Having built up a family law firm in Seattle over the past 25 years, I understand that our entire staff plays a critical role in our success. To address the challenge of building a dedicated and strong team in the workplace, my advice to fellow CEOs and entrepreneurs is to consider hiring formerly incarcerated people. By hiring from the oft-neglected pool of individuals whose lives have been impacted by the criminal legal system, my business has gained a distinct advantage with committed, talented and compassionate employees who significantly contribute to our bottom line.
Research indicates that formerly incarcerated employees are exceptionally ambitious and loyal. A study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Northwest University’s Pritzker School of Law found that people who served time in prison were no more likely to be fired than those of us who have never been incarcerated, and they were less likely to quit.
Moreover, the turnover rate of these employees is about 13% lower than those without a criminal record. Our law firm actively recruits people who were incarcerated or who have close family members in prison, and I can say that their dedication to the job is unparalleled. They call us “second-chance employers,” but I believe that that’s a misnomer because most of these individuals never truly had a “first chance.”
Excellence in emotional and fast-paced environments
Formerly incarcerated employees’ experience in the criminal legal system equips them with unique empathy and understanding, making them invaluable in emotionally charged environments — such as a family law firm. Our impacted employees demonstrate compassion and forgiveness, handling upset clients with grace and resilience. Their ability to navigate stressful situations stems from personal experience, making them adept at managing difficult circumstances.
About one in three Americans have been impacted by the criminal legal system, which can severely limit their job opportunities, prospects and consequently, their ability to support themselves and their families.
In my experience, most people who are applying for jobs post-incarceration are serious about transforming their lives. When seeking candidates for open positions, I encourage fellow entrepreneurs to connect with networks like the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network. Look beyond their records and recognize the valuable life experiences and motivations they bring to the table.
By doing so, businesses can address their staffing needs while offering opportunities for individuals seeking a chance to rebuild their lives and contribute meaningfully to society.
Amanda DuBois is an author and lawyer. Learn more at www.duboislaw.net
Read more of the Nov. 8-14, 2023 issue.