If we wanted to create a podcast that held real value for legal professionals, what would that look like? Who would be our guests, what would we talk about, and how would we deliver something different than what was currently available?
When we set out to launch a new legal podcast, these were the questions we asked. Through ten episodes, we’ve learned a lot about how the practice of law is changing, and how law firms can keep pace with that change. In this episode, join us as we look back and share the most important learnings with you again—or, if you’re a new listener, for the first time.
We’ve categorized our episodes along the lines of a few core themes: the client experience, the people behind law firms, and the data and tech tools that are changing the industry.
Take a listen to hear what’s “Mattered” the most so far.
Mentioned in This Episode
This episode features many of the guests who’ve appeared on the first 10 episodes of Matters. In order of appearance, they are:
- Greg McLawsen, Managing Attorney of Sound Immigration and Immigration Support Advocates
- Josh Kubicki, Co-Founder of Bold Duck Studio
- Gyi Tsakalakis, President of AttorneySync
- Jess Birken, Owner of Birken Law Office
- Michael Chasin, Co-Founder of Lexicata and General Manager of Clio Grow
- Jennifer Reynolds, Founder and Owner of Fresh Legal
- Josh Valentine, Partner at Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC
- Anu Sethee, Vice President of Attorney Services and Product Counsel for Legal Plans at LegalZoom
- Allison Wolf, PCC, Owner of Shiftworks: Coaching for Lawyers
- Brian Cuban, Bestselling Author & International Speaker
- John Kassel, Partner at Dunkiel Saunders Elliott Raubvogel & Hand
- Sam Glover, Founder of Lawyerist.com
- Billie Tarascio, Owner of Modern Law
- George Psiharis, Chief Operating Officer at Clio
- Jordan Couch, Attorney and Cultural Ambassador at Palace Law
- Patrick Palace, Owner of Palace Law
- Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence at Clio
- Monica Goyal, Owner of Monica N. Goyal, L.P.C.
- Bob Ambrogi, Author and Founder of the LawSites blog
Matters_A podcast from Clio
Key Takeaways from our First 10 Episodes
Sam Rosenthal: If we wanted to create a podcast that held real value for legal professionals, what would that look like, who would be our guests, what would we talk about, and how would we deliver something different than what was currently available?
When we set out to launch a new legal podcast, these were the questions we asked. Through 10 episodes we have learned a lot about the legal industry, how the practice of law is changing, and how law firms can keep pace with that change.
In this episode, join us as we look back and share the most important learnings with you again, or if you are a new listener, for the first time.
I am Sam Rosenthal and this is Matters. Matters is a podcast presented by Clio, the world’s leading cloud-based legal technology provider, where we look at small changes that can make a big impact on lawyers’ daily lives and practices.
Today we are reflecting on the key takeaways from each of the first 10 episodes. Here is what’s mattered so far.
At Matters we firmly believe that investing in better client experiences will be one of the most critical areas of focus for law firms as we move further into the new era of legal. We delved into this topic in a number of episodes, covering the entire spectrum of the client journey, from the broader client experience, to the ways clients select firms, the importance of the client intake process and best practices for collecting client feedback.
In our inaugural episode, ‘Why the Client Experience Matters’, we spoke with Joshua Kubicki and Greg McLawsen about the ways in which client expectations are changing in legal and why it’s critical for law firms to prioritize the level of client experiences they deliver.
Greg, the managing attorney of Sound Immigration and Immigration Support Advocates, talked about the strategies his firm puts in place to make sure his clients have peace of mind and a positive experience that will lead to more and better reviews and referrals.
Greg McLawsen: So for example, clients can immediately self-schedule interviews with their attorneys anytime they want during the process. There is no cost for that. They can just go to our website, select their attorney and schedule a 15-minute, help, I am freaking out interview. And we have strict policies about responding to clients so that we are institutionally emphasizing getting that attorney to the client as fast as possible when they are having that moment of darkness in their case.
