It seems “paralegal poaching” is a growing problem for lawyers and firms.
For the paralegals who are being wooed by rival firms with promises of higher pay and better conditions – not so much.
“Candidly, I will admit I was approached with five potential employment opportunities over the past year, when I was not even looking for an opportunity,” writes paralegal blogger Jamie Collins in The Paralegal Society. “That’s part of what inspired today’s post – my own experience, coupled with chats I’ve had with other folks, who like me, are also not looking for a new job, but are often approached.”
In a sense, this is simply the free market at work. Savvy firms are always on the lookout for top-shelf talent. They know a stellar paralegal or legal assistant can boost revenue, bring in new business and make life easier all around.
One way to find good help is to post an employment ad and begin interviewing candidates. Another way is to look at the firm across the hall and target the superstar paralegals who work there – “the hustlers, the wranglers, the type of paralegal a boss swears could single-handedly invert a skyscraper if given a spatula, a roll of duct tape, a verbal deadline and an hour,” according to Collins.
Tips For Building a Loyal Team
Who knows? Your prized paralegals might be getting sized up for poaching right now.
Here are some ways to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Reward them. Small perks can yield big dividends. A sincere compliment will boost morale. A token of appreciation – perhaps by way of a modest financial incentive – might enhance performance.
- Provide the tools for success. Start by telling your paralegals exactly what is expected of them. Make sure you are on the same page. Allow room for creativity and new ideas, which will keep the job fun and challenging.
- Be considerate. Practice kindness, honesty and patience – especially when giving constructive criticism.
- Pay your paralegals’ association dues. This will show your commitment to their professional growth. Encourage them to attend networking events sponsored by state, local and even national associations. This is great marketing for your firm. And if your paralegals rise to leadership posts in these organizations, you will be cast in an even brighter light.
- Foot the bill for subscriptions to paralegal publications. Two selections recommended by Collins are KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals and Paralegal Today. The cost of a yearly subscription is nominal. The payoff could be priceless. In the same vein, encourage paralegals to attend seminars and workshops to stay sharp and motivated.
- Include paralegals in staff meetings and strategy sessions. Adopt a team approach. Ask for feedback and suggestions on specific cases. Act on what you hear.
- Discuss professional dreams and goals. Where would your paralegal like to be, professionally speaking, in a year? Five years? Showing an active interest in another person’s future will pay off in loyalty and extra effort.
- Be surprising. There is nothing more delightful than an unexpected gesture of appreciation, whether it is a free lunch, Starbucks gift card or written thank-you note.
“Do not reserve kind gestures only for holidays,” says Collins. “The really smart attorneys will bestow a random act of kindness at least monthly. What’s $4-$15 to keep your top talent? Nothing…almost literally.”
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.