How and When to Hire Your First Employee or Independent Contractor

by Melanie Fischer on March 15, 2017

Business meeting

Are you ready to hire someone to answer your phones, keep your office organized, manage your calendar, handle your accounts payable and receivable, and/or assist with any other work-related task? Most solo attorneys could benefit from at least a little bit of extra help at the office. But hiring is not necessarily an easy process.

Realizing when the time is right to hire an employee or an independent contractor is crucial. Waiting until you are too overworked and overloaded may not be the best time to hire someone. Conversely, hiring someone when business is slow is not necessarily the optimal time either.

Knowing When It’s Time to Look for Help
Even though it can be difficult to know the exact moment when you should take the big step towards hiring someone, you should listen to your intuition. If you believe the time is right, start the process. Try not to rush. And make sure you have a good, positive feeling about the person you hire. You never want to hire someone who makes you feel apprehensive from the get-go.

 Employee vs. Independent Contractor
When you want to hire someone to assist your firm, you have the choice of making that person an employee or an independent contractor. No matter what you decide, it’s important to understand the guidelines for paying that person and withholding taxes (if applicable). And there are several other regulations to follow as well.

Information on the specific differences between an employee and an independent contractor can be found in articles published online from these reputable sources:

Where to Look for an Employee or an Independent Contractor
After you’ve decided whether to search for an employee or an independent contractor, your next step is finding the best person for the job. There are many places to look for either an employee or an independent contractor. Here are a few of the most common choices:

  • Free Job Boards
  • Fee-Based Job Boards
  • Social Media – Including LinkedIn
  • Word-of-Mouth Referral
  • Employment Agency
  • Bar Association Job Board or Classifieds

Keeping Your Employee or Independent Contractor Happy
No matter who you hire, or whether you hire an employee or an independent contractor, it’s important to make sure that individual is a good fit for the job and that he/she remains happy and excited about coming to work.

Following are some tactics for keeping your employee/contractor happy – besides giving him or her a raise:

  • Keep the lines of communication open – make sure you are available to answer questions, provide advice, and offer guidance when it is needed.
  • Build a trusting and respectful relationship – if your employee/contractor feels important – as if he/she is making a difference – he/she is likely to perform at a higher level.
  • Say “thank you” – these two little words can go a very long way and can make your employee/contractor feel truly appreciated.
  • Offer perks and benefits that may not be found elsewhere – a (relatively) flexible work schedule or dress code can be just as valuable to your employee/contractor as money or paid time off.
  • Make your office environment enjoyable – keep in mind that not many people strive to work in a dark, messy, unpleasant office atmosphere.

For additional advice on how and when to hire your first employee or independent contractor, ask your professional peers for suggestions. Others in your area may know a fantastic person looking for employment, or they might have advice on how to achieve success in this endeavor.


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