Law Firm Hiring 101: The Three Key Needs

One area that many lawyers struggle in is hiring the right person for the right position for your firm. Often this struggle stems from focusing solely on aptitude and not considering key characteristics you need to look at for every position you fill in your firm. Today we are going to explore these three characteristics and what you can do to hire rock stars for your firm.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The three characteristics important for every hire no matter for what position.
  • The importance of asking for examples and an impromptu demonstration of aptitude.
  • Being aware of what aptitudes and attitudes fit best into your company culture.
  • The different meanings of ‘team player’ and how that can impact a hiring outcome.
  • How a hiring decision can impact company culture or even be used to change and/or advance your current company culture.

Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hi everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.


Allison Williams: [00:00:18] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor and this week’s podcast is going to be a discussion about one of the most important aspects of the business of law, which is getting the ideal candidates to apply to your position and ultimately come work in your law firm. So one of the things that I know a lot of lawyers struggle with is how to get the right candidates and how to know when you have the person who is going to work out in a role. Right. So I think there’s a lot out there about hiring, a lot out there about interviewing. And a lot of times we kind of approach this topic, this idea of law firm hiring. We approach it from the perspective of how do I make sure that the person is competent for the job. Right. So we spend a lot of time on their aptitude, but we don’t think about the three key needs that we have for every hire, whether they are the receptionist, the file clerk, the office manager, the rainmaking attorney, the managing attorney, the newest associate, senior associate. Doesn’t matter what role we’re hiring for, you have to get three characteristics checked off your list in order to make the hiring decision for any particular candidate.


Allison Williams: [00:01:44] So I’m going to tell you what they are and then we’re going to dive into them in a little bit more detail. You are always looking for the right attitude, the right aptitude and the right fit for your candidates attitude, aptitude and fit. Now, we’re going to start this conversation off today talking about aptitude because aptitude, competency, capability, qualifications are where most lawyers feel the most comfortable. That’s where we go. That’s what our go to is. Right. So we actually look for people that we think are going to be able to do the job. And there’s a good reason for that, obviously, because we are in a very highly regulated profession. We have, we have authorities that look to confirm that we are doing everything that we were taught to do in law school, that we are following all of the rules that are put before us. And many, many times, many times we fear that there is a person who’s going to come in who doesn’t know how to do something. They’re going to do it wrong and they’re going to put us at risk of malpractice and grievances. So there are legitimate concerns to making sure that your person is competent and in certain industries that matters more than others, and law is certainly one of those industries where I can’t just place an ad and get a thousand applicants who are all nice humans.


Allison Williams: [00:03:12] Right. I can’t take a person with a great attitude and turn them into a lawyer unless that person is on the cusp of being that. Right. There’s, I’m talking about assuming that the person doesn’t have the minimum basic criteria. They have to be licensed. They have to be licensed in your jurisdiction. They have to be a member of the bar in good standing. Not the same criteria for hiring somebody to work at a retail store or hiring somebody even to work in a corporation where they could have corporate experience that’s completely dissimilar to the corporation they want to work in. So I want you to now think about the aptitude category as one where there is a lot at stake. But there are lots of things that we tend to overlook when we are hiring, even when we’re considering the aptitude. So one of the things I see a lot is that we get really desperate by the time that we hire. And I had this conversation with Seth Price and Jay Ruane of the Maximum Growth podcast, Maximum Growth Live. And they had me on and we were talking about when to hire. Like what, at what point in your business you should hire. And one of the things that came up as we we’re talking about the hiring conversation was that lawyers often wait until the very last minute.


Allison Williams: [00:04:32] They try to squeeze every little bit of productivity out of the people that are already here believing that that will result in more profit. Because if I need five lawyers to generate a certain amount of work and I add a sixth lawyer, then I have a sixth salary instead of the five salaries that would have produced the same amount of work. What is often overlooked, however, is, of course, when you add a billing professional, not only do you add capacity so you get more aggregate billable hours, but you also add more ease on the people who are overworking or working up to their limits so that they can spend more time doing deep work. The kind of work with clients that tends to generate more clients just because their clients are naturally happier, having a stronger relationship with their lawyer. But even aside from from just kind of business model stuff of looking at the aptitude of the person. Then when it’s time to hire them, lawyers will often think that what’s most important is getting a person who can acknowledge what they’re able to do. So they will ask questions like how do you write or how do you argue or what’s your trial record? And those things will tell us something. But you have to keep in mind that not everybody has the level of introspection that we would like when it’s time to evaluate that person.


