Are you tired of trading time for money? If you said yes, this episode is for you!
Kimberly Bennett teaches us how you can have more time for what you love, without the burnout, by making a few changes to your services, and by integrating subscriptions into your offerings.
Kimberly is the Co-Founder of Fidu, a client experience platform, which was named the viewer’s choice winner and the $100,000 grand prize winner in the 2021 Launch//Code Developer Contest by Clio as determined by this year’s esteemed panel of judges.
She is an avid traveler, lover of technology, legal industry disruptor, speaker, business coach, and an attorney who runs K Bennett Law LLC – – a boutique, virtual, brand strategy law practice offering on-demand and subscription legal services to CEOs and Executive teams.
In addition to running K Bennett Law, Kim is the co-founder of Fidu Legal, co-founder of Atlanta Legal Tech, serves on the board of ABA TECHSHOW, is an advisor to CaseText, and has been recognized as a Women of Legal Tech and Fastcase50 honoree.
We talk about:
- Why law firms should consider subscription-based services
- How to not trade time for money
- Tips to adding subscriptions to your firm
- How subscriptions actually help your clients
- The difference between a subscription and retainer
Your Opinion Matters
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Mentioned in This Episode
[00:00:34] Kimberly: Hi, I’m Kimberly Bennett. I am a avid traveler as well as a practicing a brand strategy attorney. I run K Bennett law. I’m a co-founder of Purdue legal. I’m a co-founder of Atlanta legal tech. And. Probably some other things that we can get to talk about. Yeah, exactly. Excited to join
[00:00:50] Karin: you today. Thank you so much for being here, Kimberly.
[00:00:52] I really appreciate it. We have so many things to talk about, including your recent win at the Clio cloud conference for, for do so let’s start with talking about that and the Clio cloud conference.
[00:01:05] Uh, you submitted and pitched for this huge contest contest. Is that the right?
[00:01:11] Kimberly: I don’t know. I go for it pitch just, yeah.
[00:01:14] Karin: Yeah. And you won, so that’s amazing. And congratulations for that. And so tell, tell me a little bit about how that worked and, and then we’ll get to our big question for the episode.
[00:01:25] Kimberly: Sure. So, Well, I, I joined forces with my co-founder Blaine a year ago, actually, before this pitch happened, right after the last year’s Clio cloud conference and decided that we were going to really figure out what it looks like to build a tool that really supports subscription-based businesses.
[00:01:41] And, but August and August, we pitched, we submitted. So there’s, there’s a process to do this, right. So we pitched in August and then we found out that. September that we were one of the five finalists. And then in October, we were able to pitch live and answer some questions, uh, with the judges, Bob Ambrogi, it was Melanie Leonard and Victoria Hudgens.
[00:02:02] They were all judges and they asked us questions. And it was myself that was pitching along with other representatives from each company. And that was the Tuesday. And then we had to wait all the way to the end of the conference. Oh my gosh, Jack, to give his finale speech. And then we’re like listening and I’m like, and then, you know, he said fondue.
[00:02:22] And I think I blacked out after that because I was like, Oh, my God does that. What I heard. So we were, I mean, we were among some amazing other, um, apps and we all integrate with Cleo. We all looking to transform the legal industry. Our goal is to stop hourly billing and it really resonated with. Yes, it was just
[00:02:41] Karin: such an awesome topic.
[00:02:42] And I’m sorry to step over you, but, so the idea of going from hourly to subscription-based services for the legal industry, it seems pretty revolutionary, obviously Cleo things it’s revolutionary enough to, you know, have you win the prize. From a regular business. I mean, I have an MBA. I talked to my colleagues all the time about how you build and scale a business to get to that point where you can see.
[00:03:08] I’ve had VC companies approach me and that in the past has, made me rethink how I am presenting my own company in terms of subscriptions and, you know, positioning it with my clients so that it could be saleable. but it doesn’t seem like a conversation that’s. Too often for law firms.
