Many lawyers today are thinking about going solo or starting their own firms. But running a law firm is like running a business, which involves much more than providing legal services. You have to think about billing and business management, when to accept and reject clients, and maintaining a calm composure under a stressful situation. What goes into planning to start your own practice, what essential items should you purchase first, and should you even go out on your own right now?
In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Heidi Alexander interviews Ben Carter, a Louisville attorney who started a solo practice after spending years at the Kentucky Legal Aid Society, about his experience and advice for others. He recommends newly solo lawyers keep overheads low, run the firm like a startup business, and spend some time in a bigger law firm first (if possible) to acquire the substantive and marketplace experience needed. Ben then discusses what lawyers would need to purchase first: a high end paper scanner, a computer, and malpractice insurance. The interview is packed with useful advice like how much money you might need to save before starting your firm and why choosing the right niche can make up for many other missteps. Tune in to hear this any many more technology, process, and life tips from a successful solo lawyer.
After spending many years defending homeowners from foreclosure for the Kentucky Legal Aid Society, Louisville attorney Ben Carter decided to start a solo practice. In addition to running a solo practice, Ben co-hosts the podcast “Let’s Start a Firm,” in which they tackle topics like why an attorney might want to start their own firm, loan forgiveness, office space, office supplies, banking, trust accounting, entity selection, insurance, technology, legal research and writing, and more.
As a youngster, when someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, how did you respond? Did you tell them that you wanted to be the CFO of a mediocre law firm that does just enough to get by? With so many resources out there, it’s difficult to grasp why so many law firm owners are settling for only doing as much as is necessary to pay the bills. Lawyers should be using their businesses to help as many people as possible, including themselves.
In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, Christopher Anderson interviews small law firm business expert RJon Robins about how to balance seven parts of a law firm business to make it work for you, and not the other way around. While many firms seem to be focused on doing just well enough to get by, RJon Robins is urging legal professionals to take a different approach. He believes that you should set up your law firm as a means to make you happy, and that doing so will create revenue as a byproduct. Christopher and RJon take an in-depth look at the seven parts of every law firm and the ways in which they should be synthesized in order to reach professional and personal goals. These parts consist of marketing, sales, production, people, the physical plant, financial controls, and you, the firm’s owner. Ultimately, RJon says, your business should be a manifestation of who you are. In closing, RJon tells listeners where they can find complimentary resources to help them implement these changes.
RJon Robins is the founder of How to Manage a Small Law Firm whose tagline is “Happy lawyers make more money. And broke lawyers don’t do anyone any good… least of all their clients, their families, or themselves.” He acts as an outside CEO for thousands of small and solo firms across the country, assisting them through all stages of growth and walking clients through his approach to the seven parts of their law firm business.
Historically, law firms have billed clients exclusively by mailing paper invoices, a slow and relatively time-consuming system. With the increase in technology and credit card billing for almost everything we purchase, billing online is now more professional and more efficient. Furthermore, by accepting credit card systems, your law firm saves money and will likely be paid much more quickly. Despite this knowledge, many lawyers are still hesitant to change their billing system.
In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, Christopher Anderson interviews Amy Porter, CEO of AffiniPay, about how law firms can use online billing to get paid on time, ways to comply with ethical obligations and requirements regarding trust accounts and retainers, and the hesitation many lawyers have concerning processing fees.
The changing stigma of accepting credit card payments for legal services
How billing online saves hours a month
Pre-authorization forms and creating a positive and convenient client experience
Reducing past-due invoices, discounts, and write-offs
Separating earned and unearned fees
Properly handling a chargeback
Law firm payment statistics
Amy Porter is the CEO and founder of AffiniPay the company that brings lawyers LawPay. LawPay provides legal credit card processing for attorneys. Amy has been in the bank card industry since 1997.
Have you been hearing about how lawyers are working remote and have a “mobile office” but don’t know what that means? Are you thinking about starting your own mobile practice and need some tips? Do you have a law firm that could benefit from more mobile systems and tools? Well, you’re in luck! Today on The Florida Bar Podcast, Adriana Linares and Larry Port, founder and CEO of Rocket Matter, discuss remote access, cloud-based services, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, online collaboration, and what is needed to start a mobile law office.
What it means to be “in the cloud”
Cloud and server security
Practice management programs
Mobile phone systems and PVX software
Note taking, collaboration, and communication tools
Technology trial and error
iPad apps, Microsoft Surface devices, and using Apple computers
Looking first for lawyer specific products
Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter, is also a speaker and award winning writer at the crossroads of the legal profession and cutting edge technology. He frequently discusses marketing, design and efficiency, and quality techniques in the software industry that can be leveraged by lawyers and legal professionals. He was named to the 2012 Fastcase 50 honoring the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.
