Sandy J Lavender, CHRS is the Office Manager and a Human Resources Specialist for Clark Hill PLC in Scottsdale,...
Carl H. Morrison, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in the...
What things can paralegals do to become a better hire? In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison talks to Sandy Lavender, office manager for Clark Hill PLC about recruitment strategies for paralegals and legal support professionals. They discuss the important skill sets they look for when hiring for these types of positions and give tips for improving resumes and interview skills. They also encourage paralegals to become certified with one of the legal support professional organizations. Stay tuned to the end for Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring audio questions or comments from a listener. To send in your own question, email Carl at [email protected]
Sandy Lavender is a certified Human Resources specialist and office manager with Clark Hill PLC.
The Paralegal Voice
Paralegal for Hire! How to Be an Exceptional Applicant
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice, here on Legal Talk Network. I am Carl Morrison, a Certified Paralegal, devoted to law, and your host to The Paralegal Voice.
I am a Certified Paralegal and Paralegal Educator and I am devoted to not only the paralegal profession, but to all legal professionals, from legal support professionals, to paralegals, to those whom we support, attorneys, I am devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. NALA, the Paralegal Association, is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education and professional certification programs for paralegals at nala.org. NALA is a force in the promotion and advancement of the paralegal profession and has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And, CourtFiling.net; CourtFiling.net is your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas and provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Visit CourtFiling.net to see how you can e-file court documents with ease.
And also, Thomson Reuters Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks so you can accomplish more with less.
And finally, ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high-volume serves, who embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
The goal of The Paralegal Voice is to discuss a wide range of topics important to the paralegal industry and share with you leading trends, significant developments and resources you will find helpful in your career and everyday job.
My guests will be engaging and informational, and of course, as those that have been listening to my show for a while now know it’s always going to have that little bit of fun thrown in there.
Today my guest is Sandy Lavender, certified Human Resources specialist and Office Manager with Clark Hill, an international law firm.
Thank you Sandy so much for joining me today.
Sandy Lavender: Well, it’s a pleasure to be with you, Carl. Thank you for having me.
Carl Morrison: I’m excited for today’s show. I know listeners that have been listening to the show they’ve spoken to me and sent me emails about paralegal recruitment and legal support professional recruitment and tips and tricks, so I think this is a well-received and exciting topic for today. So let’s get started.
Like I said our topic is all about recruitment strategies for paralegals and legal support professionals and before we get deep dive into this exciting topic, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, Sandy?
Sandy Lavender: Well, as you mentioned, Carl, I’m the Office Manager for Clark Hill PLC, which is an international law firm and I started with the firm in about — in 2005 as their Office Manager and Human Resources Assistant in the Detroit office, which is where they’re headquartered.
In about 2015 I was asked to move to the Phoenix area to relocate and help build and grow that office and one winter out here on a trip and I was happy to oblige, no turning back, pack my bags and I’ve been here ever since.
Carl Morrison: Well, funny that you’ve mentioned that, because as an additional or fellow what I consider South Midwesterner from Oklahoma moving out to the desert, now I live in Las Vegas, and I don’t miss winters and I’m sure you don’t miss winters in Detroit either?
Sandy Lavender: I don’t miss the winters one bit. I miss — I liked the snow, I liked the crisp and the whiteness of the snow, but I hated the gray gloomy skies. And I am a sunshine lover and so like I said, my first week out here just as a visit to see if I would even consider it once I was done I was sold. I’m done.
Carl Morrison: So I think you and I are now lifelong desert dwellers?
Sandy Lavender: Yes, yes, I think so.
Carl Morrison: All right, so I have to start a show with a discussion about something that you’ve been doing that I’ve actually been following you on Facebook and I love it, absolutely love it. I know this year you’re calling it Sandy Snippets, last year you called it Motivational Mondays.
Sandy Lavender: Right.
Carl Morrison: So would you mind to tell the listeners a little bit about what I’m calling your pet project that you undertook, what was your inspiration for doing it?
Sandy Lavender: Sure, sure. It did start as a pet project in 2018, January 1 I was sitting at home, I was getting ready mentally and emotionally to go back to work after the holidays, and I wanted to start the year outright with my employees.
