Did you know that the Practice Resource Institute (PRI) provides free resources for Florida Bar members? Many Florida attorneys don’t realize the scope of what the PRI offers. In this episode of The Florida Bar Podcast, host Christine Bilbrey talks to Scott Westheimer about the future of the PRI, the benefits of being a member, and how the program has grown. They also talk about both the Program Evaluation Committee and the Member Benefits Committee, what they are, and how they function within The Florida Bar.
Scott Westheimer is a partner at Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb, Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer and currently serves as the chairman of the Communications Committee and serves on the Executive Committee, Program Evaluation Committee, Technology Committee, and Strategic Planning Committee with The Florida Bar.
The Florida Bar Podcast
What Florida Lawyers Should Know About the Practice Resource Institute
Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and law practice management to help you run your law firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Christine Bilbrey: Hello and welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. Thank you for joining us. This is Christine Bilbrey, I am a Practice Management Advisor at PRI and the host of today’s show, which is being recorded from our offices in Tallahassee, Florida.
Our goal at PRI is to assist Florida attorneys with running the business side of their law practices. We will be focusing on a different topic each month and we’ll carry that theme through our digital newsletter and website with related articles and resources. And we’re doing something a little bit different this time. We’re actually focusing on the future of our own department which we’re calling PRI 2.0. So PRI was launched in January of 2015 as a resource for all Bar members to help better organize and operate their law offices. So in the coming months we’re going to be enhancing and highlighting how we’re serving our members, and joining us today is Scott Westheimer.
Scott is a Managing Partner at Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb, Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer, and Scott, you’ll have to tell me if I got those right if you want to correct it. He is primarily a plaintiff’s attorney in the Personal Injury Law and Commercial Litigation areas and he is the current Chairman of the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors Communication Committee. He’s also on the Technology Committee, the Executive Committee and the Program Evaluation Committee. He was just honored by our immediate past President Bill Schifino with the President’s Award of Merit at this year’s annual convention.
Welcome to the show, Scott.
Scott Westheimer: Thanks, Christine, it’s perfect as it’s going to be, the names are right.
Christine Bilbrey: Okay, good. So, Scott, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and what you in your role as Chairman of the Communications Committee and as a member of the other related Bar committees, have in mind to further improve the practice Resource Institute?
Scott Westheimer: Sure, thanks Christine, I’m an attorney in Sarasota, Florida, grew up in Sarasota, moved back here after law school after I finished with the University of Florida, practiced in the same place since I got out of law school, very lucky to do that, do plaintiffs personal injury work and I’ve been on the Board of Governors for four years now.
The Communications Committee and what we’re looking at for PRI is a little more on the communication side, every year the Bar has priorities and some of the priorities this year are going to focus specifically on technology and communicating better with our members, especially on what we do as a Bar to help them, how to help them with the business of law, how to help them with the practice of law, and PR is our Bar’s number one tool, we think we can help our members with.
Christine Bilbrey: Excellent, and so, I know that part of the idea for this episode of our podcast was built on Bill Schifino’s article in the May Bar Journal called ‘How Can We Help You?’ where Bill wrote, “The question isn’t what is the Florida Bar going to do to me, but rather what can it do for me?” And we really feel like that’s important because so many times I think attorneys are just worried about the grievance side and that it’s something to be avoided and we really want to get the message out that your Bar dues are bringing you this just huge array of things to help you that that’s really the focus of PRI on every level.
So we want to help our small and solo firm practitioners with all the things that we have to offer, and I know that currently the popular subjects are trust accounting and technology related questions, but the PRI benefit that I think members are most excited about when they learn of it is the 50 hours of free CLEs available to them. And that includes more than 30 hours of Technology CLEs, and I want everyone to know how to actually utilize this. I think a lot of people know that we have it. So if you want to watch a free CLE at our website you go to HYPERLINK “http://www.pri.floridabar.org” pri.floridabar.org and under the Resources drop-down menu you will click on Webinars and CLEs, you’ll see the whole catalog, watch the CLE that you have chosen, after you complete it login to the member portal at HYPERLINK “http://www.floridabar.org” floridabar.org and self-report the credits using the code provided in the CLE. If you don’t see the code there please call us, we’re happy to give that to you.
And with that being said we want even more of our members to be able to use all of our resources. So going forward, Scott, how will you be helping them find us at PRI?
Scott Westheimer: That’s a great question, and Bill, I think really hit the nail on the head there, what are we doing for you. We do understand that a Florida attorney today has a very difficult environment to practice in, we do understand that every day the future of law becomes more difficult for attorneys. So what we are trying to do as a Board is try to get the word out, the Practice Resource Institute is a great website, a great tool as there are very many great tools that we have with The Florida Bar and what we’ve tried to do is move all of those things to the Practice Resource Institute.
So the first step is to try to get everything in one place that is a tool to help our Florida attorneys with the business of law and that hub if you want to call that is the Practice Resource Institute. So we’re looking at this with two different levels of analysis. We have a Program Evaluation Committee which is looking at PRI to see what it can do to improve the program and at the same time the Board of Governors Technology Committee and its Communication Committee along with some members of the standing Bar Technology Committee are going to do an analysis for what we can do to upgrade what you’re calling PRI 2.0 to upgrade the site and to become a little more user-friendly, help navigation, and also what we can do to help re-brand PRI so our members know about it.
Christine Bilbrey: And we feel like from 2015 there have been huge improvements. I know that you have access to the analytics, are people finding us more than our first year? What are the numbers saying?