[00:03:26] So our big question is going to be how can law firms scale with subscription services? But I feel like a good sub part of that is why, why they should do that. And then, you know why it, it is a little bit different for the legal
[00:03:41] Kimberly: industry. Yeah. I mean, one, our rules are outdated, so it limits who can own what, and so that prevents, I think some of us really from understanding.
[00:03:52] how we really are building businesses. And I think right now there is a big push. You see it happen across the, across the United States, at least. Well, actually it’s happening in Europe already. We’re really thinking about what it looks like for ownership. Not only to be held by attorneys for law firms.
[00:04:07] Right. Um, so I think one, if we lift that ban in the United States, we will see a lot more flexibility and, and interesting structures come, come to play. but still, I think a lot of us are taught to do. provide the service work, work, work, and not really think about what is the business and all the elements around it to make it viable and thriving.
[00:04:25] And one of that is really processes and building out systems and, and having a model that works, even if it’s a different set of clients, because with lawyers. You know, you can’t necessarily sell your book of business. Like you can, in other ways, yes. You have clients that were there, but they could leave.
[00:04:42] Right. I mean, that’s true of anywhere, But this, this gives you the, the ability to create a business that someone would be willing to buy because it’s running it’s, well-oiled, it’s effective and efficient, really leverage this technology and processes, all the things that you knew. Thinking about profit margins, thinking about, how you generate revenue, think about your different sources, thinking about your labor costs, actually running a business.
[00:05:04] And so
[00:05:05] Karin: when you’re leaving, you’re living proof. Getting all those ducks in a row and having those processes in those systems in order for you to then go and start Badu, where you’re not just sitting there like day to day, doing all the little administrative tiny detail work that is not, you know, highest and best use of your time.
[00:05:27] And if you were caught up in that, there’s no way you would’ve been able to
[00:05:31] Kimberly: Vudu. that’s true. Right. and I’m always looking to iterate and, and make things better and figure out okay. This process doesn’t work, you know, w we all go through ebbs and flows and stages of business development.
[00:05:41] So what worked for me two years ago, it was not going to work, work, work with me, you know, today, right. Having the space to do that is so important. And I agree, you know, people ask me all the time, like, how do, like, how do we get it all done? I mean, sometimes I’m doing team too much. I will agree. but also it is because I’ve leveraged.
[00:05:56] my time differently. I don’t trade time for money. And I really think about how do I provide this ongoing value to my clients without working continuous hours, because that’s not healthy for me. And it’s actually, it doesn’t make me a better provider of services.
[00:06:10] Karin: Right. Well, and I’m sure you’ve seen this quote a million times over, but there’s that meme that goes around the internet and it talks about how it took me 10 years of experience to get to this point.
[00:06:22] And now you’re asking me to pay, for, 30 minutes of my time. You’re not paying for the minutes you’re paying for the years. So, when you were saying a minute ago about you don’t trade money for time, That I feel like it’s going to land with a lot of lawyers where they’re like, wait, what?
[00:06:41] So yeah. I mean, really, it, it really is an outdated system where if you are still doing hourly and. Efficient attorney let’s hope that you are, and you’ve learned things over your time. You are in effect over time making less and less money because it, you should be doing things faster and faster. And so it doesn’t make sense.
[00:07:02] Like th like let’s, put your, brain together for this. so tell me, how did you ever do hourly and did you transition, or have you always done subscription?
[00:07:11] Kimberly: So my journey actually started in a company where we didn’t do hourly. Right. We, we tracked our time for purposes of like billing out to lines of businesses, not for, and not in the way lawyers track, like really like, oh an hour on this 30 minutes on this, I traveled here.
[00:07:25] I worked for this business unit, you know, more business focus tracking. But then when I went out and I, when I went out, this is after market crash in 2008. So I went out in to 2010 and at that point I did hourly because that’s what I heard people do. Right. and I, for lack of a better word, got burned several times because I didn’t get a bills weren’t paid.
[00:07:46] And I was like, this isn’t, this isn’t work. This is not working for me. It was a lot of money. I stopped tracking it. And I thought there had to be a better way when I was working with inside of a. We provided tons of value and I didn’t track my time and this wasn’t the way that you measured. And I didn’t like the idea that I, you know, you’re chasing clients for money or you’re sending them the bill, like, where are you going to play?
