Living in Southern California, we’ve come to accept something really striking: housing prices are not only astronomical, they just keep going up. It’s common to hear stories of people who listed their homes at once-unimaginable selling prices, and within days they have received multiple all-cash offers all well above the listing price.
Recently, the unsettling phenomenon of seemingly limitless bidding wars has dominated labor markets, as well. Across the country, demand for laborers is currently far outstripping supply. And the market for legal staffing has been anything but immune to this plight.
Yet — in spite of a starkly changed hiring environment — many law firms, particularly large firms, are still hanging on to antiquated hiring practices. These outdated routines are simply at odds with current market conditions. Specifically, many firms have historically run candidates through a lengthy gauntlet of interviews with numerous lawyers and administrators; unless and until everyone has “signed off” on a candidate, the firm isn’t prepared to extend an offer. The problem is, however, that before that (often multi-week) process has run its course, often the candidate has already accepted a position at another firm.
Firms whose hiring process are at odds with current market conditions, often find themselves repeatedly losing out on landing wonderful candidates, and squandering a ton of non-billable time in the process. So, what to do?
The first step is for firms to understand, accept and embrace the fact that, like it or not, the world has changed; traditionally cautious hiring practices, especially at large firms, simply don’t work in the current hiring environment. Next, firms need to consciously update their hiring practices to ensure that they can successfully compete for staff, in the current environment. Successful hiring practices may mean scheduling interviews in group settings, using videoconferencing, or relying on hiring decisions made by small coteries of key people.
What is clear, however, is that, for firms to succeed and prosper, they must be open to revisiting their internal policies and procedures when market forces demand it.