Sam Rosenthal: And Josh, a lawyer and entrepreneur who has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, looked at things from both a business and legal perspective to identify how you can improve the experience for clients at various important points of contact or touch points during their journey with your firm.
Josh Kubicki: You have got certain processes. You have got certain ways you communicate. You have got certain ways you intake matters. You have got certain ways you do the pitch and sort of business development. There are certain processes and each time there is a process, more than likely you are interacting or having a touch point with the target client or prospect.
Then you have tools, everything from your technology, which everyone is completely enamored with these days, but also sort of forms, right, and databases, those are tools, and sometimes clients or users on the clients’ side are interacting with them.
Let’s not forget the people, the people in our businesses, everyone from administrative help, to the global managing partner generally have a direct or indirect role to play in that client experience. It could be setting a mindset of the client team. So a managing partner who probably doesn’t have a lot of client contact, well, how does that person sort of interact with that client team? What sort of expectations is she putting forth on that client relationship partner that then is going to be transferred to how they are thinking about what matters to the client and all that? So you map all of these touch points and you start to see there is not just dozens and dozens, but there is hundreds and hundreds of them.
And then you look and say, okay, well, which ones are more significant, not everyone is equal, and so you don’t have to do an exhaustive examination of these and sort of design to the nth degree every single touch point, but just getting a sense of how many touch points they are, where they happen. The epiphanies that happen with lawyers when you go through that exercise are just countless and that’s just the beginning of the process where lawyers start to say, oh wow, we can actually make it easier for our clients to do business with us.
Sam Rosenthal: As Josh said, the client experience begins before client even finds your firm. That’s why in ‘Why Online Presence Matters’, we started by asking the question, how does your firm appear when potential clients research you on the Internet and on social media? We consulted digital marketing expert Gyi Tsakalakis and attorney Jess Birken for their tips on ways to create a great first, second, and third impression online.
Gyi, Founder of AttorneySync, stressed that lawyers need to break out of old ways of thinking about the Internet and social.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s old habits die hard. I think lawyers tend to pit traditional notions of like relationships and reputation against the Internet and they don’t recognize that they really complement each other. So like providing great service, doing great work, developing a great reputation, building relationships in the real world, the Internet is just a supplement to all that stuff.
So when I started doing this in 2008 — in fact, this is the story I tell a lot is when I was actually practicing, this is like 2005, when I would talk to lawyers, they would say oh, people would never use the Internet to hire a lawyer, and that’s still 2005, so it’s not like 1997 or anything.
And I was like, I was a young lawyer, I was like well, agree to disagree, I think this Internet thing is more than a fad, and so those conversations have changed. People have — lawyers have acknowledged that their clients actually find them online. The one that I always — the example that I always use though is, is that no matter how somebody hears about you, they are going to look you up online and most people are going to start that journey with Google.
Jess Birken: One of the most important things you can do with your website, but all of your social accounts and other online things is really help clients know that they are in the right place. The goal is anyway when someone looks at my website or watches one of my sort of promotional videos that they are going to understand who I am as a person and what kind of lawyer I am.
Like, I am the kind of lawyer that might wear a hoodie to the office once in a while. I am the kind of lawyer that will work with you to solve a problem, I am very approachable in that I am business-minded, and that helps people figure out like what your sort of like work ethos is, and I think that that’s super important so that the expectations are clear and that they are getting what they are expecting.
And likewise, I think it’s also super important to have all of those client experience things, like someone being able to like pay their invoice by clicking a link on my website or find my phone number or be able to find my online scheduling, just making all of those things available online to the greatest extent possible so that my clients have as little friction.
Sam Rosenthal: We also looked at the role of client experience in ‘Why Client Acquisition Matters’, specifically how creating a streamlined and standardized client intake process at your law firm improves the way your firm operates and how clients interact with your practice.
