Share this Episode
From Big Law to Solo
Deciding to leave a large law firm is a challenging decision and can often leave an attorney questioning what the future holds. It can be even more intimidating starting your own solo law firm during such a tumultuous time. In this episode of New Solo, host Adriana Linares talks with Cade Law LLC owner Nate Cade about his experiences leaving a large law firm and starting his own solo practice.
Nate Cade is the owner of Cade Law LLC, which he started on March 1, 2013. Prior to forming his own law firm, Nate was a partner and the general counsel in a large multi-office law firm and previously a partner for 15 years at one of the largest firms in Milwaukee.View transcript
From Big Law to Solo
Intro: So you are an attorney and you have decided to go out on your own, now what? You need to plan and you are not alone. Join expert host Adriana Linares and her distinguished guests on New Solo. Tune into the lively conversation as they share insights and information about how to successfully run your law firm, here on Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hello and welcome to New Solo on Legal Talk Network, it’s time for another episode. I am Adriana Linares. I am a legal technology trainer and consultant. My job is to cruise the country helping lawyers figure out how to use technology a little bit better.
I have a great guest on today. He is a practicing lawyer, which is, when we look at the statistics for New Solo, the most downloaded and listened to podcast. These are the ones that seem to be the most popular. So I am always happy to find cool and interesting lawyers for you to hear about and meet and listen to.
But before I get started, I want to make sure and thank our sponsors. We are going to start with Clio, which is of course the world’s leading cloud-based legal practice management software. Thousands of lawyers and legal professionals trust Clio to help grow and simplify their practices. Learn more about Clio at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com/”clio.com.
I want to make sure and thank Solo Practice University as well. They are a great resource for solos, no matter how long you have been practicing. Make sure you check out HYPERLINK “http://www.solopracticeuniversity.com/”solopracticeuniversity.com and learn how to run your practice better.
So today’s guest is an attorney based out of Milwaukee, his name is Nate Cade. He is the owner of Cade Law. And Nate and I have interesting history together, because he is a client of mine, that’s how we met, and helping Nate over the past couple of years as his practice has grown is really inspiring, and he is the type of lawyer that I like to meet; he is definitely the type of client that I like to have. So I asked him if he wanted to come on the show and share with everyone how he has so far run a successfully solo practice that has grown a little bit. Hi Nate.
Nate Cade: Hi. How are you?
Adriana Linares: I am good. Thanks so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. I know you are busy, and of course, your patience that we had to go through in getting my technology ready for the show was very nice. Thank you.
Nate Cade: You are welcome.
Adriana Linares: Tell our listeners a little bit about your practice.
Nate Cade: Sure. Well, I have got a three person or three attorney law firm based in Milwaukee. I guess we are what you would call virtual in the sense that there is no physical office space. All the attorneys that work for me, including myself, my paralegal, couple of admins, everybody has a home office. And so we set our own hours, come and go when we want, spend quality family time, and get to enjoy ourselves as well as doing work that we love.
Adriana Linares: That’s definitely one of the things I want to ask you about, but I am going to back off on it for just a second so that we can sort of progress through how that became a thing for you. Because if I remember correctly, you have been practicing for a long time and you were general counsel somewhere, maybe a partner at a law firm and then decided to go out on your own?
Nate Cade: Yeah. I started off with one from here in town in Milwaukee, one of the larger ones in the state, and I was there about 15 years, and then I left that firm, went to another firm, smaller, but it had many more offices. I was there for about two years, and I also, not only was a partner, but served as the general counsel for that firm. And then in I guess effective March of 2013 decided to give this a try and go solo.
Adriana Linares: That’s a big — I have had so many — actually at this point in my life most of my friends are lawyers, because I spend so much time with them, and I have watched so many lawyers take that leap, and regardless of how many times people like me tell them, you are going to be fine, you are going to get clients, you are going to survive, that’s a scary thing to decide to do. So what made you want to do that and then where did you start?
Nate Cade: Well, for lots of reasons, which I won’t go into, I decided I had to leave the firm I was at, and I kind of faced this sobering choice of, what do I do. I knew I had a lot of clients. I knew that a lot of them would come with me wherever I went. And I did have a couple of things lined up with some other firms and I got to thinking, how is it going to be any different there than it was at the other firms.
And big law firms are great, they are great places to work, great places to collaborate, certainly mentally stimulating. You get to work on fascinating things. You have all the accoutrements that you can imagine. But at the end of the day, most clients tend to choose the lawyer.
And so I made the decision if I was going to do it, I had to do it, and I am glad there wasn’t a Plan B, because I think I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I just listened to one the other day where they basically were saying that people are more successful when they don’t have a back up plan, because then you don’t fall into that, well, if it doesn’t work out, I can always do, whatever; it’s, no, I have a mortgage and student loans and so I don’t have a Plan B, this has to work.
