Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

How are you different from any other recruiting firm?

In five critical ways that we like to call the “Five F’s.”

1.  Focus: Our dogged refusal to recruit for anything other than Professional Legal Administrators, COOs and CFOs for small law firms allows us to do that one thing better than anyone on the planet. This includes unparalleled access to the precise labor pool these professionals swim in. 

2.  Fit: We set the industry standard in terms of our investment into knowing both the role and your culture inside-out to ensure we’re all crystal clear on what an “A-fit” applicant looks like for you. From job descriptions and applicant scorecards that pull on decades of industry experience, quizzing and interviewing, to Kolbe testing to refine an ideal conative personality profile for your prospective hire. We leave no stone unturned to ensure we know how to identify an “A-fit” applicant when we find them.

3.  Filtering: Our focus and fit-definition process allows us to deploy a proprietary and industry-defining filtering system to separate the best from the rest according to your definition of success as we help you define it in our step above. We’ll spare you all the technicalities here, but it involves a mix of written quizzing, interviews, and personality profiling – all enhanced by some algorithms we deploy at certain points along the way.

4.  Follow-up: 100 hours of course content as just one component of a 12-week onboarding process to lay a proper foundation to ensure you get the maximum ROI from your new hire? Who does that?!? We do.

5.  Fidelity: Unlike “spray and pray” contingency recruiters who play in averages, everything in our process – from our pricing structure to the process itself – is designed for us to be a client-obsessed firm without equal. We don’t take many clients, and we don’t rest until we put you on a track to realize a seven-figure ROI from your new hire! Toward that end, 30-day recruiting guarantees (an industry standard) are silly. That’s why we’re trying to re-define the recruiting industry with our one year guarantee.

On each and every one of these points, we don’t just lead the industry – we re-define it. Seriously. Try and find another organization on Planet Earth that executes on any of the five points above even half as well as we do. We’d love to meet them if they exist.

Why are you so obsessed with small-firm COOs and CFOs?

Because (1) the pain point is so significant, (2) the current market to help law firm owners solve it (prior to us) is so inadequate, and (3) because we know this world like no one else.

1.  The Pain Point:  The presence of a true C-level business executive – who know more about running “the business end” of your small business than you do – is a necessary pre-requisite to a law firm sustainably maintaining gross revenues in excess of $5M per year, and ultimately comes with a seven-figure ROI. The absence of someone in these key positions not only prevents these firms from reaching the next stage of growth, but frequently constrains the firm owners to feeling like prisoners to their own law firms – perpetually drowning in “the business end” of their small business, to the detriment of their personal, professional and financial well-being. If this sounds like hyperbole to you, it’s not. We can calculate the ROI of what a hire like this would likely be for your firm (using real math, that you can understand). Also, see our FAQ about the difference between a COO and a Professional Legal Administrator for increased clarity here.

2. The Market:  And yet, DIY efforts and efforts to fill these roles end in about a 60% failure rate within the first year according to Harvard Business Review, supplemented with some stats from the Small Business Association and our own research. There are several reasons for this high failure rate, which we can discuss in detail later, and outline elsewhere. But, clearly, the “jack of all trades” approach most recruiters take – even recruiters who focus just on the legal industry (including, usually, any and every role within a law firm – of any size) aren’t working.

3.  Our Expertise:  So, how are we able to flip this script, fill these roles with a failure rate below 10%, and offer a one-year guarantee for anyone we help you hire? Because we know this world better than anyone else. SLFR was founded by Justin Crawford, in partnership with How to Manage a Small Law Firm. You can read more about that journey on our About Us page. But, the long and short of it is that literally hundreds of years of combined industry experience went into forming the systems that make the SLFR Process, from the authorities in this space.

What's the difference between a COO and a Professional Legal Administrator?

Glad you asked. Many small law firm owners confuse these two roles. Often times, an existing secretary or paralegal is promoted over time to have some increased responsibilities and given a title of “Professional Legal Administrator” – leading the firm owner to believe that they already have this core role filled in their firm, when their “Professional Legal Administrator” really amounts to little more than a glorified Office Manager – not a true Chief Operating Officer (COO).

You can read more here about what a true COO looks like – and the difference between a COO and an Office Manager. And feel free to play with our ROI Calculator to calculate the value of investing in a true COO.

Below are 4 simple questions to determine if you already have a true COO on staff, or if you’re desperately in need of one.

1.  Do you have someone on your staff who is smarter than you are about running “the business end” of your small business? Someone who sits alongside you in your C-Suite as a true co-strategist to help you identify and drive strategies to increase your firm’s growth and profits?

2. Do you have systems in place, and a person to manage them, such that you could walk away from your law firm for 1-2 months with emergency only access and come back to a firm that’s running as smoothly, if not more so, than it was when you left?