Allison Williams: [00:05:52] So it’s not that people are lying. Obviously there is fudging and there’s the negotiation process of interviewing. But even aside from that, there are a lot of people who just don’t know whether they are a ten or a two. OK, and so if you’re looking at a person and you’re asking them directly, are you good at X, most people in an interview are never going to say no. Right. They’re just not going to do that. So what you have to look for is when a person gives you an answer, you have to ask them to demonstrate that answer by specific examples and ask for examples that are determinative of a situation. So if a person tells you that they are a problem solver, you want to ask them for a situation where they had to solve a complex problem in a relatively short period of time. And then when they give you that answer, you want to make sure that that answer is what would have carried the day, whatever they did, that problem that they solved, that their solution would have carried the day. And without that solution, there would have been a very different result. So in other words, their gift or their strength or their attribute or their qualification was determinative, not just simply it existed, but it existed and it actually had a bottom line impact for a client, an employer, et cetera.


Allison Williams: [00:07:20] You also want to make sure when you’re looking at someone’s aptitude and you’re trying to evaluate if they truly have the skill that’s necessary, this is the one thing I cannot reiterate enough is that you want to have that person demonstrate their skill to you. So this is key because many times people will say they are able to do certain things and they’ll they’ll be good at telling war stories. But until you actually see the person, quote, in action, you’re not going to know whether or not that person was truly the star that they said they were or if that person is either thinking of themselves with rose colored glasses or if they simply lack the introspection we just talked about. So perfect example of this. In my law firm, when I’m hiring a lawyer, I will typically give them a practical skills exercise of either orally arguing a motion for me or cross examining a witness. And my personal favorite is cross examining a witness in our law firm. We handle family law cases. But one area that is particularly high impact, last minute, high deadline oriented work is the child abuse practice. And so if somebody comes in and they want to handle child abuse cases in my office, I have to prepare them or really test them to see if they’re going to have the wherewithal to handle the type of cases that we handle.


Allison Williams: [00:08:44] We handle high profile cases. We handle very salacious cases, cases that end up in the news, cases that end up in the prosecutor’s office, and cases that if you don’t have a certain level of stomach, we’ll say, to go the distance, that a parent could have a very egregious outcome. So with that knowledge, it is very important that people that come in to handle those types of cases in my office are able to come into the office on Monday and be told they have a trial on Tuesday and be prepared to show up in court on Tuesday, be served with a complaint by the state alleging some form of heinous act against the parent and be able to cross-examine on the fly. OK, so knowing that that is what is required of this particular part of my practice, not all of my practice, we handle matrimonial cases and family law cases, et cetera. But for the child abuse practice, it is required. So if somebody is coming in to work in that practice, I want to see if I can give them a fact scenario and give them a couple of minutes to collect their thoughts and have them cross-examine.


Allison Williams: [00:09:55] And I’m less concerned about the actual questions that they asked, even though to some degree, I do want to see that they can ask good questions. I’m more concerned with how they’re able to handle that exercise, meaning, how are they able to remain composed while the quote unquote judge, that typically is me. I will usually have one or two other attorneys in the interview process at that point, and they will be there to take notes. They will be there to play witnesses, play defense attorneys or plaintiff’s attorneys. But ultimately, the participants in the process are going to put this candidate through an experience where they have to show and tell what they can do. And I had this one candidate, this attorney that we all thought very highly of. We thought this person was just fabulous. But when it came time to do this exercise, she fell apart and I fell apart. I mean that. Quite literally. I gave her a fact scenario. And I always tell people, here’s some paper and some pen if you’d like to write down these facts so you can hold them. And any facts that I have not given to you, you can be creative in making them up in the course of your examination of the adverse party.


Allison Williams: [00:11:07] But here are the basic facts. And I want you to represent one side. Attorney so-and-so from my office will represent the other side and we’re going to have a little trial here. And then attorney so-and-so is going to play the witness that you’re cross examining. So we go through that experience or we try to go through that experience. And this one attorney, this one attorney asked me if I could give her time to prepare. And I said, well, how much time do you need? And she said, well, you know, maybe I could come back tomorrow and do the exercise. And I said, oh, no. We’re not going to move past today. Today is about seeing what you have the ability to do. But don’t worry, this is a piece of but not the entirety of the process. So, you know, just have fun with it. And the person said, OK, and the person asked me a couple of questions and I answered those questions. And then the person wanted to build an entire factual record from asking more questions. Well, when did this happen? And can you tell me if this happened? And I said, I’m only going to give you the facts that I’ve given you about the substance that your cross-examining on.


