Former public defender Brad Clark explains how he started his own firm, powered by a criminal expungement web app that lets him start helping people before they even contact him.
Brad Clark created Unconvicted to help Kentuckians figure out whether they qualify for an expungement, and recently...
Sam Glover is the founder and Editor in Chief of Lawyerist.com. Sam helps lawyers understand the economic,...
Aaron Street is the co-founder and CEO of Lawyerist.com. In addition to his work growing Lawyerist’s community of...
In this episode, former public defender Brad Clark explains how he started his own firm, powered by a criminal expungement web app that lets him start helping people before they even contact him. He also talked about his access-to-justice efforts, from mobile legal clinics to financial aid for criminal expungements.
Brad Clark created Unconvicted to help Kentuckians figure out whether they qualify for an expungement, and Driven Law Group to help those charged with DUIs and traffic offenses learn what options they have. A former public defender, Brad measures his firms success by the number of people he helps, not just by its revenue.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Lawyerist podcast with Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Each week Lawyerist brings you advice than interviews to help you build a more successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market and now, here are Sam and Aaron.
Sam Glover: Hi I’m Sam Glover.
Aaron Street: And I’m Aaron Street and this is episode 120 of the Lawyerist podcast part of the legal talk network. Today were replaying a conversation with Brad Clark about building websites that let him solve potential clients problems before they meet him and about his creative access to justice efforts from Mobile legal clinics to financial aid for criminal expungement.
Sam Glover: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Spotlight Branding which wants you to know that having a new website designed for your law firm doesn’t have to suck. Spotlight Branding prides itself on great communication, meeting deadlines, and getting results. Text the word Website to 6 6 8 6 6 in order to receive a free website appraisal worksheet.
Aaron Street: Today’s podcast is sponsored by fresh books which is ridiculously easy to use and packed with powerful features. Try it now at freshbooks.com/lawyerist and enter lawyerist in the “How did you hear about us?” Section.
Sam Glover: And today’s podcast a sponsored by Ruby Receptionists and it’s smart charming receptionists who are perfect for small firms. Visit callruby.com/lawyerist to get a risk free trial with Ruby .So, Aaron two events to announce today. The first is the third meeting of TBD Law.
Aaron Street: Yay.
Sam Glover: Yeah, I know. I’m pumped. We’re trying something a little bit different this time.
Aaron Street: Very different.
Sam Glover: Yeah it’s the dates first of all are August 27th to 29th and instead of doing it at Filament we are going to be doing it in rural Missouri.
Aaron Street: In cabins.
Sam Glover: In cabins.
Aaron Street: Yeah, summer camp for lawyers.
Sam Glover: Yeah, the way it’s going to work this year is everybody’s going to need to get there on time, we’ll give every …
Aaron Street: There being St Louis.
Sam Glover: To St Louis and will hop in a bus and have a big old road trip. Two hours to these cabins outside of St Louis, and I think it would be really cool. A different space allows us to do some different things. We’ve got some really neat ideas for structuring it differently. The catch, I guess, is that it’s going to be a little bit of a smaller group.
Aaron Street: Yep, the bus can only hold 56 seats, I think.
Sam Glover: Yep.
Aaron Street: So, rather than trying to aim for a 75 like we have for the first couple, we’ll have a smaller group and we’re really excited for some intimate bonfires, and I don’t think we’ll do trust falls but I guess I shouldn’t promise that we won’t.
Sam Glover: So, if you’re interested, and you should be, you should visit our website and the application is that Lawyerist.com/TBDlaw and you do have to apply. That’s not because we’re trying to turn people off, but because the entire point of TBD law is to get innovative lawyers together and so we need you to apply and tell us why you’re interested in going and a little bit about your firm so that we can try to figure out if it will be a good fit. You’re not bad if you can’t come. We’re just trying to find a good fit with the people who come and the kinds of conversations we want to have. So, here’s how to know if you’re going to fit is if you understand the trends that are shaping the future of law practice which we talk about on this podcast, especially, on Lawyerist all the time, and you are thinking about how to prepare your law firm for the next five, 10, 15 years of law practice with those trends in mind. How to take advantage of them. I think you’d probably be the person that would be a really good fit with that group and you should absolutely go and apply, and if you’re even a little bit curious just apply.
