Vault is a great resources to learn about what it's like to work for the nation's top law firms. But while your employer research may start with Vault, it should not end there. Here, Quantum Workplace's Dan Harris tells you about three more ways to learn whether a law firm will be a good fit for you.
The legal industry is constantly changing. New laws are passed and old ones are amended every day. To top it off, the way people seek legal services is constantly evolving as well. For many young legal service professionals, the only stability they find is in the firm they work for. As a graduating law student, this means you need to find a workplace where you can thrive--despite changes--for the long run.
However, it’s often difficult to know what firm is the right fit. How can you know which firm will fit your needs if you’ve never been in the workforce before?
Luckily, my company, Quantum Workplace, recently released research that delves into the factors that may engage and satisfy recent graduates. Our report, Engaging Legal Service Employees, discovered what the best law firms are doing differently. It found that there are three top drivers for legal service employees, including senior leaders valuing employees as the most important resource, employees trusting senior leaders to lead the company to future success, and employees being recognized when they contribute to the team’s success.
It’s not always easy to know if a firm will meet these criteria before taking a job offer. But if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right workplace:
1. Ask about their training policies
There should always be time in a job interview for you to ask questions. This is your chance to get to know more about the firm and whether it will meet your professional needs. One of the most important factors to ask about is the firm’s training program.
Having a strong focus on training shows that the organization and its leaders value employees as their top resource. They want to nurture and develop their people first so they can be at their best, now and in the future.
This is incredibly important in the legal industry. Right now, there are major changes occurring and young professionals need to keep up. For example, there are trends in legal process outsourcing that make the workplace more competitive for legal professionals. However, if firms take time to invest in their employees, they’re more likely to keep them around long-term.
You should always ask what development opportunities will be available to you. And if possible, ask if you can review some of their development materials; this can give you a sense of how invested the firm is toward development, and can also let you know if the material itself is interesting and up-to-date. Also, consider whether the available training aligns with your career goals. If the firm can’t help you reach the next step in your career, it’s probably not a good fit for you.
2. Find out the firm’s future vision
Oftentimes, young lawyers focus on finding the best job for right now. But after working for a year or two, they discover that the firm is no longer a good fit. This puts them right back on the job market.
Avoid this backstep by taking the time to think about what your goals are in a year, in five years, and even in 10 years. What accomplishments do you want to achieve and what skills do you want to develop by then? What new responsibilities do you want to have? What sense of purpose do you want from your job? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you find an organization that aligns with your future vision.
During the job interview, ask about the firm's vision. Also, find out what leaders are doing to work toward those goals. This will show you if they’ll be able guide everyone to success. Remember, being able to trust your leaders to succeed in the future will impact your engagement. If their plans and actions don’t match up with your own goals, you likely won’t be happy in the long run.
3. Reach out to current employees
When you’re highly skilled, firms will try hard to convince you to work for them. The attorneys you interact with at receptions, in interviews, and in hospitality suites will generally be the happiest attorneys who have found the most success at the firm. And the answers provided by those attorneys and the legal recruiting personnel mightbe spun in a way that’s not entirely accurate or representative of the actual experience at the firm. Get the real answers by connecting with current employees.
Professional social media sites like LinkedIn allow you to find a list of people who currently work for the firm. Find a few junior to mid-level attorneys and reach out and ask them what it’s really like to work in the office.
For example, how does the organization handle recognition? Quantum Workplace’s research found that recognition is very important to legal service professionals. A firm needs a culture that regularly acknowledges associates’ hard work.
When reaching out to current employees, explain why you’ve contacted them and let them know you’d like to ask them some questions. If they agree, ask for a few minutes by phone or in person and ask questiosn like these:
- How frequently does your manager recognize your performance?
- What types of recognition have you been given (verbal, bonuses, promotions)?
- Do you think your co-workers appreciate your contribution to the team?
- Are you happy working for the firm? Why or why not?
- Are you given constructive feedback to improve?
The answers will give you an idea about the firm’s culture. Then you can decide if that’s the right work environment.
As a new attorney, choosing the best place to work can be difficult. But if you know what you need to be happy and successful, you’ll know what to look for. Then you can make a better, long-term decision for your career.
Dan Harris is a Workplace Insights Analyst at Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day.
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