Law Firm Management

Ep 70 – Time Tracking & Practice Management for Law Firms

We talk about legal practice management and then interview Patrick Vernallis from the law firm management software company Bill4Time, to discover how lawyers are running the practice of tomorrow, today!








Law Firm Disruption & Technology

Today’s Hot Take comes to us from Knowledge@Wharton, called,”What’s Really Driving Disruption (It’s Not Technology), ” by Harvard professor Thales Teixeira.  In this article, which is actually a podcast transcription, they explain why customer behavior, not technology, ultimately drives disruption.

“The emergence of a new technology is often cited as what drives the disruption of an industry or business. But that’s not true in most cases. Instead, startups disrupt established companies by decoupling the customer value chain — picking one aspect of the business and doing it better than the incumbent.”

When you get down to the root of it, it’s customers that drive change and create opportunities to innovate; and if your innovations or tech fixes don’t come from the client-centric model, your putting a fancy band-aid on a hemorrhaging flesh wound. Efficiency is nice, and we aren’t saying that you shouldn’t strive to work smarter and not harder, but if you don’t weave those efficiencies into your tapestry of client experience, when they step back to look at the finished work  it will be an uninspiring piece that doesn’t differentiate you from the same service they could have received anywhere else.

Most business owners want it to be easier for them – which is good, it should be easy to get with – but most folks are disillusioned with trying to fix their businesses, indeed they are NOT embracing tech or change or anything because “What’s the ROI there?”

So in reality, failing to adapt your law firm to customer behaviors and expectations will be what disrupts your business model, and the whole enchilada is headed there. Who will make it in the future?  – lawyers seeking to find where they can drive value for clients within their processes. Understand yourself – Get the tech, then staff and measure appropriately.

Innovating and Working to Help Law Firms Be More Efficient, Productive, and Growth Driven.

Patrick Vernallis is Product Manager at Bill4Time – the go-to-choice for lawyers looking for an affordable, efficient, and easy-to-use legal practice management software. Patrick got his BA from St. Lawrence University, worked in the Pennsylvania court system as a docket assistant clerk and audio technologist, and now he brings his special suite of skills to the LAWsome podcast to talk about managing law firms and Bill4Time


“What gets measured gets managed.”

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Patrick about setting goals, measuring results and how you can use tech to get a handle on both of them: 

Patrick: I think one of the coolest features that we worked on this year was our performance targets. Now, backing up a little bit. When planning our dashboard, we were thinking about the personas and the types of users who would use the dashboard, whether organizationally, tactically, what have you. And every persona that we came up with has a competitive value to them. So, with these performance targets, we looked at billable and resource utilization rates across attorneys and determined that attorneys are competing with each other in the courtroom, maybe with each other within their firm and most definitely with themselves, making sure that they’re beating their goals that they’ve set.

So, we created this performance targets feature where a user can set how many hours they expect to work each month, both as a resource for their firm and then straight billable hours. And they can track that in real time on their dashboard as they get closer and closer to surpassing their goal. And this feature has been out for about two or three months now. And in the tracking that we have, we’ve seen that users who adopt this feature bill more hours the next month. I mean, that just is your bottom line growing.

You know, if you’re setting a goal, “I’m gonna bill this many hours,” and then you do it, and the next month, you set a higher goal, this is Bill4Time encouraging you to bill more hours and to make more money in a way that the user is not even aware necessarily that they’re competing with themselves, they’re just trying to meet their goals. But at the end of the day, they’re making more money and this is the kind of feature we want to give our users.

Jake: And it’s weird because you wouldn’t know if you were making more money if you didn’t know where you were. Like, you need to know these things. But I’m still wondering – because this sounds amazing that you have all these things – but are there are still people who have Bill4Time that are like, “It just didn’t help me. I just didn’t know, just feels too much.”

Or they don’t know how to apply the dashboard to the sensibility of the revenue generation of growing a business. Maybe they’re just… I mean, do you think people will adopt this because they like technology or is it because you know you need to grow your business? I think there’s something that is hidden in all of those metrics where you’re like, “If you get into this, you can measure yourself and then you can grow and expand because you’re measuring things.” But if you’re not measuring things, if you’re not even thinking like that, no dashboard could help you. Because some people are like, “This tech stuff just doesn’t work.” We hear it all the time. “Marketing and advertising, it just doesn’t work.” And you’re like, “Mmh, is that true?”

Patrick: Yeah. Well, I mean, as you know how the saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” And another one of our core competencies in Bill4Time is really strong, strong reporting features. And so we wanted to bring that analytics from kind of like, boring-looking Excel table style reports to a beautiful visualized dashboard. And when we kicked off this dashboard project, we did have a legacy dashboard from before, that was admittedly a little beige, a little dated. And so we didn’t just bring forward the design, but we actually brought forward all of the existing analytics and data entry tools that we had before. So, for a lot of our users, visually, it’s been an adjustment, but the same functionality that they’ve already become accustomed to is available in this new version. And so, once they can adjust to the new style, they can then grow into this dashboard and build out. You know, if they’re a manager, maybe monitoring fits the different teams that they have. Or if they’re an accounting persona type user, build out collections and realization tables right on their dashboard, they can see the information in real time without having to generate a clunky report.

So, it is something that we expect users to adopt over time. You know, I don’t think anybody is setting a performance target for themselves on the first day they sign up for Bill4Time, but once they get comfortable with the system, they can really maximize the effectiveness of the tools that we’ve got. And it really circles back to what I said before. Our customer support team is half the product and we can train you up on how to use these users, how to make the most of the system, quick tips, tricks, and things that ultimately help you save money. So, with the strong relationships our agents have with the customers who’ve come to us, you know, it’s something that starts with the foundation of our core competencies, timekeeping, reporting, but builds. And that human touch gives our customers a way to trust that what we’re giving them is gonna help them grow and practice better, ultimately.