3. Do you have someone on your team responsible for managing all non-legal staff according to metrics and KPIs (vs. time cards, meetings, or looking over people’s shoulders all the time)? Does more than about 10% of “HR drama” within your staff ultimately fall on you to handle?

4. Do you as the owner of your firm feel obligated, as a necessary measure to keep your firm running smoothly, to spend more than 5 hours per week working in your business on anything other than (1) high-level billable work, (2) rainmaking, or (3) working on big-picture planning and strategy?

What's a Fractional Chief Talent Officer (CTO)?

You may hear us refer to “Fractional CTOs” or “Fractional CTO Services” from time to time. Which begs the question – what the heck is a Fractional CTO.

The term Chief Talent Officer (CTO) was coined back in 2000 to describe a senior-level C-Suite executive within a large corporation responsible, not merely for internal recruiting (that is, filling whatever roles (s)he is ordered to fill by a more senior executive) but for taking senior-level responsibility for driving the talent strategy of an organization.

Think of it like the difference between a bookkeeper and a CFO. A bookkeeper can enter whatever data you tell her to enter into whatever accounting system you set up, and generate whatever reports you tell her to generate. But she can’t analyze them for you to drive a strategy to increase your growth rate and profit margin. Nor can she recommend new things to track and analyze that you haven’t even thought of. You need a CFO to give you that type of strategic insight.

Similarly, while any hack recruiter can throw names at you attached to whatever job description you give them, you need a true CTO to actually help you analyze what positions you should or shouldn’t be hiring for in the first place… and calculate your expected ROI for each position (current and new) in your firm. This ROI analysis is a big part of what we do, and one of the key points of differentiation between us and other recruiting firms.

Today, most major corporations have someone in their organization filling this mission-critical role. But, of course, no small law firm could ever justify hiring someone into this role as a full-time position. So, we offer fractional (part-time) CTO services to our clients to help fill the gap.

Our Process

How long will it take to find my new hire?

Of course, the answer to that question is that it depends, in part, on you. For one, it depends on how thoroughly and efficiently you participate in our process. Furthermore, not all requirements are as easy to knock out of the park as others. If, for example, you need a COO who is bi-lingual, that significantly limits the pool of prospective applicants, makes our job considerably harder, and therefore may take us a little longer to fill. Similarly, it’s a lot easier to find rock-star candidates willing to relocate to New York City than it is Gillette, Wyoming. But, with that caveat aside, our process usually takes about three months from start to hire date.

1.  Our process kicks off with a “Defining Success” project, crafted to make sure we’re crystal clear what the center of the target is, and have laid a proper foundation for success going forward before we start headhunting. This process usually takes about two weeks to complete.

2.  Then, our typical recruiting process takes about 2 months to complete. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more, depending on various factors such as the factors outlined above.

3.  Add two weeks from the date an offer letter is signed to the actual start date for the new hire, and we’re now at three months. Of course, I’m sure you can imagine scenarios whereby this part of the process can sometimes take longer too. Again, these are general estimates – not guarantees.

Remember, this is a high-level, game-changing position for your firm… not a virtual assistant we could probably fill for you in a couple days. “Slow is fast” for these positions. Better to get the right person into the role in a couple months than get “someone” into the role faster – just to have them wash out in a few months.

And, of course, our entire process doesn’t last three months. As of the hire date for your new employee, we’re still just getting started – and will now embark on an onboarding process that lasts another three months beyond that!

What is Kolbe, and why should I care?

Kolbe is, to put it simply, the only personality profiling system we trust to actually have the predictive capacity to help us determine if a new hire will naturally thrive in a given role within an organization. It is the most scientifically-based, peer-reviewed, and sophisticated personality profiling system we’re aware of, and it’s a critical component of a process that gives us the confidence to offer a one-year guarantee for anyone we hire. Lauded by Fortune 500 CHROs, psychologists and professors alike, here are just some of the organizations that rely on Kolbe for their hiring assessments: NASA, Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, IBM, Accenture, Price Waterhouse, American Express, and Verizon Wireless, among universities like Stanford and Northwestern.

A critical reason Kolbe stands out from other personality profiling frameworks is that it focuses on measuring conation, in contrast to cognitive or affective personality testing, which has limited utility in a hiring process.

  • Cognitive tests such as the Wonderlic try to evaluate your IQ, but can often be easily gamed by someone of the level we look to recruit for. We have proprietary testing designed to vet for this better than any standardized test.
  • Affective tests such as Myers Briggs, DISC, and Strengths Finder try to evaluate your EQ and communication style. These tests have some utility for managing interpersonal conflict within an existing organization but have very little utility in a hiring process – certainly no peer-reviewed and scientifically-verified results we can find.
  • Kolbe, however, is the only test that looks at your conative instincts. That is, the instinctive talents you were born with – and how you’re most naturally inclined to act when given a new role. And, after all, how your new hire is inclined to naturally act when assigned new tasks, in a new job, is the key thing we need to know to determine if they’re a good fit for the role we’re going to be hiring them into. And Kolbe is the only system that has almost 50 years of data backing up its predictive capacity here.
Do you ever have the same person apply to multiple client firms?

