Running a Law Firm | Hiring an Associate Attorney (or other legal help)

by JMF on July 6, 2015

I have reached the point where I could really use some help from another lawyer.

I knew this day would come. It is part of my business plan. Yet, I don’t really know how to hire someone and I am not sure I want to. I can see it being a total disaster. Why would I want to spend time training someone when I don’t have enough time as it is? I also don’t really need the money. I have enough. Yet, it would be really nice to have some help. Someone to rely on. Someone else to answer the calls and meet with clients. I do everything. I am pretty tired.

Pros and Cons of Hiring an Associate

(* Caveat: I don’t know that hiring an associate is a good idea. Maybe it should just be a contract employee, etc. The discussion of independent contractor versus full or part-time associate attorney is too big for this post and I am not going to think about that important delineation yet.)

I figure people like lists and they help to organize my thoughts. Therefore, let us move forward with the pros and cons of hiring someone:

Pros

  • Someone to differ tasks to
  • Someone to answer the phone
  • Someone to meet with clients
  • Someone else to generate revenue
  • Someone to share the experience of running a law practice with
  • Someone to cover you when you go on vacation, get sick, play hooky, etc
  • Someone to share some of the load

Cons

  • They want to be paid
  • They don’t know what they are doing / won’t do it right
  • They don’t do it the way you do it
  • They may not show up
  • You may have to fire them
  • Payroll tax
  • More accounting headache
  • You will likely have to take time to mentor them when you don’t want to
  • They may steal your clients and leave
  • They may just leave and not tell you
  • They may be unethical, lazy, not smart

I am sure there are other points I am missing.

Summary

In a nutshell, I think I really want to hire somebody because I think it would be fun to have a teammate. I also want to mentor somebody. I feel strongly that it is time to do that. Yet, I am also very nervous because I know being an employee is not all that fun. I never liked being an employee. I also really don’t want to manage somebody every single day.

Basically, this was a gather my thoughts post. I will think more about this later and update.

As always, I am signing off with an obligatory “who I am post”. I do this mainly to let people know I am a Minnesota probate attorney who is looking for some help, or, perhaps just a place to vent.

  • Good post and great thoughts. I think the one next step I’d take if I were you would be to weight each one in terms of how they would affect your practice. I’d use a 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 scale. 13 is greatly affect, 1 is little to no affect. Then I’d add those up and see how your decision turns out. For example, some of those cons aren’t that big of a deal, particularly when compared to the pros. Yes, you have to pay someone, but if that frees up time for you to double your business, it’s probably worth it.

    On another note, some of your cons are simply your subconscious trying to scare you out of moving forward. “They may steal your clients and leave.” Sure, I guess they could, but people usually only leave if the situation sucks. “They may be unethical, lazy, etc….” Yes, but that’s why you have a hiring process.

    All in all, great thoughts. I say go for it! If it doesn’t work out you just go back to the way things are right now.

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