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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How to Make a Great Career Move in a Hot Legal Tech Job Market

Make the right legal tech career moveGreat news for IT pros working in the legal industry: you’re more in demand than ever before. An estimated 75% of companies are planning to increase the number of full-time IT employees on their teams in 2019. And one recent survey revealed more than 50% of firms and legal departments plan to increase their investment in technology in the coming years.

The hot legal tech job market not only means increased job security and higher pay—it also means now is the ideal time to make a move that advances your career. The following five steps will help you leverage your skills and expertise to land your next great fit.

Step 1: Develop a Strategy

Despite the hot job market, when seeking a new opportunity, you still need to do the due diligence required of any job search. Start with an honest assessment of your IT skills: evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and your favorite and least favorite facets of your current role. Then consider how you would like to advance and grow professionally.

Once you’ve honed in on what you’d like to do, consider where you’d like to be doing it. Conduct research to get a sense of the firms you might work for and their reputation in the legal industry. Determine the kind of workplace culture you’re looking for, and see if any of the firms you researched align with your ideal.

Finally, address the how of your job search. Do you have any professional connections at the firms that most pique your interest? Would you prefer to work with an industry expert recruiter who can help you leverage the market and provide the inside scoop on companies and managers? Being intentional about how you plan to take action will help you land an interview faster and propel you toward step 2.

Step 2: Present Yourself Professionally

This step is about highlighting your skills and interest level to your prospective employer and positioning yourself for success down the road during step 5 (hint: it’s all about negotiating).

Here are a few specific tips to help you put your best foot forward from the start to the finish of your job search:

  • Ensure your resume is error free and formatted professionally.
  • Update your technical resume’s content, highlighting any skills that align with the job description requirements listed for the position you are applying for. (Yes, this means you have to tweak your resume each and every time you apply for a new gig).
  • Review and update any virtual professional resources, including your LinkedIn profile and any digital portfolios. And don’t forget to do a quick scan of your personal social media accounts to ensure there isn’t any less-than-professional content to be found!
  • Add additional specific, applicable details about your unique qualifications in your cover letter (which, like your resume, should be error free and formatted professionally). Answer the question: Why are you a good fit for this opportunity, and why do you want to work for this firm?
  • Dress up for your interview (even a video interview) whether or not the firm has a casual dress code. Make sure everything about your appearance is in line with the industry you are working in.

These small but significant choices can make a huge impact on a prospective employer. Plus, when you present yourself professionally, you increase your chances of being heard and taken seriously. Which brings you to . . .

Step 3: Make a Lasting First Impression

Even though your skills are in-demand, you shouldn’t approach your interview with the expectation of being wooed by the law firm. During your conversation, focus on the firm’s needs and how you can assist them—not your needs. You will get a chance to address your needs later in the process.

Show the firm you are informed and prepared by asking thoughtful questions inspired by your research (step 1). But try to keep a 50–50 balance between talking and listening. Be aware of your body language, and show your interviewer that you are interested and engaged by maintaining eye contact.

Come prepared with upbeat, articulate responses to a handful of potential interview questions. ESP Legal’s interviewing tips for job seekers address the three biggest ones: “Tell me about a time when . . .,” “Tell me about yourself,” and “What is your greatest weakness?” Read up to learn what key information your interviewer may be trying to uncover by asking one of these questions, and then spend some time crafting your responses.

When you put in the work and come to your interview prepared, you’ll leave feeling confident. But there’s still one more step for you to take before receiving an offer. 

Step 4: Follow Up

Send a professional follow up email or handwritten note. This is a very important step and should not be overlooked as an empty formality or outdated courtesy.

Your follow-up is an opportunity for you to show you were paying attention by touching on some of the topics discussed in the interview. It’s also a final opportunity for you to remind the firm of your strengths and promote additional qualifications that you may have forgotten to mention during the interview.

Keep the tone of your note positive and professional, and maintain that positivity and professionalism even if you need to wait a while for a response. Remember, you may have been their first—and hopefully best—interview. Filling a role takes time. 

Step 5: Negotiate

If you’ve shined during steps 1–4, chances are you’ll soon be presented with an offer. But you haven’t reached the finish line of the job search process just yet. This is the step where the opportunities afforded to you by the hot job market really come into play.

A quick disclaimer: negotiation is not about upping your financial requirements once you’ve won a firm over. Be honest and up-front with your compensatory expectations prior to the interview so there are no surprises. The only exception to this rule happens when unplanned circumstances create variance, i.e. you just got a raise that was unexpected in your current job or received a competitive offer from another firm.

That said, sometimes a firm will come in below the target salary you presented, and when that happens, you should discuss and consider the other benefits and financial incentives being offered that could offset the difference. These may include perks such as profit sharing, 401(k) matching, a great medical plan, a flexible and/or remote working schedule, and greater vacation allowances and/or PTO.

Finally, keep in mind that sometimes making a career move isn’t about money. Sometimes you’ll move because you’re looking for a different company culture or looking to make a switch to a different tech area of focus. In these cases, be honest with yourself about your decision. Landing an opportunity that offers you the career potential you’re seeking at a great company is often worth a small trade-off financially.

 

In a hot job market, you don’t need to stress about landing a gig simply to pay the bills. You have the freedom to focus on your long-term career goals and make moves to help you achieve them. The only thing standing in your way is you. Get started today, and happy hunting!

If you’d like to streamline your search and receive additional support, our ESP Legal technical recruiters are always here to help:

Get in Touch with a Recruiter

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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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