Allison Williams: [00:12:12] So if there’s something that you think you would need to know. OK, remember, you’re cross-examining. You could know a fact and have the witness say something completely different in the course of the examination process. So you have to be prepared for that. But I want you to think through what you would need to find out from this person in order to prove your side of the story or prove your series of facts. And if you need to write them down, if you need to take a couple of minutes, that’s fine. And the person said, OK, and you could just say at this point, her hands were shaking. She was taking deep breaths and I felt very uncomfortable that she was this uncomfortable before we even got started. And then she started and she was actually doing a very good job for the first few questions. And then she, like, paused in the middle of it and asked me a question. And I said, the exercise has begun. I’m not answering questions. So please remain in the role of defense attorney. So she went back and tried to ask one more question. And the witness, quote unquote, who was an attorney from my team, became difficult, not awful, not obstreperous, not throwing things, not cursing, but just difficult. Right. Sometimes witnesses don’t give us the yes or no answer that we’re asking for. And this lawyer shut down. And when I say shut down, I mean, she started crying and then sobbing that, you know, she’s usually the kind of person that needs to be prepared.


Allison Williams: [00:13:38] And she’s, she feels so bad that like she’s doing such an awful job and and was just, like, inconsolable. And it took quite a bit of time between me and my two attorneys, one who was playing plaintiff’s attorney and one who was playing witness to calm her to the point where we could continue having the conversation. But at some point, you know, she felt so bad about becoming so upset emotionally about the exercise that she really couldn’t even continue the interview. And at that time, we were looking for somebody solely for our child abuse division. We were not looking for a matrimonial attorney. I have subsequently told this person and I actually told this person, I called her to deliver the news. I could not. Normally I tell people if I’m not going to hire them, I tell them thank you for your time, but I don’t think this is the right fit. I will tell them at the interview. But this person was so upset I did not want to further upset her after we got her to calm down to leave the office. So I ended up calling her the next day and telling her that if I was hiring a matrimonial attorney, I think she would be exceptional and I really would like to work with her at some point.


Allison Williams: [00:14:46] That’s just not the need we have in our office right now. We really need a child abuse attorney. And, you know, based on what happened, I didn’t think that she was a fit for that. And she agreed. And we have a very pleasant relationship now. But, you know, it’s experiences like that that tell you like when you push a person a little bit and by push, I don’t mean being abrasive or being disrespectful or being unkind, but really put the person to the test of what they’re going to have to do in your office, whether that is role playing, answering the phones when there are a lot of calls coming in or role playing or actually going through an evaluation of their analytical ability. So maybe giving them a tax return and having them read it or having them respond to discovery responses based on a stack of information, a quote unquote client, of course, this is all fictitious. We don’t give out real client data, but, you know, create a little vignette where they have to pull information and put it together and you want to put them in some degree of pressure of performance because that’s what they’re going to be doing. They’re going to be performing for you in your law firm.


Allison Williams: [00:15:54] And what I have found since we have started implementing a practical skills component of our interview process is that people oftentimes will report that they have the ability to do something. And then when they are asked to show it, when they’re asked to demonstrate it, when they’re asked even just to give you a concrete example, they oftentimes cannot do that. And when they can’t do that, you know that they either are not confident in their ability or if they are, that they just simply don’t have the skill that they allege that they did.


Allison Williams: [00:16:29] So I highly recommend having a skills demonstration component to your interview process. Now, whether you want to tell that person in advance that that’s going to happen or you want to have an impromptu, really depends on the type of work that’s happening. So as I said before, I was hiring somebody for a role that had a lot of impromptu court. It would not at all be uncommon for me to be retained at 10 o’clock in the morning and have a 1:30 court hearing where I had to go cross-examine someone to keep a child out of foster care. And so that’s a skill that I test impromptu. But there are other skills that don’t have to be tested impromptu. Like if you’re going to have somebody review discovery and give you answers or analyze the tax return or perhaps prepare a subpoena while you are having them sit in your office with a a stack of documents to work from, you know, that doesn’t have to be something that they’re surprised about. But the stress element that’s already inherent in performing the job, oftentimes you can see how people perform under stress.