[00:08:04] You know, none of that worked for me. Right. So I quickly decided I went straight to flat fees and then I pitched a client at the time, you know, what is now I call subscriptions my first subscription. And the rest was history after I did that, I was like, I still grew over time.
[00:08:21] My first subscription still had too much tide hourly, but as I’ve realized, I was like, this doesn’t, this is not a subscription. If I keep on measuring my time. Exactly. I’m providing you value period. Right?
[00:08:33] Karin: Exactly. And when you look at other businesses, this is the way it works. And so I think as soon as you start to.
[00:08:41] Translate that idea. The consumer is going to understand this or your client is going to understand this even before other attorneys. I think because they’re used to consuming things that way. And I think that’s a huge fear in hiring an attorney. Oh, my gosh, this is going to be expensive. And I don’t know how many, how much time this is going to take.
[00:09:01] And there’s just so much stigma around that idea of an attorney and all their billable hours and everything. And so there is just transparency and, and more understanding. So then you get your client to that, through that decision process more quickly, because. they understand and it seems easier and more logical.
[00:09:19] okay. So tell me how you kind of got it all set up and then How can other firms take this idea and then scale with this idea of subscriptions?
[00:09:31] Kimberly: Yeah. So I. I just started pitching it. Right. And I just started iterating on what it looks like to not tie my time to what I’m providing and value employment, my clients.
[00:09:42] And, and what I learned along the way was how do I best want to show up, you know, what clients really work for me? You know? Like I don’t serve every single client that I don’t talk to. Every client. I. One to serve every client there’s enough people to, to do other things. And so I try to hone in on my strengths and the places that I really show up best and design a subscription that leverages, that works with the right types of clients and delivers the service that get them the transformations, you know, the opportunities or, you know, uh, solving problems that, that, that they’re looking for.
[00:10:14] And so that’s what I’ve grown to over the years. And that’s looked like anywhere from offering a subscription that was $95 a month to offering subscriptions. Five figure plus a month. Right.
[00:10:25] Karin: So is that based on you have different kind of levels of clientele or that’s just your growth over time and so you don’t really do the $95 a month clients anymore?
[00:10:35] Or Uh, what does it look like
[00:10:36] Kimberly: in your. Yeah. So I, I still do some clients that I would call like a lead client, but they are their clients that have been with me for a while. So typically I’m clients with us for years. Right. We don’t, um, we were blessed in, COVID not to lose any clients.
[00:10:49] We gained clients. And so we work with clients over years. So I still have some that were with us then. But for the most part, now we built, we bring on clients at like a four figure a month investment or more. but we’re also working to go back to offering. More of a, under $500 a month subscription because not everyone needs the $10,000 a month subscription.
[00:11:09] That doesn’t mean that they don’t need the advice or, or support or education. And so it’s okay. How do I design something back to being sustainable and scalable and then something I can sell and it’s really thinking about, okay, how can I best provide value at scale? How can I best, you know, use my knowledge and deliver it at scale.
[00:11:28] That’s where. the development of Purdue really came from because I was always searching for like tools to allow me to do this as a service-based professional. You know, you have tools to help you do it as like, you know, sharing a course or sharing this, but not really leveraging that together with services.
[00:11:44] Karin: So, what does it do differently from all of those different software? Because I’m picturing that you had like, you know, this, this software for, you know, a need and then this other software for B need and then, you know, all these different pieces that you were pulling together. And so what does. Do differently that pulls it together.
[00:12:03] Kimberly: Every time I say those, like, what does Purdue do? I’m like, well, so what, like, like fun. We have a few constraints in how we’ve designed it to really think through how we want to support. The, the clients that are utilizing it and the providers that are providing the client services. So we, we really want to be the tool that, that delivers client, the client experience.
[00:12:26] So like you have knowledge, you have a knowledge base in there. You can share knowledge at scale. So think of like the times when you might have that question in any service provider, right? Like, so you get them all the time, the same type of questions over and over again. And you’re like, if I could.
