Practical Guide of Onboarding

Discover the Onboarding process


1. Key Elements to a Successful Employee Onboarding Strategy, by Dr. Lisa J. Lindsay Wicker, President and CEO of Linwick & Associates, LLC

2. ECIJA Onborading Process, by María Rolandi, People & Culture at ECIJA law firm

3. How to dominate the remote Onboarding process

4. FAQs


Law firms care about giving a transparent image in line with their values. They also care about creating a good image for their clients and new employees. Onboarding is a vital process for the firm's performance. It is also vital for its future. 

An increasing number of studies show that performance is related to the connection between employees and the culture of the law firm. It is therefore very important to make a good impression on new lawyers.

The multidisciplinary nature of law firms requires them to ensure that they have an inclusive and diverse workforce and manage professionals from different areas of the legal sector within the same corporate framework.

Through this guide offered by The Impact Lawyers you will be able to plan an Onboarding strategy that fits your firm's values, and that enhances its present and future values.


1. Key Elements to a Successful Employee Onboarding Strategy, by Dr. Lisa J. Lindsay Wicker

A new hire will form an opinion of your company as soon as the first interaction takes place. This can be when they are with the HR representative signing the employment agreement or the moment they step into their workstation. If you don’t have your onboarding process in place and on point, it can leave a bad impression at the start.

Day one at work is very special for new employees. I liken it to the first day of school. You’re hardly able to sleep and once you arrive to the new company, there are so many uncertainties. Yet, you’re truly excited. The excitement of that new day can be erased very quickly. Especially, if the new employer is not prepared for your arrival.

You’ve heard the cliché “first impressions are lasting impressions.” This applies to a new company as well as to people.

So, on day one, you’d want the new employee to receive a positive welcome and to learn as much about the company, the culture and the employees as possible.

Here are key elements to a successful onboarding strategy:

Pre-Planning Before Day One

1. Customize the employee onboarding experience to includes: a) pre onboarding, b) day one, and c) 30-day follow-up and beyond. Sourcing and hiring new employees is an investment for your company. You want to make sure that you have customized an onboarding program that includes a positive experience for the new hire. This means you have taken the time to think about your company, why it is a great place to work and how it can benefit both the employee and the company, when new employees are onboarded properly. Ensure that your program is designed to include information that the new hire should know before arriving on day one, plans for day one and plans beyond the first day. Including these elements is very important to ensuring a sound onboarding strategy.

2. Develop an onboarding check-list to make sure your program is on-track.

3. Make sure paperwork such as the W-4, I-9, or other administrative documents are ready. If these can be signed online, prior to the new hire’s arrival, great!

4. Designate the appropriate workspace if the employee is working on-site, or ensure that if the work is remote, the employee has all the necessary tools, email logins, cell phones, laptop, VIN, etc.

5. Encourage the hiring manager to engage with the new employee, share role information, and the itinerary for the first week.

6. Send out an email to the company letting everyone know of the new hire.

On Day One

When a company carefully plans the onboarding steps, employees are in a much better position to be successful on the job. Proper onboarding accelerates the employees’ ability to do outstanding work on day one, eliminating the need for an early departure while transmitting security and confidence to the new employee on his or her first day. The goal of day one is to provide an experience for the new employee that is personal and memorable.

This includes:

1. Giving the new hire a welcome box filled with company branded gifts such as office supplies, company branded apparel and logos. If the employee works remotely, ensure this box is mailed and arrives in time for day one.

2. Provide links to company information such as leadership organizational charts, department charts, company videos on mission, values – even a message from the CEO.

3. Review the pre-planned/customized day one agenda which should include 15-30 minutes meetings with various members of the team (on-site or virtually based upon need). These meetings should be consecutive to allow for on-going interactions throughout the day with a debrief meeting at the end of the day.

4. Schedule meetings with members of the team virtually or on-site depending on the work environment.

5. Assign a peer mentor for the new hire as part of the onboarding process.

30 Days and Beyond

The primary goal of your onboarding process should be to deliver the best new hire experience ever which will translate to an inspired employee who delivers outstanding performance. From the welcome the new hire receives on their first day, through to their development plan for the first few months, onboarding is the foundation of employee experience. On-boarding does not just happen. From the leadership to employees, proper onboarding must be intentional.

