Running a law firm is expensive. You’re always looking for ways to cut costs to maximize value and that’s terrific. You may want your new hire to get straight to work pumping out those billable hours. But don’t make the mistake of being short-sighted when it comes to your law firm employees, your team. Invest in onboarding.

The problem is…

Normally, when clients come to me with team issues, I ask about their onboarding process. By that, I mean what did you do to orient and then onboard your new employee. The response is usually a puzzled look. Sometimes people say We do all the HR paperwork.

I ask, how did you introduce the new person to your firm and other employees? The standard response is, We did lunch. Of course, I dig a bit deeper, but by this point, I have a good idea of what is the root of the poor performance problem. The employee wasn’t properly onboarded. The incomplete work, poor attitude and lack of attention to detail are reactions to being disappointed. His or her expectations about their job were dashed.

Have you experienced this? You hire someone who seems great until they actually start working for you. You have to deal with mistakes. So you micromanage the person which totally wastes your time and makes your resentful. You spend your evenings and weekends re-doing the work that your team was supposed to get to but ‘forgot’. Worse, you have to apologize to clients when something important falls through the cracks and reflects badly on you. All the while, you’re getting more frustrated and wondering if hiring was such a good idea after all. Throwing your hands in the air, you think, I could’ve saved the money and aggravation if I never hired at all!

Your new employee quits after being in your law firm for less than a month. You have no help and you have to start the whole anxiety ridden process of hiring all over again.

The cost of doing nothing is $14k+

create a profitable law practice

I feel for you, I do. There wasn’t a class on how to manage or lead employees when I graduated law school. I bet you get one either. But I had to learn quickly when I brought on my first team. I’ll never forget Jazmine.

I hired her to manage my calendar and inbox. She came with great references and seemed like a real go-getter. In fact, Jaz told me she was experienced at everything I needed. Yay, go me! Except she wasn’t.

She didn’t know the programs or plugins I used. She was clumsy with the software, dropped some appointments off my calendar and forgot to follow up about others. She quit at the six-week mark by ghosting me. She sent an email telling me the job wasn’t what she expected and she didn’t see herself continuing to support me. I was happy and furious.

What I realized eventually changed my business and the way I work with my team. This ‘quick quit’ as it’s called was entirely my fault. I never tried to onboard her at all. She’s a professional, I thought, she knows what to do. WRONG!

Onboarding protects your investment

Jazmine did know how to do her job but not how to do it based on my standards and needs. I failed to explain to her the best ways to work with me. I took for granted that she’d know what my priorities were and how to negotiate workflow. I assumed Jazmine would tell me if there was a problem because that’s what I would do. All this could have easily been solved if I had spent the time to give her the information she needed to do a great job.

Today, it costs around $14k to hire a new employee. Onboarding is the best way to protect your sunk costs and avoid suffering new expense when you rehire if the employee quits early. Onboarding saves you money.

Onboarding properly can also make you money. Employees want to know that they are needed. Give your employees context. Help them understand the importance of their role and how their work contributes to your overall success and people will work harder. They won’t want to let you down. Higher productivity= higher profits.

You’ll be able to spend your billable time actually working on legal matters that only you can do. More billables= more profit. And, you can bill for your new hires work, too. One client brought on a VA for 14 hours a month and gained almost $2k in additional revenues monthly. Yes, you have to invest time in creating an orientation plan for their first day and an ongoing onboarding program, but it’s worth the time and cost long term

Ready to take the first step toward building your own caring trustworthy team? Join me today for my free training . Register here


Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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