How to Snag Top Legal Tech Talent in a Tight Market

Tips to snag top legal tech talent in a tight market

Hiring the best talent is critical to a law firm’s success, and because technology and security are more important than ever in the legal industry, finding top IT talent to support your attorneys and staff is an imperative part of that hiring equation.

The thing is . . . you’re not the only firm looking to find a great fit for a legal tech role. According to a recent survey, approximately 50% of firms and legal departments may be looking to do the same. But that doesn’t mean you should settle for a mediocre IT candidate. These three steps can help guide you along the path to finding the legal tech talent you need—even in a tight market.

Step 1: Plan with Your Ideal Candidate in Mind

If you start your search for a new tech candidate with low expectations, you may just get what you planned for. Instead, set the bar high by investing thoughtful, strategic time in dreaming up your ideal fit. Clearly define the role and craft a detailed working description of the job or contract position. Identify what the person should accomplish in his or her first 90, 180, and 365 days working for your firm. Then, present this to your stakeholders for input on their needs and make any necessary adjustments.

And don’t forget to consider soft skills and other qualifications you won’t necessarily see highlighted on a technical resume. For instance, what kind of person would fit in best with your firm’s culture—both in terms of similarities and perhaps needed differences that would bring your team a more diverse set of skills and experiences?

Once you know who you’re looking for, determine what your firm has to offer that person. Consider things such as:

  • What differentiates your company?
  • What salary budget range do you have to work with?
  • What benefits do you have to offer (think: healthcare, health savings accounts, short-term disability, life insurance, profit sharing, retirement plan contributions)?
  • Are those benefits competitive with the market today?
  • What soft perks might you be able or willing to negotiate (think: flex time, remote work, paid training or other further education, and in-office perks)?

Rather than feeling intimidated by the tight legal tech job market, remember that your firm has a lot to offer—and don’t forget to highlight those things during steps 2 and 3!

Step 2: Recruit Tech Talent with Determination

You’ve got the who and what down. Now the question is: where will you find this legal IT pro of your dreams?

When it comes to hiring top talent in a tight market, you have to put in more work at this stage than simply posting the opening on your website and job boards. Keeping in mind the ideal candidate you dreamed up during step 1, consider where you may find this person. Are there certain alumni networks, other firms, or events that he or she may be a part of? You could do the hard work of scoping out these options and doing some recruiting work yourself, or you may consider reaching out to an industry-specific staffing firm and sharing these insights so an account manager can start scoping out your market for you.

Whichever option you choose, your recruitment strategy should also include networking and relevant promotion of the opportunity. You may consider posting the opening on industry-specific job boards such as ILTA or ALA, or simply searching those boards for creative leads on your next great hire.

Finally, involve others at your firm in the recruitment and hiring process, and make it clear to candidates that they may interview with HR representatives, the hiring manager, coworkers, stakeholders, and firm partners. Candidates in today’s market want to know that they are a cohesive part of your team, and being clear on this upfront with both candidates and your team internally is a win-win.

Step 3: Be Choosy in Your Selection and Competitive in Your Offer

Though you should have a clear timeline for the interview and hiring process (both internally and one that you can communicate to candidates), as with step 1, keep your expectations high and only screen and interview IT pros who have the skills required to help your firm succeed. Then, once you’ve narrowed the pool a bit, consider the culture fit and soft skill criteria you identified in step 1, and seek alignment by utilizing third party personality profile testing tools such as DiSC, Predictive Index, CliftonStrengths, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Make sure each of your prospective candidates feels appreciated and respected throughout the interviewing process. Remember: while you’re the one doing the interviewing, your interviewees will likely be assessing your firm as well and weighing all of their options given the hot job market. So, it’s important that you are transparent about the interviewing and onboarding processes and your workplace environment, that you’re clear about the kind of professional experience you’re looking for, and that you recognize top tech talent for their skills and accomplishments.

Finally, when you’re 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. And don’t overlook the importance of nontraditional benefits, especially if you’re not able to meet the preferred salary of your top candidate. Consider whether you can sweeten some of your work-life balance perks (the number one concern of candidates in the market today) from what you originally proposed. Or maybe throw in a more unique and surprising perk, such as pet insurance (one in three Fortune 500 companies now offer this) to stand out from other firms.

Your last step of the search for a great legal IT pro should be to conduct a background check as permitted by law. After all, you’ve made it this far—you and your new hire should both be able to enter into the working arrangement with total confidence.