I wanted to jumpstart their day, their week, their year, and so I decided to just write them a note and the message was something like it’s going to be a great year, we got this. I don’t even remember exactly what it was, but it was just something to say, I’m really excited about this year and we’re going to do great things.
And then after I passed them out everybody thought, well, that was kind of cool and so I thought, well, I’m going to do it again next week. And so I started finding these motivational messages, and as the project grew I committed to doing it for the entire year. I thought I’m going to do this every Monday they’re going to have something to open. Mondays are hard enough to come in and start your week and they’re always bad and so I’m going to give something positive to look forward to.
And then I started getting these kind of emails saying, wow, it’s like you were in my brain. I’ve been struggling with this or that was the answer I was looking for and so it validated what I was doing, and once the year was over, everybody said, please don’t stop, please don’t stop we love these; and so, I committed to at least another year and just decided to change the name to shake things up a little bit, just to go from Motivational Monday to Sandy Snippets.
Carl Morrison: Sandy, I have to tell you, I absolutely love that and not to derail my interview, but I really have to ask you, did you really see a change in maybe some demeanor and outlook from your employees that you were doing this for?
Sandy Lavender: I honestly did. So most Mondays you walk around and you say good morning, how was your weekend, and everybody is just like, eh, good morning, it was fine.
Now, I walk around every morning at 7:30 in the morning, I hand them their envelope and they say, thank you. Oh ye, another one or even if it’s loud pink and you’re wearing pink they just — they’re so happy to get that little kind of snippet of positivity. So it worked.
Carl Morrison: I love it. Perfect, great. So let’s talk about recruitment, recruitment strategies for paralegals, legal support professionals, those that we work with. I’ve talked on prior shows about networking strategies for paralegals and the importance. So do you as an Office Manager get involved in legal associations, and what associations do you belong to?
Sandy Lavender: Sure. Yes, I’m a 20-plus year member of NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals. When I first joined back in 1998, I was working for a very small firm in the Metro Detroit area and my boss wanted me to — I was new to the legal field, he wanted me to meet people network a little bit and I instantly loved it.
And then when I moved to Clark Hill, I have to say that I think that they were a little bit maybe apprehensive about the value that they were going to get out of paying my dues, but shortly after I was with them maybe a year or year-and-a-half, we opened an office in Grand Rapids, Michigan and they only had one support person going with them to this new office that Clark Hill was going to open up from an existing firm and they were short-staffed and my boss said to me, do you know anybody in Grand Rapids? And so I reached out to my NALS of West Michigan friends and within a week I had that office staffed. It was amazing.
And so now my employer sees the value for them not just for me, and when we go into new markets they tap my brain on who maybe might be available to join our firm. So it was a great investment for them and for me.
Carl Morrison: So you’ve seen the — and your employer sees the benefit of you as an Office Manager really capitalizing on your legal-related networking channels to find applicants.
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely. There are some office managers who belong to SHRM, there are some office managers in the firm who belong to ALA. I happened to belong to NALS and each one of those associations brings great value to Clark Hill. And I don’t even have to ask, it’s just an automatic line item for my dues every year and my travel, I’m very fortunate.
Carl Morrison: That’s fantastic, that’s really great. Do you belong to any other legal-related associations by chance?
Sandy Lavender: I do not.
Carl Morrison: Okay, yeah, but you see the benefit of belonging to an association to capitalize on getting those prime applicants, which is great.
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely, yup.
Carl Morrison: So when you’re seeking in applicants for an open position what in your role — your specific role as an individual, what are some of the more important skill-sets that you are looking for in an individual?
I know some of these skill-sets are specific to the particular job and position, but in general what are some of the more important skill-sets that you look for?
Sandy Lavender: Well, first and foremost, I look at the ability to communicate well. I mean it’s just paramount, and also that they’re self-starter. So them initiating a membership with an association to me speaks volumes for their commitment to their career.
The ability to do jobs without being told what to do, I love that somebody can just take a project and run with it. So I think those are really, really big attention to detail of course is very, very critical, good judgment obviously, willing to work collaboratively, and for good measure, I think it doesn’t hurt to have a good sense of humor because at the end of the day, when you’re tired you got to laugh; otherwise, you’re never going to get through this stressful position.
