The Effective Lawyer Episode 15: How To Manage Lawyers

Last updated on: April 29, 2021

The Effective Lawyer Episode 15: How To Manage Lawyers


The Zinda Law Group team discusses one of the biggest challenges that attorneys face as their practice starts to grow: how do you manage a team of lawyers working with you? Sharing their thoughts and experience with Zinda Law Group founder, Jack Zinda, about some of the challenges and tactics they use to help manage the team are Christie Feyen & Cassandra Pillonel.

Discussed in this episode:

  • From lawyer to manager
  • Challenges of managing lawyers 
  • Onboarding a new associate 
  • Hiring for culture fit
  • How to manage a new attorney

Challenges of managing lawyers 

Zinda has established a training and development team to mentor and train new attorneys. They’re constantly refining their practices when it comes to training new lawyers, straight from law school, as well as existing lawyers. 

“We tell everybody joining that we have a very robust training program, and we do, but it is what helps sets us apart,” says Jack.

The skill of management

Even if you have a small practice, being able to effectively manage your small team can lead to great results. That’s the objective of a great manager, to get the best outcome from your team. 

“One of the biggest challenges,” says Cassandra, “is that you have to create an environment for the attorneys where they can learn, and what is inherent in the learning process is making mistakes.”

Balance allowing young attorneys to make mistakes they can learn from without it leading to malpractice or a grievance issue. 

“Time is the biggest challenge,”adds Christie, “because our lawyers are so busy, finding the time for career development [is tough].”

Onboarding a new associate 

“The onboarding process is crucial when it comes to getting new associates into the firm. They have to know that it’s going to be a journey. And there’s going to be times where there needs to be training and feedback,” says Cassandra. 

Build rapport with new recruits, get to know them, have fun, you want them to like you, you want them to feel invested and welcome at your firm. Once they’re comfortable, then you can begin training and development. 

“You can’t have someone come in cold, hardly get to know them, and then start shouting feedback at them, that’s not going to be well received,” adds Christie.

Hiring for culture fit

You can really like someone, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good cultural fit for your firm. Keep in mind a bad cultural fit can be detrimental to an existing culture. 

Every organization’s culture is different. Define yours first, and then figure out your core principles and purpose, and include those in your job postings. 

“If someone’s not fitting in, it affects their work, and it might affect the team’s work. If someone has a particular style that doesn’t quite jive with our processes or procedures, it’s not setting them up for success. It’s not setting our clients up for success.”

Establishing if someone’s a good fit

“Focus on what people do, not what people say,” says Jack. “Superstars who perform at really high levels are not always the ones patting themselves on the back. And people that are not a good fit may be the ones that are trying to convince you that they’re a good fit.” 

Create a list of what you expect from a new attorney in their first 90 days and then review their work against it to see if they’re measuring up to what they talked about in the interview. 

How to manage a new attorney

“Listen more than you speak and admit your mistakes,” says Cassandra. 

“Don’t be afraid to give feedback when it’s warranted or when it’s needed, because it doesn’t help you to not correct someone,” says Christie, “they’re not going to grow from that and you don’t grow as a manager.”

On today’s podcast:

  • From lawyer to manager
  • Challenges of managing lawyers 
  • Onboarding a new associate 
  • Hiring for culture fit
  • How to manage a new attorney