Allison Williams: [00:17:34] And most law firms, not all, but most law firms have some level of stress that I do think you need to take a look at when you are hiring any person to work in your law firm. All right, so we’ve covered aptitude. One of the key things that you absolutely must know, and I think we all know this, so that’s part of the common sense place where we’re starting is you’ve got to get competent people. So there’s a lot to cover on aptitude, but that’s just the, we skim the surface just a little bit, so to give you some food for thought as to how to improve your hiring process.


Allison Williams: [00:18:05] So the next step that I want to talk about is attitude. Now, attitude doesn’t mean that the person is sunny and rosy and perky and that the person is a joy to be around. OK, that is part of it. You do want to have people that have an attitude that you can work with, but a person doesn’t have to be sunny and cheery in order to have the right attitude. So when we’re talking about attitude in this context, we’re talking about the attitude for the work that you are doing. OK, so that means how does the person approach the work that they are doing? If someone is oriented toward a nine to five Monday through Friday experience, there are law firms that create that experience. There are law firm owners that profit is not their highest priority.


Allison Williams: [00:18:56] They are in the business of law because they enjoy the business of law. They may be independently wealthy or have a spouse that is the financial support of the family. Or they may desire to have a more leisurely pace in life, recognizing that they are never going to set the world on fire, but they’re going to have a nice, comfortable living. So there are firms that have that existence. And if that’s what you desire, then you absolutely should create that for yourself and should invite people into that environment. For most lawyers, nine to five Monday through Friday is not the dream and it’s not the entrepreneur’s life. So kind of promoting this nine to five mindset would not be something that you would want to do if that’s not who you are and not what you’re trying to create in the world. You also want to think about who you serve and whether or not the person has an attitude that is going to be compassionate and appropriate to the clientele that you have. Some people are very egocentric. I almost said narcissistic, but I know that that word is largely overused in our society right now. But some people are very ego driven. Right. They’re status people and lawyers in particular, can be status people. And I have no shame whatsoever to say that to some degree I am still a status person. And so I don’t necessarily believe that a person cannot serve a lower end clientele if they are a status person because their status comes from their job. It doesn’t come from who they serve in their job. But you do need to have a person who is down to earth enough that they will not alienate your clientele if you are working with a clientele that is not at the same status of your, as your attorneys.


Allison Williams: [00:20:38] The other thing you want to think about and this gets a little bit into cultural fit. So we’re not quite there yet. But one of the attitude components is when you are defining the attitude of the person that you want to bring in, are they a team player or are they more individual? Now, once upon a time, I would read resumes because I was trying to prepare myself to get the best resume that I could possibly put out there when I was looking for a job many, many moons ago. But I remember I would read resumes and they would always have like this list of positive qualities about themselves, the candidates, and they would say something like, you know, self starting individual who’s a team player. And I used to think, oh, my God, yeah, I’m supposed to be a team player. I’m supposed to work nicely with others. And I just actually, ironically, just had this conversation with one of my clients in a private coaching call last Friday where we talked about the fact that not every lawyer is a team player and that is OK.


Allison Williams: [00:21:35] In fact, what you will find most… OK, it’s not universal. So, you know, please don’t send me nasty grams. I’m online saying, hey, you said blah, blah, blah. And that’s not true for me. It is not universal. But most entrepreneurs, most people that start businesses have a level, a level of individuality that probably supersedes the level of team player-ness that they have within themselves. That does not mean that lawyers as a class or even law firm owners as a class, cannot work well with others. Right. Because if you look at very successful law firms, somebody can’t really, can’t function in an entity with 40 or 50 lawyers, especially given how lawyers are. Right. We know we are a special breed of folk. Right. It is very challenging to conceive of having that type of environment where you have that many egos, that many status oriented people, that many people to manage if you’re not somebody who can, quote, work with others. OK, so team player in this instance is not talking about people who work well with others. It is really talking about people that as their predominant way of doing things will integrate and collaborate and work with others versus their predominant way of doing things, being very individualistic. Now, I have heard it characterized as the Eastern way versus the Western way. I’ve heard it characterized as the feminine versus the masculine.


