Hiring an associate attorney is exciting – because it means that business is good and you need more help – but it is also extremely stressful. The wrong attorney at a firm has so many negative ramifications that it is critical to take the time to get it right.
My business partner Natalie Alane and I have definitely gotten it right with our two associate attorneys – both of whom are WMU-Cooley graduates.
We started our law firm Alane & Chartier, P.L.C., in September 2007. We left working at the Michigan Supreme Court on a Friday, and we were open the next week for business. We had a plan and vision for our law firm and that plan involved hiring staff and attorneys once we were ready to take our firm further along our chosen path.
When we decided that we were going to hire associate attorneys, we took a lot of care to make sure that we found attorneys who would be a great fit for the firm. Candidates may be wonderful attorneys, but it was imperative that we made sure that those we ultimately selected would be right for the law firm.
Not only are the candidates interviewed extensively, but they must complete “the clinical.” Part of the clinical is an hours-long portion of the interview process where the candidate works alone to produce written work that is comparable to what will be expected if he or she joins the firm.
It is a terrific way to make sure that the candidate’s written work will be a good match for what we need. We get to see what the attorney can produce in a few hours with no assistance from anyone. As a litigation firm that also does a lot of appellate work, excellent research and writing skills are a must for our attorneys. (And with our newest firm addition being former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, we have another great resource to ensure that the firm’s work is top-notch!)
For me, I also consider how much I would enjoy being in the car with the candidate for a long period of time. It is not just a hypothetical because I practice all around the state, so there have been a number of long car rides. If you do not enjoy the person, then it would add another layer of stress that is just unnecessary.
We really got it right when we hired Takura Nyamfukudza and Nicole Hughes. Takura came on board a little over two years ago, and he is already making his mark as a criminal defense litigator. He has won numerous awards – including being selected as the State Bar of Michigan’s Outstanding Young Attorney for 2015 – and is an enthusiastic and hard-working attorney. Nicole is also a superstar in the field of family law. She graduated first in her class in law school and her drive to do her best is evident from the rave reviews she receives from the clients she helps and the judges she practices in front of her. One client recently wrote that she was “amazing” and we couldn’t agree more.
Both Takura and Nicole came to us with a drive to serve their clients and excel in the legal field, and they are definitely achieving those goals!
Attorney Mary Chartier has a broad range of experience in the legal field. Before founding Alane & Chartier with business partner Natalie Alane, Mary worked at the Michigan Supreme Court, as well as at the Court of Appeals. Mary’s practice is devoted to criminal defense litigation, defending parents in child protective proceedings, and appellate advocacy. She specializes in handling cases dealing with criminal defense and constitutional law, and she practices throughout Michigan in state and federal court.
What practices do you feel are good ways to find and hire new associate attorneys? Let us know your ideas.