Get More Information About Time Tracking, Practice Management and Bill4Time

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about setting goals, measuring your results, improving your law firm’s income with Bill4Time and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 69 – Client Service Is Your Practice

We talk about client development and relations – and then we interview author, lawyer, and mediocre runner, David Kempston, about his book “That’s Why They Call It Practicing The Law”








Client Development for Law Firms – What Is This?

The article in today’s Hot Take is from “Lawyers: Don’t Make These Client Development Mistakes In 2019” by Cordell Parvin. Full disclosure, he works for a recruiting company called Lateral Link, so it is not unbiased, but he does have many years of experience from which to draw upon and offers a list of “how not to mess up” points that are:

Just do good work
Don’t be a generalist
Don’t try to be a salesman
Don’t just focus on attracting new clients
Don’t focus your attention on the wrong clients
Don’t fail to differentiate yourself
Don’t fail to prepare a business plan
Don’t fail to operate as a team

These are all good points, but unfortunately there isn’t a lot of depth and definition to most of them. Each one of these could probably stand on its own as the topic of an article, but I guess as a summary it’s not bad. He does have a great quote:

“ It quickly became apparent that client development is about relationship building and client management.” This is a great point, and fortunately we were able to discuss in depth with David in the interview.

That’s Why They Call It Practicing The Law

David Kempston was born and educated on the West Coast. He moved to Minnesota to attend law school over 29 years ago. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1992 (Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif), He has spent over 26 years as a litigator—primarily handling workers compensation claims. David believes focusing on the attorney-client relationship will lead to excellent lawyering—and his book, That’s Why They Call It Practicing Law, demonstrates how. This practical book encourages lawyers to do the ordinary tasks better. After arranging our stars, we’re lucky enough to get David on the show today to talk about this gem


“We All Have Time To Do That Which We Think Is Important.”

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with David about mistakes lawyers make with client communications, how to demonstrate care and set expectations to your advantage: 

Paul: I think you make an excellent point that you may not be…not you personally, but I’m saying in general, someone may not be the most affable person but, you know, good people skills can just be a timely response to an e-mail, maybe an e-mail response that’s more than one sentence. Something like that. Just throwing these things out there. But I’m curious, like, what’s the one most common error or area that you think lawyers fail at when it comes to customer service?

David: Great question and my answer, my pet peeve is lawyers who don’t return phone calls or in this era who don’t respond. You know, lawyers love to talk about how busy they are, “I’m so busy. I’m so busy. I’m so busy.” Sure, great, you know what, we’re all busy. But I will tell you a little secret, we all have time to do that which we think is important. In fact, we all do that which we think is important typically. And I hear more gripes from clients that are out kicking tires, you know, maybe clients are coming in…not my client, but someone saying, “Hey, I’ve got this lawyer, I’ve got this case, I never hear back from my lawyer, what’s going on?” So I try to get clients…actually and in my book, I talk about that. I say, one way to demonstrate care or to improve the relationship is to be timely, you know, and give a client expectation ahead of time.

So when I meet with what I call a potential client, and I’m giving them that, and I’m learning their story, and I’m explaining the law to them. I may or may not end up representing them, but one of the things that I tell them is if they do have questions they can follow up and that they will hear back from me within 24 hours, unless I’m dead, out of town, or something bad happened. And so I give a client [an expectation]…and then as I move into the relationship, the client has an expectation, you know, “I’m gonna hear back from Dave within 24 hours.” And usually it’s sooner than that. But that’s the outside. And sometimes it’s as simple as me coming up for air after trying a case and saying, “Hey, I’m buried, got your e-mail I’m going to follow up with you in another day.” But at least that way the client knows that I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet, and I haven’t forgotten about them. And what I found if I establish the 24 hour rule, you don’t get the three e-mails. You know, first e-mail, “Hey, here’s my question.” Second e-mail, “Hey, did you get my first e-mail?” … Third e-mail, irritated all in caps, you know, “WHERE ARE YOU?” You avoid that kind of stuff.

Get More Information About Building The Practice You Want With Good Client Service

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about client service, building good client relationship habits, David’s book and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

David’s latest book That’s Why They Call It Practicing Law is available on Amazon HERE

Ep 67 – Who Answers For Your Law Firm?

We talk about intake at law firms, why it’s so important, and then we speak with Diana Stepleton from Ruby Receptionists and learn how intake is so much more than just answering the phone!








The 4 Parts of a Perfect Client Intake Process

Today’s Hot Take is from Lexicata,  “The 4 Parts of a Perfect Client Intake Process” by Aaron George. In it Aaron writes,”A good client intake process is akin to a user-friendly interface on a smartphone app or website. When the interface is easy to interact with, the input of data is seamless and straightforward, and the computer program is fast, easy to use, and powerful. When the interface is confusing or buggy, problems start to occur.”

The four parts of a perfect client intake process should be “Easy – Efficient – Organized – Personal.” These are all good points, but our biggest take here is that the order should be reversed, with “personal” being at the top of the list. Clients should only experience the personable nature and smoothness of Efficiency and Organization without knowing it’s there, so while those internal focus points are important, none of it will happen if the person answering your phone is impersonal, or worse not a persona at all but a recorded greeting.

Make It Personal

Diana Stepleton is the Vice President of Partner Engagement at Ruby Receptionists, a virtual reception and answering service working with thousands of lawyers and law firms across the country – Diana has experience in both client facing and management roles at companies like Lucent, AT&T, IKEA, but it’s her work with Ruby Receptionists that brings her to the show today to talk about intake, why it’s important, and what lawyers can do about it.

Get More Information About Intake For Law Firms

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about organization, management, and optimizing law firm intake and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—


Ep 66 – Stop Putting Out Fires At Your Law Firm

We talk about tech fixes to productivity problems in the modern law firm, and we sit with attorney, author, and legal FireFighter Jeremy Richter, to learn how to battle the blazes of owning a business.








