General Issues Related to Staffing

While staff is invaluable (and in many circumstances essential) to the operation and growth of a practice, remember that once you have hired staff you become a "lawyer-employer."  Quite apart from the issues of what it means to practise law, a lawyer-employer needs to consider many practical issues. A thorough overview is beyond the scope of this module, but some of the issues to consider are:
  • providing continuing education for staff to ensure they are staying current in areas relevant to your practice;
  • setting aside time for regular staff meetings to give and receive feedback, and make employees aware of the firm's direction;
  • reviewing, understanding and complying with employment law obligations, including issues such as tax deductions, and benefits;
  • establishing rules as to how technology, such as e-mail and the Internet, are to be used by staff; and
  • emphasizing the confidential nature of the information the staff will have access to, and the obligation to preserve client confidences. Remember that you must take all reasonable steps to ensure the privacy and safekeeping of a client's confidential information (rule 3.3-1 of the Code of Conduct).
These issues represent a superficial overview of the matters you will have to consider as an employer.  Before you hire, take the time to educate yourself about staff issues and develop a plan. Consider developing an office manual that sets out standard procedures, firm policies, as well as employee benefits, and ensure that it is available (in hard copy or electronic form) for each employee.