Supporting the Legal Profession

Article excerpt

Sixteen years ago, Sharon Lyon took a risk. She changed careers by starting her own business and hasn't regretted the bold move ever since.

After working in the legal department for Kerr-McGee and 18 months as an office manager of another firm, she decided to set out on her own to create an employment placement company tailored to law firms.

In 1984, Lyon started Career Futures & Legal Temps "to meet the demand for a personnel service that catered to the legal profession," she said. "I felt I had the necessary background to effectively find the type of support staff needed by the legal profession."

She explained in the mid-1980s there were nearly as many "dedicated" word processing programs as there were law firms with plenty of legal secretaries seeking employment, but the availability of jobs were few.

"Finding temporary legal secretaries who could operate a variety of programs was a difficult task," Lyon said. "Today, there are plenty of legal positions available, but few qualified applicants."

Although both environments present their own set of challenges, Lyon loves her career now.

"It's a great feeling when you call someone with a job offer," she said. "After 16 years of working with the legal profession, I'm very excited about the new service we are now offering our clients."

That new service is a comprehensive battery of psychometric tests administered and interpreted by licensed professional counselors. Lyon didn't have to look far for a counselor for her company.

Her husband, Jim, recently joined Career Futures. He holds a master's degree in counseling psychology to provide career assessments and counseling.

The tests include personality, aptitude, skills, and management assessment examinations for potential and current employees and employers.

"These tests can assist management in predicting a person's job performance and workplace compatibility," Sharon said. "They are cost effective and can reduce an employer's cost of recruitment and training of new personnel."

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the two most widely used personality inventories in the world. MBTI is a personality test that is useful for career and personal development. It places an individual into one of 16 possible personality types.

The assumption is that certain types seem to enjoy certain kinds of work and activities. The MBTI allows one to seek a "best fit" between personality and career. In addition, the MBTI can be interpreted to reveal learning, leadership, and managerial styles.

"The MBTI determines preferences on four personality factors: extroversion-introversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving," Jim said. "It is used to classify individuals into one of 16 specific personality types that provides a description of behavioral, emotional, and functional preferences."

The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) is an instrument designed to help people increase their awareness of their general interests and to alert them of possible activities and work that match those interests. The test also allows individuals to compare their interests to those of people already employed in a wide variety of occupations. The SII uses a personality-based model for career exploration. The SII is computer-administered and takes about 30 minutes to finish. Jim interprets the results of the 27-page report.

"This report helps identify professional occupations that typically require a four-year college education," Jim explained. "It presents a customized occupational code, a list of careers related to that code, and an in-depth description of the employee's management style, potential contributions to an organization, and most-preferred work environment.

"Organizations interested in employee retention can benefit from this evaluation of their employees by making sure each person is working in the area for which they are most suited. …