The next thing that will happen is I’ll call you and we’ll have a conversation, and you can ask me more about it, and I can ask you more about your firm, and we’ll gets know each other better and try to figure it out, and even if you end up not being a good fit we’ll know each other a little bit better, so it’ll be cool. So, please go to a lawyerist.com/TBDlaw and apply. So, Aaron, what’s the second thing?
Aaron Street: The second event to announce is that you and I are speaking at the Minnesota State Bar Association Convention on June 15th at the Mall of America.
Sam Glover: Oh my God.
Aaron Street: So exciting.
Sam Glover: Will we go on roller coasters?
Aaron Street: We should.
Sam Glover: Yeah.
Aaron Street: Can we Instagram a picture of us on a roller coaster at the convention?
Sam Glover: Now, I think we have to.
Aaron Street: I think so and we’re speaking on the biggest scams and hacks affecting lawyers, which sounds very exciting and sensational and I hope we can figure out what those are in time for June 15th.
Sam Glover: We’ll have to talk to very loudly.
Aaron Street: I guess so, yes. Lots of ominous voices and sound effects I hope. So, if you’re in Minnesota we’d love to see you on June 15th for that presentation and at the Mall of America, and if you find us in time we can right on the roller coaster with us.
Sam Glover: Sweet. Maybe we’ll even schedule it as a meet up. So, with that stuff in mind here’s my conversation with Brad Clark who was at the very first meeting of TBD law and I think this podcast is a really fun jaunt down his experiments and what he’s doing to bring in business and build his practice in a really innovative way. Here to go.
Brad Clark: My name’s Brad Clarke. I’m a criminal defense attorney in Lexington Kentucky and my law firm, Clark Law, creates web apps that help solve consumer facing legal problems.
Sam Glover: That’s so cool and thank you for being with us, Brad. I’m excited to have you here. Tell me more about your firm because you just described it as creating web apps but there’s a law firm and a practice behind that. So, what does it look like?
Brad Clark: Absolutely. So, my firm consists of me and my associate Carolyn Allen who’s a first year out of law school. She started back in August and she’s doing fantastic work but we do criminal defense work, primarily expungement and traffic and DUI in central Kentucky, northern Kentucky in the Loval area.
Sam Glover: So, how long have you been doing this?
Brad Clark: I have been a criminal offense lawyer for seven years. I started out of the public defender’s office and I went on and I did death penalty work for two years, specifically.
Sam Glover: Wow, and so when did you actually start your firm?
Brad Clark: My firm has been going since May of this year.
Sam Glover: Fantastic. So, it’s just the two of you guys now and you’re doing most the criminal offense work it sounds like. So, cool. Where does your business come from?
Brad Clark: It’s almost 100% generated online using social media, Ad Words. We do get referrals from my old public defender clients. We do get referrals from new clients. But most of our marketing strategy has been online and through earned media, we’ve gotten some really good media attention to.
Sam Glover: So, I haven’t checked in with some local criminal offense lawyers lately to see if this still the case, but it used to be that the assumption was that you had to get yourself in the jailhouse phone book. Here, I think, it’s called the Blue Book and that’s the book of lawyers directory that is available to people who’ve recently been arrested and that was like the whole thing is you had to be in there, and everybody poo pooed online advertising because I guess they don’t think people have been arrested are able to search. So, how does online marketing work if that’s true?
Brad Clark: Well, a lot of our business is expungement which are people that have been out of jail, or been out of trouble for five to 10 plus years, and so that doesn’t apply to that but then as far as DUIs, there will be some people that do call lawyers at night that you are provided time to call a lawyer when you are arrested for DUI. But then there are a lot of people that they bond out the next morning, and they’re depressed, and they’re sitting on their couch, and they’re trying to research things online, and that’s when the marketing happens. That’s when the connection happens when the client contacts you.
Sam Glover: Gotcha. So, that it maybe it’s a misconception that the time to do it, the time to strike as it were, is basically when they’re sitting there looking at the phone wondering who to call. You got time, in other words.
Brad Clark: And I think that there’s merits to both and we have chosen the strategy because, quite honestly, it’s what I know what we’re good at.