Adriana Linares: Was that the Hidden Brain?
Nate Cade: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Oh, I love that episode about decision making.
Nate Cade: Correct.
Adriana Linares: Ah, I love that. I sent that to everyone I know, and that was such a compelling episode. It’s so interesting that you of all — and I listen to a ton of podcasts, like you do too, it’s so interesting that out of all the ones you picked to mention that that’s one, and that is really interesting.
You know what I liked about the episode too, it made me feel good about the decisions that I have made and then occasionally look back and go, did I do the right thing? I was able to say yes, I did, I have totally done the right thing. That’s so funny.
Nate Cade: Yeah. So it was great. I love the host Shankar Vedantam and I listen to it and so, yeah, it’s all good.
Adriana Linares: No, that’s great. So you decide to go on your own, and it sounded like you were confident that you at least had one or two clients to go with you. And I think when a lawyer can do that that is definitely a huge start, because you have got your first one or two clients and from there hopefully the rest just keep coming.
What was your sort of plan or not plan as far as technology goes? When I work around bigger firms I find that they have a ton of technology, but it’s not necessarily always used to the maximum. So were you inspired or uninspired by your previous bigger firm experiences?
Nate Cade: I don’t think the big firm experience really did anything, because most firms tend to have — they have committees, there is group think, you have all these levels of decision making. I had an iPad. When the iPad first came out I actually won it as part of a contest for an organization I was at, and I used to travel all the time. I mean, I had Platinum status on Delta and it was all domestic flying, but I didn’t take a laptop; I actually had an iPad. And I would take it on the plane, I wrote briefs, I could edit and do everything, and for a couple of years that’s all I did.
So when I made the decision to go out on my own, the easiest thing I think was the technology and not so much of just going and buying it, but what I tell everybody who is thinking of doing something on their own or making a shift is Google. And so I literally had a spreadsheet of every expense that I thought I was going to incur, from bar dues, down to cost of computers, and every single thing I went through and I googled and I tried to figure out what was the best in breed. So what’s the best VoIP, what’s the best document management, what’s the best cloud provider, you name it. And then you test everything out.
Adriana Linares: You took a lot of time to test stuff out too?
Nate Cade: Yeah, I took a couple of weeks. I mean, once I made the decision and it was a go, it took about 10 minutes to turn everything on, but I had already — once I made that decision it was just click, click, click, click, done, and I am lock and load, more up.
Adriana Linares: I want to go back just a moment because when you were talking about I got this iPad, and it sounds like you got it a long time ago, like one of the first iPads or versions of an iPad, what made you just decide that that thing was going to be able to do it for you? Have you always been kind of into technology or did you look at this thing and go, wow? What inspired you to just go to the iPad, because I think that alone is interesting that you got it and you immediately said this is it, this is all I need?
Nate Cade: Well, I wasn’t as geeky in high school as you are sounding here. I didn’t take things apart and solder them back together.
Adriana Linares: I didn’t either.
Nate Cade: I think part of it is, if you have traveled, laptops have certainly gotten lighter nowadays, but back in the day traveling with a laptop was very clunky, and Wi-Fi certainly has helped. It’s gotten better. It’s gotten easier and faster. It’s now in hotel rooms. And so once you got over the mindset of needing a flash drive or a disk and you could either have something emailed or you could store it, in the early versions of a Dropbox or any of the other iterations, that’s what made it easy.
And a lot of it was just, you have to — with the iPad I planned early. So if I knew I was traveling I would make sure I downloaded a lot of stuff. So I had one really big client when I switched firms, and when I interviewed with the general counsel they had about 600+ pages of all of their cases over 10 years. And I remember sitting down with them in Chicago at a meeting and he would tell me a little bit and then I would say something. And finally he goes, where are you getting all this? I said, well, I pulled every case you had for the last 10 years. He said, seriously? I said, yeah.
And when you are on a plane you are captive. So once you get used to that technology and you get used to playing, a lot of apps are free; sometimes they are $0.99 or $1.99, and you just kind of play with it, and that’s what I think technology, it’s like having the trainer in a law firm. It’s great that they train you, but once they leave, will you remember what you are doing, and the only way for something really to work is for you to play with it, and after you play with it long enough, that’s where you are going to learn. Not someone saying okay, now you do this, now you do that.
