At some point, small and solo law firms will have to deal with hiring or managing a team outside of themselves. While managing staff as a solo attorney presents a unique set of challenges, it is ultimately a sign of success: your business has grown and is thriving. However, time is of the essence: it takes work to build out your team, and you may be banking on time you can’t afford to spend on recruitment, training, and management.

In this blog, we highlight strategies solo attorneys can leverage to ensure that they are able to build out their operations without compromising their efficacy in day-to-day activities. Hiring staff doesn’t have to equate to a temporary reduction in billable hours.

3 Tips for Managing Staff as a Solo Attorney

Hiring In-House vs. Leveraging ALSPs

Before making the decision to hire your team, weigh your options. Does the role you’re hiring for require full-time support? While it may seem best to hire for the positions that you’re looking to manage, utilizing alternative legal services providers may be more effective in terms of cost and time management.

Hiring a full-time employee can be a huge time sink. The recruitment process is broken down into fielding job applications, reading over those applications, and the interview process. This time-intensive process can distract you from your billable work, and doesn’t guarantee immediate results.

Recruiting an employee is only the beginning – once hired, they will need to be trained in on your existing methodologies and systems. Depending on the role that you’re recruiting for, this can range from a matter of hours to ongoing training lasting weeks.

Hiring employees is expensive and challenging – ALSPs offer a range of services that can be deployed as-needed. Recruiting and training comes pre-packaged with alternative legal services, allowing you to leverage them as a plug-and-play solution to staffing needs.

Alternative legal services, such as contract paralegals and virtual receptionists, offer a scalable, simple solution to your issues. They should be considered if:

  • Your workload fluctuates enough not to necessitate a permanent hire
  • You need to scale your operations quickly
  • You do not have the time or resources to hire staff yourself

Setting Expectations and Keeping Accountability

Exiting the pandemic work environment, the American workplace has changed for virtually all professions, lawyers included. As more employees return to the office, it is critical not only to set expectations for behavior for new hires, but existing team members as well.

Are you managing a hybrid legal team? If so, you’ll need to carefully delineate communication requirements, as well as best practices for issues like internet outages and time spent during the work day. These expectations should cover not only time during work hours, but time outside of work. The home office is convenient, but has also pressured workers to operate well outside of their normal business hours.

Setting expectations from day one can significantly mitigate risk and improve performance when managing staff as a solo attorney. On one hand, you’re ensuring that their working hours are spent productively. On the other, clear work boundaries ensure that employees don’t feel overworked, a culprit in high turnover.

With more employees working remotely, it is more important than ever that you have implemented systems to track and monitor their performance, as well as respecting their time outside of the workplace.

Open Communication

When hiring new employees or leveraging ALSPs, keeping open communication channels is essential for aligning goals and ensuring needs on both sides are met. With virtual or remote workers, this issue is even more essential.

Establish systems or routine meetings to communicate needs throughout the week. Whether this is as simple as a daily checkup, or more standardized meetings periodically set throughout a month, checking up on workflow keeps companies aligned. It also ensures that your employees’ needs are being met. Ensure each meeting has an agenda set beforehand, and don’t schedule meetings to be longer than absolutely necessary.

Amata Law Office Suites Makes Managing Staff as a Solo Attorney Easy

Managing staff as a solo attorney can be a tricky business, and often isn’t something taught in law school. Private practices often require the assistance of other team members to manage their daily workload, and without the right systems in place, these tasks can become complicated.

At Amata Law Office Suites, we offer a range of services catered directly to solo and private legal practices. For those looking to build out their team, we offer alternative legal services such as virtual receptionists and contract paralegals that can be deployed and scaled as-needed.

As pandemic restrictions end, it is more important than ever to find systems that work with your legal practice. Contact us today to learn more about how Amata helps support Chicago lawyers with a full range of services.


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