The new Windows 10 has received a lot of attention, partly due to the lack of popularity of Windows 8, but legal professionals are notoriously conservative with adopting new technology. Since paralegals will likely be the first law firm employees to use the new operating system, they need to know whether to upgrade and when. Behind the buzz, what are the cold hard facts about Windows 10?
In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, Vicki Voisin interviews lawyer and former paralegal Beverly Michaelis about her transition from paralegal to lawyer, the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) issue, and what you need to know before updating to Windows 10.
The benefits of being a paralegal before going to law school
LLLTs and other solutions for the access to justice issue
Windows 8’s confusing interface
Reserving your copy of Windows 10 for free
New features and functions of the operating system
Privacy and data mining
Biometric security, a clutter folder, OneDrive sync, and video features
How long to wait before downloading and why
Beverly Michaelis is a practice management advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and American Bar Association with over thirty years of experience in the legal field as a lawyer and a paralegal. Beverly provides confidential practice management assistance to Oregon attorneys to reduce their risk of malpractice claims.
Most solo and small firm practitioners have heard of cloud-based management systems such as Clio, Rocket Matter, and NetDocuments. These and many more are also a part of The Florida Bar member benefits. But for lawyers who aren’t currently using any of these technologies, it can be difficult to understand why they are important. How can lawyers actually save time and money by learning to use case management, practice management, and document management softwares?
In this episode of The Florida Bar Podcast, Adriana Linares interviews technology consultant Allan Mackenzie about the differences between the document, case, litigation, and practice management systems, how they improve the efficiency and accuracy of time, billing, calendar, contact management, document assembly, tasks, and to-do lists for firms of all sizes. All of these software options and more information can be found on The Florida Bar website’s member benefits page.
Allan Mackenzie is a 25-year veteran of the legal technology world. His experience ranges from that of a former night-shift word processor to a Wall Street IT director with a specialty in litigation technology. He has helped many firms of many sizes figure out what they need in terms of practice management and case management systems.
Law partners Jayne Sykora and Jennifer Santini have great advice on figuring out if you want a partner to start your practice, and how to choose one. Before that, Sam and Aaron discuss the security of If This Then That and Zapier.
Jayne Sykora and Jennifer Santini met during their bar review course. Later, after they both took a free seminar on starting a law practice, they decided to hang a shingle and found Sykora & Santini PLLP together. In this episode of the Lawyerist Podcast, they talk about how they made that decision and offer their advice to others considering taking on a partner to start a law practice.
Clio’s lead scientist Fraser Newton and Vice President of Business Development George Psiharis stop by to discuss what law firms can learn from their data operations. During their interview, they share insights from their sales team and talk about applying key performance indicators to the business side of your legal practice. Although not every firm is the same when it comes to fee arrangements, area of law, and marketing budget, all must focus on return on investment to create growth.
George Psiharis is the vice president of business development at Clio. He specializes in customer development and data operations. George has worked extensively with law schools, bar associations, and other legal professionals to help make information on cloud computing and law firm economics increasingly accessible.
Fraser Newton is the lead scientist at Clio where he’s been since 2008, when he started as a senior software developer. He uses his training in both computer science and statistics to build better customer experiences through data insights and understanding.
Josh Camson reflects on nearly six years of law practice and the column he wrote when he was just starting out: “The Shingle Life.” Plus, Sam and Aaron break down Net Promoter Score, the closest you’ll get to a magic number for growing your law practice.
Almost three years ago, Josh Camson started “The Shingle Life”, a column-slash-journal of his experiences hanging out his shingle and starting a law practice with his business partner, Erick Rigby. This week, Josh looks back and talks about what he knows now that he didn’t know then, and what he might do differently if he had the chance.
An application programming interface (API) is a system that connects software applications to each other, providing more functionality for users. For example, a password manager might interface a LinkedIn App, allowing for easy sign-in. So what does this technology mean for lawyers?
At the 2015 Clio Cloud conference, Adriana Linares interviews panelists Dan Lear, Debbie Mignola, and Sam Redlich about their session, titled ‘Clio as a Platform: Leveraging Clio’s API.’ Together, they discuss employing the API in your daily practice, using automation to improve client experience, and how long it will take lawyers to learn to use and implement the tools.
Dan Lear is the director of Industry Relations at Avvo, the online legal marketplace, and a legal technology facilitator and blogger.
Debbie Mignola is the founder and CEO of Intake 123, an online form designer application that integrates with Clio software.
Sam Redlich is a practicing attorney in New Jersey who works with software companies, technology companies, and internet companies doing IP and contractual work.