Allison Williams: [00:23:10] And frankly, I don’t think any of those labels are particularly helpful because I think that they are often loaded with what we think that those characteristics should be. And I think to some degree, team player has become that as well. So I will be the first to tell people I am not a team player. This does not mean that I don’t work well with others. It does not mean that I can’t be on a project with others. But it means that if I am given work to do and I am choosing between work where I am in a constant state of having to talk with someone else, collaborate with someone else, involve someone else in the decision making process, organize my thoughts around someone else’s thoughts, put our thoughts together, have multiple conversations, or I can do all of that thing, all of those things in my own head and then create a piece of product on my own. I would much rather the latter than the former. Now I have a very good friend. She owns a very successful family law firm in Morristown, New Jersey, who is very much the collaborative team player type, and she structures her law firm that way. Everyone that comes into her law firm has to get along with everyone else. Not just get along, but be able to work with everyone else. Everyone shares work. Everyone has pow-wows where they’re all collaborating on what the strategy is going to be for a case.


Allison Williams: [00:24:28] And then they’re implementing it through one or two people and there’s oftentimes a handoff. And that’s not just supporting each other, but that is very much how they work each file. So there’s always multiple cooks in the kitchen, if you will. And I’ve told her any number of times. I love her from here to high heaven, but that would absolutely drive me insane. I just can’t work that way. And so the idea of being a team player is, even though it sounds like a positive thing. Right. It sounds like it’s respectful of and valuing other people. It is not necessarily a requirement in order for someone to be successful in their career or successful in your law firm. So another example I’ll give is when I was gosh, I guess this is probably two years into the practice of law. I was leaving the first law firm that I went to and I was interviewing and I remember that I was interviewed by a partner in a very successful firm that had about at that time 20 lawyers. They’re now well over 50 lawyers. But at the time they had 20 or so lawyers and they had a female managing partner, which for a firm that size in my state, even as progressive as my state is relative to other states in the union, was still pretty shocking and pretty amazing to me.


Allison Williams: [00:25:46] So just that fact alone made me want to work there. And I remember I went in for the interview. I had already interviewed with the partner who I gave my resume to, and that partner recommended that I move up the food chain. And I ended up meeting with the managing partner and one other attorney on the team. And the managing partner at some point in time gave me a question. And that question was, if you and three associates are working on a project together and you each have your own piece of the project, but all of you have to be successful at your piece of the project in order for the project to be deemed a success overall and somebody drops the ball. How are you going to handle that? Are you going to go to the managing partner and let the managing partner know that the person failed in their component? And so therefore your product is not going to be effective or not going to be as successful as it otherwise would be? Or are you going to do something else? And if something else, describe what that would be. And my answer, what would be and I told her my answer is I would stay until three, four or five, six o’clock in the morning if I had to, to make sure that our project was successful because my name is associated with it. Right. So I later learned that that was, quote, the right answer.


Allison Williams: [00:27:09] Now, there was another question that she asked me that I also thought that I had knocked out of the park, but I obviously did not because I did not get a job offer. And the question was, if in that same scenario, everyone is doing a good job on the project. Right. Everyone is working well together. You all are the best in show. You are considered the rock star team in the firm, you and your three colleagues, and there is an opportunity for a person to advance. Are you going to look to advance the team? In other words, argue for everyone to advance because you all are exceptional, or is it every man for himself? And in that scenario, I thought about it and I said, well, with all due respect to my colleagues, I appreciate that they have all done wonderful things and I would own that. But I will always, always ensure that I am advocating for number one. And that is me. And I thought that that was an appropriate answer. And she smiled and wrote down her responses. And we moved on to the next question, which, of course, I’ve now forgotten. And then a couple of weeks later, I get my thanks but no thanks letter in the mail. And I was demoralized. I was like, how could I have screwed this up? This was such a great interview. I was there for two and a half hours.


Allison Williams: [00:28:27] She seemed to really like me. I had a great rapport with her. Alice had a great rapport with her colleague, another attorney in the firm. And ultimately I saw her maybe, I don’t know, three or four years later at a state bar event. And I went up and said hi to her and we’re chatting and she was like, oh, you know, I heard you’re doing such and such. It’s so great to see you doing great things. I knew you’d be successful and I asked her and, you know, because what did I have to lose at this point? I said, well, if you knew that I would be successful. If you knew that even back then, why didn’t you hire me? And she smiled and she said, the very fact that you asked me that question reaffirms that I made the right decision. And then I was like, oh, I clearly said something inappropriate to this very successful person, you know, what did I do? Should I dial that back? And I’ve never been a dial-back kind of person. Come positive or negative. It is what it is. So, so she giggled a little bit and, and said this thing to me. And then I was like, you know, I guess she could kind of tell that I was taken aback. And she said, don’t worry. You know, it’s, it’s, everything worked out the way it should have. And I said to her, well, I don’t understand what you mean.