Organization Tips For Lawyers

The article in today’s Hot Take is from the American Bar Association “Tech Tips for Young Lawyers to Get and Stay Organized” by Peggy Gruenke. This one runs down not only behaviors but recommends tech and software to help.  Really good info here, but we have to look back to the Florida Bar Survey of Tech in Law Firms – over 60% of respondents said they have no Case Management system, 78% no document management system, and for Litigators; 92% of them had no litigation support software.

So the question we end up at –  is tech the answer, or another  barrier? It’s not entirely clear, but what is clear, especially after talking to Jeremy, is people and behaviors come first, tech fixes second.

Building A Better Law Practice

​A repeat guest on the show, and here to discuss his latest book Stop Putting Out Fires In Your Law Firm, Jeremy W. Richter practices civil defense litigation in Birmingham, Alabama. He discovered early in his practice that managing cases is only half the battle in the practice of law. Building and maintaining relationships with clients is equally important. Jeremy has set out to innovate ways to develop client relationships and improve methods for achieving efficient and effective results. In addition to this book, you can read more of Jeremy’s ideas on his law blog and in his first book, ​Building a Better Law Practice.​​​

Learn More About Jeremy

On Leadership, Management and Personality Types

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Jeremy about organization and management styles, as well as understanding the personality types of the people in the organization to communicate better: 

Jake:  So let’s talk about leadership. Organizational change or trying to solve any problem at a law firm level is challenging. And there’s competing views on what style of leadership is needed to enact a change in the first place, like, a firm hand, a nurturing hand, carpenter, gardener…what are your thoughts on this and how does management style kind of impact the firefighting?

Jeremy: I think that’s a really important question, and, obviously, it’s going to differ for everybody. But what I want to do is, I want to hire people that can do their job without close oversight, and I want to empower them to make all the decisions they need to without me. Now, certainly, I’m available. So, if I give something to an associate and he’s got questions, I’m there to answer all his questions that help him out, but I want to give him what he needs to just take that assignment and run with it, and not feel like I’m looking over his shoulder, the same with staff.  I just want people to feel like this is their job, they need to do it however it is they best accomplish it in order to achieve the broader ends. So that’s what I like to do. As far as a firm hand or nurturing hand, I think that depends on the other person as much as how I want to handle it. So, I have in the last, about a year and a half or so, this may be a little bit too woo-woo for some people, but I’ve gotten into this personality typing system called the Enneagram, that divides everybody up into nine different personality types. And it helps me understand where other people are coming from and how I might be better able to communicate with them by just kind of using different tactics or methods that will help them receive whatever I need to communicate in a better way.

Interviewer: Wow. Yeah, the Enneagram stuff, I’m definitely into that type 3s, type 7s, … I mean, it’s all really a tool to help you be empathic, though. I don’t think it is the answer. I think the way in which you just described that was really cool because you’re saying, “I’m using it, not as the answer, but a way to get to the answer, which is proper communication.” That’s really great, man. Oh, I love that.

Jeremy: Well, I’m not naturally empathic. Like, I’m a 3, so I am an achiever. I’m a really driven person, and empathy is not strong with me. And so, you know, for me, the Enneagram, it’s given me language to understand things about myself that I didn’t understand before. But also, you emphasized what the importance of it is, is that, it helps me communicate with other people and figure out what makes them tick, and we can make this whole thing run a little better.

Get More Information About Development Law Firms

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about organization, management, productivity for law firms and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Jeremy’s latest book Stop Putting Out Fires: Building a More Efficient and Profitable Law Practice is available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and other platforms, find them all HERE

Ep 65 – Legal Upheaval

Buzzword-laden legal tech articles that miss the point, and a chat with Michele Destefano that hits every point! What does it take to innovate, understand, and upheave the legal services industry?







Is Your Law Firm On The Blockchain Yet?

There are two articles we discuss in today’s Hot Take, both dealing with the idea of “new tech” for law firms:
Three Technologies Transforming the Legal Field By Bruce Orcutt – Is your law firm using analytics, OCR, or blockchain yet? A fine leap from text analysis of PDFs to blockchain – which is confused here with automation of smart contracts….Bruce is a product marketer for ABBYY, which is a legal tech vendor.
NewLaw New Rules: A Conversation About the Future of the Legal Services Industry By Brett Chalmers – talking about this new law lingo – but he is ALSO a product marketer for a company that does data management for law firms.

The thought here is – and it echos Paul’s thoughts about ABA TechShow in February, which is that there are a lot of people making things that not many people need or will use. We’re not getting down on legal tech or the ABA or anything, but the very real issue is that if you make a product that serves few people, you will cap your market and that’s it. Or as Greg Garman from LawClerkLegal said on our show – “more folks on a small slice of a pie that needs big, fundamental change”

Unfortunately the fallout from a lot of this misguided dev work, earnest or well intentioned as some of it may be – is these tech vendors who just barnacle themselves onto existing paradigms, and aren’t pushing for a full change, or even any change at all beyond “help us move a couple more units.” You can see it at these software companies, none of which do ANYTHING with blockchain, or at least, we can’t see that touted on their site…. as we discuss later with Michelle, innovation isn’t a quick fix otr a one-size-fits-all solution. Not saying it has to be difficult and drawn out in every situation, but there is a difference between pushing for breakthroughs as opposed to trying to force the latest shiny object on your office staff.

Moving Lawyers, Moving Law

Recognized by the ABA as a Legal Rebel, Michele Destefano is a professor of law at the University of Miami, Guest Faculty at Harvard Law School, and the founder of LawWithoutWalls, a multi-disciplinary, international think-tank of over 1000 lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and law and business students that collaborate to hone new skill sets and mindsets and create innovations at the intersection of law, business, and technology.

