HR departments in the legal industry have to face different norms and management structures compared to those in other industries. Nevertheless, they are just as invaluable, if not more. Here are seven roles HR has in law firm management.
Hiring Staff Members
In the legal industry, just like any other, HR has the assignment to hire the best specialists in the field. This department is in charge of hiring different staff members, from administrative staff and paralegals to lawyers. Some offices cast a wide net by holding career stalls at law schools, while others even use recruitment agencies. A lot of HR departments market their law office as an attractive place of work as a part of their employment strategy. At the same time, this department has to abide by anti-discrimination laws, as well as other relevant laws when hiring new candidates.
Suggesting New Technologies
Every industry in the world has evolved in some way due to the adoption of new technologies. However, the law industry is one of the industries that has been the least changed by tech innovations. This can pose a problem for new generations of HR professionals who recognize that potential software incorporations can drastically boost efficiency. Furthermore, with Matchr finding the right HR software for the law firm has never been easier and takes only a few minutes. HR teams need to research all the ways certain new technologies can boost employee productivity, and show their findings to the partners.
In the legal industry, confidentiality is extremely important and even presents a potential source of risk. In order to preserve confidentiality, it is the HR department’s role to communicate clear policies on privacy and sensitive information. HR must make it clear that cases should never be debated outside of the office, and provide strategies on how to secure information when staff members are working remotely.
The HR department is also in charge of monthly or annual performance reviews. Of course, in the legal industry, standards for performance may be different from those in other industries. Usually, one’s performance is associated with their impact on the company’s success. Billable hours as well as business development can be a part of the performance standard for the lawyers.
One of the HR department’s duties within a law firm is communicating policies. The most effective way to complete this task is with an employee handbook. This guidebook must include all policies regarding retention and termination, as well as compensation, promotion, sick days and leave, and above mentioned performance reviews. The employee handbook should also cover disciplinary and grievance processes. Oftentimes this guidebook contains strategies on how staff members should handle media coverage and clarifies client relations and the use of technology.
One of the ways a law firm can remain competitive is by investing in its talent through various initiatives and engagements. It is HR’s role to ensure that employees are able to reach professional and personal growth within the firm. Team-building activities, mentorship and benefits programs, as well as employee assistance programs are just some of the strategies HR departments use to support the mental health and overall well-being of staff members in a law firm. Another way HR is able to keep the talent motivated and engaged is by ensuring fair and transparent compensation. HR can also boost engagement by offering training and upskilling opportunities.
Reporting To Partners
Law firms in most cases have a partnership structure, and the role of HR is to report to the partners in the firm. In addition, the HR department may be in charge of supervising administrative and IT staff.
In a law firm, just like in any line of business, the HR department plays an important role in ensuring the firm’s success.