Promote from within or hire from the outside?

Promote from within in law firmIn any law firms, positions are going to open from time-to-time that need to be filled.  It could be that somebody departs and an important position needs to be filled.  It could be that your firm is growing and you are creating a new, important position within your law firm that needs to be filled.

Lots of law firms struggle when this happens.  Do they promote from within?  Or do they hire somebody from outside the firm?

Different law firms can analyze this question differently.  And, certainly, based on the nature of the position and the people within the firm, this can lead a law firm to come to a different conclusion as well.

Just like any other decision, the reality is there is not necessarily a golden rule to follow.  Different situations call for different decisions from law firm owners and managers.  The lines are also not always clear.

But in weighing this in a general sense, the first question you have to ask yourself is who within your organization is capable of filling the position?  In other words, is there somebody within your firm who is qualified, interested and capable of filling the job?

If that is the case, in many instances, it makes sense to promote that person to the position.  This is especially true if that person has been working hard for the law firm and has been a good employee.  Why not reward that employee for their hard work?

Promoting from within also sends a message that the law firm rewards people who are loyal to the organization.  It also sends a message that individuals can move up within the law firm.  This gives employees an incentive to stay with the firm.

On the other hand, if there is truly not anybody in the law firm that is qualified, interested, ready and capable of filling the position, then these are ordinarily the times where you will have to look outside the law firm.

But looking outside the law firm can be a difficult process.  You have to be careful that any applicants brought from the outside are going to be a good fit for the organization.  Many individuals who come from the outside into an organization (especially in a leadership role) can struggle to gain the respect and trust of those around them.  Thus, applicants need to be screened carefully.

Of course, if you are looking outside the law firm, one thing you have to do is talk to the individuals within the firm who may have been interested, but who are presently not qualified, ready and presently capable of filling the position about what you would like to see from in the future so that they can be considered for future positions that may open later.

Otherwise, these individuals can become resentful if somebody is brought in outside of the organization.  This can make it hard on anybody who is coming into your law firm to fill this role.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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