Sam Glover: Which seems to work if you go with what you know. So, one of things I want to talk about is Unconvicted, which is unconvicted.com, which is your Web site. Is this just your firm website or does it the front end for more than that?
Brad Clark: So, Unconvicted is a service that’s offered by our firm and we have a for-profit arm to it, and a not-for-profit arm, and they serve two different functions. So, if I could have just a minute, Kentucky passed sweeping expungement legislation in the last year and for the first time basically ever in Kentucky, people with old low level felonies and almost any misdemeanor can apply, after a certain period of time, to have the conviction vacated and then expunged. Meaning that the conviction will be voided from their record as though it never happened and then it will be removed from the public databases, and presumably, is not supposed to show up in private background checks as well for pre-employment screening. So, what Unconvicted was was it was my attempt to make the process as easy as possible for people with old convictions to be able to vote, be able to get their firearm rights back, be able to serve on juries, and more simply, and more down to earth just be able to get good jobs, get access to federal funding for school. I’ve had people who couldn’t go on school field trips because of an old conviction, or even a dismissed case.
We had a client who couldn’t go on her daughter’s field trip because she had a bad check case dismissed 10 years ago, and so it’s a real opportunity to help people who have been outcast from mainstream society because of old criminal convictions and things of that nature.
Sam Glover: Very cool. So, you say there’s two pieces to it, a for-profit piece and a nonprofit piece. So, what’s the for-profit piece? What’s the business model behind this?
Brad Clark: So, for-profit, we’ve developed a web app that allows people to go in and basically … Imagine Turbo Tax for expungement. It allows people to go in and answer questions in natural language about their convictions, and then based upon how they answer the questions, they’ll be asked different questions, and it walks him through a decision tree, and at the end of it makes an assessment. Not a determinative, legal assessment, we’ll say, “We think that you’re probably a good candidate based upon your responses but we’re going to double check it.” And so the basic premise is that it’s a lead generation tool. But it also helps people find, “Am I headed in the right direction or not?” And so after they get that assessment, we pipe that information into our CRM, we use Appier for that, and we screen the records manually and we give them a call back if they qualify or if they don’t qualify, and we just explain to him, “Here are your options. We can draft the paperwork for you in an assisted pro se format, or we can also represent you full stop including drafting all the paperwork, meeting with you, notarize in the required documents, filing in the appropriate place and appearing at hearings on your behalf.”
Sam Glover: So, you’re doing it as the website is basically triage for people who want to find out … at our TBD Law conference there was something, maybe, similar where lots of people need to know if they qualify to be a dreamer under the DREAM Act. But that’s not something that immigration lawyers can only charge for. So, some lawyers they’re actually built to Q & A tool to help people figure out if they qualify. It sounds like you’re doing sort of the same thing. You can’t really charge somebody $100 or $1,000 to tell them whether or not they’re entitled to an expungement. So, you just sort of automate that process as much as you can, right?
Brad Clark: Right, the idea is to make the process as simple on both the client and the attorney as possible, and we, in exchange for them using our tool and allowing us to contact them, we give them a free screening by an attorney and tell them basically, we think you’ve got a good case, or we don’t.
Sam Glover: Which is obviously everybody’s first question is, “Can I even do this?”
Brad Clark: Right, and it’s a way to basically offset some of that time that a lot of people traditionally would have spent driving down town, finding a place to park, waiting for the lawyer to just be told “No.” and we can do consultations much faster remotely and at much larger volume.
Sam Glover: That makes a lot of sense. Would would you call it a successful driver of business? you said most of your work comes from online, so I’m wondering is this where it comes from.
Brad Clark: Yes, I would say 90% of our business comes from online, from our Ad Words campaigns, our Facebook campaigns, and from the earned media. The Career Journal, the paper record [inaudible 00:12:17] ran for us on the front page. USA Today picked it up. So, we’ve gotten some really good press on it and it’s been …
Sam Glover: Oh cool.
Brad Clark: Yeah, it’s been …. And we do pretty good on YouTube too, surprisingly.
Sam Glover: So, if somebody calls up your firm and wants to know if they qualify for an expungement, do you direct them to the Web site or do you run him through the tool over the phone?
