Law Firm Supports Sustainable Growth by Automating HR and PayrollMay 23, 2023
With Paylocity, Shulman & Hill has eliminated hours of manual processes for a 16x faster onboarding, 75% reduction in time spent looking for time card errors, and stronger focus on strategy to support its rapid growth.
All great law firms have two things in common: Their attorneys provide outstanding legal expertise, and their back-office teams manage cases efficiently. That means a firm’s legal, paralegal, and administrative teams are its most valuable (and expensive) assets. Managing these human resources effectively can be the difference between success and failure, especially as the firm expands.
At Shulman & Hill, rapid growth was a trigger for the business to rethink its approach to HR. Starting out as a specialist in workers’ compensation, the firm has recently established new practices in personal injury and civil rights law, with offices in New York.
“We’ve grown exponentially, and our owners are always looking for opportunities to develop and expand the services we offer,” says Murielle Bedard, Head of Human Resources. “Our culture is to give our people a lot of autonomy, and that means we need to maintain accountability, too. We expect our employees to stay compliant with training and be responsible for their own time and attendance. As the organization grows, we need HR tools that will help them meet those expectations.”
As Shulman & Hill continues to grow, managing headcount costs is critical to the firm’s success. Clean and simplified HR and financial data is vital to the company’s financial management. Murielle comments: “It’s very important for our HR and Finance teams to be able to collaborate effectively. Having easy access to financial information and human resources metrics is key — and that’s one of the things that really impressed us about Paylocity.”
“Onboarding used to take a full day for each new employee. Now, with Paylocity, it only takes a half hour.”
Making a Case for Change
Relying on outdated payroll systems made it difficult for Shulman & Hill’s HR and Finance teams to help the firm’s partners make strategic decisions.
During the early years of its business, Shulman & Hill relied on a basic payroll solution. When Jonathan Sperber joined the company as Financial Controller, the limitations of the system quickly became apparent. “On my first day, I was given a packet of onboarding paperwork — nothing was digital,” he recalls. “That gave me a clue there was a lot of HR and administrative work that wasn’t being automated. And when I met with Murielle, we agreed we could make big improvements if we moved to a different payroll provider.”
Laborious HR Processes
The lack of digitalization sapped efficiency across many areas of HR. Onboarding typically took an entire day, which tied up the HR team and gave new employees a poor first impression of the firm. And managing time and attendance was a tedious process for employees and HR alike. “I had to look at each and every timecard for our employees to check whether anyone had forgotten to record their arrival and departure,” says Murielle. “That was extremely time-consuming.”
Inflexible Performance Reviews
Performance management was also a problem. “We had to do all our performance reviews at the end of the year,” says Murielle. “Before the first December pay cycle each year, every employee had to be reviewed. It was very disruptive for HR, and Finance couldn’t forecast the headcount costs for the next year until we’d got it done.”
Finally, as Jonathan comments: “The payroll reporting was very poor in our existing solution and didn't give us the support that our leadership team needed to make business decisions.” Murielle agrees: “My only option was to run the basic reports that were available, migrate the data into a spreadsheet, and then customize it to get the information we need as a firm. That has all changed now that we’ve moved to Paylocity.”
“Our employees love the Paylocity Mobile App because it's so convenient and lets them stay connected anywhere, anytime.”
Putting Paylocity on Trial
By pivoting to Paylocity, Shulman & Hill has made significant productivity gains in onboarding, time and attendance, performance management, and reporting.
Paylocity’s Onboarding module has transformed the Day One experience for new hires at Shulman & Hill, as well as freeing up time for HR. A few days prior to their start, new employees receive a link to Paylocity, where they can create their password and input their tax and direct deposit information. “By the time they start working with us, it only takes a half hour for me to verify the information, and we're ready to go,” says Murielle. “It's an incredible time saver.” New hires jump right into training and meeting colleagues instead of spending the day with HR filling out forms. This experience is more productive for everyone.
Never Missing a Punch
Managing Time & Attendance with Paylocity makes day-to-day life easier for the company’s paralegals, administrators, and front-desk team. They can use the Paylocity Mobile App to punch in and out at any of the firm’s offices using geofencing, as well as accessing other HR services, such as changing their direct deposit or requesting paid time off. For the HR team, Paylocity makes it easier to avoid timecard errors: “The dashboard tells me how many people have missed punching in or out,” says Murielle. “Instead of searching 80 timecards for errors, I only need to look when there’s actually a problem.”
With Paylocity’s Performance module, Shulman & Hill has been able to switch to reviewing employees’ performance on their work anniversary. This means the review workload is more evenly distributed throughout the year instead of doing all 80 employee reviews during December. This frees up time for HR and management during the busy year-end and allows Finance to forecast headcount costs without having to wait until all reviews are done.
No More Spreadsheets
With Insights & Recommendations, the HR and Finance teams have instant access to HR and payroll data, served up in prebuilt reports and dashboards, or they can slice and dice easily without exporting to spreadsheets. Murielle loves the ability to analyze turnover, salaries, new hires, and terminations, and Jonathan adds: “Paylocity gives me a whole library of reports to work with. It's good to work with a platform with the resources we need to succeed, and our dedicated Paylocity account manager is a tremendous help.”
A Winning Verdict
With Paylocity, Shulman & Hill has the HR platform it needs to scale its business into the future.
Measurable Gains in HR Efficiency
Thanks to Paylocity, Shulman & Hill has seen measurable improvements across many HR processes. Onboarding, which used to occupy new employees and the HR team for a full day, can now be completed in 30 minutes — around 16 times faster. Similarly, identifying and correcting errors in employee timecards now takes about 75% less time — ensuring employees always get paid correctly and accelerating semi-monthly payroll.
The new HR platform also aligns with the company’s culture of empowerment and accountability, giving employees the tools to manage their own HR data. This in turn frees HR from hours of routine work maintaining employee records. Murielle adds: “Paylocity gives me back time. It has also eliminated errors, because employees can now access their own profile, input their own information, and own it for themselves.”
Connecting HR to Business Strategy
With its powerful data analysis capabilities, Paylocity has not just eliminated hours of spreadsheet-based reporting work — it has helped the HR and Finance teams provide better, faster insight to the firm’s partners. Murielle says: “The partners appreciate how quickly we're able to turn around the information they ask for. We don’t have to question anything because we know the information in Paylocity is accurate and up to date.”
Jonathan adds: “The dashboards give us different ways to review our payroll costs across the organization. Law firms are particularly interested in seeing their costs for legal production versus the costs of back-office functions. Paylocity makes it easy for me to communicate to our leaders where our payroll's going.”
Liberating HR and Finance
Both HR and Finance feel that Paylocity has liberated them to focus on higher-value, more strategic work. Murielle says: “I can work on things that I never had time to do before, such as developing job descriptions and revising our employee handbook.”
Jonathan concludes: “As new areas of our business take off, we foresee our headcount increasing too. Paylocity is the right platform to support this expansion and will help us as we continue to grow.”
“With our old platform, I had to migrate data into a spreadsheet and customize it to get the information we need. Paylocity gives me interactive reports that I can slice and dice and filter right there in the platform.”
HR Tools Built With Employees in Mind
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