Yes, we do. Not infrequently, in fact.

At the end of the day, while each client has unique needs and unique candidate profiles – with unique firms, in different locations, with different practice areas, different cultures, and different things to offer a potential hire – we’re all basically fishing from the same labor pool here. (A labor pool we’ve devoted our entire careers to digging into more deeply than anyone, or any other organization, on the planet.) Thus, it’s not uncommon to see the same candidate apply to multiple client firms.

So, what do we do when this happens? Well, not much, really. As it’s relevant, we’ll be transparent as necessary – or as you desire – about any overlap of applicants between client firms. When that happens, it is not our role to try and push either the firm owners or the candidates to one candidate/firm or the other. We simply complete our process as we otherwise would, providing the same analysis and recommendations we otherwise would, and let the details sort themselves out. Job applicants are always applying to multiple firms whenever they’re in the labor market – so the fact that we happen to know more than one of the options they’re looking at doesn’t really change anything. It’s still all about finding the right-fit candidate for the right price. In our experience, those details sort themselves out the same as they would if whether we happen to be involved in the process for multiple firms a given candidate is looking at or not.

The alternative would be for us to intentionally withhold a potential “A-fit” prospective applicant from one client so we can maintain an allure of “magic” about our process and how we find and present “select” candidates to our clients… even if that client is likely a better fit for Firm “B” than Firm “A.” And, we’re not interested in playing that game. We’re more honest and transparent than that.

Money Stuff

Are your fees contingent on me hiring someone you introduced me to?

No, with an asterisk (read on). Contingent recruiters are an entirely different animal than us. In short, it’s important to always keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and consider how the incentives of you and your recruiter are aligned.

A contingent model is an applicant-centric model, that works based on laws of averages. In short, you build up a database of talented people, then just throw them at as many prospective clients as you need to until someone picks them up. A contingent recruiter knows that a very large percentage of firms who are technically his clients will never actually sign one of his applicants (and, therefore, pay his fee), but he devotes such a small amount of time to each individual client that it’s OK. The math all averages out in the end.

We couldn’t be any more different. We are half consultant (Fractional CTO) and half recruiter. So, we have a client-centric model designed to take on very few clients, but not rest until we completely knock it out of the park for the clients we take. And we prefer flat fees so that you can trust our advice when we advise you on things like comp strategy – because we’re making the same fee regardless of what you end up paying your new hire.

But, part of our commitment to having happy clients means aligning interests and making sure that if we can’t find you someone  you’re head over heels in love with – even after devoting extensive resources to the effort – that you’re not left with a full-price bill in that event. That’s where our Refund Policy kicks in.

Do you offer any refunds?

Consulting Services

We believe so strongly in the quality of our recruiting services and the results we get that we offer refunds for those services as outlined in the section below. And, more excitingly, we offer an industry-leading one-year guarantee for anyone we place in your firm. (See the section below for more details on that.)

For all of our consulting services, however, our billing practices are closely aligned with performance. In other words, by the time we’re charging your credit card, we’ve already allocated resources on our end to perform those services – whether you chose to utilize those resources or not. Consequently, it is not our usual practice to issue any refunds once a payment has been collected. With that said, we will issue a full refund or credit to any client as a result of a billing error or other accounting discrepancy, on a case by case basis.

Recruiting Services

If you engage in our recruiting services, only to (a) ultimately decide that no acceptable applicant can be found, (b) remove the hiring requirement for this contracted-for position, or (c) decide not to complete the recruiting process for any reason, we will refund 75% of the portion of your fee specifically allocated to said recruiting services. Just remember that no portion of your fees related to our consulting services is ever deemed refundable. (See above.)

The SLFR Guarantee: As long as you play “all in” with our process – especially the Defining Success and onboarding portions of said process – then any hire we recruit for you comes with an industry-leading one-year guarantee! That’s right. We’re so confident that no one does what we do as well as we do it, that if the working relationship between you and your new hire is terminated within one year of the employee’s hire date, we’ll recruit a replacement free of charge and provide onboarding services for said replacement as well.

For more details on the SLFR Guarantee, see the Recruiting section in our Terms of Service Agreement.

How can you offer a one-year guarantee on all hires?

Our hyper-focused niche has allowed us to create a highly refined process which, coupled with Kolbe testing, gives us the confidence to truly put our money where our mouth is with this guarantee.

Our competition calls it “unrealistic” and “reckless.” We just call it fair, and good business.

Still need help? Send us a note.

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