Brad Clark: Well, generally, what will happen is I’ll just ask them. At this point I’ve pretty much memorized the entire statute, front and back, having done it so many times. So, I can walk them through it myself much quicker than if they call it up, and it may be the fastest way to do it. I tell people sometimes that if they’ve got a friend like, “Hey, I’m going to come to the Web site and see if they’re eligible.” I’m like, “Just have them call me.” But if it’s not business hours, obviously, it’s a great way to make it accessible and we want people that have that idea that, “Hey I need to find out if this is something I can do.” to have it accessible to them as many hours of the day it’s possible.
Sam Glover: The reason I ask is because one of the traps I fell into, and I see lots of lawyers falling into, is you come up with a really neat tool and you want everybody to use it and you try to force everybody through that tool, and not every wants to do it that way, right? Some people are really happy to just be able to click some buttons and fill out some forms on a website, but some people want to call and have somebody talk to them. So, that’s why I was curious because I always ran into that where I was trying to force people to do things my way, damn it.
Brad Clark: Yeah, no, and don’t get me wrong. It does make it easier on us because when they are in putting their information, we’re keeping that information in a database, and we do have it streamlined enough where we can use some of the client data entry to generate the forms. But, at the end of the day, we’re about customer service, and we went to people to have access whatever way they want to have access.
Sam Glover: You’re adding things to your toolbox not subtracting things.
Brad Clark: Exactly.
Sam Glover: So, what’s the nonprofit element to this then?
Brad Clark: This bill is an incredible piece of legislation. It gives lot’s of people a second chance and it was passed bipartisan, and one of the sticking points that got it passed was we have budget problems in Kentucky. We have a pension system that’s massively underfunded and one of the things that the legislator what to do is they stuck at very hefty filing fee on these. It’s a $500 filing fee to file a felony expungement in Kentucky, and it goes without saying that people that are least likely to have $500 are the people who have to check the box that identifies them as a convicted felon every time they go to apply for a job. What we find is while there are a lot of people that meet the federal poverty guidelines are likely to qualify for informal populous relief to have that fee waived and they do qualify. We do take those cases pro bono because I think that’s the right thing to do. There are a lot of people that, while they don’t meet the guidelines they still can’t come up with $500 but we still like to do their case pro bono but we’re stuck right?
How do we get there? How do we get it done? And so we’re trying to start raising … We are raising money to help people provide scholarships, more or less to get this done and to filing fees for them in cases, or pay part of the filing fees for them where they can’t necessarily just come up with the $500 [inaudible 00:15:15].
Sam Glover: How do you get started building a pool like that? Who is contributing to it?
Brad Clark: Well, the really interesting thing is we’ve actually had a lot of people approach us about doing it. This was always part of something I wanted to do but people came out of the woodwork and said, “Hey we want to help you raise money to do this.” There’s a group called Leadership Lexington here in town that they’re raising money to do the same thing. The Unitarian Church actually approached me and said they want to do a fundraiser for me, and we actually work out of a co-working space that’s designed for non-profits and social enterprises, and so the director is actually a good friend of mine and she’s done a lot of nonprofit fund raising and nonprofit development stuff in the past, and she’s helping us put a lot of it together. So, we don’t actually …
Sam Glover: [inaudible 00:15:58]
Brad Clark: Yeah so, it’s been great.
Sam Glover: So, we skipped over this but I ordinarily like to geek out on the stuff. How did you build the tool? I know you said you’re connecting couple things with Zapier but is it … Did you hire coders or is it built in something more simple and easy to use? What’s going on back there under the hood?
Brad Clark: Okay, yeah. So, I have been, I guess, a serial business starter my entire life other than my short stint as a public defender. I was actually web developer way back in 1999 when I was 15 years old. So, I developed the site myself but the actual application is built in a software service platform called Typeform which is a really cool way people that need to make really pretty, really complex, logic flow forms can use this service online and it gets it’s relatively simple. I think most people could learn how to use it. But it’s quite powerful also and so type form has an API that allows it to integrate with Zapier without getting too techie. We can use Zapier to basically pass the data that we get from the forms submittal after we build the form, and do a number of different places where we use it. We were using Cleo for a while and it works beautifully to input the data into the air but we actually switched. We do almost everything in CRM software, client relationship management software, customer relationship management software, called Capsule.