Joining us for this episode were Michael Chasin, General Manager of Clio Grow, Clio’s client intake and legal CRM software and Jennifer Reynolds, Founder and Owner of Fresh Legal, a family law firm in Ottawa, Canada.
Michael Chasin: So the ABA did a study on client intake. If you just Google ‘ABA Study on Client Intake’, it’s amazing. They basically mock called about a thousand law firms pretending to be clients and figured out what the reactions were. Basically 35% of law firms went to voicemail, right? So like nobody picked up, right? It took on average, I think they said 42% of firms took three days or more or never to reply to a voicemail, right? So like absolutely horrific stats.
They were like how are you running a business, right? Like imagine you walked into like — and these are like businesses that charge thousands — tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes, right? Imagine you walked into Apple and said, hey, I want to spend $1,500 right now on a computer, and they are like, we will call you back in three days. You laugh because it’s ridiculous.
Jennifer Reynolds: To us, it’s a two-fold I think. One is that it is a good business practice to have a good intake process. But more importantly, it lets us begin establishing trust with our clients from the moment that they begin interacting with our firm, and it’s the beginning of their journey with us.
So we want to put them in a good space. We want them to feel good about interacting with us. We want them to feel that they can trust us from the very beginning. And if we have a solid intake, we establish a good relationship from the beginning, we can get into the substance of the client’s problem faster, and it’s more likely that we are going to convert that client or that potential client into an ongoing matter for the firm.
On the front of why we set it up that way, the big thing, like I said, is trust, establishing a trusting relationship, but it really was driven at the start from having a problem on our end and wanting to address the friction of having an easy way to setup client meetings, not having to do a bunch of back and forth.
Like we were searching for a solution to our problem of scheduling meetings and gathering information and making sure that we are not missing something key at the outset. And what we ended up with is a system that addresses a client need. So we didn’t start from a client-facing question, but we ended up with a client-facing solution that now drives other conversations in our firm of how we can better serve our clients.
Sam Rosenthal: In ‘Why Feedback Matters’, we spoke with Anu Sethee, the Vice President of Attorney Services and Product Counsel for Legal Plans at LegalZoom, and Josh Valentine, a Partner at the Caulder & Valentine Law Firm in North Carolina, about the importance of soliciting feedback from clients throughout the client journey and how law firms could build this into their existing workflows.
Josh talked about the value that soliciting actionable client feedback has had for his firm.
Josh Valentine: One of our biggest revenue income client-building marketing channels is Google Reviews and Avvo Reviews. By getting that client feedback throughout the process, we typically have a good idea if we are meeting clients’ expectations or not. If we are not, we immediately try to fix it.
By following up, constantly being open to client feedback, we have tremendously increased our online reviews. We have also increased our word-of-mouth referrals. We have gotten a lot of the other attorneys in the area who practice in other practice areas or who may just be conflicted out of a case, they often send us cases, because they hear good things about us from clients and other people in the community.
Sam Rosenthal: And Anu discussed how to properly utilize a Net Promoter Score or NPS, which is a tool that assesses your clients’ loyalty and satisfaction by studying how likely they would be to recommend your firm to their friends or family members.
Anu Sethee: I mean very simply feedback is just critical for growth and to understand how to get customers who may be likely to recommend, may not be likely to recommend, to a point where they will actively recommend your services to their friends and family, is really what moves the needle in terms of attracting and retaining customers.
So to utilize a metric that kind of captures the entire range of a customer’s loyalty and trust in your brand is very critical and really create a cadence for asking the NPS questions and for that feedback, because it’s most effective when it’s used as a benchmark and you are able to see your progress or stability or decline, and really that’s where you are able to affect the change.
Derek Bolen: Clients aren’t the only thing critical to a healthy law practice, healthy lawyers and legal professionals matter too. We devoted a number of episodes to how lawyers can care for themselves and their colleagues and how they can identify work that is meaningful and important to them in a way that benefits their business. In ‘Why Lawyer Wellness Matters’ we addressed the incredibly important, but often stigmatized topics of lawyer mental health, addiction, substance abuse and suicide.
