5 questions every boutique law firm should answer before making their next hire

April 10, 2018

One of the most common challenges a legal recruitment firm sees boutique law firms face in their early years is in defining their growth strategy.  Often, they will enjoy some initial success with growth, perhaps through former colleagues joining the firm, thereby creating early momentum in the firm’s growth trajectory.

The challenge often presents several years in, when the firm is trying to determine how best to continue growth.  What can be missed in the discussion is considering whether growth is still needed in the first place.

Far too often, myself and my fellow legal recruiters meet clients who, when pressed, can offer no clear rationale for their desired growth.  There may be surface reasons (economies of scale is a common refrain), but no clear, unifying purpose is driving the growth strategy for the law firm.  While additional hires may yield successful, short-term growth, invariably, the firm will revert to its original size after briefly flirting with a slightly higher headcount if there is no deeper, underlying goal driving hiring demands.

The questions I encourage all my clients to consider when contemplating growth are:

  • What types of clients do you want to pursue that you can’t properly service today?
  • What files do you want to tackle that your current team can’t currently handle?
  • What geographic areas do you want to service that your team can’t properly attend to?
  • What clients or matters are you losing to competitor firms (larger or smaller) that you’d like to be able to keep and/or attract to your firm?
  • What types of issues do you want to be able to consider in your practice that your current complement can’t presently tackle?

By exploring these types of questions, we help our clients better answer what growth is truly necessary for the firm.  In some cases, however, after lengthy discussions, the correct answer may instead be to top grade talent, rather than merely add to it.  In the end, the key is to carefully consider why you are looking to grow, before engaging the process of how you are going to achieve it.

Warren Smith, Managing Partner