Understanding the experience at the early stage is especially important given studies have shown that low levels of engagement early on have been shown to significantly increase the risk of attrition. According to recruiting firm Jobvite, 33% of new hires have exited a job within the first 90 days. You can avoid this trend.

1. Now that a few weeks have past, it is important to complete a 30,60, 90-day pulse check to determine how the new employee feels and to ensure they have the support needed for success. Most new employees are often looking for ways to have a positive impact.

2. Develop and send a new hire experience survey to all new employees so that you will know what could be improved, and what is going well with your onboarding program.

3. Be sure that the objectives in your 30, 60, 90-day plan are measurable. Consider using SMART goals as your gauge. This further demonstrates the business case ROI to senior leadership, keeps them engaged even from day one, provides the new hire with a sense of achievment, and gives your onboarding program metrics for continuous improvement.

Since the onset of the pandemic, employee onboarding practices are evolving. Employee onboarding software and resources are available that can help with some of the virtual logistical burdens, allowing you to focus on continuous improvement and the best employee onboarding experience imagined.

2. ECIJA Onborading Process, by MarĂ­a Rolandi

How does the firm welcome new employees?

The culture of the firm is very strong. We are not a typical law firm and we behave that way. We have an amazing working environment, full of young and diverse talent, which makes us work and share our work with passion. Therefore, it is very important for us to convey our values, vision and mission to new employees on their first day. With this objective in mind, ECIJA has developed a complete welcome programme, consisting of different onboarding sessions to explain the flexible structure of the Firm and the internal processes in which they can participate. The programme is divided as follows:

1. Onboarding Business Team:

- People Onboarding:  

We explain our culture, mission, vision, values, adhoc career plan and follow-up plan, variable remuneration plan, global training plan, CSR activities in which you can participate, work-life balance and equality committee, teleworking policy, #EcijaChallenge internship programme, internal referral programme, international exchange programme etc.

- Onboarding Controlling

We explain commissions within the Career Plan, time allocation system, contractual aspects, PRL etc.

- Onboarding Marketing and Communication

We explain the history of the Firm, international network of offices, ECIJA Brand kit, use of social media, articles, templates, corporate photography, etc.

Source: Ecija (images taken before the pandemic)


2. Presentation sessions on the different practice areas:

ECIJA stands out for an agile organisational way of working, in which the Firm's professionals will collaborate with different areas of expertise. In this way, we organise introductory sessions so that new members get to know in detail the structure and day-to-day tasks of each of them and can identify internal references and possible synergies from the very first day. 

From this moment on, they will have access to other events within our internal organisation that encourage interaction between areas and the identification of synergies and collaborations. Such as:

- Participation in internal events where the Firm's professionals share best practices: Pizza & Beer, Talks, Masterclass, among others. All these events are also available online.

- Access to the Global Training Plan (in digital and face-to-face format) which allows all our lawyers to have access to training in all practice areas. This allows them to develop technically in other areas and to interact regularly with the rest of the Firm's practice areas.

- Participation in the international exchange programme between the Firm's 26 offices in 15 countries. 

- Inclusion in internal online communication groups exclusively for the organisation of projects. These groups are an effective communication channel through which to share news, collaboration interests and related doubts. 

3. Onboarding of the team:

As part of the onboarding we identify two relevant figures within the team and organise an event focused, exclusively, on giving a warm welcome to the new professional of the Firm. We set up:

- Mentor/Directly Responsible Figure: we identify a mentor within the area of reference who is responsible for the workload, monitoring and evaluation of the professional.

- Welcome Buddy Figure: we identify a professional in their area to be the reference figure and guide throughout their journey at the Firm. 

- Welcome Coffee: After the onboarding of the Business Team area and the presentation of the areas of the firm, the new recruit meets their Welcome Buddy and their team at an official breakfast to welcome them.