 

Though the market for legal tech talent is tight, your firm is not without options. With the right planning, preparation, and recruitment strategy, and a smooth interviewing and hiring process, you can fill your empty seat quickly and ensure your firm stays innovative and competitive in an increasingly technical legal environment.

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

Start Your Hiring Search Today

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ESP Legal Releases 2019 Salary Guide

ESP Legal 2019 Technology and Litigation Salary GuideOur 2019 salary guides present 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.

A Hot Job Market for Tech Staff at Law Firms

In 2018, we reported that 70% of CIOs planned to increase their technology workforce. This year that number has gone up even further—with a projected 75% of companies planning to increase the number of full-time IT employees on their teams, according to the Society for Information Management’s 2019 IT Trends Study. In the legal marketplace specifically, we’ve seen an increase in demand for technology staff, which we anticipate will continue to grow. Help desk, desktop support, security engineer and system and network engineer positions remain in-demand amidst growing security concerns for law firms.

With this high demand has come increased compensation: those holding technology positions at law firms received salary increases of minimally 2% across the board, with application programmers seeing the biggest increase at 10%. Other hot job titles in 2018 included director of KM, CIO/CTO and IT manager.

Work-Life Balance and Benefits Are More Important Than Ever

Candidates continue to express higher interest in better work-life balance, including having the option to work remotely at least part time. Additionally, opportunities for growth including paid trainings and clearly defined career paths remain important. To attract and retain top talent you may need to focus on adding to your offerings or highlighting those you have in the recruitment and interview process—particularly if you’re unable to compete financially with larger firms.

 

With over twenty-three 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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Our Top 7 Recommendations To Help You Hire And Retain Legal Professionals

Tips for hiring and retaining legal pros in 2018As you plan for the year ahead you might be aiming to make your hiring process more efficient, hoping to implement new employee retention initiatives, or analyzing your upcoming projects to identify your hiring needs. Whatever particular challenges you might be facing, 2018 is brimming with opportunities, and our team of experts at ESP Legal has put together these recommendations so you’ll be primed to take advantage of them.

Our Best Advice for Law Firm Hiring Managers in 2018:

1. Make or Promote A Remote Work Policy:

To recruit and maintain the best possible legal talent, make 2018 the year you evaluate your remote work policies. One of the major factors considered by candidates looking to make a career change is their ability to do their work remotely, either regularly or occasionally. If you already have a flexible policy, promote it with prospective hires. If you don’t, consider offering it as a perk to your new hires after they’ve proven themselves and as a reward to employees you are looking to retain. While not all positions allow for frequent remote work, with a structure in place to measure performance, many roles can be successfully executed through telecommuting.

2. Know the Legal Hiring Market:

It’s tight. Unemployment for educated legal professionals and technologists with legal experience is exceptionally low. If you’re looking to hire in the new year, it’s essential that you make yourself aware of what’s realistic to expect from both a skill set and compensation standpoint and draw up your job requirements accordingly.

3. Give Feedback:

If you’re working with a staffing firm, providing feedback in a timely manner is essential. It will help you get the best fit possible by helping your recruiter address concerns, adjust search efforts, and keep your favorite candidate warm while you work through your process. If you’re not working with a firm, feedback is just as important. Acknowledging a thank you note or informing a candidate of your next steps can keep them from losing interest or developing negative feelings about you or your firm.

4. Research Compensation:

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 for technology, litigation support, and attorney compensation trends. If you are not able to offer a competitive salary as compared to your peers, think strategically about how you can offset this with better benefits, opportunity to grow and learn, and some flexibility in work schedule, and be prepared to sell these advantages to prospective hires.

5. Share Medical Benefits During the Process:

The cost of medical coverage can vary drastically from one firm to the next and can be a big factor for job seekers. If you’re working with a recruitment firm, share medical cost information with your recruiters. We have seen far too many candidates turn down an offer at the last minute because they’ve realized their out of pocket medical expense combined with the salary offered resulted in a decrease in their total compensation. By providing these medical costs in advance, or at least during negotiations, you’ll save yourself time and get the candidate you want.

6. Outsource your Hiring:

We know this may sound self-serving, but many of our clients historically hadn’t used recruiters before 2017 or tried to fill a position without help before sending it to us first, and after working with us have shared their regrets over the time they wasted. By engaging a trusted recruitment firm immediately when a need arises, you’ll get a great candidate on board fast, and minimize effort on your part.

