When a new employee starts at your law firm, it is important to set the tone on the first day. First impressions do indeed matter a great deal for a new employee in terms of whether the hire will be successful.
As I talked about in a previous article, law firms really do not have a duty to train the new employee. Training is for colleges and universities, after all, not law firms. Law firm employees need to come in ready to do their job and perform from a legal and productivity standpoint.
At the same time, law firms have to get their act together on the first day and script out how the first days work for employees to ensure that they are onboarded correctly. To accomplish, law firms need to think long and hard about how they approach the first day with every new employee.
From the greeting when they arrive all the way to how the day concludes, a plan needs to be put in place that is consistently implemented with every new employee — no matter whether they are a lawyer, paralegal/legal assistant, or some other staff member. If a plan is put into place, the reality is the new employee will likely have a positive impression of the law firm. The employee will also likely have a basic understanding of their job duties and what is expected of them.
Here are some first-day considerations for new law firm employees:
- Does your law firm have an on-boarding video that you play to all your employees? If you do not have one, you should think long and hard about putting one together. With the ease of putting together videos today, putting together a video is an obtainable task for most law firms. If your law firm is not technologically about delivering an onboarding video, it’s wise to hire somebody to come in and film one. In your onboarding video, be sure to welcome your new employees into the firm and go over fundamental job duties and policies and procedures of the firm. If you do not have an on-boarding video, you need to have somebody designated to do this in-person with every new employee.
- Who is going to greet the new employee when they arrive? Whether it’s a human resource employee, partner, or another staff member, you want to designate who does this every time. If a new employee arrives, and nobody is there to greet them, it can set a negative tone out of the gates.
- What paperwork do new employees need to review and sign? Whatever it is your law firm needs, make sure you have all of this assembled into a package for them before they arrive in a folder or some other appropriate manner. You also want to designate somebody in your law firm to deliver and explain the new employee paperwork. This can show that the law firm is organized and has its act together.
- If your new employee is an attorney or paralegal/legal assistant, who is going to meet that new employee to let them know about projects in which they should begin? You want to think long and hard about this. Otherwise, new employees can literally be twiddling their thumbs for days or weeks with nothing to do.
- Who is responsible for setting up the equipment or office of the new employee? You want to make sure you have somebody designated and that this is accomplished. If not, the new employee can feel as if the law firm does not have its act together, that they have no place to go or no ability to perform their job duties. Thus, have their office and equipment setup before they arrive for their first day.
- Who is going to get the new employee lunch on their first day? This is a little thing on an employee’s first day. But most law firms should think long and hard about picking up the tab for lunch on an employee’s first day. It is a nice gesture that can really go a long way.
In the end, the first impression matters with new employees. Recruiting new law firm employees also takes a lot of time and energy. So, when you’ve hired somebody new, you likely want them to stay for a while. There might be other items to think about as well, but the list above is a good starting point.
Certainly, law firms are not colleges and universities to the extent that they can be expected to legal seminars to new employees. At the same time, on-boarding a new employee is critical toward ensuring that the new employee has a positive impression of the law firm.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.