Asking for an Applicant’s Previous Salary is About to Be History

The Salary History Question: Is it History?

A change to the hiring process has been developing across America within the last 12 months. Currently, 8 states, 6 cities, 2 New York counties, and Puerto Rico have banned employers from asking for a candidate’s salary history, and bills are up for debate in several more states. What has spurred this development? After all, it is certainly understandable that employers have wanted to know this information in order to make informed hiring decisions and minimize costs. But lawmakers and advocates have argued that this common practice traps certain individuals in a cycle of underpayment, especially women, minorities, and people moving from places with lower costs of living. Even if your law firm is not located in a state affected by the recent flurry of laws banning the salary history question, we suggest you consider revisiting your hiring process and eliminate such questions. Here are a few reasons why:

A Unified Policy

If you do business across state lines, including places that have already banned the salary history question, or are near states that have, it will be easiest to have a single policy in place for all of your offices. These laws are quickly being debated and added by more and more states and cities (see complete list at the end of this article), so simply adhering to the stricter laws will help ensure that all of your offices are in compliance, and you will save yourself the headache of having to adjust your policies multiple times. After all, complying with these laws does not simply mean that you can no longer ask for a candidate’s salary history. Violations do carry repercussions, so you will need to train your HR staff and recruiters on what kinds of questions are appropriate and legal for compensation discussions. This approach has already been followed by Google, Facebook, Cisco, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.

A More Accurate Valuation

Asking for someone’s salary history may cause you to undervalue certain candidates due to conditions that have nothing to do with their abilities. As a result, you might lose out on qualified candidates who receive a more competitive offer elsewhere. The goal of these laws is to narrow the pay gaps for women and minorities—if they were underpaid in the past, revealing their salary history puts them at risk for getting underpaid again. Even if their new job actually increases their pay, it will likely still lag behind the standard due to starting from a lower point to begin with. By avoiding the salary history question, law firms can instead focus on paying a candidate a wage determined by their skills and the requirements of the job.

What To Do Instead

Perhaps you’re considering abandoning the salary history question, but are still looking for a way to determine an appropriate salary for a candidate. One option is to simply set a range for the position beforehand and be upfront with the candidate about it. Your scale can account for experience, education, and performance, in order to pay what’s fair. Most of the laws being passed do allow you to discuss salary expectations, which can serve a similar purpose to the salary history question, but leaves the candidate feeling more respected and fairly treated. These strategies will improve your relationship with the candidate and encourage a smooth hiring process.

There are many benefits to complying with the new standards created by these laws, including increased clarity and efficiency for your team during the hiring process, a widened candidate pool, and better candidate relations. In addition, it could help you increase diversity at your law firm, which in turn can improve the bottom line. By adhering to these laws—even if they don’t apply in your state—you make your firm more appealing by empowering your HR department to pay appropriate wages for the position, regardless of an individual’s past pay.

If you’re not sure how to determine fair pay, we’d love to use our knowledge of the legal hiring market to help you out:

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Current statewide bans (date of effect): California (1/1/18), Connecticut (1/1/19), Delaware (12/14/17), Hawaii (1/1/19), Massachusetts (7/1/18), NJ (2/1/18 [public only; but senate passed bill this year for all employers]), Oregon (10/6/17), Vermont (7/1/18), Puerto Rico (3/1/17)

In process:  Florida, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island

Current citywide or county bans (date of effect): Albany County, NY (12/17/17), New York City, NY(10/31/17), Philadelphia, PA (on hold), Westchester County, NY (07/09/18)

Note: additional cities have bans for city offices only.

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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.

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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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