Two of our guests were Brian Cuban, a Dallas-based attorney, author and addiction recovery advocate, and Allison Wolf, one of the most senior certified coaches for lawyers in North America. They and our other guests shared their personal experiences facing difficulties in their careers which had serious negative impacts on their overall well-being and what they learn from those experiences.
They also shared practical advice for ways to practice law in a healthier way and to help yourself and others.
Here is Allison talking about shifting the way you look at stress in your practice and life.
Allison Wolf: So the first thing that’s important is to understand that lives with meaning and purpose come with stress, and stress is natural, and it’s actually a good thing that the body does in order to help enhance performance.
Like the first step is making a mindset shift to understanding, and Kelly McGonigal’s work, if the listener is not familiar, can really illuminate this. But making that shift to understanding that that stress at work is the body’s response to help up your focus, your energy levels and your ability to learn and grow. So that’s the first step. It’s not to demonize it, but to understand it’s natural.
The next piece to this is understanding that stress plus rest equals growth. And one thing that I see that’s a deficiency in legal practices and approaches to legal practices is the understanding that rest and rejuvenation needs to be part of the overall business strategy, because there is going to be stress and so how are you resting, because rest is often seen as a nice to have. Because we can always pull the all-nighter, we can always burn the midnight oil. Oh, I can throw the weekend under the bus. The family will understand. These things come with a toll, and it’s a performance toll. And all of a sudden, when you’ve got stress and you don’t have rest, now you don’t get growth; you get burnout.
Brian Cuban: The biggest thing you can do is not mind your own business, and lawyers love to mind their own business, whether it’s a colleague, whether it’s another lawyer in a courtroom, a family member or a friend. We can’t just keep saying, call the suicide hotline, and posting the suicide hotline. The suicide hotline is wonderful. We can’t just keep saying, you do this, you do that. I believe we have a responsibility as a profession to protect our own, to empower our own.
So, when you see someone struggling, whether it’s your colleague at a law firm, your legal assistant, your paralegal, a partner or associate, it doesn’t take anything but a little bit of empathy and not worrying about what people think of you, and not projecting out the worst possible response to say, can I help? You seem to be struggling; seem to be having a tough time. Is there anything I can do?
Wait a few seconds and they may say, Nah, it’s all good, and they’re worried, they don’t want anyone to know. Ask again. I call it the two-ask rule. Tap them on the shoulder, ask again, because in that few seconds someone may change their mind, and it’s not even that, it’s about repetition, because now, even if they say, mind your own business, what do you mean? Are you accusing me of something? You’ve planted a seed.
I’ve had people tell me to pound salt, this and that. It’s words. It’s words. But I’ve also had people say, yes, I’m struggling. Thank you. And for every person that tells me to pound salt and mind my own business, I’ll take a hundred of them if one says, yes, can you help me find a path. Don’t mind your own business.
Andrew Booth: In Why Having a Mission Matters, we looked at the value of centering your law firm around a specific mission, vision and values, the why behind the work that you do, and we examined how aligning practices this way can impact lawyers both personally and professionally.
Our guests John Kassel and Sam Glover have both implemented a mission-driven focus in their professional lives.
John, the Founder and Managing Partner of the Vermont-based firm Dunkiel Saunders said, he and his partners have experienced financial success and personal fulfillment thanks to this approach, and that it’s had a major effect on the way the firm attracts talent.
John Kassel: About five or six years into the life of the firm, we realized this was going to work and we got big enough so that we were hiring lawyers in the beginnings of their career; either straight out of law school or off a clerkship or in the first couple of years of practice.
And we came to realize that they really wanted to come work for us and we were getting them — they were turning down other offers or they were leaving other firms, sort of traditional law firms, because the way that we had woven meaning into our practice was really, really valuable to them, and that was very, very gratifying.