Just because It’s very cheap and it has an infinite number of custom fields which is what we need. And so those are the tools we’re using and then we have a hacked together Acrobat Java script that does all of our document automation because we have to use these court sanctioned PDF’s. I don’t go into that but anyway …
Sam Glover: But you’ve figured out how to take the court’s forms and input data on to them.
Brad Clark: Yeah.
Sam Glover: Wow, very cool. Well that’s a lot going on there. That’s neat but it sounds like it’s …. Sometimes the answer is “Oh I invested $50,000 of my own money and hired a development team from across the state.” Or something like but you just put it together yourself which is awesome. Lawyers who do that … I think it’s cool for lawyers to know that there are tools out there that don’t require them to either hire a team or become a software developer. Just adventurous, I think.
Brad Clark: Yeah, I think that’s right. Having some development background definitely helped but I think that this is the tool … And we use it for a lot of different in take stuff. I think people should really look at it and see what it is because it may fit their practice in ways that they know that I wouldn’t.
Sam Glover: Okay. So, we need say two minutes from our sponsors and when we come back, I want to talk about two more of the things that you’re working on, mobile legal clinics and a new partnership that you’ve launched, a driven law group. So, we’re going to have more sponsors and we’ll be back to talk with that.
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Sam Glover: Okay, and we’re back, and Brad you just hinted to me what we’re talking beforehand about you’re working on some mobile legal clinics which is interesting because I’ve always wanted to just drop in and be a lawyer for free in a neighborhood, or a park, or library, or something and usually it always seems to make sense to do it with more structure behind it. So, I’m wondering how are you doing it? And what’s it all about? Tell me what you’re trying to do first.
Brad Clark: So, what we’re trying to do is going to raise awareness of our mission and also just, ultimately, create a fund raising tool for our not-for-profit side. So, what we’re doing is we’re going to do Drop-in legal clinics in five or six different cities, in Kentucky, starting next year where we’re just going to open up in an abandoned storefront, or some space that we can find very inexpensively, and we’re going to do just pro bono expungement all day. We’re going to do what we can to advertise that Facebook, and our contacts with local media, chambers of commerce, those things and we’re going to set up a basically a mobile expungement clinic. We don’t need much. We can tether are phones to get to the database we need. We have what we need, is a printer and we’re there. So, that’s the plan, and our plan is I have a good friend who shoots documentary films and he’s going to follow us around and put together some web videos we can use, and things we can use, hopefully to fundraise some more for the not-for-profit side. We may do a crowdfunding campaign once we get the video and those things put together. But just get out in the community and parts of Kentucky that people don’t normally think about going to and hopefully bring people … make people more employable, bring jobs back, those things.
Sam Glover: And are you basically partnering with local organizations to do that?
Brad Clark: That’s the plan right now. The University of Kentucky has an ag extension office who we’re talking to too about, potentially, working with some of their local spaces that they have there. We’re still trying to feel this out 100%. But it’s just finding the right opportunities, the right fit, the right places to get the right publicity so the right people in the community turn out for these things, so we can help as many people as possible. That’s our goal.
Sam Glover: You’ve mentioned your mission and your nonprofit side a couple of times. Is that baked into the way you conceive of your firm that you’re going to be doing civic stuff as well as for-profit stuff, and how do you decide how much of each to do and all that stuff?
Brad Clark: That’s a very good question that we’re still trying to answer. Obviously, right now, we’re doing almost 100% for-profit stuff. The start up phase, it scaled very quickly. I had to hire a lawyer to bring them on full time, and now that we’re adjusting to that we’re seeing what our revenue stream looks like. We’re getting an idea of where we are. As I said before, when people would come in and they would meet the IFP level, we would do the cases pro bono just because. But we haven’t had a huge number of people that qualify for that, I think, primarily because of how we advertise and how people find out about us being online. You do have to have some sort of device that could complete the form. It doesn’t have to be an iPhone 7 or the latest Android phone but on some level. It’s not going to be everybody that has access to it and so now that we’re in a position where we’re profitable and I’m paying myself and I’m paying my employee, and we’re really looking at some of these questions about how can we really fulfill that double bottom line we have. How many people did we help, and how much money did we make, and how can we stretch and give back for what the state what the community has done for us for taking on this mission to make this is accessible and affordable as possible for everybody?