[00:12:39] Answer that not in an email where you’re going to lose it, not in a text message where you forget it, but in a place that they can go back to and reference, and then you empower your clients to then utilize it, to make decisions. Because I know a lot of us think that clients are going to wait for us to make decisions.
[00:12:53] No, they’re going to like live their lives and make decisions and come back and say, oops. Right. So instead let’s empower them. So what we did. Has provided you like the knowledge base, the, the, the messaging platform, the way that to have like an all encompassing way to give your clients the actions, they need to take the knowledge.
[00:13:09] They need to have the documents they need to generate. And we, combine the tools to elevate them and make them better. So some tools, some, some pieces, what we’ll have native to our app and other things we’ll integrate, for example, like. We’re not looking to be coming a calendar app calendar.
[00:13:23] Kelly does an amazing job. Right? What, what gets harder when you’re working with clients is like making sure they use the right one and getting them in the right process. And so we’re, we’re really leveraging processes to allow for you to be efficient, effective, and then. That
[00:13:36] Karin: makes a lot of sense, because I I’ve even noticed in working with, you know, I work with a bunch of different pieces of software and it seems like when you go to those support, uh, when you have a question or a need and you go into that support section, it does seem like this is the way things are moving towards where.
[00:13:53] They’re not going to assume that you necessarily want to chat. They’re not going to assume that you necessarily want the knowledge base. They’re not going to assume that you, which thing is the thing you’re looking for at that moment, but we’re going to have all of those options available for you. So a lot of times, I’ll forget.
[00:14:07] Search and I’m sure this is the same for most users. You first search. And then if the knowledge base is not great and not well built out then, okay. Forget it. Let me just chat with someone and let me get to that other thing. So that makes a lot of sense where it’s like, here’s all these different ways where potentially you could just get your answer right away.
[00:14:24] Or we’re also here to help you with that
[00:14:26] Kimberly: as well. Right. And it’s like really thinking about what is the experience that they want and you, and you, you design that. And the things that we have to do over and over again, the repetitive pieces. Well, let’s leverage technology to deliver some of that, whether that’s like how you communicate, how you share information, how you share documents, how people complete forms even more, even beyond.
[00:14:44] W where, where we are even today, because the goal is to really allow for the team to stay where they’re at and the tools that they work with and the client to stay in Purdue and really be able to access your value without you always having to be on the phone. Right. You having to answer an email and then do all those other.
[00:15:02] Karin: That is awesome. so Do you, uh, specify the idea of retainer and that this subscription is different from them, having you on retainer.
[00:15:14] And if so, how do you define
[00:15:16] Kimberly: that? Yes, thank you for asking this a lot of people. So a subscription is not repackage hourly. A subscription is not a retainer, a subscription. It is proactive. Legal services, right? Meaning that I’m not waiting for my client who needs something from me. We are proactively thinking through what do they need what’s happening?
[00:15:35] Um, trying to provide them value without them having to always contact us and seek us out. Think the retainer model is still built on the mindset that we are centering the attorney and not centering the client. Right. I love that. It doesn’t mean that like it’s everything that the client says, it’s saying, what’s the purpose of the work that we’re doing.
[00:15:52] It’s not about. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s the problem with the legal industry. It’s very attorney centered and not community centered, which is what it should be like, how do we better serve the client house or our clients stop hourly, get rid of the bar, um, you know, stop having, um, you know, state specific bar exams.
[00:16:09] There were, there were like archaic ways that we have kept because it keeps our profession a certain way. And so. I love that. I think that makes so much sense. Yeah. It’s definitely not a retainer. So I wasn’t a retainer. It
[00:16:21] Karin: is. And I was recently talking to another marketing person a few episodes ago, just about pricing models in general.
[00:16:27] And we were talking about this idea of intensives, where this is kind of how we talk about in marketing speak. We sit down and set goals for our clients and then work through those, like for us, it’s on a quarterly basis and it’s about really focusing the goals and, and, uh, it sounds somewhat similar where your clients, you’re thinking more in terms of, you know, how you can be of better service to them instead of just reactionary and just getting to those problems.