 Source: Ecija (images taken before the pandemic)


What information is provided upon arrival?

- Welcome Pack: As soon as they open their computer, new recruits receive our Welcome Pack in digital format with direct access to all the Firm's internal manuals: 

- Culture and values 

- Intranet and shared corporate documentation 

- Legal databases and consultation tools

- Mandatory hours allocation 

- Global training plan: ECIJA Academy

- Organisation chart 

- Volunteer activities available 

- LinkedIn profile update manual 

- Emergency action protocol

- Ad hoc career plan follow-up meeting agenda 

- Room reservation 

What utensils/tools are given to the new employee?

Welcome material consisting of computer equipment, rucksack, badges, water bottle, notebooks and corporate material.

  Source: Ecija (images taken before the pandemic)


What values of the company do you want to transmit to newcomers?

Our values are based on diversity, enthusiasm, innovation, agility, excellence and teamwork. The collaborative format and flexibility that define our Firm represent a major breakthrough in the legal sector, which is characterised by strong hierarchies and watertight areas. We understand that collaboration between areas is what allows us to offer global advice with comprehensive solutions to our clients' problems and challenges.

The key to achieving this is innovation in our internal organisation: 

- We have been pioneers in the sector by making the most of our flexible and agile structure. We offer lawyers an optimal environment in which to develop the above-mentioned competencies. 

- In order to enhance cross-functional collaboration, we follow the following rule: non-exclusive priority dedication, whereby each employee is assigned to an area of reference as a priority, but not exclusively. This allows them to collaborate with the rest of the areas according to their interests and proactivity.

- To facilitate communication and management of project loads, we have internal communication tools through which the areas can communicate in an agile manner and work digitally at a global level.

- We have a periodic ad hoc follow-up programme that accompanies employees in their integration and development, establishing specific objectives to guide and evaluate their career plan according to their interests.

Finally, at ECIJA we are committed to a 100% inclusive culture, in which we focus on talent and merit, beyond any personal characteristics. This culture promotes diversity, as we appreciate the richness in difference, and this comes from the uniqueness of each individual. That is why one of our values is diversity.

In this context, our challenge is to ensure that diversity and inclusion are present in the Firm's activities, supporting and taking an interest in all initiatives that allow us to be responsible and committed to diversity. This mission has led us to become one of the first Iberian firms to be recognised by ICAM for promoting diversity. 

3. How to dominate the remote Onboarding process

Many law firms have established formulas for their employees to work from home, either a few days a week or the whole week. At the same time, there are firms that have different headquarters located in different cities and countries and hire new workers who are far away from them. 

There is no doubt that an Onboarding process can also be carried out remotely. In the following, we explain the aspects that you have to take into account in order to be successful in this eventuality.

1. Pre-boarding

It is recommended that during the two weeks prior to the incorporation of the new remote employee, a series of e-mails should be sent describing the values of the company, the services it provides and the most recognised clients it has. The aim of this measure is for the employee to get an idea of the company before he/she joins.

It is also advisable for this new employee to get to know the team beforehand. How?

- A survey can be carried out with future colleagues, with more formal and informal questions, so that the new employee can get a true picture of who will make up his or her work team.

- A video call can be arranged directly with the co-workers, so that they can talk to each other about informal issues. This can be a way of breaking the ice and getting to know each other before the new employee joins.

- Short biographies of employees can be shared on the company's internal blog (either in the form of a video or articles), so that the new employee can get to know his or her colleagues beforehand.

The new employee needs to be provided with the tools of the trade before joining. Therefore, the IT team has to set up the applications and platforms that the new employee will use in the future on his or her computer. Important: remote work regime implies giving the new employee a computer.

2. Onboarding

The week where onboarding takes place is crucial for the remote employee to quickly get used to their new working environment, and the employer is a valuable time to share the elements that will help this new employee to work effectively.

Remote onboarding can be difficult on paper. To make it possible, it is recommended that it be done from both a formal and informal perspective

The formal mode involves training sessions, workshops and video calls to place the new employee on the job. 