Andrew Booth: Sam, the Founder of the Virtual Legal Community and Resource Center of Lawyerist.com head some advice for how to put your firm’s mission first.
Sam Glover: I think I would go and look at a lot of other company’s missions, because the idea of a mission statement is a little hard to get your head around at first, and it shouldn’t be like, about how much money you want to make necessarily. That’s a number and that’s a goal and that’s a component, but your mission is a bigger question about what you want this company, this firm, to be for you.
And so, I would go and explore a lot of other company’s mission statements, especially companies that clearly care about their mission statement. Lots of companies just make one and throw it out there, but you want to look to companies that really appear to stick to that mission and really hold it seriously and do it.
Non-profits too are another place to look for. Lots of non-profits take that exercise seriously and have a real clear mission that drives their fundraising and their decisions. So, just to explore a bit and see what’s out there and that, I think, will start getting the juices flowing in your own brain about what kind of a mission you want to have.
Sam Rosenthal: Beyond covering the people part of the equation on both the firm and client sides, there are other critical aspects of the legal industries’ future well worth exploring; the data, technology and processes that help law firms to run.
In Why Data Literacy Matters, Billie Tarascio, owner of Modern Law and George Psiharis, COO at Clio, elaborated on ways that law firms can learn from other industries. Specifically, how they can leverage data to track important metrics, make informed decisions and institute new practices that can make a profound difference for legal staff and clients.
Billie said, it was important for firms that are new to data analysis to start small and to focus on what’s most important to the business.
Billie Tarascio: Trying to figure out which key performance indicators to pay attention to was a challenge in and of itself, and we probably started off measuring too many things. But, one of the best questions that I heard someone ask was, if you’re on a deserted island, and you don’t have a phone, and you don’t have Wi-Fi, but you could get a carrier pigeon to tell you a certain number of metrics each day, what would you want to look at?
George Psiharis: There’s an old phrase popularized by an early management thinker called Peter Drucker, “What gets measured gets managed.” I think that’s super-important, and as applicable to legal as it is to any other profession. As soon as we start counting a few things, even they’re simple and scrappy, even if it’s just a matter of like, writing them in a spreadsheet, you’re beginning that process of compiling information that might change your mind, that might give you an alternate perspective from what you think is the reality of how things work.
And, it can be a little bit more slick and sophisticated and complicated if you want it to be, but it can also start very, very, very simply, and be right-sized to the size of your firm. But once you get there, I think you’re putting yourself in the game and you are making progress toward this call to action of being data-literate.
You need the data first, and then you can review it, right, and understand how to take it and make decisions based on what you’re doing. So, kind of maybe think about it as well in two ways: one is, count a bunch of data and then work backwards and infer conclusions, right?
Here’s what happens, what can I parse out of this, and is that important to me and does it inform my decision-making? On the flip-side, a way you can think about it is, when you try something new, or you decide to make a change, the only way you’re going to know if it works is if you, A) ask yourself, what impact am I hoping it’ll have? And B) track whether or not it’s having that impact?
Sam Rosenthal: From data, we moved on to how automation and robots can be put to work to free up time or labor for busy legal professionals. In Why Automation Matters, Nehal Madhani and Jordan Couch explained how to automate processes at your law firm to increase your profitability while freeing your staff and yourself from repetitive tasks.
Jordan, an attorney and Cultural Ambassador at the personal injury and workers’ compensation firm, Palace Law, spoke to the specifics of bringing new technologies into firms and getting staff to buy in.
Jordan Couch: A big part of automation and, in general, tech in a law firm is you have to have a culture that is around that. And you can’t force people to do something because, if you impose a process on someone, they’re never going to adopt it, it’s going to fail, you’re going to waste a lot of time on it, you can’t impose culture. What you can do is, show people the benefits to them, and the way you do that is find out what they need, find out what they want. If there’s something they really like doing, then you automating that, doesn’t help them. But if you find the things that people don’t like doing and you can automate those, you get a lot of buy in really quickly because people see immediate advantages of it. And so, one way you can tell that people are happier is just that they’re using these systems a lot. And I’ve talked to leaders in big firms and managers at big firms that ran into the issue of getting people to adopt all these technology tools they have. We don’t have that problem much in the office, because we train people on it and because we give them things that they want to use.