7. Interview Efficiently:

In every area of legal hiring, candidates are in high demand and usually have several irons in the fire. When there are delays in the process, your internal hiring team can become forgetful or distracted and worse, your top candidate may lose interest in you or accept another opportunity before you’ve even prepared to make an offer. Line up all your qualified candidates and interview them in blocks of time over a few days or a week vs. one by one over several weeks. Then schedule internal debriefs with your team so you can compare candidates and make an offer to your top choice as soon as possible. Streamlining and expediting your interview process in these ways can help you make the best hire.

If you’re a hiring manager or department head at a law firm, we hope these recommendations have given you some good ideas and will help make 2018 your most successful year yet. If you’re looking for more personalized advice, our account managers would be thrilled to discuss your unique challenges and help you find the best solutions.

Get in touch

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4 Tips for Attracting & Retaining Legal Tech Millennials

how to attract and retain millennial legal IT pros

It’s traditionally acknowledged that the legal industry can be a bit conservative when it comes to technological adoption. A few other stereotypes might be that law firms aren’t much fun and aren’t great for work life balance. Of course, not all law firms are the same, but if any or all of these things ring true for your firm, it could be a huge problem for firms looking to hire the best legal technology talent, especially the youngest generation in the workforce. Luckily, there are a few simple modifications you can make (and one complicated one) that could significantly increase your ability to attract and retain millennials (or Gen Y) for your law firm’s IT department.

Tip #1: Adoption of Latest Technologies

One thing that truly sets this youngest generation of workforce professionals apart is their fluency in technology. The technological revolution and social media have had significant impacts on Gen Y and as a result their expectations are set high when it comes to technological adoption in the workplace.

This can cause a number of problems for law firms. First, all millennial employees have high technology expectations, from attorneys, to paralegals, to the technology professionals themselves. Legal technology departments need to be able to provide great technology solutions for their entire firm. Second, millennial technology professionals are always looking to work in the latest, most exciting technologies, from both a technical language and methodology perspective. To attract these millennial legal IT employees—and retain them—law firms should be looking for ways to start to adopt new technologies more quickly.

Admittedly, this is complicated, and for large law firms in particular, it could take quite a bit of time and effort to implement a large-scale change to agile methodology, or the latest coding language. However, if you’re able to make some changes and speed up your tech-adoption, it could go along way toward attracting, and even more importantly, keeping millennials on your IT team.

One great way to do this is to tap into the millennials you already have on your team. Ask them which tools and technologies they’d like to work with, and go ahead and make them a project leader when it comes time to research and implement. They’ll appreciate the trust you’ve put in them and the extra responsibility you’ve given them. Which leads us to Tip #2.

Tip #2: Mentorship and Advancement

One of the biggest drivers for Gen Y is the ability to contribute to an organization. They want to get better and have more and more impact as time goes along. Throughout their upbringing, millennials have been trained to expect personalized feedback about their work, and most of them truly want this feedback to improve, not just to get a pat on the back. That doesn’t mean they want to be micro-managed, but they do want to be mentored and coached. However, mentors and managers need to be aware that for them, that means talking about goals and objectives, rather than how something has been or should be done.

A large majority of millennials desire to be leaders, but according to a Deloitte Survey of 7,700 millennials, 64% feel these skills are not being developed and only 28% of millennials feel their skills are being fully utilized. These stats demonstrate the vast opportunity legal tech departments have to tap into the talent they already have and to build loyalty to the law firm. In addition, “they are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture (76%) rather than a more authoritarian, rules-based approach (49%).”

By providing your legal tech professionals with tangible feedback, training, appreciation, and career-advancement opportunities, you’ll give your law firm the best chance possible of retaining these up-and-coming technology professionals. To attract them in the first place, make sure to take them through the career path opportunities you have available at your law firm, and layout how people have been successful moving up in the past. You may also want to highlight your law firm’s management philosophy and review processes.

Tip #3: Work-life Balance & Flexibility

This generation grew up with (mostly) both parents working. While many millennials acknowledge the opportunities this provided them, it also created negative feelings about the lack of work-life balance their parents seemed to have. In other words, flexibility is very important to millennials. Whether that means spending more time with their families, or with friends, it’s a high priority for Gen Y to have work-life balance in their lives.