Her new bestselling book, Legal Upheaval – focuses on collaboration and innovation in the law – and it’s this book and her amazing work on social media and within legal tech that brought her to the attention of the show, and we couldn’t be more honored to have Michele on LAWsome today.

“There may be no “i” in team, but there’s two “i’s” in innovation.”

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Michele about having an “aha moment” and how learning how to find problems is more important in some cases than learning how to solve problems, which most lawyers are already good at: 

Jake: …I’m curious, when you say that the law firm owners or the practicing lawyers were the ones that got the most out of it, meaning in a business sense or a problem-solving sense or just like a different way? You know, we talked about an “aha moment” before. I mean, can you see like a light bulb go on over these people and, you know, they suddenly realize there’s a different way to think about practicing law or…? I’m just interested what you were leaning towards there?

Michele: Yeah, so probably, I would say two things. First, it’s not about problem solving. Because we teach lawyers how to problem solve, and research shows that lawyers are off the charts great at complex problem solving. What we aren’t as strong at is problems finding. So Tina Seelig and Daniel Pink, both authors who I admire and read everything they write, both of them talk about how the best problem solvers are the best problem finders. And what problem finders do is they spend more time on the problem up front, so that they don’t end up solving a symptom or rushing to solve and missing the mark. So they ask more questions. And it’s not that lawyers aren’t inquisitive. But in LawWithoutWalls, you learn how to do the 5 Whys, and you learn how to sit back and problem find for a lot longer, almost so long that you’re uncomfortable. And that is the difference.

Lots and lots of law firm partners will say to me at the end of it, that their team back at their firm, not the LawWithoutWalls team they’re working with, but their team back at the firm will say, “Oh, my gosh, what have you done with Craig?” Meaning, not “I’ve disappeared with this team,” but, “I approach meetings differently. I approach how I lead differently. I approach teaming and collaboration differently. And most importantly, I approach collaborative problem solving differently.” And it’s that, yeah, different approach that makes the difference and is the aha moment.

Jake: I’m having a little bit more of an aha moment, maybe a side dish, to the aha entrée. The Promethean kind of idea of going and getting the fire and bringing the fire of knowledge back to your tribe. You know, there is this egoic plucking of the string that doesn’t really comport with the actual work that needs to get done. And, I think, a lot of people quest for self-betterment and mastery to make themselves better and not a law firm and not a model and not for their people.

And it seems like this project is helping because there’s people who are hustling, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, you know, all these people, you know, “You gotta hustle. You gotta lead. You know, you gotta be a general,” you know, and all these things. But it’s actually not that. The real work, the real innovation is not this leading military strategic thing. It’s actually this collaborative, working together, finding problems. And I just think for some people who are questing for mastery, how do you help break their ego from it…do you deal with that?

Michelle: Yes.

Jake: Is this ancillary aha thing or what?

Michele: Well, I mean, so Chris Avery wrote this book years ago, 15 years ago. And I mean, the title, it’s one of those situations where, “Yes, it’s a great book. Yet the title says it all. And his title is, “Teamwork is An Individual Skill.” And this is something that people often forget. And we have to work on ourselves first. So we talk a lot in LawWithoutWalls about the fact that there may be no “i” in team, but there’s two “i’s” in innovation.

And those two “i’s” are one, the identity of the lawyer as a lawyer. And how immediately when we put our little lawyer robe on, we act a little bit differently and perform to that role. I mean, granted, it’s true. Oftentimes, lawyers are the most educated people in the room in terms of the number of years that they’ve been in school. So there’s this lawyerly role. And then the other “i” is the lawyer as the individual.

And Carlos Valdes-Dapena, in his recent book, “Lessons from Mars.” And he doesn’t mean like out of this world. He means the candy bar company, although I’m sure they don’t want to be called the candy bar company, because they do a lot more candy bars.

Jake: Sure, sure, sure.

Michele: Anyway, he talks about this as well. And he talks about how this other “i” is the individual. Look, we’re all born to only focus on ourselves, right? If you’ve ever played with any three-year-olds or four-year-olds, it’s, “Me, me, me, me, me.” And so you take the combination of the lawyer identity and our role and that individual intrinsic motivation that’s just natural to self-preservation, and we’ve got some problems. And so we actually, everybody at our kickoff, we talk about the lawyer’s mindset, the lawyer’s temperament, and the lawyer’s training and how that, actually, creates two crutches for us and prevents us from being collaborative. And so we try to break down that I at the same time recognizing that if you’re not gonna commit as an individual to working on your own issues with collaboration, we’re not going to get anywhere.

So we try really hard to strip that ego down. So I mean, and there’s tons of…if you think about training programs, where you go to them to become a better leader or become a better mentor, or whatever it may be, and it’s a week and you get inspired, and maybe you leave home with a couple things. But after another week goes by, and then another week goes by, another week goes by, how much do you really keep a hold of in terms of change?

Get More Information About Innovation for Law Firms

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about innovation for law firms, finding and solving problems and more.  If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 61 – Building Your Virtual Law Firm

On the show today we talk about outsourcing legal and virtual law firms, and then we sit down with lawyer and founder of LAWCLERK Greg Garman to discuss freelance lawyers, changing business models and how to take advantage of the gig economy for law firms.








The Legal Freelance Economy and Opportunities for Lawyers

Today’s Hot Take is articles from the LawClerck blog and the ABA.

“Building Your Virtual Law Firm” by Dan Lear  talks about getting in to the entrepreneurial mindset and the three things you could outsource – reception, legal asistant, and legal help (paralegal and lawyer). Dan writes”…one of the biggest and most intimidating pieces is human capital: the people or resources you need to build something that scales in the modern world.”

It’s worth browsing through the entire blog on LawClerk, found here: If you are on the fence about hiring lawyers for your firm on a project basis, or perhaps you’re considering moving away from the firm lifestyle and into a more freelance/project based business model, this is where you will get valuable information from the people who are already doing it.