Scott Westheimer: I mean, definitively people are finding you more than the first year. I can put everything into I guess comparison with what we’re doing is The Florida Bar webpage which we just redid as well, which I think ties into what we’re hoped to do with PRI, but if you look at The Florida Bar website we have, on a fiscal year, which is, from July to the end of June, we have 42 million-plus Patriots, and we have almost five million individual users.
So if you look at that and then we get into the analytics of PRI, they are a little bit different and the users that we have if you look at our analytics for PRI for example the last fiscal year they had 176,000 page views and a 136,000 unique visitors, so a little stark contrast. Putting that into perspective when PRI took over from the entity that we used to call Lomas which was in the grievance bucket and we moved PRI out of that so it’d be its own independent resource, you’re looking at a 23% increase in support by Bar members, the calls that we had, 984 calls this year were 757 last year, a lot of those calls are coming in through the live chat, which also is pretty impressive.
We have various areas that we see that our users are really focusing on which is as you said looking at trust accounting, technology, closing a practice, starting a practice. So the analytics are getting better, but what we hope to do is the Communications Committee is once we can do what we need to do to retool the PRI site, retool how things are found navigation-wise, we are going to do a full communications plan and a PR output, so everyone knows about it and we can really get the word out on how great PRI is.
Christine Bilbrey: And we are so excited about that because I attended annual convention, as did you, I had the pleasure of meeting you in person finally, but I had so many people coming up to the booth. So it was split between, thank you for existing, you helped me so much, and we were thrilled to hear that. The other half would say, okay, so you have free CLEs and webinars and all these different things to help me, why are you doing this for free? And I had to say, because we’re part of The Florida Bar, they didn’t even realize that. They were excited that we had all these services, so yeah, obviously there is a gap in people finding us. So we’re looking forward to that, but annual was very, very successful, our CLE, our technology CLEs sold out, we gave out every bit of our PRI-branded swag. We did a ton of podcast interviews.
So I feel like that was helpful that person-to-person, but to really exponentially get the word out we’re going to be counting on the communications committee to bring us up to the next level. Because we do want our members to know all those things that are available to them because I think they’re shocked to hear that, they can be doing all these CLE credits for free, we can help them open their practice, walk them through all the business side of that.
And so, can you tell our listeners, a few people, I’m sure like all the acronyms that get thrown around, talk about what PEC does in regard to member benefits for the members?
Scott Westheimer: Yes, the Program Evaluation Committee is one of the board committees and what the Program Evaluation Committee does is it looks at all of our newer expanded programs it does in-depth evaluations of selected Bar programs, it reviews programs for resource and budgetary appropriations, last year’s program evaluation committee did an entire analysis of the Member Benefits Committee and what the Member Benefits Committee does and people don’t realize that these member benefits they’re not just picked out of a hat, they’re thoroughly vetted, our member benefit committee looks at multiple benefits that are out there, they vet benefits, they make sure it’s proper for our members, they make sure that it’s giving a good discount to our members and they negotiate the best deal they can, so our members are getting better deals than others.
For example, you look at some of our new benefits that are about to be rolled out. They negotiated a Dell and Lenovo contract, where we’re going to get up to 30% discount on computers, which is huge for our members. There’s practice management software, I know that they just approved a practice management software that was out there, PracticePanther, which again is going to be a discounted member benefit that we can get to all of our people, which helps them as well.
And all of our folks know that they’re vetted. So they know that someone’s looked into this, they’ve looked at the product, they’re happy with the product, the Member Benefits Committee is not going to approve something that they don’t believe is wholeheartedly a good product for our Bar members.
And when we look at this and when PEC looked at this, the analysis also was when we talk member benefits, we don’t just talk about things that are discounts, that’s one silo, but also member services we provide as a Bar. We have the Lawyers Advising Lawyers website, which is a peer review, mentoring type issue website that we have where attorneys can hook up with advisors.
The YLD did an excellent job with the How to Start My Florida Law Firm site and that site is great that has everything from opening an office to setting up a corporate entity, to trust accounting, to close an office. So we look at everything within the silo of member benefits and services on how we can help our members.
Christine Bilbrey: I love that you’ve added computers because when people are calling in for technology help, I was surprised that we didn’t have that. So that’s an excellent addition to it. So I know that you’re going to keep adding more member benefits to help all of our members with the business side and the technological side of running their firms.
So we look forward to all of this, we’re very excited about it and people are going to finally know what PRI stands for. So we’re thrilled with that. But thank you so much for taking the time to do this, we’re thrilled that you’re going to work with PRI but also for calling in today, so to let our members know what they should be looking for coming up.
So it looks like we’ve reached the end of our program. I want to thank Scott Westheimer for joining us today.
Scott Westheimer: Thank you very much, Christine. I appreciate it.
Christine Bilbrey: Scott, if our listeners have questions or they want to follow up with you, how do they find you? So you have social media or a website?
Scott Westheimer: Yes, I being the Communications Chair they said you must be on social media. So you can contact me on Facebook, they can find me on the Bar’s website, the Board of Governors has a landing page, so if you go to The Florida Bar’s new website, you can find me as well. They can give me a call, 941-365-7171. I’m glad to help, just like any other Board of Governors member, I think we are happy to help everyone, any way we can to point them in the right direction, and they can see some of the benefits that we have.
Christine Bilbrey: Excellent. Thank you. This has been another edition of The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by the Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. I’m Christine Bilbrey. Until next time, thank you for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
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