Allison Williams: [00:29:36] And she said, you know, listen, we have a wonderful firm culture where everyone works together. Everyone’s a part of a team. And ultimately, we are looking, we were looking for someone to come in at a certain level. We were not looking for someone to climb the corporate ladder to set the world on fire, to ultimately advance, you know, to break through and shatter the glass ceiling. We were not looking for a rock star. We were looking for someone to play in the band. And. It hit me that that was 100 percent the right thing for her and the right thing for me, because if I had gone to that law firm being who I was, right, I’m a set the world on fire type person. If I had gone to that law firm, I would have ultimately eroded the culture. I would have been miserable and unhappy, I would have been banging my head up against a wall and nobody would have been well served. It wouldn’t have served my career. It wouldn’t have served the firm. I wouldn’t have been successful. Why would I have ever wanted that for myself or for someone else? And I tell this to my clients all the time. There is something to be said for knowing what you want. Now, one of the things that I talk about a lot and this you know, this whole discussion today has been about hiring for attitude, aptitude and fit.


Allison Williams: [00:31:03] But the cultural component of it is the one piece that I think most lawyers have some inkling of, but we don’t spend anywhere near enough time on. And so we spend a whole exercise at Thrive Tribe Tactics, which is one of our signature retreats that we have for our coaching community. We spend a lot of time talking about cultural fit and how to get that right fit. Even when aptitude and attitude are clearly telling you this person would work. Does the person fit your culture? And in that particular law firm that I just gave you the example of, I didn’t fit the culture because they wanted to have strong leadership and they wanted to have strong followership. And they were looking for a follower. Now, that does not demean the people that are still at that firm. As I said before, the firm has more than doubled in size in the decade and a half since I ultimately interviewed there. But they were looking for followers. They were looking for lawyers who wanted to come to work, collect a paycheck, follow instructions and go home. They were not looking for lawyers who wanted to go out and network and generate business. They were not looking for lawyers who would want to be mentored not just to be good lawyers, but mentored so they could go out and make a name for themselves. Right. They were looking for a good follower.


Allison Williams: [00:32:16] They were looking for an Indian, not a chief. So knowing that, they made a decision that I was not the right fit for the role that they were hiring for, and most people candidly would not have made that choice. Now, I have had the pleasure of interviewing with several law firms that at some point had a similar conversation with me. A similar conversation that said while we saw the greatness in you, we also saw that you had more greatness than we were looking to hire. Now, they don’t say it that way because, you know, whoever wants to say I’m looking for mediocrity, not greatness. Right. Most people would not say that. But there are definitely times where you have to think about the composition of your firm and whether or not adding somebody who is a strong ballbuster, go get them type person is going to be best for your culture. That might be best for your bottom line. Right. You may very easily bring that person in and that person wants to bill, bill, bill, because they want to rise up to the level of partner. They want to step into the next phase of their career. And they are trying to advance. And you may be looking for that. But if that is not what you’re truly looking for, if you want to just be a sole owner and you want to have good, solid team members who are just going to be good, solid team members, and they’re not going to try to set the world on fire and they’re not trying to come in and replace you when you retire, then you have to really think about that when you are looking to hire.


Allison Williams: [00:33:49] All right, so there’s a lot here on attitude, aptitude and fit. The last note that I want to leave on is the idea and this is you know, this is where we always get into difficulty with Law Firm Mentor, where I tell people that you were at the center of your greatness and you are at the center of your demise. We are always the cause to the effects in our lives. And so when you are looking to add people to your law firm, whoever those people are, if you cause a misfit to join your law firm and by misfit, I’m not talking about, like, you know, Barbie and the Rockers or Jem and the Misfits. Right. I’m not talking, you know, traditional misfit. I’m talking more of a misalignment, a mis-characterization. A person who does not mold into the firm seamlessly.