It’s, okay, if I hit this button, it’s not going to set off the nuclear codes and blow up anything, and once you can accept that, it’s just playing, it’s just having fun. Why do kids play with computers and don’t have any fear whatsoever, because they don’t know any better.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I love that approach, that attitude, and it’s just so refreshing. And I will say that when the iPad came out the look and feel of software was just forever changed, or our expectations of it, and it became a lot easier to just pick up a program. They are obviously inexpensive, but it just became easier to learn how to use them, very user-friendly.
Unlike the programs of days of old, where a trainer would sit in front of a group of lawyers in a law firm, and often still does today, trying to teach them how to use a program that I say all the time, I will look at an old — what I call a traditional practice management program and I will say, my God, it looks like Fred Flintstone designed this during his best design days, when he was at the peak of his GUI work, this is what Fred Flintstone did.
So it just sounds like you have always, somehow I guess you just had it in your heart Nate, valued what technology could do for you as far as being efficient, and that’s why I think you probably run, and as far as I know from the little bit of the insider knowledge that I have about your firm, a pretty efficient law firm.
So you decided to go out on your own, you tested a bunch of technology, you actually tested and played with it, which most lawyers don’t do, so I think that is a huge tip that I hope listeners take away from this is that there is value in taking that time to test drive, right?
Nate Cade: Uh-huh. Well, not only test drive, but the beauty of it is, if you make a mistake, most software now, for the most part is SaaS, Services-as-a-Software, you are not buying long-term contracts. And I am always — I get — one of the things I get as an email is the TechnoLawyer, and I click through that and I will look through it, and it will say, hey, there’s this new software. Okay, well, I play with it for a couple of weeks. Do I like it, does it need some refinements, and this is not the titanic. The thing can be turned around very quickly. So that’s what I think you always have to do, you are constantly playing and seeing what is the best and what will help you better than anything else.
Adriana Linares: That’s great. It’s true, and again just lawyers finding, deciding to take the time to do that is so rare. So I really hope that anyone listening thinking about going out on their own either takes good advice from podcasts like this or actually takes the time to do that.
So what were the first couple of programs or services that you decided were going to be the ones to help you build your successful law practice?
Nate Cade: Definitely VoIP phone, so that was the first thing, you had to have a phone, and I wanted to make sure that the messages came in as email, so that if I am out, I didn’t have to dial in to a number, and I can listen to them wherever, and I can forward them.
And then I guess from there it was just kind of testing out different things. So I tested a number of client document management systems. The great thing is they are all, the try them for 30 days, and I put in dummy data in three or four of the big ones and just kind of played with them. What does it look like on the iPad, what does it look like on my Mac, what does it look like on this?
I actually had my assistant, who knew I was contemplating leaving, so she would play with it at home, so I put in some dummy data and kind of got her opinion as to what she thought, and kind of went from there and made a decision.
Adriana Linares: Great. That’s very smart. I just this weekend helped a friend set up his Clio account, and I assume much of what you were talking about was probably maybe the client portals, which I love, and we are going to talk about your use of a client portal in a second. But I told him, I said, create your first matter and your first client in there and make your client your girlfriend. Then, send her an invite to connect, and then go sit next to her and watch what she goes through to login and to get into the portal, so you are familiar with it and you can explain to your clients this is how you are going to do it, or it’s not that hard, and we are going to talk about the portals when we come back from the break in just a few minutes.
But for me those portals are I mean just the future of communication with clients. I think they are amazing. So I think that’s great advice, get in there, if you have got a wife, a girlfriend, a colleague, who is willing to help you, a boyfriend, I guess it could be anybody. Set them up with an account or set yourself up with — most of us have more than one email address, with the guest account, a client account, a fake account and check it out. See how it looks.
All right, so do you mind telling everyone which Voiceover IP service you went with?
Nate Cade: I do not. I chose RingCentral.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. That’s a great one. And do you get your faxes through there too?
Nate Cade: I get faxes, and we also use — they recently purchased a company called Glip, which is very similar to Slack; a lot of folks would know Slack. It’s one of the unicorns in Silicon Valley. So, Glip operates exactly the same as Slack, except it’s free with the RingCentral account. So it’s a great thing that — in fact, I insist that all the folks that work with me, we try to stop using email if we can and focus mainly on sending messages through Glip. So you are not hitting the Reply All and the, hey, congratulations kind of emails, because that’s one of the things I never liked about a law firm. You get 100 messages back with replied all, and I don’t think that people ever learn how to just reply back to the person who needs to be congratulated.
Adriana Linares: I agree with you. I think their computers are magnetized to go to the replied all button, they don’t even realize it. Do you remember or do you know, and I bet you do, your monthly per person for something like RingCentral, to give our listeners kind of an idea of what they would pay for a phone line?