Sam Glover: I love what you just said, “How many people did we help and how much money did we make?” And there are two ways to … There are lots of different ways to increase the first number, right? How many people we help. So, do have targets or you just sort of look at it now and trying to figure it out?
Brad Clark: It’s kind of funny, but I went back and I thought about how many people that had plead guilty to felony when I was a public defender, and I added it up and I’m like, “I want to do that many in the first year.” And I don’t think are going to get that number unfortunately. But it’s some weird like public defender karma … I don’t know … Kind of goal that I have. But no, I think we’re trying to see what’s the first year look like? what’s a baseline look like? And how can we do better next year? That’s, I guess, what I would say is what our goals are going to be.
Sam Glover: Very cool. So let’s touch on your more recent project that you launched. It’s drivenlaw.com and it sounds like it’s you’re trying to take the same general idea from Unconvicted to a different practice area, right?
Brad Clark: I think it’s fair to say it’s another lead generation tool where we offer free consultation remotely, very easily, to potential clients for traffic cases and DUI cases. It works very similarly. It’s also built on TypeForm. The hook to it though, is anyone that’s charged with a traffic offense, or a DUI can simply snap a photograph of their citation, upload it to us, and then we’ve made some report generation tools on the back end for the lawyers to use where they can basically create a report very quickly that’ll say, “Well these are the possible penalties. These are the elements of the offense. This is what it will do to your insurance if you plead guilty. This is how many points we’ll put on your license. Based upon our experience, this is what we expect the outcome might be. Here are some possible defenses that we may try and things we would investigate.” And things like that and we provide that absolutely free of charge in that it allows the potential client to then, they can schedule a phone call, or a video conference with us and frequently we’ll just follow up with them over the phone too.
Sam Glover: So, TypeForm is robust enough that you can incorporate things like taking photos on a phone?
Brad Clark: Yes.
Sam Glover: Wow, that’s super cool. I kind of want to just start playing with it. I notice that this is a partnership between you and another lawyer. How do you structure something like that?
Brad Clark: So, we have it as a separate LLC and we’re contracting with each of our law firms right now. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to do it. But that seems to be the simplest thing in the beginning. Minimum viable product, what does this look like? Is there a product customer fit? Do we market fit? Do we have that here? Are people going to use this? And the answer seems to be yes. It’s only been a week but we’ve already got three paying clients from the app, and it’s a good opportunity to reach out to other people in a different practice area.
Sam Glover: So, are you partnering up because you think there is going to be just way too much work to … Was it their idea? What’s the justification for partnering up on this or what’s the rational [inaudible 00:28:02]?
Brad Clark: Yeah. My friend [inaudible 00:28:03] he came to me and he said … Similar to me with what we’re doing with the Unconvicted app, he thought it would be really cool to help people with traffic problems and let them know that there are things that can be done, you don’t just have to pay your speeding tickets, and so he came to me with it and I realized, that quite honestly, I’m overextended as it is. I do have a book of criminal cases also that I keep on top of all the other things I’m doing, and so it I knew that I was not in a position to hire someone else to work for me as an associate at this point. I wasn’t ready to make that jump and he was willing to come in and make an investment into the front end, getting it launched, getting the advertising down, and doing more of the cases, more of the legwork on it. And so it was and attractive, I think, situation for both of us because he wasn’t going to be able to develop himself, and market it, and I wasn’t going to be able to do all the work myself and so it made sense to work together.
Sam Glover: You got started, you said, in May of 2016. So, about six months ago and you’re already talking about being profitable which is pretty impressive. I struggle with this, how do I ask people how they’re doing without just getting out an income statement and hiring an accountant to assess the numbers? But I’m curious. You’ve been doing it for six months, and obviously been a lawyer for much longer. But how do you assess the success of things, and how do you look forward and say where you think you’re going to be at this time next year, even?
Brad Clark: Well, I’m in a lucky situation and I jumped and I did this entrepreneur thing, and my wife has a good job, and she’s able to support us. But we are successful and I think I expect that I’ll make every bit as much money as I did last year being a capital defender. But, ultimately, what’s really been the most rewarding thing about this has just been getting to go do really cool stuff, like this show and meet really cool people online, and just make new things and build new things, and that’s why. Don’t get me wrong, there are 20 hour days. There are weekends where I wish I was with my son and I wish I was with my wife, but overall, just getting to make the law firm that I would most want to work at, getting to make the job that I most want to have. The value in that is just, it’s immense. It’s indefinable to me.