Carl Morrison: One of my favorite lines from a movie I love, Steel Magnolias is, and I’m paraphrasing but the best thing is laughter through the tears. And I couldn’t agree with it more. For me, humor is a huge part because we work in an industry that is so stressful and if we don’t find a little bit of humor and joy, it can be soul-crushing.
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: And so I agree with you. Humor, humor is a great, a skill-set and I never – when I teach students about some of these important skill-sets that we’re talking about, communication being taking the initiative and being a self-starter and teamwork and working collaboratively, I never thought about humor as a skill-set that maybe you should invest in.
Some people are just not funny people and they’re not one to smile and laugh a lot, but even having that breaking a smile could do so much in the law office or corporate legal department, because like I said, we work in a very stressful job, and yeah, I love that. I am going to have to add that to my curriculum.
Sandy Lavender: Yeah, if you’re not funny it doesn’t mean that you can’t do your job well, but if you can’t laugh then I wonder right, you just have to have that kind of release, that’s my philosophy anyway.
Carl Morrison: So, I will tell you what, let’s take a short commercial break and when we come back, we’re going to continue our conversation with Sandy Lavender, so listeners don’t turn that down. We’ll be right back.
Looking for a process server you can trust? ServeNow.com is a nationwide network of local prescreened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a prescreened process server today. Visit www.serve-now.com.
Advertiser: Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management software for solo and small law firms provides a single online location for all of the tools you need to manage client files and perform client work and offers unrivaled integration with Westlaw. With Firm Central you can securely store and organize documents and case files, manage time tracking and billables and collaborate with clients through a secure client portal from anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. We’ve been chatting with Sandy Lavender from Clark Hill, PLC about recruitment strategies for paralegals and legal support professionals. And Sandy, before the break, you and I were talking about important skill-sets that you look for in a paralegal or legal support professional.
So when you’re filling a legal support position, how specific and descriptive do you get when you’re crafting your job listing?
Sandy Lavender: Very specific quite frankly, only because it’s really important that we get exactly what we’re looking for and that I’m not wasting my time looking at a resume that’s not up to the standards that we need and the experience level that we need. So our job postings are very specific. You need to have three to five years of experience in this business unit, these are the expectations of the job.
And hopefully, people pay attention to that and they submit only if they’re experienced.
Carl Morrison: So you agree that the more descriptive you are in the position posting that you’re creating really the better quality of applicant that you receive, right?
Sandy Lavender: Yes absolutely.
Carl Morrison: What about those job postings that are out there and of course, not yours by any means but they’re out there, we’ve seen them that they’re lacking in specific job requirements or the duties or things of that nature. What would you recommend to a paralegal? Should a paralegal or a legal secretary, a legal support professional ask many questions even before submitting a resume or attending an interview?
Sandy Lavender: Yeah, I think you’re well within your right to contact the recruiting person or the HR person or whomever is listed on the website and say, I think that I might have the requisite skills that you’re looking for but can you tell me what the guidelines are. I don’t want to waste your time or I don’t want to waste my time, although I don’t know that I would phrase it that way.
Carl Morrison: Right.
Sandy Lavender: I think that absolutely the more information that you have, the better you can make an informed decision on whether or not this is the right job for you to apply for.
Carl Morrison: Like I always tell students not to be leery of those job postings that very vanilla and very non-descriptive, but demonstrate that skill-set, we were just talking about self-starter, taking the initiative, to reach out to the person that is listed whether it be an email, a generic email address, [email protected] or whatever, send an email and say I came across your job posting.
I would like to maybe discuss more information about this job, because like you said, you don’t want to waste your time, you don’t want to waste the interviewer’s time. It’s better to find out ahead of time than wasting a lot of unnecessary time.
Sandy Lavender: Right, I would take that kind of inquiry all day, any day, any time.
Carl Morrison: Exactly right. And I have interviewed many paralegals and legal secretaries over the past few years and most definitely like yourself, creating a job posting that’s very descriptive. I’ve actually given recommendations to other office managers or senior paralegals that are doing the interviewing or job posting description, they give it to me and go okay, is this enough and I’ll go, you need to be a little more descriptive, you need to do this that the other.
