Finding an A-Player Paralegal

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The last substantive article we published focused on maximizing paralegal support.  It was written on the pretense that you already have, or are getting ready to start using, a paralegal.  But what if you do not yet have a paralegal and are concerned about finding good paralegal support?

Well, I may have found the answer.  While attending an amazing business seminar by Mike Michalowicz and Donna Leyens, I was thrilled to find that the discussion included the topic of finding great employees – something I struggled with myself as my own business began to grow.  After a few conversations with attorneys who were having difficulty finding good support, I decided to share my newfound wisdom so that others may hopefully benefit, as well.

One housekeeping note about this series: Paralegal Support 101 provides attorneys with information about both the paralegal profession and paralegal support services.  To provide complete information, you’ll find reference to both paralegal employees and paralegal services throughout the series, so that you have information you can apply in either situation.  Now, without further adieu, let’s get started.

Traditional search techniques

Many employment descriptions identify the tasks an incumbent must be able to perform.  Some [more thorough] descriptions include tasks as well as qualities, such as “detail-oriented.”  What I learned from Mike and Donna is that natural traits and qualities are the foundation of good support – not necessarily task ability.  The way we’ve traditionally looked for support fails to utilize methods that adequately identify the best fit for our businesses.

Although finding good, engaged support requires only one concept (that of hiring based on traits that complement the job), that concept affects every part of the placement process: from writing the job description to the interview itself.  Generally, we identify the requisite tasks in the job description, and then focus on those tasks during the interview process.  Those interviews can go fairly well.  However, they don’t tell us how good a person is at what they do, or how engaged they are in their job.

Do we struggle to find amazing support this way?  Oftentimes, the answer is yes.  So let’s work together to improve our processes.  The series has been divided into six parts: this introduction, the cost of bad support, identifying needs, the job description, the interview, and making a decision/getting started.

Next time, we’ll look at how much it costs to get and retain good support, and how much it really costs for less-than-good support.  While the numbers floored me, the underlying lesson really hit home.  I’ve always understood that you must pay more if you want the best.  But seeing the numbers in black and white made me realize how inexpensive it is to pay for good support, and how costly it is to have sub-par support.

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