stakeholders for input and make any necessary adjustments.

Finally, don’t forget to consider soft skills or other qualifications you won’t necessarily see highlighted on a technical resume. For instance, what kind of person fits best with your firm’s culture and can bring a more diverse set of skills or experiences?

Step 3: Recruit technology talent with determination
Once you know who you want and what the firm can offer, where will you find this perfect legal IT professional?

When it comes to hiring top talent in a tight pandemic-impacted market, it requires more work at this stage than simply posting the opening on your firm’s website and job boards. Keep in mind the ideal candidate you dreamed up during step 2, may not be actively looking. One place to also search are relevant alumni networks, other law firms, or industry events.

You could do the hard work of scoping out all these options, and the heavy-duty recruiting work that comes along with it, or consider reaching out to an industry-specific staffing firm to share these insights so an account manager can perform those tasks in your stead. Experience counts when searching for talent.

Finally, involve others at the firm in recruitment and hiring processes, and make it clear to candidates they will likely interview with HR representatives, hiring managers, coworkers, stakeholders, and firm partners. Candidates in today’s market want to know they are a cohesive part of the team. Highlighting that point upfront with both candidates and the internal team is a win-win for the firm.

Step 4: Be selective and competitive with offers
As noted previously in step 1, keep expectations high and only screen and interview IT professionals who have the skills required to help the firm succeed. Once the candidate pool has been narrowed, consider the culture fit and soft skill criteria identified in step 2, and seek alignment utilizing third party personality profile testing tools such as DiSC, Predictive Index, CliftonStrengths, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Make sure each prospective candidate feels appreciated and respected throughout the interviewing process. Remember: the candidate will be assessing the firm during this process and weighing all their options given the insecure job market we are experiencing during COVID-19. It is important to be transparent about the interviewing and onboarding processes and the workplace environment.

Finally, once the firm is ready to make an offer to a candidate, be competitive. Though money isn’t everything, put forth a salary and bonus potential that is, at minimum, fair and in accordance with industry standards. Don’t overlook the importance of nontraditional benefits, especially if the firm cannot meet the top candidate’s preferred salary. Consider whether sweetening some work-life balance perks (the number one concern of candidates in the market today) is possible. Perhaps consider more unique and surprising perks, such as pet insurance (one in three Fortune 500 companies now offer this) to stand out from other firms.

The last step of the search for a great legal IT professional should be to conduct a background check as permitted by law. After all, the firm and the new hire should both enter the working arrangement with total confidence.

Though the market for legal technology talent is tight right now, and likely to remain so until things around the world are more settled, firms are not without options. With the right planning, preparation, and recruitment strategy, and a smooth interviewing and hiring process, empty seats can be filled quickly to ensure a firm stays innovative and competitive in an increasingly technical legal environment.

If you’d like to streamline your search for the ideal legal technology candidate and receive additional market and industry hiring insights, our ESP Legal account managers are always happy to help.

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7 Tips To Make The Most of Your Video Interview

During the COVID-19 pandemic, video interviewing has become the standard for law firms and companies alike when it comes to their hiring process. With working from home as the new norm, online interviewing appears to be here to stay. For legal technology professionals interviewing via video poses a few unique challenges and extra preparation.

Here are seven easy tips to prepare you for your next video interview:

1. Check Your Technology
You want to make sure your computer is fully charged and plugged in and that all aspects of your video platform are working, especially the audio and microphone functions. Get familiar with the video platform you are using for your interview, whether it’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans or GoToMeeting, make sure you have downloaded any necessary applications and updated permissions on your device so you don’t run into any last-minute technical issues. Lastly, don’t forget to ensure your wi-fi connection is strong, or if possible, use an Ethernet cable to ensure your connection doesn’t break during the interview.

2. Get Your Lighting Right
One of the more unique challenges of video interviews is your lighting. You want to be easy to see, not shadowed. Take advantage of natural light by setting yourself up near a window, ideally facing the window, or to the left or right of it. Use any lamps you have in the room to your benefit as well; use a softer light aimed toward your face, a backlight to add dimension to your space, and fill lights to balance the light on either side of your body. 

3. Clean Your Space
It’s also very important that your interview space is tidy and distraction-free. Look for clutter and any other potential distractions for your interviewer, including possibly offensive décor, and remove it. That way the interviewer will be focused on your answers rather than your space.

4. Eliminate Technology Distractions
You don’t want to overload your computer or get distracted by an email popping up. Close all programs on your computer except for the video platform you’re using. Print a copy of your resume, as you would for an in-person interview. Turn off your other devices or put them in a different room, you shouldn’t need them during your interview, and a buzz could keep you from hearing a question or answering well.

5. Dress to Impress
As with any interview, dressing professionally is very important. But when it comes to video interviewing, you should also consider what looks best on screen: avoid patterns and wear neutral colors. Don’t only consider your torso-make sure all of you is dressed to impress so if you need to stand up for some reason, you’re not embarrassed by your sweat pants.

6. Chat Professionally
Your user name on the video platform also creates an impression so you may want to create a new one just for interviewing. Upgrade your user name to something professional and make sure to use a professional-looking picture as well.

7. Consider Your Nonverbals
Before you start your call, test your distance from the camera, making sure your head and shoulders are visible and that your occasional hand gestures could be seen. Imagine you’re sitting across from your interviewer and gauge the appropriate distance accordingly. You should also practice greeting your interviewer with a confident and friendly smile for a great start to your video interview.