Nate Cade: Actually, it gets cheaper the more phone lines you have, and I paid for it in advance, a year’s service, but you could cancel, and I think it was like a 20% discount. So for me, it was two lines and a fax, it was probably about $500, give or take.
Adriana Linares: For the whole year?
Nate Cade: For the whole year. And then it goes down from there. So when you start adding additional people, because you are adding additional lines, it actually gets cheaper. And so every time I add somebody I just pay — they actually prorated to my new year, and so I just pay for it for the year in advance. It’s great. They charge my American Express so I get the points. It’s taken care of. I charge everything I can through the credit card. I have got my — even my — the people who do my depositions, they have my credit card on file and they send me a message, can we charge, and I say yes, and the points add up. I just came back from Vancouver for a family trip, so thank you very much.
Adriana Linares: You are a very efficient attorney, and I love it. So last thing on RingCentral, I just want to make sure we say it out loud, it’s a fully functioning phone system. So you and your fellow attorneys and your paralegal are able to answer the phone, transfer calls, receive voicemails, probably send voicemails to your document management system. You are able to send and receive faxes through RingCentral and you have got the Slack like — we will just call it, for what it is, Glip service that allows you to have internal communication. Any other cool things that a service like this does?
Nate Cade: Actually, one of the cool things about it is, it also has a texting feature, so you can — if someone calls my direct dial, I can send a text, it’s coming from my work number. So rather than giving out my mobile number; I don’t mind so much because that’s what I have to do, but obviously my paralegal, assistants, et cetera, they may not want their personal mobile number given out, and they can send faxes, and you can do it either through the Desktop App or you can do it through, they have an app for both the iPhone as well as Android. So it’s fantastic.
I use that. I can send messages on the fly, even in court. You can send faxes. You can respond. You can do the Glip, the Slack like feature at all times. So it is well worth the money. Don’t skimp.
I know a lot of people like other services, but some of them are too cloud-based and you could have technology issues and you don’t want to necessarily just tell clients to call you on Skype, but with RingCentral — in fact, I landed a really large multinational client solely by having RingCentral, because they have video conferencing for free, and one person was in London, one was in Philadelphia, and the other one was somewhere else in the USA, I forget, and we did a video conference at 10 o’clock at night, while I was basically pitching, and I got hired off of it. So it has paid for itself many times over.
Adriana Linares: I love it. What do you do for a receptionist?
Nate Cade: I don’t. I haven’t gone to the virtual receptionist yet. For the most part, if someone — they can leave a voicemail, they can hit a button to go out to another one of the people on staff. So I haven’t gotten to the point where the volume is call every three minutes that I need a receptionist. And I have debated about hiring something like a Ruby, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
Adriana Linares: You just haven’t needed it yet.
Nate Cade: Yeah, but I haven’t found a true need for it.
Adriana Linares: Well, that’s good. Well, listen, before we move on to our next segment and talk to you a little bit more about some of your other typical technologies, we are going to take a quick break and hear a message from our sponsors.
Clio is an invaluable software solution for law firms of all sizes, handling all the demands of your growing practice from a single cloud-based platform. Clio enhances your firm with features such as matter and document management, time tracking, and even billing. Clio is an effortless tool that helps lawyers focus on what they do best, practice law. Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com” clio.com.
Ready to create and build your own solo or small firm practice, need a nuts and bolts education on the 360 degree experience of starting a business, there is only one online destination dedicated to helping you achieve your goals, Solo Practice University, the only online educational and professional networking community dedicated to lawyers and law students who want to go into practice for themselves, more than 1,000 classes, 58 faculty and mentors. What are you waiting for, check out HYPERLINK “http://www.solopracticeuniversity.com” solopracticeuniversity.com today.
All right, welcome back to New Solo. I am Adriana Linares. And with me today is Nate Cade. He is an attorney in Milwaukee. Before the break we were talking mostly about his communications technology, how he got started. RingCentral is a product that you love and speak highly of; many attorneys do. I also like RingCentral very much, Nate.
What about practice management? You said you kicked around some tires, got in, did some test driving, and then you ended up picking which of the — do you want to tell us which ones you test drove first and then which one you picked and why?
Nate Cade: Well, I am happy to. It’s not your sponsor unfortunately, so I don’t want you to get in trouble.
Adriana Linares: That’s okay. No, I would like to go on the record to say I love all the practice management programs that are out there and all I ever say to lawyers is pick the one that works for you and learn how to use the hell out of it.
Nate Cade: Well, there you go. I use MyCase, but I did MyCase, I did Clio, and Rocket Matter. So I test drove them all, put in the dummy data, and I just thought that, at least for me and for my former assistant who was helping me, that seemed to be the one that was I guess most intuitive and easiest to use.
Adriana Linares: Great. And you are still using it?