So yeah, it’s important that you try to be as descriptive as possible because like you said a minute ago, it helps. Make sure that you’re getting the right applicant for the position. I’m sure you’ve done it, I know I’ve done it where we’ve gotten a stack of resumes and you’re going this person did they even read the job posting. So better to be more descriptive than not.
Sandy Lavender: Right absolutely.
Carl Morrison: So let me ask you this, when you’re interviewing an applicant, do you normally seek out those individuals who are certified through a national association like NALA or NALS or the NFPA?
Sandy Lavender: Yes, that definitely grabs my attention. Like I said earlier, it tells me that they’re serious about their career and enhancing it in any way that they can. It shows me that they are invested in themselves. I love to see how active they are as well. So they should tell me what offices they’ve held, did they chair any committees, because that to me shows leadership and it shows that they’re a real team player.
I want them to set themselves apart from anyone, from the rest of the candidates in any way that they can.
Carl Morrison: Yeah most definitely. What advantage do you think an applicant, who is certified, has over someone who’s not certified?
Sandy Lavender: Like I had said earlier that self-starter investment in yourself, it shows that they completed a project, they completed their education, they had a goal. I used to tell my kids all the time when they were going to school or to university, it didn’t even necessarily matter what they studied as much as it mattered that they finished, because that showed stick-to-itiveness, that showed any employer that they were in it for the long haul and that they had the ability to complete something and successfully complete it.
So that’s my way of thinking if somebody’s got a certification, they went that extra mile.
Carl Morrison: You’re exactly right, because certification is voluntary. It’s not mandatory and again, like I tell students, when I get a stack of applicants, one of the first things I’m looking at on their resumes are, are they certified or not. Now, is that the end-all be-all, do I completely throw away their resume if they’re not certified, no.
But it helps me, if I have two applicants, one certified, one is not, their equal footing on all other aspects, skill-sets, job tenure, area of expertise, so on and so forth. If one is certified and one is not and that may be not always, is it a deciding factor but if that’s the one thing that I can weigh to say this one, I’m going to go with this person, then I may use that.
Sandy Lavender: Right.
Carl Morrison: And like you said it demonstrates to everybody that they’ve gone above and beyond, because it’s not mandatory, it’s not required to be certified. And so yeah, I agree with you on that.
Do you think attorneys care whether someone’s certified or not, or do you — does the attorneys that you work for ask I want person certified or not certified or have you heard?
Sandy Lavender: I think it depends on the attorney. There are some attorneys who are very pro-certification and others maybe not so much. And I think that it really does depend on the business unit that you’re working in. Litigation is a huge one where they would want somebody certified or they would look at them in a more positive light if they had the certifications.
And maybe in our Immigration Practice Group maybe not so much, our business unit. But that’s not to say that they wouldn’t encourage them down the road. I just don’t think that it would always get them a foot in the door initially.
Carl Morrison: And you know I agree with you, some attorneys understand the importance of certification, some don’t, I spend a lot of time educating attorneys and for that fact office managers and recruiters on what is certification, because not everyone like I said it’s not mandatory, it’s voluntary and so not everybody kind of follows the trend. And so yeah, I agree with you that some attorneys are yes, I want someone certified and depending on the area of law, it’s not a matter, didn’t care, they don’t care.
Sandy Lavender: Right.
Carl Morrison: And I use that term loosely care, they do care, but —
Sandy Lavender: They do — it’s just not of the utmost importance I think.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly right. Okay so I’m sure you’ve heard a recent term that’s called ghosting and that’s for those that don’t know what the term ghosting is, that’s where an applicant they submit a resume, they apply for the position, they set up an interview and they don’t appear, and you never hear from them again. How do you Sandy or how would you, if you don’t have this problem, how do you handle the interviewee who’s done that?
Sandy Lavender: It’s funny. I’m going to tell you, this sounds kind of — I don’t mean to sound ignorant to this, because I really didn’t realize that this was a thing until just recently. It kind of dawned on me like a light bulb went off in my head. When you and I started talking about this, I do a lot of recruiting for our firm out of my Arizona office for maybe our Detroit office or our Lansing, Michigan office. And many times I’ll set up appointments for people to interview and I’ll call them on my area code from Arizona on that phone number, and I’m calling back to the Detroit area.
