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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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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