Human Resources, Law Firm

HR Best Practices in the Legal Landscape: Protecting Your Firm and Employees

March 07, 2024

Managing human resources in law firms can be challenging due to the unique nature of legal practices and the specific laws that apply to their structure. Additionally, legal professionals must adhere to certain standards, which further adds to the complexity of human resources management in law firms.

Employee protection in law firms is a significant issue in practice management. Here are our recommended HR best practices in the legal industry and the best strategies for legal professionals growing their teams.

Understanding Legal Industry HR Compliance

Like any industry, law firms must comply with federal and state labor laws regarding overtime, paid leave, pay transparency, and discrimination and biases. However, their legal structure adds additional regulatory challenges from an HR standpoint.

HR legal regulations for firms can be muddy because of the overlapping lines of supervision. Generally, an attorney has to directly supervise any work their assistants perform. The reality is that most legal support staff report to HR for day-to-day personnel issues, such as requesting time off. This can lead to crossed wires and conflicting answers based on the firm's needs, and cause tension, which leads to lower morale and retention.

Essential HR Best Practices for Law Firms

According to Bloomberg Law's 2021 survey of law firm benchmarks, attorney well-being remains the top challenge for 55% of law firms, with retaining talent being the second most pressing concern. Having enough support staff on hand for attorneys is a critical element in preventing burnout and increasing morale. Offering more flexible work arrangements and remote work also helps law firms retain top talent.

Conflict resolution is particularly important for legal professionals. Conflicts come up in every workplace, but it is crucial to have conflict resolution training so that managers can create a standard procedure for addressing conflicts. This ensures that caseloads can be managed and internal arguments are resolved. Discordant workplaces lead to higher turnover and strain on staff attorneys who may already have too many cases to handle.

Confidentiality is not just a concern for current and potential clients of the firm. Situations where a conflict of interest is presented may call into question ethical guidelines in addition to the mandates law firms are already subject to. Firms that cannot efficiently and ethically address a conflict of interest will suffer, potentially facing steeper consequences.

Employee Protection Strategies

Employee protection in law firms is a pressing issue, whether they are attorneys, support staff, or serve in other functions. Like in any other industry, hostile environments can quickly lead to poor retention and morale, as well as legal trouble. Employees need to feel that they're in a supportive and inclusive environment that demonstrates their work is valued and that recourse is available if they are harassed or intimidated.

Instituting strong anti-harassment and diversity and inclusion policies helps protect employees and the firm's mission. Additional support, such as employee resource groups and benefit programs supporting individual and group wellness, fosters more robust collaboration and a sense of security.

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Technology and HR Compliance

HR technologies are now critical to managing legal compliance and records alike. HR management tools aren't just timesheets and payroll but an entire suite that gives managers and employees an efficient way to communicate and track data.

Automated recordkeeping in modern solutions ensures compliance with wage and hour regulations, in addition to rules regarding certifications, safety training, required certificates, continuing education, and more. These recordkeeping systems keep both management and employees up to date on any required training they must attend, and remind them when they need to take refresher courses or continuing education to maintain licensure. In the legal field, this entails having sufficient CLE credits. Depending on where an attorney practices, this may also include a minimum number of pro bono hours.

Employee training and onboarding can also be done through HR technologies at the employee's own pace. Self-service options are more engaging than sitting through a meeting and don't require a manager or supervising attorney to be present. The platform can designate which sessions are required and provide video, text, or interactive experiences that offer employees flexibility that fits their learning styles.

Empower Your Law Firm with Expert HR Solutions

Elevate your practice with our specialized HR services designed for legal professionals. Transform challenges into opportunities by ensuring compliance, enhancing employee satisfaction, and fostering a thriving work environment. Connect with us now to discover how our tailored HR solutions can propel your firm forward. Discover how Payday Payroll can help. Get in touch today!

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