“We are driven by thoughts and beliefs, and this is the greatest predictor of how someone will move in his or her career path.”

— David Naylor, EVP at 2logical

Every attorney looking to grow their law firm is keen to size up the hottest talent in the jobs market. But are rockstar attorneys more trouble than they’re worth? In our podcast interview with Pete Strom of Strom Law Firm in South Carolina, Pete described a concept that challenges traditional thinking about hiring. Entrepreneurship might not be a quality that you want in your firm.

Pete says that if you have a charismatic, rockstar lawyer on your team then at some point they’re going to do exactly what he did. Namely, set up their own firm and leave you to deal with the fallout! To avoid that kind of disruption, he hires a certain type of psychology. Pete actively seeks smart and competent attorneys who get the job done, but who aren’t entrepreneurs and who aren’t interested in investing in a law firm. They have values in line with his own. To double down, he offers benefits that appeal to that psychology. As a result, his employee retention is through the roof.

Employee Alignment Isn’t Just A Buzzword

Hiring for values means finding those attorneys who fit in with your firm’s beliefs: not because you tell them to, but because they live and breathe them.

Pete Strom’s experience with employee retention plays out in the statistics too. According to a study by Mark Murphy of Leadership IQ, of 20,000 new hires in small businesses, 46% of them failed within 18 months. An astounding 89% of those were because of attitude!

It also works both ways because attorneys are vetting your values too. Glass Door cites ‘culture and values’ in the top 5 things that job seekers take into account when accepting an offer.

What Are Your Firm’s Values?

“Your values must be polarizing in order to really draw people to your company (and segment out those who will not be a fit).”

— Safa Mahzari, Founder & CEO of Alluxo Inc.

Naturally, if you’re going to hire based on values, you’re going to need to figure out exactly what yours are. There’s no better place to look than your current team. Their workplace habits, the good and the bad, will tell you everything that your firm stands for.

  • Is your receptionist just as important as your best trial lawyer? Mutual respect is one of your core values.
  • Do your attorneys consistently deliver on time with no excuses? Clearly, they value accountability.
  • Do your attorneys share both their triumphs and setbacks with each other? Openness a top priority in your firm.

Your mission is your why, your values are your how – get them writ large!

How To Hire For Values And Culture

So how can you start hiring for values? CEO Tony Hseih of Zappo’s famously created a ‘nice guy test’ to sift the wheat from the chaff during his hiring process:

“A lot of our job candidates are from out of town, and we’ll pick them up from the airport in a Zappos shuttle, give them a tour, and then they’ll spend the rest of the day interviewing. At the end of the day of interviews, the recruiter will circle back to the shuttle driver and ask how he or she was treated. It doesn’t matter how well the day of interviews went, if our shuttle driver wasn’t treated well, then we won’t hire that person.”

Now, you might not have the bandwidth to take it that far. The reality of COVID-19 means most firms looking to hire need to use video-conferencing apps. As a result, discerning values takes place in pre-interview assessments or the interview itself.

By picking questions that directly address each of your personal law firm’s values, you’ll be on your way to building a long-lasting team just like Pete Strom – “rockstars” or otherwise!