3 Things Every Lawyer Needs To Know Before Hiring An Assistant

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Checklist 3You know you need help in your law practice.

You need an assistant who can help you with practice growth strategies – more than just day-to-day legal client work. But where do you start? How will you find the right person and what will they do once you hire them?

Hiring an assistant can be a very exciting time, but also a very stressful time. Years ago I remember someone saying to me:

“Cindy, I know I need help. I know I need an assistant to help me. But I don’t know what I don’t know. Can an assistant really help me grow my law practice? I have a few ideas of how they can help me, but I’m not really clear on what they can offer me.”

There are 3 very specific things you should know about yourself and your practice before you even consider hiring an assistant. By having a full understanding of these 3 areas, you put yourself in a much greater position to attract the right assistant, hire the right assistant, and have her help you in ways you really want and need (plus you will experience greater return on your investment!)

Before I share these 3 items, let me say that they may appear to be very simple, yet ridiculous things to consider before hiring an assistant. However, let me assure you that when you take the time to clearly identify these pieces, and consider them when going through the hiring process; you are much more likely to find the ‘right’ person.

#1 Know your target market
It may surprise you to know that many lawyers can not powerfully describe their target market. This is hurting your practice and also will hurt in finding the right assistant.

When you are clear on your target market and you can share this information, you will attract people who are interested in your target market and are also passionate about supporting them. You do not want to hire an assistant who has no interest in your core market (i.e. your current and potential clients).

When an assistant is also clear on who you serve and who you want to attract, they can support you endlessly with practice growth activities such as researching potential speaking opportunities and more.

#2 Know your goals and priorities
Your goals and priorities are likely connected to finding more clients and generating more revenue … but how?

What strategies do you want to implement in order to support you in finding more clients? What will you do to support increased revenues? The how is the critical piece to this item.

Your assistant is an implementer. They are not your coach or your business consultant. You can not expect an assistant to tell you how to build your practice. However, what you should be able to expect from a good assistant, is that they will implement the pieces needed to accomplish your how – your priorities and goals.

Perhaps you want to speak more regularly in your local community to support you in connecting with more leads and potential clients. Or you want to make sure your ezine (newsletter) goes out on a more regular basis so you can keep in touch with people in your database. By identifying the HOW and communicating this via your search for an assistant, you are much more likely to find the right person who understands your goals and priorities, is interested in providing this support, and who has the skills you need.

#3 Know your expectations
What does the perfect assistant look like to you? I’m not referring to physical appearances, but more specifically – their personal qualities, skills, location, availability etc. Are you willing to work with someone virtually or do you want someone in house? Do you want them to be knowledgeable in a specific piece of software, or have specific training? Do they need to be available Monday to Friday from 9-5 or are you flexible?

Consider what the perfect assistant ‘looks like’ and make it part of your search. In your job description or postings, include some of these preferred qualities and expectations. It will weed out the people who don’t match them, and grab the attention of others.

Ultimately, the clearer you are in these areas, the easier it will be for you to find the right person to join your practice. If they don’t have every single quality you’re looking for, consider what you need now versus what is needed later and therefore can be learned.

Take the time now to explore these areas and reap the rewards with a skilled, enthusiastic assistant who will help you beyond what you thought may have been possible.

If you’d like some support with your search, as well as strategies for leveraging your assistant’s time without having to define their work or train them in what you need done, you may be interested in our Lawyer (Virtual) Assistant Training program.

About the Contributor
Cindy Greenway
Cindy Greenway specializes in training Paralegals and Virtual Assistants to support lawyers in business growth and revenue generation. She also assists lawyers with identifying and finding the perfect team members for their business.