[00:16:57] We clearly define that this is not the same as you having me on a retainer because especially for marketing and design firms, a lot of times people will be hired and they feel like they’re an, you know, being hired as an employee and then you get micromanaged and it’s like, no, no, no, no, no.
[00:17:12] That’s not how this is going to work. This is not that kind of relationship. This is. Us on kind of a mutual level. so I love that.
[00:17:20] Karin: So tell me, you said, you mentioned that there’s a book that you love and that you recommend to everyone. What, what’s the book that you love?
[00:17:27] Kimberly: Yeah. So I’m going to go book that probably some of you haven’t heard and it’s a book it’s about intention. It’s called being as the new doing it’s by dire roads. And it’s a book about intention. And I love this book because when we want to create. Change in our lives go after those big goals. There’s a lot of ways to think about it.
[00:17:45] But to me, if we really understand what intention is and her view at how she talks about it, And how that is the driving force to move you forward to achieve those big goals. Then I, so I like to share that because a lot of people tell me, oh, I can’t do it and it’s not going to work. And it’s like, but is that true?
[00:18:03] Or is it that right now, you at a place, or I think she would say like your level of intentions at a place, that’s not gonna allow you to see that. Right. But if we elevate it, you open up so many possibilities. And so I would love particularly legal professionals to elevate their intention, right. To really.
[00:18:18] Karin: So, how was that different from mindset or is it similar?
[00:18:21] Kimberly: I would say it’s different because mindset is a lot of, like, we think a thought work, which I. Uh, fun fact, I was a graduate psychology student. Oh cool. After my clinical psych program, but so mindset, I think mindset is, is something, but I think we over-emphasize mindset and misunderstand that and the way she talks about attention.
[00:18:39] So I, I’m not going to oversimplify it cause she does. It’s like more science needs, spirituality too. But it’s, it’s like the, the energy that you bring, the, the, the experiences that you’re having and it’s more than. a commitment to do something it’s really like the full encompassing way of being.
[00:18:56] I’ve trained with her. I’ve done other things with her. And I would say when I, when I shifted, when people asked me, so someone asked me recently, well, how did you come to be known as you know, the person to talk about subscriptions all the time? and I, and for me, I mean, I talked about it more, but I elevated my intention around it.
[00:19:12] And when I met her. And I learned her theory and I, applied it that’s really was, you know, I just, I was always in this place of seeking and wanting and getting to this higher level about how I wanted to show up. And I know that maybe sounds a little woo. Maybe
[00:19:27] Karin: I love it. So Was your intention initially to the whole idea of removing hourly work or where did you start with that intention?
[00:19:37] Kimberly: Yeah. it was all about like, how did I want to be? Right. Yeah. And so not simply the thought of like, I wanted to eliminate hourly work, but what does my daily experience needs to be like, how do I want to live my life?
[00:19:48] It’s it was about living. Not living to work, but living to live and work supplements at work, work funds it. that’s where it always started from. I didn’t go into big law because I didn’t want to sleep underneath the desk. I was like, that’s a lot of money, but also when I break it down, that sounds ridiculous size care about my life and my wellbeing.
[00:20:06] And so when I realized hourly billing was hampering my wellbeing. I was like, this can’t work. Like the way I feel. I don’t like the way I’m making my clients feel and it’s not like they were upset, but you can tell it just, so for me, it was having the energy I want it to be and how I want it to show up and who I, who I know that the path that I wanted to become and the, the work I wanted to do outside of just practicing law meant that I needed to find a bit.
[00:20:34] Karin: Okay. That makes a lot of sense to me.
[00:20:36] Okay, so your book sounds fantastic. We will link to that and we will have that on the episode page as well. And thank you so much for being here. Kim, Kimberly Bennett trademark business strategy attorney, founder of K Bennett, law and fiduciary, and so many other things.
[00:20:54] Also just, you know, an amazing process and systems person so that she can get all these things done. But thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
[00:21:02] Kimberly: Thank you. Thank you. It’s been amazing.