It is no secret that finding, hiring, and, most importantly, keeping great team members has become harder since the pandemic. There are many factors that play into this, so how do you make yourself an appealing employer that retains new talent and keeps the great talent you already have?
The answer is simple: Invest in your teams’ growth and development!
At Vista, we believe that investing in your team members is a win, win. By doing so, you are ensuring your firm and your clients are represented by the best talent, and you are showing your team that you care about them and want to provide them with avenues of growth. Top talent hungers for growth. There are several ways to do this, but in this blog, we want to focus on providing impactful continuing education opportunities for all team members. The opportunities are plentiful, and not all of them require an extensive budget. With lunch and learn events, certified education courses, guest speakers, and the utilization of subject matter experts on your team, you can provide new knowledge, helpful reminders, and creative solutions to all employees.
Cross-Departmental Knowledge Sharing
Hosting a “lunch and learn” within your office is undoubtedly the easiest way to provide a continuing education opportunity for your team. The topics and subject matter are plentiful for a plaintiff personal injury firm. Each department plays a vital role in moving a case from intake to disbursement. Depending on the size of your firm, many team members in different departments may not know how other departments play into this process.
What better way to bridge the gap than to have department leads or managers host a lunch and learn to explain what their team does? We find these to be successful and have a high level of engagement. This is an easy way to cultivate relationships across departments, in turn strengthening your firm culture and avenues of communication.
Pro Tip: It is best to choose one topic within the process to focus on at a time.
With all lunch and learns, it is important to provide reference materials and examples for the team to follow along. This ensures understanding and gives them something they can look back to in the future for reference. Going a step further, you might consider providing a “Certificate of Completion” to team members after they have attended. While it may seem cheesy, the sheet of paper is something tangible for your team; a visual representation of what they have achieved by attending the lunch and learn. Don’t underestimate the power milestones and achievements can have on your team.
Bringing in Outside Talent
Your case managers and paralegals may benefit beyond interoffice sharing by bringing in outside sources to speak with their teams. A few examples of topics that are always good to stay up to date on are liens, estates, and subrogation. Since they tend to be heavy on subject matter, we recommend breaking them down into quarterly meetings, highlighting different areas within each topic to maximize the knowledge share.
We have also seen firms bring in doctors and nurses to help teams understand the intricacies of traumatic brain injuries resulting from a car collision. This is not only a great opportunity for your case managers but also for your attorneys. The better educated they are in these matters, the better an advocate they are for your clients.
Consider Sales-Focused Training
Intake can be one of the harder departments to train, as we know every phone call presents a new and different situation. Your intake department requires knowledge in all practice areas of your firm and sometimes beyond if you are heavy on referrals. Intake is the sales end of the legal business, so why not provide them with quarterly sales training? Although all sales are not the same, the concept is.
The goal is to provide the prospective client with confidence while making your firm the most attractive option to help with their situation. While conducting sales training for intake, it is important to ensure the tactics align with your brand, and there should be an emphasis on the development and cultivation of emotional intelligence. Intake is often repetitive and can become oppressive after listening to so many callers. Because of this, it is not uncommon to have a specialist become disingenuous, detached, or disillusioned. Retention is always the goal, but listening, understanding, and empathizing must remain at the forefront of intake. Depending on the caller, the approach the specialists take will sound different. For example, retaining a hernia mesh case will not sound the same as a catastrophic motor vehicle crash. It is important the specialist knows the difference and handles it accordingly.
Finally, we often hear of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for attorneys, but did you know there are similar opportunities for paralegals? While it is not mandatory for a paralegal to be certified, many are. Just like an attorney’s license, paralegals are required to take a set number of hours in continuing paralegal education (CPE) annually to remain certified. Continuing paralegal education requirements may look different from state to state, depending on the local State Bar.
CPE courses are a great way to remain up to date on new laws and regulations, as well as any changes in laws. If you have certified paralegals in your firm, they can access the State Bar website to learn more about the CPE courses currently offered. Covering the expense of CPE courses for your certified paralegals is a great way to continue developing them while pouring back into them as they support your clients.
Make the Investment
The possibilities of investing in your team are endless, and it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming to come up with and organize lunch and learns or other knowledge shares. Consider creating an interoffice committee to collaborate with your team members to brainstorm on topics and speakers. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
While topics directly related to your firm’s work are essential, it can also be impactful to host events that provide knowledge and insight on topics like: leadership, emotional intelligence, personality types, and communication. This critical endeavor will add another level of buy-in throughout your firm. If you are putting in the effort to pour back into your team, you can’t go wrong with whatever avenue you choose to take.