Allison Williams: [00:34:45] When you hire a misfit, you are also creating an opportunity for yourself. So in every lost opportunity, in every struggle, in every strife and every discord, there is the opportunity for greatness that comes with that. And if you bring somebody into your business who does not fit the culture that’s here, is that an opportunity to reform your culture? Positive and negative. Right. So sometimes you may be looking to keep exactly what you have, in which case you want to hire somebody who’s exactly like the people that are already here. And other times you might want to step out of your existing culture because you want to reform your culture. You want your culture to advance.


Allison Williams: [00:35:29] So maybe you hire that person who’s setting the world on fire knowing that they’re only going to do that for a certain period of time before they either advance in your company or if they’re not going to advance and they’re in your company, they move on to their own company or to someone else’s company. That’s very true. And sometimes you hire those people and you know that they’re going to be the shooting star who’s going to come in, set the world on fire and leave. And you just enjoy them while they’re there. And you do that with the understanding that they’re going to influence other people. And if they are already more hardworking, more accomplished, more capable, and they’re creating more of what you desire in your law firm, you can use them to positively influence other people through how you interact with them, because your energy being pulled in the direction of the person who’s giving you more of what you want, is going to be seen and felt by others as you start to pour into them some of the strategies to get them to the success that others will desire in your law firm, both present and future.


Allison Williams: [00:36:31] All right, everyone, this episode has been all about attitude, aptitude and fit. Hiring and in particular, the three key needs that you need to look for and every law firm hire that you make for your business. So we’re really happy here at Law Firm Mentor to bring you strategies on how to optimize performance of people in your law firm as well as how to grow your law firm. So now I’m going to ask you a favor. If you have gotten value out of today’s episode, if you have learned even one nugget of something that you didn’t consider before, something that you hadn’t thought of and something that you now want to be able to use in order to grow your law firm and grow more success in your life, then we would ask you to leave a review of Law Firm Mentor and our podcast on the various different platforms. You can find the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Castbox, Podbay, all the major platforms. So find us, leave us a review. And if you have any feedback that you want to give us, you can always feel free to reach out to us by email. We’re always happy to take your feedback and use it to make the show better. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Everyone, have a great day!


Allison Williams: [00:38:00] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guest and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement free Facebook group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours, enjoying the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firms and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!


00:15:54 (35 Seconds)

And what I have found since we have started implementing a practical skills component of our interview process is that people oftentimes will report that they have the ability to do something. And then when they are asked to show it, when they’re asked to demonstrate it, when they’re asked even just to give you a concrete example, they oftentimes cannot do that. And when they can’t do that, you know that they either are not confident in their ability or if they are, that they just simply don’t have the skill that they allege that they did.


00:34:45 (45 Seconds)

When you hire a misfit, you are also creating an opportunity for yourself. So in every lost opportunity, in every struggle, in every strife and every discord, there is the opportunity for greatness that comes with that. And if you bring somebody into your business who does not fit the culture that’s here, is that an opportunity to reform your culture? Positive and negative. Right. So sometimes you may be looking to keep exactly what you have, in which case you want to hire somebody who’s exactly like the people that are already here. And other times you might want to step out of your existing culture because you want to reform your culture. You want your culture to advance.

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About Allison

Allison C. Williams, Esq., is The Law Firm Mentor.  Law Firm Mentor is a Business Coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys.  It helps lawyers to grow their revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.  Law Firm Mentor was born out of Allison’s experience starting a law firm and scaling its revenues into a multi-million dollar business in only three years.  She shares her extensive knowledge of business, mindset coaching and entrepreneurship alongside her team in Law Firm Mentor.

Allison is also Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law. Allison is a member of the New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification (NJBAC) – Matrimonial Committee, a New Jersey Supreme Court committee that determines eligibility of candidates to be certified as a recognized practitioner in the field of matrimonial law.

Allison has been named a Rising Star Attorney by the New Jersey Super Lawyers franchise continuously from 2008 – 2013, and has been named a Super Lawyer by that organization for 2014 – present. In 2016, she was featured in the Super Lawyers publication (Williams v. The Rubber Stamp), she has been named one of the Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in New Jersey from 2017-2020 and in 2019-2020, was voted in the Top 100 Super Lawyers and Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in the State of New Jersey.

Allison is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. She won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017.  In 2018, Allison was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Allison won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.

In 2018, Allison created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms. 

She received her B.S., magna cum laude, and her M.S., summa cum laude, from Florida State University. She received her J.D., cum laude, from Syracuse University College of Law.