Treat the process of hiring a Contract Lawyer or Paralegal as you would if you were hiring a new permanent staff member.
- If possible, start the process of hiring a Contract Lawyer or Paralegal well before you need someone to cover for you. Allow yourself a sufficient amount of time to find the appropriate Contract Lawyer or Paralegal for your practice.
- Be clear about what you want the Contract Lawyer or Paralegal to do in your absence. Will the lawyer or paralegal be handling administrative work as well as your legal work? What are the key files and deadlines you need to brief him or her about? Clearly identify and explain the work required. Detailed memos on each file are necessary.
- Request a résumé and interview candidates to determine whether or not the Contract Lawyer Paralegal has the requisite skills for the job and whether or not he or she is a "fit" for your clients and office. It is the Contract LawyerParalegal's responsibility to ensure that he or she is competent to handle any legal work you have agreed to assign. At the same time, you should satisfy yourself that the Contract Lawyer Paralegal has the requisite skill and knowledge to deal with your files. Accordingly, you will want to ask the Contract Lawyer Paralegal detailed questions about his or her previous work experience in the areas of practice required. If you have staff, observe how the Contract Lawyer Paralegal interacts with your employees. Do not be afraid to ask the Contract Lawyer Paralegal how he or she has handled difficult clients or conflict situations in the past. Remember that your questions must comply with the Human Rights Code (Ontario).
- Ask the Contract Lawyer or Paralegal for references and for permission to check them. In addition to past employers, ask to speak with opposing counsel with whom the Contract Lawyer or Paralegal has previously worked. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions, including "Would you retain/work with this person again?"
- As the contracting firm/lawyer/paralegal, it is your responsibility to satisfy yourself that the Contract Lawyer or Paralegal is right for you. You can check the current status of the lawyer or paralegal on the Law Society's Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. In the interest of the public, the directory includes the current status of the lawyer or paralegal, such as whether his or her licence is suspended, if his or her licence has been revoked, or if there are restrictions on the practice. You can also check Current Hearings, which lists information about upcoming hearings before Hearing and Appeal Panels for the current month, and Tribunal Orders and Dispositions.