Mastering the Hiring Process for a Profitable Firm with Geoff Hoatson

Uncategorized Jun 30, 2022

Productive employees provide quality work and increase a firm’s efficiency and profitability. Hiring the wrong candidate is not only frustrating but also costly for your law firm. Thus, it is critical for you to establish a concrete hiring process.

In this episode, Geoff Hoatson joins us to talk about the importance of employing the right people for the benefit of your firm. He also provides helpful insights on the hiring process and how he grew his law firm through staffing. 

If you want to learn how to hire the right people for your law firm, this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Learn how to hire the right people for your firm. 
  2. Discover the importance of hiring people with the same core values as yours. 
  3. Find out how firing bad hires will benefit your whole firm.


Episode Highlights

The Beginning of Geoff’s Law Practice 

  • Geoff did not decide to become a lawyer on purpose. 
  • He intended to follow in his father's footsteps as a doctor until he realized he hated science. 
  • His first work as a lawyer was at a small Atlanta-based law firm that eventually became a “casualty of the economy.”
  • Geoff had no desire to open his firm; it was his family’s growing needs and financial situation that compelled him.
  • He started with family law for a few years before building himself and transitioning into his desired practice areas: elder law and estate family planning

What Helped Geoff Grow His Law Firm

  • After reaching $600,000 in profit, Geoff brought on another person who served as the full-time marketer and non-attorney salesperson who was able to generate leads, get referrals, and close clients. 
  • This enabled the firm to scale up quickly, both in number of clients and company size. 
  • A firm’s salespeople are the lifeblood of its business. They bring the right leads and conversions. 
  • Finding a marketer that also makes non-attorney sales is now difficult because people do either one or the other. 

How to Hire the Right People for Your Team 

  • Geoff believes that the key to your law firm’s growth is finding the right team members for every job. 
  • Consider the positions to be filled. There are different qualifications for a sales job, administrative work, and executive positions. 
  • Base your hiring process on a set of core values. If a candidate does not align with the firm’s core values, do not hire them. 
  • Derive a system for hiring people. Assessment tests like the Working Genius, Predictive Index, or the Kolbe Index will allow for a comprehensive review of potential employees. 
  • Listen to Profit with Law Episode 34: What’s Your Hiring Process? to learn more about Moshe’s internal hiring process. 

Why Hiring Systems Work 

  • The key to any system is to find one that works for the firm.

Moshe: “[You can] develop your own [system] — it doesn't matter — as long as you have a structure around your business. So you're being intentional, and you're being purposeful with your actions, and you're not just allowing things to happen to you.”

  • Moshe begins his hiring process with a core values assessment, followed by a role-based assignment, and a Kolbe Index check. The final step is the Working Genius, a pay-per-assessment project management test. 
  • WizeHire is another cloud-based software dashboard for hiring. It offers hiring coaches, built-in assessment tests, and a Kanban board to move candidates along the process, among others. 

Stick to Your Hiring Process

  • Another key to hiring is sticking to your process and established criteria. 
  • Do not worry if the firm has a 20-step process. It filters the people who really want to work for the company 

Moshe: “If you did a good job marketing your firm and what’s in it for them and their core values align with yours, they’re going to be passionate about your mission… And those are the ones that you want to get to the finish line.” 

  • Geoff shares his experience in deviating from his firm’s process. He hired people who were great for the job but did not share the same core values. They either left or ended up fired.

How Important Are Core Values? 

  • Hire people that share your firm’s core values, and you will likely end up with people who love their work and the people they work with.
  • Bad hires are like cancer in your firm. They end up spreading negativity throughout your firm and staff.
  • Moshe emphasizes the importance of finding people who meet all your hiring criteria. The filtration process is created for a reason.
  • Following the hiring process improves your firm’s chances of hiring solid lifetime or career-time employees. 

Moshe: “[Staffing] is the key to growth, right? Like, Geoff doesn’t have to show up in his office and he’s making money because everybody there is doing the job.” 

Geoff’s Take on the Profit First Method 

  • Geoff shares that he was scared of hiring early on. However, staffing was what drove the firm’s growth at a “fairly rapid rate.”
  • He believes that the Profit First method is not for everyone. 
  • If a firm wants to grow at a rate of 100% per year or two, then the Profit First method is not the way.
  • In this case, the firm will need to reinvest everything into its business. Invest in good marketing efforts.

Moshe’s Plan-Grow-Scale Framework

  • Plan. 
  • Grow by filling the firm’s capacity. This should be done early on with the help of loans, borrowed money, and credit cards, among others. 
  • As the firm grows and builds a book of business, it will be able to sock money away for future business. This will make the scaling part easier. 
  • Scale by adding new capacity and (after you will continue with the Plan and Grow stage to fill it out  again to fill the new capacity). In this stage, your firm will spend more money than it has coming in.
  • Early on you may need the help of loans, borrowed money, credit cards, etc. But as the firm grows and builds a book of business, it will be able to sock money away for future business. This will make the scaling part easier.
  • Listen to the episode to learn more about the Plan-Grow-Scale Framework. 

What Geoff Would Do Differently

Geoff: “I am a mistake-making machine, [and] if there is a mistake out there you can make, I am going to find andfind it and I am going to make it.”

  • Geoff believes that mistakes allow him to refine his firm’s processes, staff, or message until it finally works.
  • It is important to have the determination to continue engineering, prototyping, and refining.
  • He would also change his mindset to understand that there will always be problems. 
  • Geoff also would be quicker in pulling the trigger on separating from letting go of employees he knew were not right instead of spending months trying to save them or overlook their problems.

Geoff: “How long have we been strangled by the wrong people? Or how has our growth been strangled by the wrong people?”

Firing the Bad Hire Benefits Everyone

  • Getting rid of bad hires will allow them to find the right place for themselves. If they are in the right place, they can perform twice as well.

Moshe: “Yes, you are responsible to pay your employees, but you’re not responsible for their life… You are responsible for [what’s] best for you and your firm.”

  • If somebody’s not working bywell in the firm, they will eventually leave. The best option is to release them to get them to the next step as soon as possible.
  • Keeping the bad hires will only hurt the whole firm.

Geoff: “Part of running a successful, profitable business is making sometimes hard decisions. I’ve got to protect them, and I view that now as protecting the flock even at the expense of a single sheep.”

How Geoff Built His Marketing Plan

  • Geoff has explored commercials, radio, and print. He also has full-time marketers. 
  • You have to dedicate enough money in a medium to make it successful.
  • Geoff also makes sure that he is very intentional with his firm’s marketing. He makes sure to take it one medium at a time. 
  • Listen to the episode to learn about Geoff’s marketing journey. 

About Geoff

Geoff Hoatson is the founder and CEO of Family First Firm, an elder law firm dedicated to helping clients protect themselves, their families, and their legacy through Medicaid qualification, wills and trusts, veteran's benefits, guardianship, and probate. The firm prides itself on a “tested, non-traditional approach which focuses on client experience and superior case results.”

Geoff is a graduate of Emory University School of Law in 2008. He started his own practice in 2009 where he dedicated the last decade to serving seniors and families in Central Florida. He was also a Member Board of Directors at the Hospice of the Comforter Foundation. 

If you’d like to get in touch with Geoff, you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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