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Industry Insights Blog

Recognizing Great Talent Through a New Lens

Kate Harry Shipham

By: Kate Harry Shipman

The ‘P3’ Practice Innovation Conference, held in Chicago on May 17-18, did not disappoint on delivering some excellent content and valuable takeaways on pricing, project management and process improvement for law firms.  

One session in particular touched on some beliefs that inform my work every day, “Building an Empire: How to Design an Effective Pricing & Project Management Team.”  The panel consisted of:

  • Christopher Ende, Managing Director, Pricing & Project Management at Goodwin Proctor
  • Brian Fanning, Pricing Director at Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Bart Gabler, Director of Pricing and Legal Project Management at K&L Gates
  • Brad Antici, Director of Strategic Pricing & Analytics at Butler Snow

Each panelist presented practical insights on how to build an effective team when dealing with niche subject matter experts in law firms. Regardless of whether we’re talking about building a pricing team for a law firm, a project management team, a marketing team, or an HR team, the fundamentals are the same and can never be overstated in terms of how you proactively seek out the right professional for your team and firm.

The group understood both the challenges and opportunities of hiring and explained how, with the right approach, you can address those challenges in a way that creates a positive impact on your firm culture and bottom line. The group assembled the following list of the components most critical to their hiring practices:

Proactively seeking out talent: 

  • hire the person, train the skill
  • focus on softer skills as they equate to longer term success
  • good on paper does not always translate to being good for your team
  • sell your role to people you know you need
  • market the opportunity and potential in the role and what that means at your firm
  • legal experience is not always necessary.

Interviewing potential candidates: 

  •  incorporate behavioral interview techniques, but make sure they’re highly tailored for your role
  • give the person being interviewed a real time problem and see how they walk through the logic of how to solve it
  • don’t overlook a lunch or coffee interview, as a less formal interview setting will bring out a different side to that person and allow for critical rapport building

And lastly, the panel stressed that there was no formulaic approach to building a team, or an empire, for these sorts of functions in law firms. In my experience, this is absolutely true and we see it every day with our law firm clients.  Every single law firm is different and your hiring process should reflect those differences. Fortunately, these key fundamentals and lessons learned can be applied to any firm seeking to build out a strong, successful and impactful team to support and guide their lawyers.

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