This doesn’t mean they don’t want to work hard, but they do want flexibility to work whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. According to the Deloitte Survey, 88% of millennials wish they could have more flexibility to start and finish their work days at times they choose. 77% wish to have greater mobile connectivity and 75% would like to be able to start working, or more frequently work, from home or other locations they feel more productive. This could in part be in response to recent backlash over open work spaces and the difficulties they cause for productivity, but it also likely has a lot to do with the work styles they become accustomed to during college working on their laptops anywhere they liked.

It isn’t too hard to put accountabilities in place so that you can provide them with the convenience of telecommuting and you might be surprised at the extra commitment to the firm that this flexibility generates. While law firms do have some extra information security concerns to be cognizant of when allowing for this flexibility, for your attorneys and legal tech pros alike, a little goes a long way when it comes to work-life balance.

Tip #4: Shared Values

For Gen Y, work is about much more than getting a paycheck. According to Deloitte, “Millennials want to contribute to the positive impact they believe businesses have on society, but in doing so, they wish to stay true to their personal values.” If you haven’t done so already, find out what your millennials value and if possible, incorporate them into your company culture. Then promote these values when you interview millennials and give them an opportunity to say, “I care about that too!”

Providing opportunities for tech pros to give back has proven a great selling point for many companies. This might take the form of “hackathons” or pro-bono work your tech team can be a part of. You could allow for a set number of volunteer hours a year your employees can partake in during work hours that don’t cost against their PTO, or arrange for all-company (or department) volunteer events. Knowing that a company gives back to their community and encourages their employees to do the same is very attractive to the millennial generation.

Meaningful work is also important to Gen Y, and while they understand the necessity of profit and a firm’s financial stability, they most often look for firms that put people, especially their employees, first. Legal tech pros want to work for law firms with a mission they can get behind, and it usually isn’t about sales. When millennial employees are aligned to your law firm’s values, they are much more likely to join and stay loyal to your firm.

Conclusion:

The latest college graduates will be filtering into the job market this summer, but Gen Y already make up over 60% of the workforce. While the 90s born and 80s born millennials have quite a few distinctions between them, very few millennials of either kind prefer to be labeled as such, mostly because of the prevailing attitudes from older generations that millennials are lazy, disloyal, and entitled. Those labels may fit for some millennials, but many studies suggest that it is no truer of this generation of 20 and 30-somethings, than it was of their predecessors. In other words, all young professionals have room to grow when it comes to entering the workforce, no matter what generation they are a part of.

As millennials have matured, and become parents and leaders within law firms, some of their values have changed. However, much of what they’ve become known for still rings true: they seek work/life balance, professional advancement, development, and recognition, and want to work for organizations that share their own personal values.

At your fingertips, most law firms have millennials who have grown up with technology impacting their day-to-day life. Now too, many law firms have millennials in leadership roles, and as their clients, which comes with expectations for more technology-assisted processes. If you’re still ignoring millennials or griping about how they are “lazy and entitled”, it’s time for a change. It’s time to discover how you can make the most of your Gen Y technology employees and find success for many years to come.

Are you looking to add more millennials to your tech team, or want more advice on how to make your firm more attractive to them?

Contact us to get started 

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The Costs of Hiring and Not Hiring Legal IT Pros

What it costs to hire IT for law firmsAs you’re well aware, the process of hiring a new legal tech employee can be strenuous. The hours and effort put into finding a replacement can wear you out. However, there is another burden that is quite literally more costly. It can essentially be broken down into two parts: the cost of being without an employee and the cost of hiring. Although some employee turnover can’t be helped, it is very expensive, so it is important that your action plan for bringing a new employee on board is as cost effective as possible.

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 choice?

The Financial Impact of Being Without an Employee

More often than not, law firms are overly concerned with hiring the “perfect” employee. They are passing over the smart, capable legal tech candidates one after another, because they may initially be lacking a certain skill, that often, could be quickly learned. Meanwhile they are losing money the longer they go without someone in that critical role.

Costs to consider:

  • The cost of the person(s) who fills in while the position is vacant, or the employee that steps up to perform that vacant job and has to work overtime.
  • The cost of lost productivity. If that position is completely vacant that’s 100% productivity lost for as long as you’re without someone.

Keep in mind, that while most roles are critical to some degree, when you’re looking for a c-level hire like a CIO or CTO, the cost of being without that individual is even higher. This person sets the direction for your information technology department and must be aligned to your other departments as well. Getting the right person on board, is extra important, but being without for too long could do damage to your law firm.

