Hiring in a Professional Service Business

By Adam Robinson,
November 26, 2013

The following is a guest blog post by Jeffrey Baill, J.D. Upon earning his Juris Doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law, Baill joined forces with his brother, Larry Baill, to launch their law firm Yost & Baill. With offices now in Minnesota and Wisconsin and a team of nearly twenty attorneys, Yost & Baill is a nationally recognized, AV-rated firm primarily representing insurance companies.

Whenever I hire a new employee for my law firm, I try to remember that ultimately I am selling whomever I hire. All I have to offer my clients is the legal services each member of my firm can provide. And in many ways, each hire is a gamble on the future of the firm. In this ultra-competitive environment where it takes so much effort to gain a new client, we have to do everything we can to keep the clients we have. So making sure I have the right people on the team has proved time and time again to be the best way to insure our future.

After managing the firm for over thirty years, it is easy to look back and see the mistakes I should have avoided. But it is not so easy at the time to see what you may be missing. The following are some tips I have found to improve the odds of making the right hire:

  1. Have many people involved in the hiring process so you are able to get multiple points of view on a candidate.
  2. Clearly define the competencies that are most important to your firm regarding this new hire.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. When a candidate has not worked out, investigate what went wrong in the process to avoid it happening again.
  4. Have a clear understanding of your firm culture to ensure that whatever competencies your candidate brings to the table, they still fit in with the firm. A superstar who does not fit in will never work out.
  5. Use any technological tools that help you make the process as objective as possible. It is really important to be able to compare candidates on an apples-to-apples basis.

Hiring deserves the same time and attention that you place on having your business succeed. Looking back, I don’t think we ever spent too much time on the process. I think on many occasions we failed to respect the importance of the decision and relied too much on first impressions and luck. Going forward we now understand the huge amount at stake in every hire we make. To get it right requires thought, time, and collective effort. This is still no guarantee, but we certainly can improve the odds.

Another way to improve your odds of making a good hiring decision – reference checks. Learn about them here…

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.