Lateral Hire Onboarding – the Library Perspective

We have a new associate starting this week. New lawyer hires are a frequent event at my firm. There have been 15 so far in 2013 (including students) which is a big number if you are dealing with onboarding on an ad hoc basis.

Like most others, my firm has a program in place for onboarding new hires. Our summer and articling students have a formal orientation program. We have a training and desk support program for legal support staff and administrative staff. Lateral lawyer onboarding is a bit different.

New lawyers, like everyone else, have technology training and orientation. They are given support from their practice group and we have a firm wide continuing education program for lawyers that is based on years of practice bands. My library team offers research training when a new lawyer joins the firm based on learning objectives.

Today, I want to share my teams checklist for the things that we do in the law firm library when a new laywer joins us. In addition to our library orientation and resources training procedures (a different checklist), we manage the lateral lawyer onboarding task using ttask timelines.




Circulation preparations

Pre start

Research service passwords

Pre start

Shaunna to add to SharePoint group(s)

Pre start

Tour and inform about borrowing procedures

First or second day

Inform about Field Libraries sources in print

First or second day

Inform about Field Libraries electronic sources

First or second day

Disbursements and
OneLog (inform re procedures)

First or second day

Research memos (inform of procedures including Worldox
full text searching)

First or second day

Routing lists adjustment

Give list at first meeting; Diarize to follow up two weeks later, if not rec'd

Rules of Court Handbook (Evaluate for need)

Discuss at first meeting

Follow up with research sources, procedures, fieldnet,
research docs

2 weeks after hire

As you can see there are many tasks that could go undone if we didn’t have a checklist – something that would leave a negative first impression on a new client [the firm’s lawyers are my team’s clients]. My team shares in the onboarding tasks and the checklist is an electronic document that we collect in a central place for each individual.

Lawyer orientation has been addressed on Slaw a couple of times in the past. How is your lateral hire process working?


  1. One thing I tried to do was connect with the lateral hire in advance to find out what resources he/she typically used. That way I could assess if we needed to budget for something new, and made sure we met the expectations of the new arrival. Particularly important with a more senior associate.

  2. Another item I would add to your checklist would be to mention that we provided case-tracking and news alert services as well as compilation of business development portfolios. It is never too early to find out which industries and clients, trends are near and dear to a new lateral attorney.

  3. Thanks for the post, Shaunna. Checklists are a great way to ease the stress and frustrations of onboarding (even if it’s lateral). I wish more people would share them. One thing I would add: make sure you get notifications if tasks go unfinished for more than a few days. There are many tools to help with this such as Basecamp or others.