How To Run a Law Firm | Who To Hire: HR Manager - Martindale-Avvo

How To Run a Law Firm | Who To Hire: HR Manager

Resume. Human resource management and hiring concept. Job interview, recruitment agency.

Once your law firm reaches a certain number of staff, it’s time to hire a human resources manager. Having someone on your team who specializes in managing staff and handling related administrative work can be invaluable for your practice. Hiring the right HR manager can help your practice grow while freeing you from managing every HR task yourself.

Below, you’ll learn what HR managers can do for your law firm, what you should look for in qualified candidates, and how to interview and hire an HR manager who fits the needs of your practice.

What Do HR Managers Do?

HR managers are responsible for all human resources tasks within your practice. While they report to you, they take on primary responsibility for issues related to employment, talent recruitment, and staff concerns. Some of the most critical tasks handled by HR managers include: 

  • Recruiting excellent staff for open positions within your firm
  • Onboarding new employees, including collecting their information for payroll, adding them to critical systems within your firm, and training them in the requirements for their role
  • Writing and enforcing clear and thorough staff policies on topics such as employee behavior, health and safety, and workplace harassment
  • Addressing employee complaints, conflicts, and concerns
  • Coaching employees and carrying out performance and compensation reviews
  • Performing workplace disciplinary and termination tasks

HR managers are also critical to ensuring your law firm complies with labor laws on both federal and local levels. If your law firm has more than 15 employees, you must comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Firms with 50 or more employees must also comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, your HR manager will ensure that your practice complies with tax, benefits, and payroll regulations, so there are no irregularities in how your employees are compensated.

What To Expect From an HR Manager Candidate

All HR managers should have training and qualifications related to the HR field. As a starting point, you should expect all candidates to have degrees in human resources or related fields as well as professional managerial experience in the industry. Beyond this, you should also look for skills such as:

  • Leadership. HR managers are one of the primary points of contact for your entire staff. They should have considerable leadership skills to ensure they can successfully manage employees and mediate conflicts.
  • Organization. These professionals are responsible for many administrative tasks within your organization. Qualified applicants will demonstrate strong organizational skills in their work history.
  • Multitasking. Managers need to handle a wide range of tasks daily. Successful HR managers will be able to multitask and balance both immediate and long-term demands on their time.
  • Positivity. HR managers are responsible for maintaining employee morale, so positivity is an important character trait.
  • Persistence. Many HR responsibilities are ongoing or repeating tasks, making persistence critical for success.

Average Salary Range for HR Managers

HR managers see a wide range of salaries depending on their experience level. According to, the average base salary for HR managers in the US is $70,031. However, this salary can range from $49,000 to $96,000, depending on how long the manager has been working in the field. 

For example, HR managers who are new to the role may only expect an average of $54,102 per year. Meanwhile, the standard for professionals with 20 years of experience is $77,036. Keep these salary ranges in mind when considering what level of expertise your HR manager needs.

Interviewing and Hiring HR Managers

Once you’ve decided to hire an HR manager, you need to determine what you want from a potential candidate and then choose the right person for the role. To accomplish this, you’ll need to write and post a job description covering the responsibilities and skills you want the candidate to provide. Once you receive applications, you’ll invite qualified candidates for interviews to find the person who fits your firm. 

HR Manager Job Description

There are two critical elements to an HR manager job description: the tasks involved in the role and the skills, experience, and qualifications you expect from candidates. HR management job descriptions typically include duties such as:

  • Enforcing firm HR policies consistently across all staff
  • Recruiting new staff 
  • Training all staff on relevant HR policies
  • Maintaining employee compensation and benefit programs
  • Upholding compliance with federal, state, and local labor laws
  • Performing necessary administrative tasks

Human resources managers need a range of skills to accomplish these tasks. When you’re writing your job description, consider including the following requirements to ensure you receive applications from qualified prospects:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources or a related field
  • 5+ years of experience in human resources roles
  • 1+ years of management experience
  • Experience with employment law
  • Experience with hiring and interviewing candidates
  • Familiarity with your firm’s payroll, HR, and other critical management programs
  • Strong leadership and organizational skills

Once you have refined your HR manager job description, you can post it on hiring websites such as Indeed and Monster to solicit applications from qualified candidates

Interview Process

Once you receive applications, you can sort through them to choose which candidates to interview. The interviewing process allows you to get a feel for candidates beyond their resumes to find candidates who fit your company culture while providing the necessary skills for the role.

The number of interviews you choose to conduct is up to you. If you receive a few stand-out applications, you may only need to complete a handful of interviews to find the perfect candidate. However, suppose you receive many applications with solid qualifications. In that case, you may need to narrow the field by conducting a round of phone interviews and inviting the best candidates for in-person meetings. 

Critical questions to ask during interviews include:

  • What parts of the HR management role are most challenging for you? How do you ensure that you accomplish these tasks despite their difficulty?
  • How do you approach employee management? Describe a time when you had to resolve a difficult situation as an HR manager in the past.
  • How have you implemented or improved HR processes in previous roles? How did this impact the organization?
  • What aspects of this position are most appealing to you? What do you want to accomplish as an HR manager at this law firm?
  • What compensation do you expect from this position?

These questions help you better understand each applicant’s work history, management philosophy, and ability to respond to stressful circumstances. At the end of the interview process, you should know which candidate will fit your firm best.

Using Third-Party HR Resources

Not every law firm chooses to hire a dedicated HR manager. Instead, some firms opt to work with third-party HR resources to outsource these tasks. These services are external organizations that specialize in handling HR tasks for subscribing companies.

In some circumstances, this can be more efficient, but outsourcing the HR components of your law firm also comes with some drawbacks. It’s critical to understand how these resources can help and hinder your firm before you decide whether to work with these services.

Benefits of Using Third-Party HR Services

Working with external HR services means you don’t need to hire your own HR manager. That comes with two significant benefits:

  • Cost-effective. HR services can often be more cost-effective than setting up your own HR department within your firm. You can capitalize on economies of scale by subscribing to the service. They will provide you with access to the software and professional support you need, often at a lower cost than hiring a manager and purchasing software yourself.
  • Flexible. HR services also allow you to be more flexible, making it easier to grow as a firm. If you choose to expand, you can simply increase the HR support your third-party partner provides. They already have the resources available, so you don’t need to expand your HR department just to grow as a firm. 

Drawbacks of Using Third-Party HR Services

Outsourcing your HR processes does involve a few drawbacks, however. Crucially, you will face:

  • Reduced control. When you outsource your HR tasks, you no longer have direct control over those functions. If you want to learn what’s happening within your HR processes, you need to contact the service, and you may not receive complete transparency.
  • Less knowledge. The service handling your HR processes will not be embedded within your firm like an in-house HR manager. This means they may not have the requisite knowledge of your practice’s processes and needs. The knowledge gap could lead to less personalized and lower quality HR services than a dedicated professional within your organization could provide.

Grow Your Law Firm by Hiring a Qualified Human Resources Manager

An HR manager is essential if you want your law firm to expand. This professional will take charge of the management and administrative tasks of a growing law firm. By hiring an HR expert, you will reclaim your time so you can focus on running the firm instead of responding to individual employee concerns.

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