If training sessions are conducted, it is important to record them so that the new employee can refer to them afterwards.

The informal mode includes explaining the observations of colleagues in the same department, explaining the ins and outs of the company, explaining how they communicate with each other. More informal questionnaires and exercises can also be given to all employees in the same department.

Onboarding includes moments of orientation, of course. But we cannot stop there. Onboarding, and especially remote onboarding, involves more time. From a couple of weeks to three months, depending on the complexity of the job, the size of the company, the way the employees work.

During the official onboarding day, meetings between members of the department and between other members of the department (HR professionals, senior managers or IT programmers) can be alternated with simple and enjoyable tasks, such as getting familiar with the tools that the new employee will be using (e.g. Slack, Trello, email and other applications).

3. Post-boarding

The employer, as well as the team working with the new employee, needs to make an organisational and planning effort to facilitate the arrival of the new employee after onboarding.

They need to develop a well-defined plan for the new employee's first 30, 60 and 90 days. To create a list of tasks that will mark the employee's first months, it is crucial to use online tools such as Trello, Slack, OneDrive or Google Drive, among others. 

For example, the task list can include the tasks the employee has to perform during Day One, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 3, Week 4 and "When available".

During the first few weeks, both formal and informal briefings can be arranged. If the new employee lives close to a company office, members of the same department can meet there for a coffee and a chat. Face-to-face contact can be very helpful.

If face-to-face contact is not possible, a good idea might be to bring food to the new employee's home and organise a video call between all the colleagues in the department, where everyone can eat and chat.

In the weeks following the official incorporation of the new employee, the work of the professional from the Human Resources department is very important (in some companies this professional is found within the People department). 

This professional can also solve all the doubts that the employee may have during the incorporation process. The People department professional must periodically consult the new employee, by means of a personal interview. 

For example, during the second month after joining the company, he/she can ask the new employee how he/she is adapting to the job, how he/she feels about his/her colleagues, how he/she feels about his/her bosses.

Six months later, the People professional meets with the employee again and asks a series of more specific questions:

- What are the reasons why you wanted to join our firm?

- What are the factors that keep you at this firm?

- What is the most difficult aspect you have encountered in joining this company?

- What does it take to make you successful in our firm?

- What shortcomings do you find within the firm?

- Have you felt valued and supported by your colleagues in the department?

- What advice would you give us to improve our on-boarding process for new employees?

These questions can draw valuable conclusions in order to improve the treatment of the new employee and to improve the Onboarding process of future employees. This information has to be shared between the People professional and the head of the department where the new employee is located.

The Onboarding process is one more task that employers have to take the utmost care of. According to a study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group, firms with effective onboarding processes achieve 2.5 times higher revenue growth and 1.9 times higher profit margins compared to other companies with poor onboarding processes.

4. FAQs

Here are ten frequently asked questions about the implementation of the Onboarding process:

  • Does Onboarding only serve to orientate the new employee?

Onboarding does not only work by informing the employee where their job is, what their functions will be and who makes up their department. The Onboarding process requires total immersion of the employee in the corporate fabric of the firm: teaching the values of the firm, the background, what measures are taken to overcome certain difficulties.

  • How long does the Onboarding process last?

Onboarding is not a process that is planned on the same day. It has to be prepared in advance and can last up to a few days after the new employee has been hired. Onboarding also means analysing in detail the impression made on the new employee. 

The analysis and observation of the new employee can take months.

  • Who sould be involved during onboarding?

It is best to involve the new employee's future colleagues, as well as influential professionals in the firm and a manager. The involvement of qualified employees will make the onboarding process more meaningful.

  • Is onboarding only recommended for large firms?

Planning a proper onboarding process is vital in all types of firms. Regardless of whether it is a small law firm or a large law firm. The new employee has to feel comfortable and respected, and this does not depend on the number of employees on the staff.

  • How does an onboarding process benefit my company?

Onboarding programmes prepare new employees for their roles, and they increase business results, employee engagement and the firm's brand image. Ultimately, it leads to higher company profits.  


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