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Posted by: Barry Kolar on May 8, 2014
  • Consult with your accountant about expenses and related requirements associated with an employee, such as federal withholding, unemployment insurance, etc.  Be sure to take this into account as you budget for your new employee
  • Consult with a tax attorney about whether there are benefits to changing your business entity structure now that you plan to hire staff (e.g., changing from a sole proprietorship to a PLLC or an S-Corporation).
  • Hire slowly.
  • Write a persuasive advertisement, being careful not to oversell the job; advertise the position in publications that attract quality candidates.
  • Thoroughly vet any prospective employee by calling references and former employers, completing a criminal background check, and obtaining a credit history. Remember, this person may have access to client funds and your funds, and you are responsible for their actions. Make sure that there are no red flags that would cause a reasonable person to pass on their employment.
  • Ask the prospective employee if you can contact his or her current employer, since some applicants may not have informed their current employer that they are seeking other work.
  • Have an applicant complete a written application with a provision that providing false information on the application is grounds for termination.
  • Have a written job description and tie your compensation to the marketability of a person with those skills.  While you should be cognizant of your overhead, do not “low ball” employees.  If you treat them right from the beginning – including fair pay -  they will be loyal.
  • Hire someone with the most experience you can afford.  While you may have been learning the law, they have been running a law office.
  • You cannot teach work ethic to an adult – either they have it, or they don’t.  Do you know that feeling that you get in your stomach when you make a mistake?  That punch in the gut that makes you cringe?  Not everyone has that.  There are some people that really do not care about the work product as long as they get paid.  You cannot teach someone to desire to excel.  If your potential employee does not have that, move on.  Quickly.
  • If you hire a younger (cheaper) assistant, they will probably move on in a few years unless you are able to give significant raises as incentive for them to stay.
  • Hire someone intensely loyal, smart and has a sense of humor--you will need all three to get through some day.
  • The TBA expects its members to adhere to laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, religion, age, and disability.  Although some anti-discrimination laws will not apply to very small employerse, there are some which may. 
  • Familiarize yourself with wage and hour requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law.  State law requires certain break periods, and the FLSA entitles most employees to overtime compensation. Simply calling an employee “salaried” does not make it legal not to pay the employee for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.  You may want to speak to an employment/labor attorney about whether your employee should be paid overtime wages.