Nate Cade: I am still using it. I recommend it to everybody, but I also tell them to try several of them and test drive, because I think it’s a preference issue. And like I said, if something comes along and someone else makes a better mousetrap, I have no problem in switching if it will help me.
Adriana Linares: Right. One of the things that I really love about you is that you have leveraged their technology and the way you use it on your website. So if someone goes to HYPERLINK “http://www.cade-law.com” cade-law.com and hovers on your About, you are a very handsome man by the way Nate, and hovers on your About link, they will see another link that takes them to a Technology page.
So you have been — why do you do that, let me just ask you, you have got it right there, you are leveraging the fact that you use technology and you are going to use it to communicate with your clients, what made you think to put this on there?
Nate Cade: Honestly, I don’t remember that. That was a couple of years ago and that was right when MyCase, they actually designed the website, and it’s out of date; I haven’t added the other people yet, that’s just one of those things that unfortunately is sitting there, as you know.
Adriana Linares: I understand.
Nate Cade: But it was just something we went back and forth with, and they actually — I had a prior company doing the website; I thought they were horrible, I won’t say their name, but they charged a lot of money and getting updates was a pain and their response basically was learn HTML5, and I could do it, and my comment to them was, I am willing to pay money, but I shouldn’t be paying basically $300, $400 an hour, which is what I would earn to learn HTML5.
Adriana Linares: I mean, come on.
Nate Cade: Yeah. So that was their response. And they advertise at some of the big shows and everything and I am sure they will be at the TECHSHOW and some other ones.
Adriana Linares: I am sure I know who you are talking about.
Nate Cade: So I made the decision. Again, I could have said, well, I paid a lot of money on the down stroke and I am going to stick with it, but MyCase contacted me. I saw they had just come out with it. I looked at some of the templates they had, and I said, well, I think it was like $500 to do the initial website and $50 a month to maintain it, so it was like, okay, I can say I am stuck and stay with what I have or turn around and switch.
So I think the other people were a little shocked I switched so quickly, but I won’t suffer the fools long enough, so it’s move on and get with it.
Adriana Linares: You were making decisions — you could have been a scientific study for the Hidden Brain Podcast episode way back then.
Nate Cade: I don’t know about that, but I appreciate it.
Adriana Linares: I love this because it says — whether you wrote this or they did, it doesn’t matter, because it’s there and it says, you go to About, you go to Technology and it says, Our firm uses a secure online portal to communicate and share information with clients.
Do you find — so tell me about engaging your client. When you engage the client do you say to them, we have got this portal, this is how we are going to communicate, because for me, what I want lawyers to do is, and I hate to use this corporatey word, but I will use it just for this purpose, on board their clients on how to use the program. It’s pretty self-explanatory, all these client portals are, and I tell my lawyers — my clients who say, my clients will never use that, they won’t be able to figure it out. I say, look, if your client can upload a picture to Facebook, believe me, they can figure out how to use these modern simple portals.
Nate Cade: You know what, and part of it I think is you get to know your client. I have some clients who are just fantastic. I have a much older couple out in California that I was doing some work here, they are retired, and they log in and they pay their bill online, and they click a couple of buttons and it’s done. And then I have other people who turn around and they go, I don’t know what I am doing and they throw their hands up.
So I would say about 90% of my clients will get an electronic bill. So usually MyCase will send them an electronic bill, but then I also follow up with a PDF, just so they have something physical in case they have to save it or forward it on to someone or whatever.
Or alternatively, I will mail, if I have to. To me, it’s all depending on the client. There are some clients who are really competent and there are other clients who you know won’t be able to do anything.
Adriana Linares: Yes, I have the same problem. You also use NetDocuments, which is really one of my favorite programs, and what I get a lot from lawyers is, I am too small. I am either just a solo, which you were when you started, or it’s too expensive. Help me make the case for why a program like NetDocuments in managing your documents in a sophisticated way is valuable?
Nate Cade: I didn’t need NetDocs until it was more than me. I mean that was really — when I hired the first lawyer to come on board, I needed something, and there is lots of options. I know there are people who think Dropbox is secure, and no disrespect to Dropbox, but it’s not secure.
Adriana Linares: Well, it’s not a proper document management system for a law firm.
Nate Cade: Right. And you can’t really — well, you can’t search, you can’t — I mean, you can do things, but you can’t do things. So I made the decision when she accepted my offer to come on board, it was like, okay, I have got to do something, and once again I just started googling, I started searching, and I came across NetDocs.
I actually kind of went into it haphazardly, because apparently you need to have so many licenses for them to play nice with you; I think it was five or six licenses and I was only going to have two. So they basically said, here you go, and I screwed everything up uploading it. I remember spending all of Thanksgiving uploading just a ton of files. And then it didn’t work the way it was supposed to. We just couldn’t get it to work.