And a lot of times people won’t answer the phone, and so I always think, well they just don’t recognize the number and so once I leave this voicemail, they’re going to call me back. But they don’t, and it seems so surprising to me because I’m very clear in my message, I’m calling from our Arizona office. This is for an interview for a position you applied at in Detroit. We’d like to set up a time for you to meet with somebody and then I — and the resumes are impeccable and I think well what was that I don’t understand it.
Until recently then they said well there’s this kind of phenomenon going on with ghosting. I’ve gone so far as to call people who no-showed because I was genuinely concerned for their safety. Silly me, I’m just naive and think everybody’s going to be on me up-and-up but yeah — no, I call people and I say you missed your appointment is there a reason why, is everything okay and if they don’t call me back or if they answer the phone and say I’ve changed my mind. Okay, that’s fine but wow, I can’t believe people really do that in this day and age. I mean it’s just crazy to me.
Carl Morrison: Do you think that negatively affects the applicant for future potential positions?
Sandy Lavender: Oh, for sure and now I’ve got this working file. We’ve got a database where we put everybody’s name in and I’ve got a file and I put notes on everything and if they apply for another job five or six months down the road, A, I’m going to remember your name and B, I’m never going to call you back, never. So, yeah, no, it definitely.
Carl Morrison: I’m laughing because it is a phenomenon that I have had to deal with in the past couple of years. And like you I wasn’t familiar with this term ghosting and I have read articles and blogs about this trend that has been occurring within the past couple of years, and I live in a city that there’s really a huge problem, local recruiters talk about this topic of ghosting because I live in a city that’s driven on the travel industry, people coming in into Las Vegas and the hospitality industry.
And so we have a glut of positions that are out there and not enough applicants. And so people here really truly and even in the legal industry which just blows my mind that apply for position, send in their resume, and you go to call them and set up an interview and you never hear from them, and like you, I do the same thing. I have my little database and I make notes on resumes, and I stick it in my little file. And if I come across a name, an applicant in the future then I’ll go back to that file and say, I don’t recognize this thing — did they already apply to see if I’ve already got a resume on them. And lo and behold it’s happened to me a couple of times that I am like — hmm I made a note here that nope, do not hire.
Sandy Lavender: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: And because it’s — to me it’s a negative, a huge negative.
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: It’s disrespectful to the company that you’re applying; it’s disrespectful to the office manager or the interviewer, and it just doesn’t show a level of professionalism.
Sandy Lavender: Right.
Carl Morrison: I would love to hear. I know our listeners would love to hear it too, some of your tips and tricks and I kind of got three different categories. So I’m going to break it down into three separate areas. So the first area I want to talk about is resume, cover letter writing, give our listeners, if you’ve got about maybe five tips or tricks that you’d like to share about resumes and cover letter writing for an applicant.
Sandy Lavender: For me I’m looking at the obvious warning signs of who not to call first rather than who to call. It’s a quicker process for me and so for all those folks who don’t have relevant experience, despite noting your requirements of the position, it’s a no. Spelling errors and grammatically incorrect letters and resumes are set-aside. Formatting is really important to me. Fonts matter, this is your one shot at consideration. So use it wisely.
You cover letter needs to tell me why I want to keep looking at your resume. Grab my attention but don’t shock me. Impress me. And don’t put your picture on your resume.
Carl Morrison: I’ll also add to your little list, paper color. I don’t want to a resume in bright pink or purple or in like you said fonts, fonts do matter, cursive type font, it’s hard to read. I always tell students keep it very simple. Arial, 11 point or Times New Roman, 11 point, it’s legible, it’s — you can read it, it’s easily read in the dark. You don’t have to — for those that may have like myself on aging myself might have to have some cheaters to help read it, but it’s a size and it’s a font that’s easy to read.
And also adding you said no pictures, don’t put a border around your resume, don’t add any flourishes, keep it very professional and clean. I know that —
Sandy Lavender: Clean and polished that’s what I want.
Carl Morrison: Clean and polished, yeah exactly right, exactly right.
Sandy Lavender: Yep, yep.
Carl Morrison: So what about interviewing techniques? Same thing, top five tips tricks that you would recommend to an applicant that’s going in on an interview, what are you looking for in an applicant when you interview?
