I’ve heard the word before, but honestly, I have no idea what it means.

Onboarding is a process

Onboarding is a process that introduces your law firm to your new employee. Often people will conflate onboarding and orientation but they are two different processes.

If you’ve said that, you’re not the only one. Plenty of small firm lawyers are not familiar with this process that’s common in corporate culture.

Orientation is a one-time event that happens in two parts: the first day and the first week. Onboarding is an ongoing process that happens over the course of months. I realize that most of you won’t devote 3 months to onboarding like you should, so I’m thankful if you do 30 days.

Don’t be tempted to skip it

The problem is that you may want to skip onboarding if you are overworked and overwhelmed. You panic hired and now want that paralegal to get to work immediately generating income and lessening your load.

Except it doesn’t work that way. Your new paralegal will make more mistakes and take longer to train when you rush. Employees who are properly onboarded get up to speed 25% faster and are 50% more productive.

Tell the Story of your Law Firm

What are you sharing exactly? Your culture, morals, values and more. Inside your Law Firm Legend, you tell the story of your firm so you can accurately and consistently convey what you are about to employees (and clients). The Legend is really the cornerstone of your practice. The time you invest in creating it will lay the foundation for so many other decisions in your practice.

Onboarding enables you to safeguard a great work culture. The planets aligned and you have a great legal staff. That’s wonderful and to be celebrated because so many lawyers complain about their paralegals and legal assistants.

You know your new paralegal is a good fit because he or she fit your ideal, best employee avatar, or as I like to call it ‘your yardstick’. New hires have to demonstrate that they measure up by having the behaviors, attitudes, and skills you desire in an employee.

But don’t assume because your new hire measures up that she will be comfortable from day one with you or your existing staff. Onboarding is the start of building those work relationships intentionally. Be open and transparent.

You, as the lawyer-leader, have to be clear about your expectations about how you expect your staff to interact with you, your clients and each other.

Sorry but an employee manual is not the way to do this. Would you expect your teenager to know how to drive after you handed him the driver’s manual? Probably not. Employees need clarity.

I developed my proven 3C framework that gives you an easy recipe for leading your paralegals or legal assistants:. There are just three ingredients: connection, context, clarity.

I dive deeper into this as part of my signature program where I guide you on how to onboard and train your perfect paralegal who is aligned with your values and eager to help you grow.

Ready to get started now or have a few questions? Apply for a free consult


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

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