So I followed up. They kind of said, well, we don’t do that level of support, because they basically train the trainers for law firms. And they went through a list of names and as soon as they said, Adriana Linares, I said, ah, I know that name.
Adriana Linares: We didn’t get to talk about that, but I love that story.
Nate Cade: Yeah. So I listen to your podcast so I am like, okay, at least I know that name, and she sounds very, very competent on the various podcasts, so that is more than anything. You can, at least if someone is competent, work with it.
So I ended up working with your colleague Allan, and first thing Allan said is, okay, you screwed this up. I am like, okay, fine.
Adriana Linares: He said it in a very nice way I am sure.
Nate Cade: He did, he did, but the funny thing was he said, okay, we kind of talked about the way I wanted the architecture of the NetDocs, the way I wanted folders and consistency and everything, and he worked his magic behind the scenes. And then he said, okay, here is what you are doing. We did a couple of training sessions. I love the fact that you don’t need someone physical, it’s all usually a go-to meeting.
And every time I hire someone new I make arrangements and there is a new training session. Sometimes I will sit in on it just to refresh. But it was an easy decision, and part of it was — it is expensive, it’s basically $50 a license, but at the same time, if you want to have all of your documents secure where you can access them anywhere you go.
I did a trial in January for a week and it was great having all the documents in NetDocs. It was a county just north of Milwaukee, they had Wi-Fi, and I could on the fly go through everything. So if there was a document that I didn’t have electronically on my laptop or on a flash drive or something like that, I could log into the system and pull it down instantaneously.
And to be able to have that and to have that where they even have the ability, they have an iPhone and Android app, so to be able to click a button and if a client asks you a question; I was doing a prep session before trial in February and the client asked me something and I didn’t bring the whole file and all I had was my phone. And I said, give me a second. She is like, what are you doing? I said, just hold on, and I literally punched up and then showed her — I had the affidavit. Oh no, I am sorry, it was a deposition transcript. I said is this what you are looking for? She says, yeah. And I said, hold on a second, I clicked a button and I emailed it to her. She is like, holy crap, how did you do that? I said, well, it’s the technology.
Adriana Linares: You are like, I am magical.
Nate Cade: Yeah. But just having that at your fingertips to be able to wherever you are at, to be able to — as long as you have the ability to get on to the Internet, you have the ability to access the files, and that gives you power and the ability to be anywhere, anytime and practice law.
Adriana Linares: I know. I love it. I would love to be a lawyer today, because I am not a lawyer, but if I was, man, these tools are just — they are just amazing. What other cool technologies do you use that helps you run your practice that you like?
Nate Cade: What other cool technologies?
Adriana Linares: Or uncool technologies, maybe there is something uncool out there?
Nate Cade: Well, I am all about real estate in the sense of, I have a 27 inch desktop iMac, but then I have a 27 inch screen that goes with it as well. So I have two 27 inch screens side-by-side. So I can keep all my communications, my email and Glip on one and all the other stuff and you can move them back and forth. I think that is just a godsend.
One of the things that I tell everybody to get is, I have a Fujitsu ScanSnap, the iX500, and I make sure I buy one for everybody in the office, even if they think they are not going to use it. It is just, I think, a game changer and everybody who is relying on outdated technologies, I think they are missing the boat.
And even from a cost saver, it makes no sense to print as much paper. I mean, you are always going to print paper, that you are never going to get away, at least not today, to be paperless, but you will be paperless.
A guy I used to know here in Milwaukee, Ross Kodner, that was his saying, and it’s true. Use paper, but print less of it. And once you get to that mindset, I think it’s easy.
Adriana Linares: I think Ross Kodner must do a little jig on his grave every time somebody says that about him, and his very now famous and well-used slogan of the days long gone. That’s great. Yeah, the ScanSnaps are amazing.
You mentioned early on, or maybe it was during the podcast that I messed up when we first started recording that our listeners won’t know about, but I am not going to pretend like everything is always perfect in this technology world. You mentioned that everyone is virtual, and everyone gets to work from home or from a remote office, and you do that through all these great technologies that you have implemented.
Tell me, did you decide to do that from the beginning, because — I mean, from the beginning did you think, well, I am not going to incur office space now, I will get it later, or from the beginning did you think I am going to run a virtual practice because I can and I want to and I will probably be happier this way?