Sandy Lavender: Sure. So one of the very first questions that I ask my candidates when I walk in the door and I shake their hand is, have you had a chance to look at our firm’s website. And if they say, no, I’m a little bit put off by that, because I think that in this day and age if you don’t have the wherewithal to inform yourself about the firm that you’re interviewing with, I don’t really want you.
We’ve got a wealth of information, it talks about our culture and our DNA and our history and I want them to say yes, wow I just saw that you celebrated your 125th anniversary recently, that’s impressive, right, because then I know that they’ve looked and that they’ve cared, that they’ve taken an interest.
I want them to be confident but not arrogant. I want to walk away from the interview with the knowledge that they were the best person for the job, but I want to make up my own mind — now is not the time to be know-it-all, it’s the time to be a show it all, right. I want you to show me what you can do.
I want a good firm handshake. I want them to be on time or even a little early and I want them to dress appropriately.
And one thing that I really have to say, something that recently happened to me as I was interviewing somebody for a word-processing position for a very prominent attorney in my office. And this person really had to have keen attention to detail.
This guy is tough and I interview all of my people in a conference room that is one whole wall of windows overlooking the mountains. And I always intentionally put my candidates in the seat that faces the window, because I want to see what their distraction is, I want to see if they can continue the conversation, continue the interview and not be distracted. This word-processor kept looking out the window, and still talking to me but not looking me in the eye, and it was very difficult for me to continue the interview.
So those are the things that A, drive me crazy and B, really drive me crazy because it’s exciting that they’re doing it the right way.
Carl Morrison: Right, again I’m going to add a couple of points to your list of tips. Do a search on your interviewer. If you typically are going to know the person that’s going to be interviewing, like they’ve called you and they’ve given their name, I’m impressed when an applicant has looked me up on LinkedIn or just Googled my name. There’s a lot a stuff out there, good stuff, not bad stuff by the way on the Internet about me.
Sandy Lavender: I am going to have to do that.
Carl Morrison: Right. They can look me up and ask me a question, oh I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you are certified in three different certifications, that’s really — that to me is like impressive, because that shows that like you said, not only are you are checking on the company I’m working for, and know about the history or know whatever about my particular company, if you know about me, then great, then you’re off on the right track.
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: The same thing on interviewing and placing them in a room, there’s techniques to interviewing an individual, to see if they’re going to be distracted. What I used to do at the firm I worked at in Tulsa when I would interview is I would interview them in the conference room that we called the fishbowl, because three out of the four sides had glass.
So it was everybody that walked by and it was a conference room that was right by the reception area, high traffic, so I want, I placed them where my back was to the glass and they were looking out because I wanted to see if they were going to look at me and focus in on me or focus in on the people that were walking by.
And same thing, it sounds you did the same thing.
Sandy Lavender: Even I am the same, yep, yep.
Carl Morrison: So that’s great, that’s great. And of course, also dress, you mentioned dress, and like I tell students, we still work in a very conservative industry. Even the trendiest of law firms still have an air of conservatism when it comes to dress and demeanor in the workplace and while tattoos are not a bad thing, if they are discreet in their tattoos.
So if you have sleeve tattoos wear a long sleeve shirt or blouse that covers most of your tattoos, because there are not only attorneys but judges that are still very conservative in mindset. And so, it’s just best to operate with a mind of conservatism when you’re interviewing. So definitely dress is a big part.
So Sandy, finally after the applicants completed the interview, what are some tips that you would give to an applicant that after they’ve interviewed, what would you recommend to that person, what should they do?
Sandy Lavender: Ask me when I think a decision might be made so that they can kind of have a timeline for when they might be able to expect to hear from me, ask if they’re going to be called back for a second interview or if second interviews are being given. Firm handshake when they leave absolutely and then there’s something to be said for a good thank you note, it’s simple but it goes the extra mile again.
Email is fine, I love getting mail though. I love opening up envelopes and so you can finish that and get it in the mail the same day and I can have it the next day, and I’m not going to think any less of you if I don’t get it for two days. But I want to hear from you. I want to know that you appreciated the time that I spent with you and that you still have an interest in the position and that you think that you’d be a great fit even if you’re not a great fit. I want to hear back or, likewise be honest and say, thank you for your time, I don’t think that this is the right thing for me. I’m okay with that too. But a note is important I think.