Sam Glover: When you obviously feel like you’ve proved the concept with Unconvicted and it sounds like you’re optimistic for drivenlaw.com, and do think you’re going to expand the same model to other areas of practice, or have you found the two criminal areas that it probably fits best with?
Brad Clark: We’re always looking for other opportunities. I think that we pick these two primarily because how cheap it is to acquire the traffic for it, quite honestly, right now and then also, the expungement, it’s just the time was right the timing was perfect.
Sam Glover: Wait how is it cheap to acquire DUI traffic? Isn’t every criminal defense lawyer out there buying up all the Ad Words?
Brad Clark: Not in this market. So …
Sam Glover: Really?
Brad Clark: Yeah, it’s actually, it’s not too bad actually, and that’s one of the things that we did when we were deciding where we’re going to try to acquire DUI clients, as well as, we went and looked at what was the cost per click and it expected to be.
Sam Glover: So, you actually sat down and did, here’s the … You did business model for the site, I guess. Obviously, you think in those terms. So, you put together “Here’s what we think we can make. Here’s what we think it’s going to work out to, and it’s going to make sense.”
Brad Clark: Right. We basically just looked and we said, “What is it going to cost to acquire a customer at this conversion rate? and then what’s our return on marketing investment going to look like? And then does it make sense to do that?” And we said “Yes.” And so far our assumptions have bared out.
Sam Glover: Help me get my head around what does it cost to produce something like Unconvicted or Driven Law because you know lawyers are going to be listening and they’re going to say, “Oh, that sounds neat.” Maybe they’ll check up TypeForm, and maybe they’ll be adventurous enough to play with it. But the question is, is this all going to be worthwhile? So, how do you value the cost of producing the app, the website, maintaining it and then how do you balance that out against what you can expect to do?
Brad Clark: Well, if you can do the work yourself like we have it’s actually not very expensive at all. TypeForm, I think we pay $70 a month, or $700 a year for, if you buy a four year, and we use across both sites and then we bought Word Press themes and I did a little bit of custom PHP and HTML work on them. But it wasn’t anything that someone couldn’t learn if they wanted to in a short amount of time, and so I don’t know. We spend $20 a month on Zapier, and then $8 or $9 on a Capsule and then we also use Yesware which I want to give it, kind of, a plug for if people aren’t using Yesware, or haven’t checked it out. It’s really cool email marketing software. Are you familiar[inaudible 00:32:36]
Sam Glover: I’ve never heard of it, no. I’ve never even heard of it. Tell me more.
Brad Clark: It lives inside of Gmail And if you use Google Apps, it’s great. It allows you to do drip campaigns and also you can do blind read receipts, you can see when people open email, you can track when they open it, how many times they’ve opened it, and you can automatically send follow ups, and you can do all sorts of cool stuff with it. Yesware is great. Check it out.
Sam Glover: And is it free? Is there price for it?
Brad Clark: No, I want to see it’s $8 or $9 a month per individual user and I think there are multiple scaled plans. I can remember exactly what we pay for it. But it’s worth every penny.
Sam Glover: That’s cool because I’m always looking for other options because Infusionsoft, and Hub Spot, and sales force are just these big massive programs that are really expensive, and the really geared towards like sales and while I think it’s totally valid to talk about converting potential clients to clients as a sort of a sales process. It’s just not the same as building leads with code calling and all that stuff, and so they always feel a little bit too much and the geared towards the wrong thing. So, I want to check this out because it sounds like it might be a little bit easier to use and more incorporated into the tools we already use, and so you don’t have to have like this big overblown sales platform.
Brad Clark: I agree with that 100%. It’s great for templating emails. If you have a lot of the same emails you send over and over, price quotes, even retainers if you send them electronically you can generate them very quickly using Yesware just inside of Gmail. It’s great.
