For recent and new graduates, they are used to being taught in school. They are used to being in a classroom environment where there is teaching and instruction. Many in life expect a continuation of their schooling. To their disappointment, this is not how it works in the vast majority of law firms. Employees have to come in and perform.
The reality is law firms exist to provide legal services to clients. Training takes place in colleges and universities. At a law firm, the work being performed is real. So, there certainly can and should be onboarding of new employees, but training is for academia.
So, how can you make a new employee become a part of your firm when it is a given that a law firm is not a college or a university? In the end, law firms can create onboarding videos that they play to new employees. With the ease of technology, shooting an onboarding video is not terribly difficult. At the same time, an onboarding video can only realistically be a couple of hours in length without it being too long.
The law firm can also put together or assemble other onboarding materials (written, video or audio) that might help the employee understand how the law firm operates. In some firms, the firm may onboard new employees in-person through an informal or formal presentation.
Even with an onboarding video or in-person onboarding, in terms of your firm’s policies and procedures and other relevant materials, most employees are still going to have lots of questions. There is no way you can cover every little detail in terms of how your firm works. Even if you could, many employees won’t get how things work by simply hearing it one time or during some of onboarding video or seminar.
The reality is the existing employees will need to help answer the questions of the new employee. So, in the end, it’s the responsibility of all the employees in the firm to help onboard a new employee. This requires a concerted effort on the part of the entire firm to help acclimate new employees versus being something that only management does.
It also requires the new employee to understand that law firms are sink or swim environments because the work being performed is for real clients. At a law firm, there simply cannot be weeks, months or semesters of training for new employees — like takes place at a college or a university. So, they need to be prepared to learn quickly, put in the extra effort, ask questions at appropriate times and understand that this is for real and not expect a continuation of their formal education.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.