Carl Morrison: I love that what you said something that to me just kind of lack of a better term sent shockwaves through me, actually saying thank you, but I don’t think this position is going to be the right fit for me. Please be honest, forthright and honest with me, because there may be another position in the future that opens up that maybe you want to reapply or apply back to my company, back to my firm and because it would be a right thing.
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely. We just have that happened and I applauded the woman for her honesty, it’s not the right fit for me at this time.
Carl Morrison: It’s funny because a thank you know goes a long way and I’ve actually had an applicant one time that we’d made a decision on somebody else and this person still sent another thank you note, they send a thank you note after the interview, but they send another one and said, you know, I just really want to say thank you so much for letting me know that I wasn’t the right fit and I wish you all the best or something like that.
And I thought how nice that you would take the time to send a thank you that you were not accepted, that — that we didn’t want to hire you and for whatever reason, but to me that meant a lot to me that they would take that extra time to do that. So definitely.
Sandy Lavender: I had a client, a candidate did something similar like that to me, a couple of years ago there was one position and two people were up for it, and I made the decision on who it was going to be. And I sent her a letter saying thank you for spending the time with us, investing your time, sorry that we selected a candidate who more closely met our needs.
And she wrote me back and said thank you for letting me know. If there’s ever an opportunity for me to interview for another position please let me know. And within about two months another position opened up, she was the first person I called and she still works here.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, that’s fantastic, that’s absolutely fantastic. I love stories like that. Okay so now, it’s my fun question. Actually I’m going to give you one of two questions to answer. So I’ll let you choose which one you want to answer.
Sandy Lavender: Okay.
Carl Morrison: Okay, my first question if I gave you $40,000 to start a business what kind of business would you start and why or you can choose this question what two songs best describe your work ethic?
Sandy Lavender: What if I want a combination of both questions?
Carl Morrison: Sure, why not.
Sandy Lavender: So, I’m just going to toss them at the song. The first thing that came to mind was, ‘She works hard for the money’, now I don’t know if it’s the right context, but I definitely work hard for them. I don’t have another song.
Carl Morrison: I love that.
Sandy Lavender: But I do have a great idea if you all want to drop $40,000 my way.
Carl Morrison: All right.
Sandy Lavender: I would like to start a consulting business and I would like to consult with law firms or other professional services on how to reward their employees on a budget.
Carl Morrison: I love that.
Sandy Lavender: I think things like Motivational Mondays cost very little. I think small lunches cost very little. I think that there are ways that you can embrace and enhance your employees, thank them properly without it really costing a lot of money. I read an article in The Wall Street Journal recently that said that, perks no longer cut it for workers, and the most successful companies give employees a sense of belonging. And I believe that.
And I’ve seen a huge difference in my office just with the Motivational Mondays, and so if you can change somebody’s workday just by a small act then it’s worth it, because you’re going to get a whole lot more out of them in the long run. So that’s what I would do.
Carl Morrison: I love that.
Sandy Lavender: I don’t know what I call it, but that’s what I would do.
Carl Morrison: I’ve got $20, so can I help invest in your consulting business? I love that, I absolutely love that.
Sandy Lavender: No, but I could send you a Motivational Monday, if you like.
Carl Morrison: Oh I would love that, I would love that Sandy.
Sandy Lavender: All right.
Carl Morrison: All right. I’m going to be on your Motivational Monday list, that’s great. I love it. Ye.
Sandy, thank you so, so much for being my guest on today’s show.
If anyone, if any of my listeners wanted to reach out to you, do you have an email address or contact info that you would like to share with my listeners?
Sandy Lavender: Absolutely, my email address is [email protected].
Carl Morrison: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I hope you enjoyed being my guest. I know I enjoyed you being on the show and I think we gave some really good tips and tricks to those out there that may be looking for a job.
Sandy Lavender: I hope, I hope I was helpful.
Carl Morrison: I think you were, definitely. So stay tuned listeners, after the break for my favorite part of the show called, The Listener’s Voice, that’s your segment to share with me and the listeners your questions and comments. We’ll be right back.
