The decision to grow. It's a huge turn for most of us out there doing the solo/small firm schtick. But those of us enjoying that road know how important it is to have help (either because you have it, or you've had to suffer without it). Here's an example: the printer breaks. Better check with your IT person...you. Or you need to serve a subpoena. Put in a call to your secretary...you again.
As the years grow on, perhaps you're ready to make the jump to hire help either for you, or besides you. It's great to expand, but there are loads to consider. Being true to my style, I'll just give you a stream of consciousness. Don't expect answers...ask me questions about DUI breathalyzers and blood gas chromatography, I can answer those...but I'm just a caveman on most of the business end, and learning the game just like all of you. Here are some thoughts to chew on:
Business and payment structure:
How do you have your firm formed? Sole proprietorship? Incorporated? Really, one main consideration (at least that we've seen), is how you pay yourself, and how you expect to pay someone else. Do you use payroll? If not, you may want to look into it, so taxes are withdrawn paycheck to paycheck.
Health coverage is ex-pen-sive. And that's one of the biggest benefits for working for someone else, assuming they are covering your health benefits for you. If you hire, should you offer health benefits? If so, how much? Do you want the employee to pay in part, or are you covering everything?
First, is this something you want to offer yourself? Second, is this something you want to offer your workers? If so, there are different ways to set up the 401k. How much do you want to match yourself, or the employee? When do you want the investment to vest? There are different tiers (e.g. 100% vesting right away; 20% after the first year, and tiered years after; 100% after 3 years). You may not want to vest someone right away if they bounce on you after a few months.
Sick days/Paid time off:
Do you want to set up time off as sick days v. vacation days, or just straight paid time off? You can have a payroll company track all this for you, but it depends how you want to allocate these days, and how many days you want to allow.
No surprise here, if you hire another associate, your insurance goes up because there are more lawyers to insure. Although some insurance companies will do back coverage for the year, instead of insuring the new associate through the year.
Wow, what a big question this is. How much do you pay someone in light of all these expenses? The salary is one expense, but all these benefits, parking, insurance add up quick.
Well, food for thought I guess. Or live and learn, whatever works. All this can easily file into the category of "you have to spend money to make money" whether it's so your support staff frees you up to focus on being a lawyer, or it's you hiring an associate to help spread your great work!