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Your 2023 Plan for Recruiting Paralegals

by Camille Stell |

We are in an extraordinary hiring time with the pandemic:

  • 3 million women left the workplace in 2020 leaving the U.S. with 10 million available jobs and 9 million available candidates
  • One in three labor force participants in the U.S. is a millennial
  • 24% of millennials have been employed at five or more organizations
  • 65% of employees claim their stress levels have skyrocketed over five years
  • Happy employees are five times more likely to stay

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is about hiring paralegals. While there is no one way to recruit and hire, here are my best practices for hiring paralegals.

Hiring Trends

Law firms are known for being notoriously slow in hiring. One of my favorite jobs took me five months to get after making the initial contact. I was employed at the time, but five months is a long time to wait. Job candidates tell me they can go weeks or even months without hearing a status update from a potential employer. While I was willing to wait five months, this scenario is unlikely to work in your favor in today’s employment climate.

Candidates are hard to come by and they move fast. If you have a long hiring process, the candidate is likely going to take another offer that comes in faster. If your requirements are more stringent than another firm, they’ll likely take the other offer. As an example, if all other things are equal and you are the only firm to require a writing sample, the candidate will choose the other firm. Not always because they can’t write, but because they want a job quickly and they don’t want the additional hassle of preparing the writing sample. While recent graduates are likely to have a writing sample ready, experienced candidates most likely will not.

Many law firms hire slow and fire slow. In today’s market, if you don’t hire fast, at least try to hire faster. And by 90-days, you should have a good sense of whether a candidate will work. If not, don’t put off the inevitable, release them after a 90-day trial period before you’ve invested too much time and resources down the wrong path.

Online Recruiting

Post your jobs on LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter or other online job options. Your post can be as formal or as informal as works for you. Some firm members post on their personal LinkedIn account, “My firm is hiring, this is a great place to work, send me your resume if you’d like to join the team!” If you are trying to decide the appropriate message for your firm, view how other companies and firms are posting jobs on the various platforms.


Also, post your position on job banks or career centers offered by paralegal schools, paralegal associations, and bar associations, such as the NCBA Career Center.



Recruiters are often a last resort for some law firms because of the fees. However, when your time is money, working with recruiters is an investment in your firm. You don’t need a recruiter to hire an entry level candidate but working with a recruiting firm to hire an experienced or specialized paralegal can provide you with access to candidates you otherwise might not have had.

A recruiting firm has access to a database of candidates, as well as having recruiters search for candidates directly or through their network of contacts. Recruiters can provide background searches, personality tests or skills testing, as well as the first round of interviews. If you work regularly with recruiting firms, they will begin to know you, your firm, and the type of candidates who would be good fits. Many recruiting firms also offer to refund fees if the candidate does not last a minimum amount of time in the job.

Paralegal Programs

Some firms don’t want to invest in recent graduates. However, the inside of the classroom today looks different than 30 years ago. It’s always been true that many paralegal students are second career students. While they may not have written a motion or searched a title, paralegal school is a different learning experience from law school. Law school tends to be more theoretical while paralegal school is practical. You learn to draft the document, how much the filing fee will be, and how to get to the courthouse. Yes, hiring a recent graduate may require more time investment from you, but take the long view that this is an investment in your firm.

Also, invest the time to develop a plan for training and a training manual outlining the firm’s process and procedures. Your firm doesn’t have those? Then train the paralegal and ask them to develop the training plan for the next new hire. I speak from experience. I’ve left training notebooks behind in at least a few of the law firms I worked in in order to streamline the process for the next hire.


Working with paralegal programs to hire interns is a great way to introduce your firm to the school and to start meeting students who you might end up hiring. Sometimes, students can get classroom credit for internships, other times, you may need to pay a salary, but either way, this can be a great way to get additional help for the office, meet potential job candidates, and contribute to the education of another legal professional.

The ABA has a directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs - Approved Programs Directory (americanbar.org).

The NC Paralegal Association has a list with 36 paralegal programs located in North Carolina - Paralegal Educational Program Listings (ncparalegal.org)

Networking with Non-Traditional Candidates

Maintain a pipeline of potential job candidates. Internships are one way to accomplish this, another is to hire college students who are considering law school. While this may result in a candidate who will only be with you for a few years, you may find the student decides to attend paralegal school instead of law school, or you will gain an introduction to a potential lawyer hire.

Look for non-traditional candidates. Anyone who has worked in customer service will know how to deal with clients, whether they worked in a call center, a restaurant, or retail job. Also, people who have worked in other professional services such as finance or accounting will have many transferrable skills. The legal skills can be taught on the job or by sending the employee to take paralegal classes or CLE programs.

Also, look for candidates who may not be looking for you. Some high school students or college students have never been exposed to the legal field. Hire them in to answer phones, scan documents or other administrative tasks. You may help someone discover a new field of interest and if you are lucky, perhaps they will continue to work for you while attending school and join your firm afterwards. Local schools are always looking for working professionals to come into high schools, colleges, or job fairs to encourage students. Go yourself or send your staff to build relationships with both the school career advisors and the students.

Recruiting is a multi-prong effort. Commit your ideas to a written plan with implementation dates. Interviewing candidates for summer positions may happen in the winter semester of classes. Working paralegals who have completed paralegal programs may be ready to look for new jobs in May or June as they approach graduation. Online recruiting is available anytime but creating the job description and posting it takes time. View these efforts as investments in the firm and you will see results over time.

Camille Stell is the President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services and the co-author of the newly published book, RESPECT – An Insight to Attorney Compensation Plans available from Amazon. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at camille@lawyersmutualconsulting.com or 800.662.8843.

*This article was previously published in NC Paralegal News.

About the Author

Camille Stell

Camille Stell is President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting and Services, offering succession planning, business development coaching, keynote presentations and more. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at camille@lawyersmutualconsulting.com or 800.662.8843.

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