Sam Rosenthal: In a later episode we revisited the realm of legal automation with a specific focus on chatbots and other types of robots and Artificial Intelligence that can make a difference for legal practices.
Why Robots Matter featured Tom Martin, CEO and founder of LawDroid; Patrick Palace, owner of Palace Law Firm, and Joshua Lenon, Clio’s Lawyer in Residence.
Here’s Patrick’s take.
Patrick Palace: We are trying to get rid of absolutely every single mundane, unskilled task in our office, so all that’s left for the lawyers to do is the very highest peak of the pyramid. We will do the litigation, that’s where you get our face-to-face bespoke time.
Joshua Lenon: You can’t go wrong with starting small and just automating one simple thing. So it might be somebody who visits your website and you want to guide them to filling out your Contact Us form. Right? That’s a great use for a robot and there are some phenomenal tools out there that makes that possible, both legal and non-legal. It could be that you’re looking to do a better job of legal research and so you may switch from the Lexises out there, to a tool like FastCase – Bad Law Bot or Casetext and there are automated document review tools that are out there. So don’t be afraid to take a look at these, especially right now, the field is still young, very competitive and there are some great deals to be had. So pick just one area you want to automate, give it a try over the weekend and if you like it, add a second.
Sam Rosenthal: Last but certainly not least we examined the broad topic of technological competence also known as Tech Savviness, joining us were Monica Goyal, an attorney, entrepreneur and educator and Bob Ambrogi, the founder of the LawSites blog and one of the most well-known and respected journalists who cover legal technology. In the episode, Monica and Bob spoke about why lawyers have an ethical obligation to be technologically competent, as well as what some of the barriers to tech competence are and how legal professionals and law students can start improving their legal-tech skills?
Monica Goyal: I think that even from an early stage like at the law school level, law students should be exposed to and starting to get skills and training around the different technologies, so that they already have some of that expertise going into their job, so they don’t have that additional pressure when they are practicing law.
And then I think for lawyers, I think it really depends on, are you in a big firm or are you in a solo or small firm? Like it’s those are going to be factors that are going to influence how much time the lawyer has, but they should be prioritizing at least some of this because there’s real benefits that they can get by improving their technological capabilities.
Bob Ambrogi: Going to conferences turns out to be a really good way to learn about using technology in your practice. The Clio Cloud Conference is a great conference for that. I’ve written favorably on my blog about the Clio Conference is a great place to go and learn about technology. The ABA TECHSHOW, any of the number of — most of the state bars put on some sort of a technology conference or solo, small conference that has a lot of technology components to it.
The best way you can learn is hands-on. The best way you can learn is to start to use some of these things. And I realize that’s a daunting proposition in and of itself because if you don’t understand the technology you don’t know how to get your hands onto it and start using it, the more you can start using it, reading about it. There are a number of good legal-tech blogs out there.
So, really read, go to conferences, and educate yourself. Take some time to do it and I think it will pay off even though it’s time away from practicing to do, I think in the long rum it’s going to be time well spent.
Sam Rosenthal: Speaking of the Clio Cloud Conference, the 2019 conference is taking place on October 21st and 22nd in San Diego. We’ll be on-site recording interviews with our keynote speakers and other leaders in the legal and business worlds. So stay tuned for those interviews in future episodes.
Thank you for listening to Matters. You can find these past 10 episodes on our home page, clio.com/podcast and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify so you never miss an episode.
Matters is produced by Andrew Booth, Sam Rosenthal, Teresa Matich, and Derek Bolen, and by Clio, the world’s leading cloud-based legal technology provider. If you’d like to learn more about Clio, please visit us at clio.com.