Here is another good example, and we swear we didn’t pick this one just because it has an enumerated list, but if you want a good starting point for how you can start to offload some of the work at your firm, read this post called “16 Types of Legal Work You Can Effectively Outsource to Freelance Attorneys,” by Kristin Tyler.  Great ideas, and while it does have a list, as Kristin states, “Virtually any type of legal work can be outsourced,” so don’t feel limited. Check out the article here, and then go browsing through the blog, it’s full of ideas, advice and information:  16 Types of Legal Work You Can Effectively Outsource to Freelance Attorneys

Creating A Virtual Space “Where Attorneys Go To Hire Freelance Lawyers”

Greg Garman is the driving force behind LAWCLERK, “where attorneys find freelance lawyers to help on a project basis.” Greg has spent more than 20 years in law both as a managing partner at a regional firm and founder of a boutique firm that quickly developed a national reputation and understands the pressures and challenges law firms face with managing workflow, staffing cases, managing overhead, meeting deadlines and providing superior work product to maintain client relationships.  As a thought leader in the legal industry, Greg is years ahead of the market in realizing that the traditional law firm business model will soon be a thing of the past.

Common Obstacles to Using Freelance Lawyers and the Size of the Legal Talent Pool

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Greg about some misconceptions lawyers have when it comes to outsourcing their legal work, and the nature of talent available:

Paul: You know, I have a friend who’s a lawyer. It’s kind of a small firm. And he tells me that something that he runs into, him and his partner run into is when they want to get involved in some…like a bigger case, which they don’t often. I mean, they’re fortunate enough that they can be kind of selective, but they run into trouble …they don’t have like an e-document review system because they just don’t need it for the majority of their stuff. So, it’s kind of interesting that there’s resources like LawClerk that they can reached out to. But I’m curious, for firms like his or other law firms out there that might want to use LawClerk but are hesitant to outsource, what are the typical roadblocks you experience when you’re bringing a client on board? And what are the solutions like –  security, timelines, stuff like that? Like what’s the top three or something that you would say happen?

Greg: So, yesterday was kind of a milestone for us in that we put our 2000th lawyer on the system yesterday. And so, we’ve got a pretty good track record over the last year of figuring out the roadblocks. You know, honestly, the biggest one is lawyers just have to kind of get out of their own way. What we do is important, and what we do is really meaningful in this profession, and I’m proud to be a lawyer, and I remain a practicing lawyer. But at the end of the day, it’s rare that we’re ever starting a document from scratch. It’s rare that an associate or a paralegal can’t get us 85% of the way through a document, and, you know, the partner just simply finishes it at the end of the day. The biggest things that we encounter are people, one, they conclude that if they’re a solo or a small firm, they have to do it themselves. They’re accustomed to that. You know, one of those amazing statistics in this industry is that 50% of the practicing lawyers in the country are a solo practitioner, one man or woman and a shingle out front. So they’re used to doing it themselves. They don’t trust other people to do it. That’s probably the biggest one.

The second biggest thing that we encounter that when people use LawClerk, [and] they get over really fast is that they’re worried that the talent pool is a bunch of newbies who couldn’t get a job somewhere and are looking to take on project work. And that is just simply the farthest thing from reality. It’s a little bit off note, but when I look back at the technology companies over the last couple of years, it really made an impact in marketplaces. You look at the obvious ones, you look to Airbnb, you look to what Uber has been able to do. You kind of look to what Amazon has done, and even 20 years later you look to kind of what eBay has done. And the reality is that,  Airbnb and Uber, in particular, they found that there was a really big investment of infrastructure in the world. Airbnb found there were vacation houses and rooms that weren’t going to use. And obviously Uber and Lyft found that there are cars that sit idle 95% of the time, and they created marketplaces. But really what they did is they put this idle fixed asset, these investments to use.

And that’s really what we do at LawClerk. Six of ten lawyers leave private practice before their fifth year. Some of it is involuntary that, you know, they couldn’t get it, but the majority of those people, they found that raising children was incompatible with working 12 hours a day, or, there’s a health scare in the family, or parents, or…whatever the case may be. But we have literally trillions of dollars of investment in legal education and training that firms have done. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who decided they couldn’t or didn’t want to work 12 hours a day, but have incredible skill sets. The sweet spot of our business are, you know, think the stay-at-home parent who is trained at a Biglaw for five or six years and has a really good skill set, but they’re raising a child. Military spouses are like this growing piece of our couple thousand of freelance lawyers in which the husband or wife may be a senior officer in the military, and they have to move around every two or three years, and the spouse who’s a lawyer can’t take a bar every two or three years.

We have retired law partners who want to stay in the game and they don’t necessarily need the money, but they wanna keep their brain active. We’ve got law school professors who have summers and breaks. We recently had a supreme court brief go through the site, and I believe that a law school professor did a segment of it on the site, and that was a really cool day for us. And then obviously we have young lawyers to do research memos, and written work product and document reviews and those sorts of things. But those are the two big ones.

Get More Information About LawClerk and Freelancing For Lawyers

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about how to use LawClerk to balance your legal workload, expand in to new areas, take on bigger cases and more. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—



Ep 54 – Law Firm Growth: Building A Law Firm That Lasts

We talk about law firm marketing and business development ideas with an article from the Legal Marketing Association, and we interview lawyer and business development pro extraordinaire David Craig and discuss his path to law firm growth and building a powerhouse law practice.

David Craig Law Firm Growth

Law Firm Business Development and Marketing Strategies

Today’s Hot Take is “10 Strategies for Legal Marketing and Business Development in 2018,” by Laurie Barkman. It’s a year old now, and written as a New Year’s resolution list, but there is great information and advice. The five points we liked most were:

  1. Make client service a priority.
  2. Seek client feedback to extend relationships.
  3. Shift marketing from firm-focused to client-focused
  4. Introduce marketing outsiders
  5. Look for new revenue opportunities

These are all solid suggestions – although it’s interesting that marketing and business development are viewed as 2 sides of the same coin – and it’s true they are connected. The point that is most interesting is #10 in the article, which is:

10. Look for new revenue opportunities. One firm conducted labor and employment training for clients to rave reviews. Afterward, the event manager sent an email asking attendees if they were interested in further training. The firm had developed an internal system for web-based training, and the marketing team externalized the tool for clients. The service now generates $500,000 per year – effectively turning a cost center into a profit center.”