Sam Glover: Which sort of reminds me. So, you mention Capsule CRM which I think, [inaudible 00:34:16] uses as well and likes a lot. What are some of the other … We’ve talked about TypeForm and Zapier, are there any other apps, or tools, utilities, software that you just can’t live without and that really power your practice?
Brad Clark: As far as for project management, we really like Trello. We use it as a team. We have my one associate moment, and we’ve had interns, and we’ve had contractors as well. Just as far as when we’re going to do a revision on the site, or like a Big Picture Project idea we [inaudible 00:34:44] combine type board techniques for what’s done, what needs to be done, what’s assigned to who, and those things, and we find that it gives you a really good 20,000 feet view of what the project is and what needs to happen when.
Sam Glover: I am staring at your picture on my podcast combine board in Trello, right now too so there you go. Anything else?
Brad Clark: That’s really the the core stack of what we’re using right now. Obviously, the blog and the sites all run on Word Press which I don’t think needs my plug. I think everybody knows about Word Press, how great it is and that’s really it. Those are the main major things that we use here.
Sam Glover: I’ve been noticing that there are people who are engaged in technology that strive to use as few tools as they can for the job and there are those who try everything and can’t stop playing with new utilities and you seem like the former type where you’re striving for efficiency not to know everything about everything.
Brad Clark: Oh, I’m one of those productivity nerds. I like trying different things. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve try and quit OmniFocus I don’t know how many times. We ran MailChimp for a while and it’s good if that’s what you need it for. We’ve tried a bunch of different solutions and anything that has a free trial, I’m always willing to try and give it a chance. we use Cleo for a long time for storing client data. We just realize we didn’t need anything that heavy duty for what we were doing. We could do 90% of it in Capsule and Google Drive and so that’s why we dumped it.
Sam Glover: Well, and I suppose, maybe you found this or maybe you just force your associate to be accommodating. I found that the more things I ask people to try, the more resistant they are to the next thing. But also, you have to be careful about asking people to learn too many different systems. Every new system and that you ask somebody to learn, there’s a least I’m a mental block, or mental slowdown for many people there, and so I try to limit things.
Brad Clark: I think that there’s a really good philosophy to have about it. I think that we experimented for three or four months. For a long time we didn’t have CRM at all. Everything was in a Google sheet and it was a nightmare and that made a big difference, just switching from dumping all of our data input into a CRM which, if people are using some format, that I definitely encourage them to check out anything whether or not it’s Lexicata, which I think is geared toward lawyers. We looked at that to, where just something as simple as Capsule because it is very flexible.
Sam Glover: So, let me let me close with one question that I think will be interesting to hear from someone who’s been practicing, or been solo, for a fairly short amount of time. What’s the biggest struggle, challenge, that you’ve had to overcome so far this year?
Brad Clark: I think it’s mostly mental, right? It’s yourself. It’s learning to be patient, it’s learning not to be hard on yourself, it’s learning that you need to be resilient, and it just to remember those things and to try to take a minute to not work every minute. That’s really been my biggest struggle. We’ve been very fortunate in that we got a lot of great press and we’ve had a lot of clients and a lot of paying clients, and things have gone very well. But at the end of the day even, when you’re very successful, or reasonably successful I can’t [inaudible 00:37:48] reasonably successful …
Sam Glover: You’re not allowed to be very successful within a year.
Brad Clark: Right, reasonably successful. It’s just learning to breathe for a minute and be with my family, and be with the ones I love, and see my friends once in a while, and not … I used to have hobbies now my hobbies are reading about Ad Words, and so that’s … You got to take a minute and really put perspective on it. Life is bigger than just business.
Sam Glover: Brad, thank you so much for being with us today and I just really appreciate it. Thank you.
Brad Clark: All right, thank you, Sam.
Speaker 1: Make sure to catch next week’s episode of The Lawyerist Podcast. If you’d like more information about today’s show please visit lawyerist.com/podcast, or legaltalknetwork.com. You can subscribe via iTunes or anywhere podcasts are found. Both Lawyerist and the Legal Talk Network can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and you can download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play, or iTunes.
Sam Glover: 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. Nothing said during this podcast is legal advice.
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|Published:||May 17, 2017|
|Category:||Access to Justice , Legal Technology & Data Security|
The Lawyerist Podcast is a weekly show about lawyering and law practice hosted by Stephanie Everett.