This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that work sometimes happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
NALA offers continuing education, professional development and voluntary certification for all paralegals. The Certified Paralegal credential has been awarded to more than 19,000 paralegals. The Certified Paralegal Program is also the first Paralegal Certification Program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. Learn more about NALA at www.nala.org.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back, we come to the segment of the show called The Listener’s Voice. As you know this is my favorite part of the show. I absolutely love doing this. I love absolutely getting emails from you guys.
So please keep sending emails in, your questions, your comments. I’ve received a lot of good positive things from you guys, so just keep it coming.
This is an opportunity for you as the listener to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations, et cetera. I’m going to go through them. I’ll select those to read on the air. If there’s a particular topic you have a question that you’d like for me to answer, or maybe a prior guest that you listen to, that you maybe had questions for that guest or questions for me about that guest, send me an email and let me know and let your voice, the listener’s voice known and heard. So send me your email to [email protected].
Today’s question comes from an established senior paralegal like myself and this particular paralegal is in the Midwest and they write to me and they say, “Dear Carl, I’m an experienced paralegal with over 15 years of legal experience. I’ve spent many hours fine-tuning and improving my LinkedIn profile. While I love my job and my boss, just recently I was headhunted by a recruiter on LinkedIn for a prestigious company, and offering me what initially sounded very much like the dream job. While this recruiter did not go into great detail about the job I was intrigued by his email message. So much so, I considered reaching out to him to find out more about the job. However, I’m not really looking for a job and really I’m torn if I should even reach out to him. So, what would you do? Help! Signed – Attacked by Headhunter in the Midwest.”
Well, I love the signature line, “Attacked by Headhunter”, and thank you Attacked. So what would I do? Well, I would stop and think about, okay, maybe I do want to reach out to him, maybe they were kind of vague in the position that they were describing to me and maybe I want to find out more, because you never know. It never hurts to investigate. You may love your job, absolutely the pay is great, the employer, the company you’re working for is great, the benefits are great. You absolutely love working for your boss, you wouldn’t want to work for anybody else, but sometimes it helps you as a professional grow as a professional.
So by that I mean just reaching out to this particular individual and asking them or recruiter, I should say, the headhunter, saying, hey, I’m intrigued by what you’ve sent me and what you’re asking of me. Could we talk more about it? I’d like to know more about the position?
Because asking is not going to hurt you in the long run, because you may find out that, oh yeah, this is not a job that I really would want to do. Then again, you may actually look at it in here and go, oh my gosh, this is the dream job. I would love to do this. This is what I want to do. This is my goal as a paralegal.
Because remember guys and gals that paralegals — you create the job and career that you want, and you create the level of success you want. And so stepping out sometimes even though you may be comfortable and loving what you do right now, if you’re approached like that, why not. I mean, what’s the worst thing that happens. You find out it’s not what you’d want to do anyway. Thank the individual for letting them know, maybe you know somebody, maybe you can in your network provide that recruiter with someone else that really needs a new job and really wants to grow as a professional and move into a different position or a different area of law.
So don’t immediately quash it and go, eh, no, not for me, I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to even respond to this guy or gal, because who knows, you never know. It may be destiny knocking on your door and it may be an opportunity that you just can’t pass up.
So thank you so much attacked by headhunter in the Midwest for writing in to me. I hope that answered your question. And listeners, if you have additional questions definitely send it my way, keep the questions coming.
That’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. If you have questions about today’s show please email them to me at [email protected], and stay tuned for more information and upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging in fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
The Paralegal Voice provides career-success tips for paralegals of any experience level.
Carl Morrison shares highlights from 2019 interviews on the Paralegal Voice.
Keith Shannon offers guidance for paralegal professionals on the importance of diligent compliance with ethical standards.
Candess Zona-Mendola shares insights from her book, “The Indispensable Paralegal: Your Guide to Getting It All Done.”
NALA vice president Melissa Hamilton and conference first-timer Sherron Brightharp talk about the conference experience and its offerings for attendees.
Vicki Kunz shares about the innovative opportunities arising in the paralegal industry.
NALA CEO and Executive Director Greta Zeimetz discusses NALA’s strengths and the challenges it will face in the coming years.