This is getting to the heart of what we are going to be talking about on the episode, and it isolates, or at least pushed the business  development element to the front. It has a little of the entrepreneurial element to it, which we like as well. Look around – are there processes in your law firm that are systematic? Can you outsource them, or do you already? What if you could create a company to outsource them to – essentially getting the service at cost, as well as making a profit by offering the service to other law firms?

There is also the idea of maintaining the focus on being client centered, and doing these types of business ventures for law firms that can provide better value for clients and legal consumers. It is not just lip-service, rather it is built on humility, authenticity, and a  drive to make clients happy. “Oh that sounds like business mumbo-jumbo,” Well – what is your law firm?

The full article in LegalMarketing.or can be found here

Law Firm Growth Expert

David Craig is the managing partner as well as one of the founding partners of the law firm of Craig, Kelley & Faultless. Since he began practicing law more than 30 years ago, he has been fighting to obtain justice for ordinary people against insurance companies, trucking companies, and large corporations.

While being active within the Indiana community, David is an Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys Board member, on the Trial Lawyers Board of Regents, and received the Litigator Awards for Truck Accidents, for 2014 and 2015.

After aligning our schedules and seeing a space in his trial dates, we are lucky to have Dave Craig on the LAWsome podcast to talk about law firm development.

David Craig | Craig, Kelly & Faultless

“A Lot of Law Firms Don’t Get The Business Side.”

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with David about the business side of running a law firm, the practical aspect of having businesses on the side, and how to recognize an opportunity and turn it in to an asset:

Interviewer:  You have a specific approach about the way you run the firm, and I was really, really inspired. We spoke, and I heard you speak at a APITLA, which is a trial lawyer conference. So, we had dinner and at dinner, you spoke of owning the operations behind your law firm’s processes. You bought the print shop, you set up the medical record collection in-house. As far as law firm developments concern, what’s your advice to law firm owners? Do you feel that most law firms or lawyers are engaged, they have a good grip on the admin or business side of things? What are the odds on that?

Dave: I think that’s a great question. I mean, I think I see a lot of law firms that don’t get it. I get contacted by a lot of law firms that don’t get the business side. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in business, love business, came up from a family of entrepreneurs. My great grandparents had a small grocery store over in Richmond, Indiana. It was natural. My dad had his own business. And so it was natural for me to migrate to having my own business. But in law school, you have a lot of people with all kinds of different undergraduate degrees, but most of them or a lot of them were not in business. And so, when I came out, I started building a business and I was using copy companies, for example. And I needed to get my copies and I needed to get posters for trials. And you’re always like, you know, you’re just one customer of many, and so you aren’t always a high priority. And so I wasn’t always happy with the quality of work I was getting, I wasn’t always happy with the promptness. I said, “Why don’t I just build my own company? I’m paying somebody else anyway. I could probably charge my clients less money, build my own company.” And so we did that.

We built a copy company, and it does all my trial work. And I know that the night before trial, if I need a poster made or an exhibit made, they’ll work through the night to get it done, where, you know, some other place wouldn’t. I was using outside sources to request medical records. And the same thing, you know, the quality of the services I was getting wasn’t that great, and I was paying a fortune. So why not build your own business? And so, we did that, and we’ve done that with several [services]. We now have our own investigative services. And so, we’ve done a lot of different types of services that I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the quality of the work I was getting from outsourcing it, and so we just built our own. And we disclose that to the clients on the front end, and clients know that, and yet, they pay less than what I was paying to other people and the quality is a heck a lot better.

Get More Information About Law Firm Business Growth

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts about growing your law firm and how to take advantage of business opportunities that may be present in your firm. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—


Ep 50 – Millennials, Minorities, & The Gig Law Movement

In this episode, we view the diverse future of gig law and discover how lawyers are finding success on the fringes, and then we interview lawyer and director of academic success at University of Tennessee College of Law, Renee Allen, and discuss where diversity, education, and the legal profession are headed.






Professional Satisfaction and the Solo Lawyer

Our Hot Take today is form an article titled”Scholars Flummoxed That Minority Lawyers Can Have High Levels of Professional Satisfaction When They Primarily Practice As ‘Lowly’ Solo Practitioners” by Carolyn Elefant . Legal scholars find in recent paper that minority attorneys have a higher job satisfaction, BUT unfortunately most work for themselves. The legal researchers mention that solo practice doesn’t have as much ‘social capital’ as a BigLaw gig but Carolyn believes there is an element of shaming law firm owners in legal academia – odd – and that minorities are leading the way in gig economy because that’s where they can dominate.
We have discussed this before, and it seems that others agree – if you want to look for where the innovation and change happens, look outside of the “traditional” law firms. There are less constraints, less restrictions, and perhaps greater opportunity for both personal and financial betterment.


Millennials, Minorities, and The Gig Economy for Lawyers Today

Our guest today is Renee Nicole Allen, director of Academic Success at the University of Tennessee College of Law. As director, she develops and teaches programs designed to enhance the analytical skills required for success in law school, on the bar exam, and in the practice of law.

Her research and teaching interests include educational psychology, Millennials, critical race theory, and social justice. Before her career in education, Renee practiced family law in a metro Atlanta law firm. She received her BA from Mercer University, her JD from the University of Florida, and she is currently earning a master of science degree in educational psychology (adult education concentration) from the University of Tennessee.