Preparation is key to interview success, and it’s no different when it comes to video interviews. By making sure both your space and your own appearance are optimized for video interviewing, you increase your chances of getting a second interview and landing a great legal tech opportunity.

Our IT recruiters would love to be your career advisor. For personalized interviewing advice and resume recommendations:

Contact Us 

Note: This blog was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to reflect current trends and practices. 

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Look Before You Leap: Career Advice for Legal Technology Pros

Career advice to help legal technology professionals decide whether they should leave their jobs.As a recruitment firm, we’re big believers in making career moves that help you advance and achieve greater job satisfaction. We’ve also warned about the risks associated with taking a counteroffer. But there’s a third option, one that happens before either the job seeking or counteroffer stage—evaluating whether or not you should leave your law firm or legal technology department in the first place.

This is an important starting point—and one you shouldn’t race over. Before making the leap to leave your legal tech job, consider the following five areas of opportunity at your current place of employment.

1. Compensation: Can You Earn A Competitive Salary?

There are several publications that offer salary information for the legal industry. For example, the Association of Legal Administrators, the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), and ESP Legal all publish free salary guides revealing average technology and litigation support compensation trends. Peruse these guides and see where you land. Are you being paid a competitive salary given the size and location of your firm, the other benefits (such as health insurance) provided to you, and your years of experience in the industry?

If you feel you are being underpaid, can you meet with your manager and share your concern? Without mounting a case against anyone or threatening to leave, present the market information and salary statistics you’ve discovered to support your claim that your wages fall below average. Then, give you firm a chance to consider and respond. Many firms will try to adjust to bring you in line with market standards—but you may have to wait until your next review.

2. Career Growth: Can You Advance and Reach Your Goals?

Talk with your manager and ask what opportunities your firm has for advancement—and what steps you can take to ensure you’re on the right track for long-term growth. Your desire to move up the ladder should go hand in hand with your desire to learn, so during this conversation, ask your supervisor for ongoing guidance as a mentor and find out what other training and educational benefits your firm provides. Educational reimbursement, for example, could help you earn your college degree or MBA or even a certain technical certification. All of these actions will enhance your skill growth and make you a better internal candidate to promote.

Sometimes, there are no avenues for upward mobility within your department and you need to look outside of your organization. But even then, one of the hardest career moves to make is to get hired as a manager without any management experience. So again, look to your current employer to gain further experience before you try making a leap. Ask to lead a project or mentor the junior staff. Who knows—maybe showing that initiative will get you a promotion after all.

3. Work-Life Balance: Do You Have Job Flexibility and Healthy Work Boundaries?

The hours you put in—and are expected to put in—whether or not you take work home or are always “on call,” your commute, and your ability to work remotely or flex your time are all important considerations when it comes to long-term job satisfaction. Some things—like your commute—may not be adjustable . . . but things like your ability to work remotely certainly could be.

Talk with your firm about your schedule and see if you can realign some of your tasks and/or working arrangements to better suit your at-home needs. Start small—for example, delegating one project or beginning to work remotely on a trial basis once a week and extending that to two or three days a week over time if the arrangement is serving the best interests of both you and your firm.

4. Benefits: Do the Perks Round Out Your Employment Package?

Sometimes a firm can’t give you a salary increase but can give you a bigger bonus or increase your paid vacation time as an incentive. In addition to flexible work arrangements, medical benefits, and education reimbursement (all of which we’ve already mentioned), profit sharing, stock options, PTO, 401(k) plans, HSAs, childcare assistance, pet insurance, student loan forgiveness, and other smaller in-office perks are part of the “package” your firm has to offer, and they should be considered as a collective whole along with your salary when assessing the fairness of your compensation plan.

Talk with your manager or HR representative to see what options you might have. And, if you are actively looking for new opportunities, carefully evaluate how changes to these benefits could affect your overall take-home pay.

5. Leadership: Do You Respect and Get Along with the People In Charge?

If you love your job but hate your boss, you already know you’re in a difficult position. Statistics have shown that 75% of turnover can be influenced by managers. We recommend having a heart-to-heart with your boss before reporting any dissatisfactory behavior to HR or higher and also before making a career change. Your boss may not know how you and others feel and may be open to changing the behavior and your interactions in a way that better suits your work style. Don’t you always appreciate when someone comes to you to try to work out a problem instead of going behind your back? Who knows—when your boss sees you as a straight shooter and someone who is trustworthy, your relationship may improve more than you could have ever imagined!

If, however, your boss won’t hear you out, doesn’t change the behavior, and is creating a negative working environment for you and others—it’s time to seek a new opportunity. You can go to HR, but they will likely already be aware of the situation, and your conversation may not result in a change. What’s worse, HR will need to inform your boss of your report, which could make your life even more miserable. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of avoiding the leap but knowing when the time is right to make it.

 

There’s not always a way to advance your career and increase your financial earnings without exploring new job opportunities. If you’ve thought through these five areas and have come to that conclusion, let us know—we’re always here to help you find your best legal technology fit. But if you see untapped areas of opportunity where you’re currently working, we hope you will take some steps to improve your job situation and grow where you’re already planted.

The key to taking a leap and landing on your feet is intentionality. Whatever you decide, move forward with confidence until you reach your full potential.

Ready to take the leap? Our ESP Legal technical recruiters will help you speed up the process and land somewhere that aligns with your needs in all of these areas.

Get in Touch with a Recruiter

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