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Some Thoughts On China Law Office And Legal Assistant Hiring

China law office hiring or Legal hiring new support legal staff is always a leap of faith, and it can take some time to find out whether someone is the correct "fit" or whether it's time to move on.  Before you start the interview process, take some time to figure out what's really important for YOU in YOUR law office, not what the experts tell you to look for.  Generic interview questions won't give you the information you need.  Of course you want someone who's intelligent, who can file correctly, who shows up when scheduled.  But there are skills and tasks that are going to drive you crazy if they're not done to your specifications.  Figure out what these things are, and find the person who either has these skills or  is trainable (and make sure you have the time/patience to train them).

After legal hiring your legal assistant, it's a good idea to give performance feedback on a regular basis.  I uploaded a Performance Evaluation to my docs online a couple of years ago.  Change it as necessary to suit the needs of your particular law office. I usually recommend legal hiring on a 60 or 90 day trial period.  This gives you both time to evaluate the situation and decide whether it's going to work, and gives you a smoother "out" if it's not working.  At the end of the trial period, sit down with the new hire and review the form together.  BE BRUTALLY HONEST ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS. 

Do this right from the start.  Don't expect employees to read your mind or to know what you want if it hasn't been expressed to them.  Even for your very best employees, always show something that has room for improvement and always set goals.  It can be something as simple as completing a particular CLE, or more complicated such as implementing a new practice management system, but always give your employees something to work towards.

More information than you asked for, but legal hiring/training legal staff is expensive, and it's great to be able to get it right the first time.

Best of luck in your legal hiring process!

Lots of good ideas above.  To me, judgment (knowing when you are out of your depth/authority/etc) is a critical ability because it can't be taught.  Long time since I looked, but I think you can find situational judgement tests that a fairly close to your situation.

FOR SURE--have them do some actual job (insert para numbers, format) on Word or software you use.

It may be silly but I have always used a little honesty test.  Leave room while they are doing computer task and also tell them to punctuate the following:

that that is is that that is not is not is not that it

AND DRAW best circle they can with their eyes.  Closed.

The first is mostly for distraction but a few may  get it correct.

If the circle "closes," you can be pretty sure they cheated.  You have to decide what to do with that info. As an experienced China lawyer, you had gone through the process of being hired and starting to hire somebody else - interesting.

 
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China Lawyer BLog AuthorPeter Zhu, an experienced China attorney licensed to practice law for more than ten years, the author of this China Lawyer blog, welcomes any enquiry or consultation related to Chinese law.