Innovation and Diversity – In Law School and Beyond

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Renee about where diversity and innovation can start to make a change, who’s going to be leading the charge and what kind of mindset it takes to innovate in the legal space:

Interviewer: … I think you’re right. So now, here’s a counter. Potentially as alternative legal service providers have shown on this show, we talk to people who are…big businesses are changing the way they get their law on…Do you think law schools are changing the offerings? Do you see any alternative law school stuff happening that’s helping fill in these gaps, or do you see some movement there, or is it just traditional JDs got to get pumped out? We gotta change that. Do you have any flavors?

Renee: So I like being employed in legal education, one thing. So we’ll start there. And I do think for the most part is traditional JDs as usual. However, there are a number of schools, actually University of Tennessee is one of them, that through law school clinics are doing some very innovative things. So small business clinics, entrepreneur clinics that are creating some opportunities for law schools to really interact with and engage the community in a way that I think could be very diversity centered.

So there are some unique opportunities for that. I think legal clinics provide an opportunity for law schools to do a lot more of that. But as a whole, law schools are still mostly business as usual. You know, I think the American Bar Association has implemented and is going to continue to implement over the next few years, some standards for legal education that are going to require law schools to engage more in the marketplace of today as opposed to the marketplace of 20, 30, 50 years ago, I think that will do a lot to move the ball forward. Law schools should be in their communities. And I think that would help a lot with social justice initiatives and diversity. And so I think there is a lot of promise in the future and where law schools are going.

Interviewer: So not just in law schools, but I’m curious what you think in general, Jake and I have kicked this around a couple times about how maybe change, you know, we shouldn’t be looking to the ABA or we shouldn’t be looking to the, you know, “industry.” And it’s gonna be more like people looking around and saying, “You know what? That’s not working. It’s time for us to do something else.” And so maybe the real change is gonna come from people who just straight up reject that, you know? And I don’t know, that may be a little extreme…

Jake: So it’s an anarchy, bro.

Interviewer: That’s what I’m saying. Break it all down. But I mean, seriously, there’s a little bit of this kind of DIY, an element to that of, like, well…maybe that’s not the way to do this anymore. And maybe because this diversity isn’t happening through these traditional channels, you know, it’s gonna be met by the fact that demographics show that this isn’t what it’s like anymore, you know?

Renee: Yeah, I went to a conference very early in my legal education career. And someone at the University of Denver, I wish I remembered their name, gave this presentation about law school of the future. And it really was going back to an apprenticeship model. The classroom component would take place for one year and the two years would be an apprenticeship. And, you know, at the time, I think everyone in the room kinda scoffed at that, you know, what are you thinking?

But seven years later, I mean, looking at what the marketplace looks like now and what technology is going to continue to give us the ability to do, I think that type of legal education program might better suit the needs of what law practice looks like in the next 50 years. So I don’t know sitting in a classroom for three years is the best way to get, you know, the next generation of lawyers prepared for what future practice will look like. But I also don’t know that today, that the law school who opened their doors as an innovator in that way could stay open. There have been a couple experiments and they haven’t been successful in a lot of years. And it doesn’t have to come from the ABA, but there have to be enough law schools on board to support that type of change.

Get More Information About Innovation, Diversity and Demographics in Law

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts about innovation and diversity for lawyers and legal professionals. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—



Ep 49 – Diversity in the Legal Profession and Law Firm

We talk about the state of diversity in law and we interview Stephanie Thompson and discuss her writings on the expanding definitions of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.







Diversity In Law

Our Hot Take today focuses on diversity across several different metrics, including race, gender and income. The primary topic of discussion comes from an article by Renwei Chung, and she states this:

“Stats are low for diversity in law – and a lot of that has to do with the Recession of 2008 – This month, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) published its NALP 2016 Report on Diversity, based on data collected for the 2016-2017 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE), its annual compendium of legal employer profiles. The report revealed that “the overall percentage of women associates has decreased more often than not since 2009, and the percentage of Black/African-American associates has declined every year since 2009, except for the small increase in 2016.”

While on the local level diversity may be happening, these statistics point to a troubling trend of law firms being less diverse. Is change happening at all? If not, why not? We dig in to it as well as some other references in the Hot Take.

The Concepts of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Law Firm

Stephanie Thompson is currently the Marketing Communications Manager at the law firm of Kutak Rock – a US law firm, focusing on litigation, public finance, as well as corporate and real estate law with over 500 attorneys at locations from coast-to-coast – with several English degrees and experience in education, proposal writing, and the publishing industry, Stephanie has written exquisitely on legal marketing as well as the concepts of equality, diversity, and inclusion in the law firm setting and it’s those articles that brought her to us and we are honored to have her aboard the show today

Who Really Works in Law Firms? What Is Class Diversity and What Is Diversity In The Legal Profession?

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Stephanie about the big picture of law firm staff, not just diversity amongst the partners, as well as what constitutes legal work and who’s doing it:

Jake: So you’ve written about the definition of diversity in the legal profession and how it can be kind of stretched which, in turn, widens the definition of who it is that really works on legal problems. So there was a fascinating back and forth with you and Michael Simon on LinkedIn about what constitutes legal work and what that definition is. So why don’t you kind of expand on those two pieces you wrote about class diversity and then also diversity in the legal profession because I thought that was brilliant.

Stephanie: Sure, yeah. We’re seeing a definite trend of companies, when they’re seeking legal work, I shouldn’t say legal firms, legal work, they’re going for the bottom line not necessarily the big tall buildings with people in suits. They’re looking for who can get the work done quickly and a little less expensively and still maintain the same quality, so they’re going to these alternative legal service companies. They might be people who have their JD but aren’t necessarily practicing, or they may be paralegals, they may be people like that, so we’re seeing a lot of that happen.
We’re also seeing staff in these established law firms take on more of a role so that the attorneys can do what they do best and then they can let those of us who support them do what we do best. Legal assistants, paralegals, document processors, legal marketers, proposal writers, these are all things that really take a lot of immersion. Like, you may not necessarily have the education but, once you’re doing the job, it does take a lot of acumen, and that’s something that you can only gain over time and learning from your attorneys and learning from the professionals in your company.