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. There have been several articles recently discussing the ‘good investment’ of hiring a staffing firm to help with your search. Not only can a recruitment firm do the legwork (so you can stay focused on your workload and priorities), they also may be better connected to the legal technology professionals you want to work with and they’ll go after passive candidates, something you’re unlikely to have the time to do on your own.

For a c-level or director-level opening, a retained search may be your best option. You can get dedicated efforts from seasoned executive recruiters, specialized in the legal technology niche. Your firm should 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.

While some aspects of the hiring process can’t be helped, you can control the amount of time you invest in the hiring process by making a good investment in a staffing firm and being willing to recognize good talent when they walk through the door.

Learn more about our:

Retained IT Executive Search Services

Legal Technology Staffing Services

Litigation Support Staffing Services

Attorney Staffing Services

 

Note: this article was originally published in 2013. It has been updated to reflect current market trends and practices. 

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Telecommuting – It’s Good for Employers in the Legal Tech Niche

3 Reasons Remote Work is a Great for Legal Tech EmployersToday, technology has connected us in powerful ways. With smart phones in our hands, we literally have the world at our fingertips – especially when it comes to business. We take conference calls on the road, check and send emails at lunch, and remain available even when traveling. In a way, we are always reachable, and expected to be so.

With this expectation, many of us are already working remotely throughout the workweek. Yet, some law firms are still skeptical about integrating telecommuting into their business and hiring models. Well, as we are on the heels of a new year, it’s time to face the fact; telecommuting is here to stay. But don’t worry – telecommuting is beneficial to the employer, too.

Hire the Best Talent

When it comes to finding and hiring the best talent, the option of telecommuting greatly opens the talent pool. For starters, you can say goodbye to geographical limitations and hello to the perfect candidate.

As law firms begin their candidate search, from Attorneys and Secretaries to IT Managers and Programmers, they know they need top talent to compete in a competitive marketplace. However, not many law firms know they should be seeking out candidates with telecommuting in mind, in order to obtain that top talent.

As the worlds of tech and legal meet, this becomes an issue, since the tech industry has long embraced remote workers. According to a Monster article, “The tech industry is well known for its flexible schedules and telecommuting opportunities. Which makes sense considering most tech companies are web based and that technology is the greatest resource when working from home. With video chats, conference calls, VPN networks, and wireless internet, we can constantly stay connected as though we were sitting in our office rather than at home.”

So, what does this mean for legal? The best tech talent has already experienced the luxury of telecommuting, and furthermore, they’ve come to expect it.

The nature of IT is very demanding because technology can fail anytime, and therefore support is needed at all hours. Fewer on-site IT resources are necessary thanks to programs like GotoAssist and TeamViewer where connecting to the PC remotely can solve most problems. Support centers are already operating like this, so why wouldn’t you? Denying the option of telecommuting could prohibit your firm from acquiring the best talent.

Enhanced Productivity

Remote Workers are Happier and More ProductiveThink that working from home causes more distractions and less productivity? Think again. Research indicates that employees use their time more efficiently at home. One potential reason being that more distractions are present in the workplace. In a study conducted by Stanford professor, Nick Bloom, the benefits of working from home were evaluated. The results revealed that home workers were more productive, made more work calls, took shorter breaks and less sick days, and best of all, reported being happier than their counterpart office workers.

Happier Employees, Better Retention, and More Money

Working from home offers the employee many reasons to be happy: no commute time, a flexible schedule, less company politics, healthier at-home lunch options, and more. According to a study by communication researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, teleworkers experience lower amount of stress and less distractions, and therefore report beingmore satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates.”

Bloom explains that employee happiness in working where they desire to, whether at home or in the office, is crucial to employee retention. Retaining quality staff will save the company recruitment, training, and loss of productivity expenses. If tech issues remain unresolved for long periods of time due to short staffing, your company becomes at risk for dissatisfied high-level staff and missed deadlines.

Cost benefits also include reduced office space and other office fees. Telecommuting requires that the employee use their own furniture, electricity, and other utilities, therefore saving the company money. An estimated $2,000 per employee could be saved each year on office expenses, Bloom finds.

When it comes to your firm’s bottom line you might want consider hiring a remote worker. Of course, telecommuting is not for every personality type, but it can certainly be used as a great employee retention and top-talent recruiting tool.

If you are looking to work remotely, or to hire a remote worker contact us for current openings at careers@esp-ca.com or 949.753.7575. ESP Legal focuses exclusively on matching top legal technology, litigation, and attorney talent with the best law firm opportunities.

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