Nate Cade: I think when I first did it I kind of fell into it, because I didn’t really know where I wanted to office. And a lot of cities; Milwaukee has got different sides of town, you have got the north side, the west side, east side, downtown, and people are really strange, because they don’t — you don’t think about it when you are working downtown in a big firm. But there are a lot of clients who don’t want to — if you are downtown, they don’t want to come from the west side and have to deal with traffic, or you have to kind of figure it out.
And as I kind of went, and every month that I enjoyed working from home, I get to see my kids when I want. I am not worried about, oh, they have got something at school, so I have got it. You are always in your head saying, okay, it will take me 30 minutes to get there, and if I leave exactly at this time I can get out of the parking structure here, you don’t think about that stuff. And it just kind of developed.
And the first lawyer that was working for me; she is down in Illinois, and so it made sense. There is no need for her to commute. She used to commute all the time. We worked together at the first firm I was at, and she made this commute, and she hated it, and was miserable. And she has got a young daughter, so for her this was heaven, and it just made sense.
And I suppose you can get office space, but it’s always interesting to hear — I am helping a lawyer I know with a firm, a friendly firm breakup, and he was telling me the other day what he pays for rent. And there is two lawyers, a paralegal and a couple of assistants and it was like 7 grand for this space, and they have to pay that every month.
Adriana Linares: Yeah it’s insane.
Nate Cade: I mean, until the lease is up. And I am thinking, okay, that’s 7 grand that I don’t have to spend.
Adriana Linares: That’s insane.
Nate Cade: Having been — I was partner in a very big firm, I know what their overhead is; my overhead is a tenth of theirs, and that’s including paying for my own healthcare. So why would I ever go back short of someone writing a check with a lot of zeros, it doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t make sense to at the end of the day not have flexibility and money and everything else. I would much rather — I much rather enjoy this.
Once you get over — I used to wear a suit everyday, even when they went casual I had a tie and did all that, and then once you are out on your own, I am wearing shirts and a t-shirt and a hat, a Harley baseball hat, and I have got a TV in my office. After a couple of months you realize that people don’t care. Clients don’t — I always ask people, how many clients have come to your office in the last 60 days? And when they start thinking about it usually it’s something like they have a depo prep. So they have got someone coming to their office. And I said, wouldn’t it be easier if you went to their office? Well, I suppose.
Adriana Linares: But that’s the way we have always done it.
Nate Cade: Right, but every guru tells you you are supposed to get out of the office and go visit the client; visit them on the factory floor, visit them in their office. What better way than to actually go visit them. And this forces me to get out, to have to go see them, and I think it makes for better relationships than them saying, okay, now we have got to come downtown to go see the lawyers and everything else. You are not seeing the king anymore. It’s not kissing the Pope’s ring and genuflecting.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome. I totally agree with you. Hey, if a brand-new lawyer walked up to you and said, Nate, what are the top two things you learned by doing this that I should not screw up, what would they be?
Nate Cade: Doing by going out on my own?
Adriana Linares: Yes.
Nate Cade: Well, one of the first things I think is, and I told you this and I am still trying to hope I set the record is I pay every bill pretty much the day I get it.
Adriana Linares: In 11 seconds.
Nate Cade: Well, to be fair, there was that one bill, but there was a screw up on your end on where it was going, because it was going to my associate.
Adriana Linares: You are right, that took a whole day.
Nate Cade: Well, but then I got the ding at some point saying the bill was like 60 days past due and I was like, what?
Adriana Linares: No, that never happens, no, no, but let me tell I guess about the last bill I sent you, where we ended up on the phone afterwards because I think I still had your name wrong. Your name is not Nathan, it’s Nate and Nathaniel I think.
So anyway, you sent me a message, it’s not my name and I felt so bad. And I think you called me. You wanted to schedule training for your new associate that was coming on, and we laughed about it and you said I just paid the bill. And I said, well, oh my God, thank you, because I have clients, like everybody else, that they don’t like paying their bills. And you said, yeah, I think I paid in 11 seconds.
And I laughed and I said, I think you did too, that’s amazing, and then you told me I like to be the fastest bill payer anybody has. And I think that’s great advice. And I think it’s funny and endearing and incredibly respectable, but you also then explained to me why that’s important to you. You don’t want to be the fastest bill payer, because it’s a contest; you have your reasons for doing it.
Nate Cade: Well, I call it poor man’s accounting. I mean, you can spend all the money on cash flows and projections, but at the end of the day I can look at the bank account and I know what’s in there and it’s my money, because there are no outstanding bills. So everything is paid, and so what’s in there, other than payroll, is pure cash.
And so we can debate about the time value of money, but I know that money is my money, period. And I am not doing the mental gymnastic saying, well, I know I have got this bill, or I forgot about that bill, it’s done.