So it seems kind of ironic, and this is what I wrote about. It seems ironic that we’re all talking about diversity and inclusiveness and engagement, which is kind of the action word of the whole process. Diversity and inclusion are great but you have to have the engagement part of it which is actually including people, walking the walk not just talking the talk. And so, like I said, it’s ironic that they’re touting all this and yet, most of the time, it only refers to attorney diversity, you know. How many women partners do you have? How many women partners of color? How many equity partners of whatever demographic you’re looking at? And, yet, those of us who support attorneys do just as much work and are just as involved. And so it kind of struck me as odd that we’re not including that.

Jake: And, to your point, that actually the legal profession is very diverse and very open, it’s just not at that JD level or the partner level. It’s actually everybody else who touches… I was just thinking about the visualization of all the hands that touch a legal document, and it’s not just the lawyer. There is a chorus of hands of all different flavors, shapes and sizes that work on these things and get them through the process. So I think it’s kind of interesting because there’s some corollaries in between business management and diversity, and just sort of like the way we define how legal work gets done.
So, anyway. Here’s our thing. We do a lot of marketing, we do a lot of advertising advice on this show. And I’m thinking that a diversity of opinion is more important than just making sure you have someone who is an Inuit at the reception, you know, and be like, “We got it covered.” But I’m thinking like when it comes to running a successful business, it’s like diversity is important but that perspective, different opinions are just as important, like with marketing advice, taglines you’re thinking about doing. Maybe most of your clients are Spanish-speaking. Do you have somebody helping you write great Spanish content or helping you address these needs? I just think it’s like, do you think there’s more to diversity than just that lip service and then just that ticking off the box for the census? There’s something more to it.

Stephanie: Right. And that’s the whole difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.

Jake: Right.

Stephanie: In the writing industry, in like fiction writing, we have something called sensitivity readers, because a lot of people, you know, you want to write outside of your own little experience and you want to take that chance. But you can’t…you know, there are some things that you’re just not going to be able to pull up from the inside because you’ve just never had that experience and it’s nobody’s fault and there’s nothing wrong with it, it just is. So the same thing kind of happens, and you can extrapolate this into just about any corporation or any business, whether it is marketing or whether it’s other aspects of law. I think Starbucks is probably the best recent example where a decision was made, it was made by one or two people. If they had had decision-making in a group that was more diverse, somebody may have pumped the brakes and said, “Now, hold on, let’s think about this from this perspective.”

And then they may have made a slightly different or better decision. And we see that every day, there are stories that come up every day about…you know, I mean, Nike’s had its problems, Google’s had its problems, Yale had a problem with somebody calling the police on a young woman who had fallen asleep studying in her dorm.

And if you consult people of different perspectives, different whatever, chances are you’re going to make a better decision. And that happens a lot. That happens in marketing. It’s just human nature.

Get More Information About Law Firm Diversity

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts about diversity and inclusion for lawyers and legal professionals. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—


Ep 47 – Why Do Law Firms Fail ? The Lawyer E-Myth

In this episode, we discuss the small business roots of problems facing law firms today, we dispel the entrepreneurial myth behind what it takes to launch and run a successful business, and we dive into our first episode of The LAWsome Bookclub, with Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth Revisited.”








Why Do Law Firms Fail?

Our Hot Take is an article from the Huffing Post called “Why Law Firms Fail”

According to author/contributor Frank H. Wu, “Law firms fail for many reasons. Among them is not one that might be expected. Very few, if any, of the law firms that have “failed” has foundered because the people employed there were lousy lawyers…Smart people overestimate the importance of being a smart person. To be the best lawyer, or the best collection of lawyers, is not enough; it doesn’t even guarantee you stay in the game. It is necessary to be great business people, too. Or to affiliate with great businesspeople, which means recognizing that the technical skills needed to be a great lawyer might (or might not) correlate with the other skills needed to thrive.”

What is the E-Myth?

Todays book is “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael Gerber:

“An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispels the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.

Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise.
Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. “The E-Myth Revisited” will help you grow your business in a productive, assured way.”

How Can This Relate to Lawyers and Running A Law Firm

According to the book, there are three personalities of successful business owner :

  1. The Entrepreneur – The Dreamer
  2. The Technician – The Lawyer
  3. The Manager – The Boss – I have built this to now work in, but it can function without me.

Coming to grips with this is like taking a personality test. Knowing who you are informs how can you flourish the business – by balancing these personalities and understanding how each “thinks” about their business can help lawyers develop an approach that is more system based and not entirely dependent upon them to function.

How Can The E-Myth Help Lawyers?

Not many people have a natural ability to separate their venture into the necessary components that will make it a successful business. Many businesses – not just law firms-  get stuck between the Entrepreneur and the Technician, and therefore build a business model with themselves at the center. This means everything functions through them and is dependent upon them. Essentially – they make themselves the business, instead of being a business owner. The book suggests it’s important to start “thinking like a franchise” and imagine that you are creating a “turn-key model” – an Expert System – that is systems dependent,  not people dependent.

This can be a struggle for any professional or skill based company, because you ARE needed for your unique knowledge and abilities, but without creating support systems that free a lawyer to actually practice law instead of getting buried with the management aspects all small business owners face, there will be conflicts. Essentially, the Technician needs the Entrepreneur and the Manager to create an environment that will allow them to flourish, better. Businesses fail – and we’re talking primarily about entrepreneurs here – because a great idea or skill does not necessarily come with the know how to turn it into a business.

Get More Information About Law Firm Success, Management, and Book Reports

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts about the E-Myth Revisited and business systems for lawyers. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—