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Law firm staffing and termination

Even though our staffing book, Hire Slow, Fire Fast, implies you should terminate people quickly, we don’t recommend firing anyone when you are angry or enraged (even though it might be the most emotionally satisfying thing you could do).

If you are faced with a situation that requires you to take immediate action, such as an associate caught using illegal drugs in the office, suspend the individual to give yourself a cooling-off period and plan the termination correctly.

Even in a state that affirms employment at will, individuals may be extremely vindictive, they may belong to a legally protected class (race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age, and physical and mental disability) or they may have other grounds for legal action.

When faced with potentially libelous situations, a suspension buys you time to contact an employment attorney to discuss the circumstances and plan the proper approach.

If you are not facing a potentially libelous situation, swiftly terminating a problem individual is best for you and your team. Here’s why: it can be deadly for the team’s morale if you allow a problem employee to linger in their position. Aware of their offenses, the rest of the team may begin to question your leadership abilities and their respect for you may become seriously eroded.

If a sub-par performer remains employed, the rest of the team may downgrade their performance, concluding that you, or firm management, won’t take remedial action.

If the individual is missing a great deal of work or showing up late, despite attempts at intervention, it can lead other employees to wonder why they’re held to a higher standard.

Toxic employees, even when they are good performers, can damage morale by sabotaging your initiatives, undermining performance standards and creating an atmosphere of contention or negativity.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Mark Powers & Shawn McNalis

Mark Powers, President of Atticus, has been coaching attorneys for nearly thirty years. He is the founder and developer of the first personalized training program dedicated to teaching attorneys the lasting skills and habits necessary for practice development. These skills include strategic planning, client development, customer service, prioritization, time blocking, managing interruptions, financial management, staffing, and delegation… [read more]

Shawn McNalis, Atticus Curriculum Director and Practice Advisor Trainer, is a former Imagineer with the Walt Disney Company and credits her 15-year career with Disney for her creative, collaborative approach to advising attorneys. In partnership with Mark Powers for 20 years, Shawn is a senior practice advisor, director of curriculum, and a trainer for Atticus… [read more]

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