September/October 2019

Practice Management Advice

Smart Growth: Hiring Due Diligence

John D. Bowers

In the previous issue of this column, we tackled a common growth debacle: rescuing underwater timekeepers who simply can’t take on additional, perhaps even better, projects. Though it may seem like an obvious hiring trigger, we outlined how savvy leaders must first monitor productivity data to discern what really lies beneath the surface of oft-claimed “busyness” and consider work reassignments before tapping the job bank.

Assuming your data uncovers significant work overflow that you are unable to reassign to existing timekeepers (for any variety of reasons), you must do your due diligence. To be sure, cultural reasons to avoid hiring are plentiful since law practices scramble to prove they have attained:

  • Strict partner autonomy, which contributes to lack of accountability for, and awareness of, overall leverage in the practice.
  • Increasing profitability, which relies heavily on plateauing or decreasing overhead.
  • Predictability, which straitjackets innovation into a happy, vegetative state and can lead to revolts against even slight change.
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