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 in 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 Covid-19, 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 and if already better, don’t be shy in 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, 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 Covid-19 impacted market, it requires more work at this stage than simply posting the opening on the 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 unsecure 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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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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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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