And the other thing I will say is I have got some vendors, like for example, my process server. They will jump hoops because I pay their bill immediately and they know it. I can call them on a Sunday night and say something is critical and they will say, we will come get it right now. They will drop everything. And you don’t get that all the time, but they also know that I make them a priority.
And so I try to get money from clients ahead of time to hold in trust, but I also know that I have got the cash flow that I pay the bills no matter what, period.
Adriana Linares: Great. Got another one?
Nate Cade: The other thing I would say more than anything is, especially for someone who is young — I shall say two more, so I will say three. So pay your bills in advance. We talked about technology, but you need to learn to use it.
I had an associate years and years ago who I remember I asked him to fax me something on a Friday night; he was working late, and then Monday I am like, where is it? He goes, well, and he was trying to explain how he was sending it from his computer, but it wasn’t working. And I said, they have this whole fax department here at the law firm. And he goes, well, I don’t know how to use it.
I said, okay, let me tell you a little secret, you have no value to me as an associate. I don’t turn to you and say, what do you think and somehow you are going to have the witty answer or the correct answer, you are there to know the technology and to be a backstop.
So I made him and another guy go through training, and so they actually showed them how to use the fax machine, the mail machine, the copiers. And I said, on a Friday night or Saturday when the system is not around, if you don’t know how to use it, what value do you have?
So definitely for someone who is young, and especially if you are working in a firm or you are interning, that is where you provide your value, that is where if the partner doesn’t know how to get onto Westlaw or Fastcase or whatever, that’s where you provide the value, not that somehow you are going to get the footnote and it’s just going to work.
The other thing I would say, and I think it’s, you should always be trying to, if you are young, always be trying to learn. Information now is cheap and in the sense of, it’s no longer — you can go online, for example, and take classes at MIT or the University of Pennsylvania, if you are Coursera, and I am signing for a couple of those.
I listen to podcasts when I work out, whether it’s NPR or your podcast, or Lee Rosen. I have even been learning Spanish.
Adriana Linares: Qué bueno?
Nate Cade: Qué tal?
Adriana Linares: [Non-English].
Nate Cade: [Non-English].
Adriana Linares: [Non-English].
Nate Cade: So to me learning is — there is so much value in not just saying, oh, that’s born, but you incorporate it. If you know you have a long drive, listen to a podcast, and your start to learn little things that when you are counseling a client you have heard something, you have seen something, you have the ability to have a conversation. And clients, they want to feel safe and secure and that you are knowledgeable, not to the point that you are talking down to them, but they want to know that you have an understanding.
And so learning is to me one of the most critical things that anybody can do, and you should be doing it constantly, nonstop, whether you are reading, whether you are taking courses online, whether you are listening to podcasts. If a young lawyer asks me, that’s where I think they should be spending a lot of their time.
Adriana Linares: That’s all such great advice. It’s been so nice having you on New Solo, Nate, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it.
Nate Cade: Thank you. I really appreciate it. This was fun.
Adriana Linares: It is fun, I know. Everyone always says that at the end, they always say this is fun. Listen, if our guests want to just learn more about your practice or maybe ask you a couple of follow up questions, how can they do that?
Nate Cade: Well, I think you mentioned my website, but again, it’s HYPERLINK “http://www.cade-law.com” cade-law.com, or you can always reach me at HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to talk with anyone. And in fact, I have got friends who have gone out, I still have the spreadsheet that I would send to them saying, here’s everything I think we need to talk about, and they make decisions from there. And you plug and play and you test out.
I had various numbers in there. It was a guy that we were talking about going into partnership with, and I had hourly rates figured in and hours, and if you have got — okay, if you have got $0.85 on the $1, realization rate, what does that do in terms of your net profit. It was just a living, breathing thing that you could look at it and say, you know what, I think I am going to be okay, and I think that’s what the young lawyers need to hear.
Adriana Linares: I agree with you completely. So I want to thank you so much. I am going to have you back in a few months. I am going to load up some questions for you. Come back, maybe after I have figured out a couple of new technologies to inject into your practice, we can talk about it. But again, I really appreciate it.
Nate Cade: Well, thank you.
Adriana Linares: Well, that brings us to the end of our show. I am Adriana Linares and thank you for listening. Make sure that if you want to learn more about what you have heard today, to visit New Solo on the HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com. If you are listening to this on iTunes, make sure you give us a nice 5-star review. I need some of those on there, so if you are the type of person that likes to review podcasts, please take a moment to do that for us.
You can also make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. So for now, we are signing off. Join us next time for another great episode, and remember, you are not alone, you are New Solo.
Outro: Thanks for listening to New Solo with host Adriana Linares. Tune in again to learn more about how to successfully run your new practice, solo, here on Legal Talk Network.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.