Peter Aprile and Natalie Worsfold talk with Sam about the way they think differently about building Counter Tax Lawyers, a law firm that develops innovative strategies for resolving tax disputes.
Peter Aprile is a senior lawyer specializing in tax dispute resolution and litigation. His vision as Counter’s founder and...
Natalie Worsfold is a part of Counter Tax Lawyers, where she leads Counter’s process innovation and helps to optimize...
In this episode, we’re joined by Peter Aprile and Natalie Worsfold to talk about the way they think differently about building Counter Tax. Learn how they use a long view, process, and firm culture to make big bets on the future.
Peter Aprile is a tax controversy and litigation lawyer and the founder of Counter Tax Lawyers, a Toronto-based firm that develops innovative strategies for resolving tax disputes. Peter is also the co-host of the podcast Building NewLaw, along with fellow (cult member) Counter lawyer Natalie Worsfold.
A somewhat unconventional lawyer, Natalie spends her days turning the firm into the well-oiled machine of the future, usually by optimizing and building technology that eliminates inefficiency. She’s the co-architect behind many of Counter’s process workflows and their comprehensive knowledge-base, lovingly named Hank.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Lawyerist Podcast, with Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Each week, Lawyerist brings you advice and interviews to help you build a more successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Now, here are Sam and Aaron.
Sam Glover: Hi, I’m Sam Glover.
Aaron Street: And I’m Aaron Street. This is Episode 153 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the legal talk network. Today we’re talking with Peter Aprile and Natalie Worsfold about building a law firm by having the courage to make a
bet on the future.
Sam Glover: Today’s podcast is sponsored by FreshBooks, Ruby Receptionists, and Law Pay. We appreciate their support and we will tell you more about them later in the show.
Aaron Street: So, today is our first episode of 2018, marking our fourth year of the Lawyerist Podcast, which is unreal to me.
Sam Glover: That’s awesome.
Aaron Street: It seems like a New Year’s episode is a great time to step back and do some strategic long-term thinking about where our firms and careers are headed. I think today’s conversation with Peter and Natalie about how they’ve built a future-centric law firm should be a really good topic to tie in your long-term strategic planning as you do some new years resolutions and goal planning for the year.
Sam Glover: Yeah. I think if you’ve listened to Peter and Natalie’s excellent podcast, Building New Law, then you’ll enjoy this one because in their podcast they talk much more about their guests than themselves. Today I sat down and asked them about themselves and I think it’s the perfect podcast to start out the new year for the reasons Aaron just said. They are always looking at the long view and building a process about it and making a bet on the future.
So, here’s my conversation with Peter and Natalie.
Peter Aprile: Hi. My name’s Peter Aprile and I am a tax lawyer and the founder of Counter Tax Lawyers. I’m also the co-host of a podcast called Building New Law.
Natalie Worsfold: And my name’s Natalie Worsfold. I’m also a lawyer at Counter Tax Lawyers and I work with Peter on the podcast as well.
Sam Glover: I feel like I should congratulate you guys on having the second best law practice podcast.
Peter Aprile: Really? You should really congratulate us for having the best law practice podcast, but …
Sam Glover: No. No I can’t. It’s just … I can’t go there.
Peter Aprile: I was recently listening to … Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, I did it. I listened to my Cleo speech and was listening to how I pumped your podcast so much from the stage.
Sam Glover: That was awesome.
Peter Aprile: Yeah, and I thought to myself why’d I do that?
Sam Glover: We’ll start out by saying no, I love your podcast. If our listeners are enjoying our podcast, they’re gonna like yours. It’s worth catching up on it.
Peter Aprile: That’s very kind of you. Like I told you before, you guys are a big inspiration for what we do and i certainly would say some of the reason why we started this and some of the reason why we continue to do this insanity that is a legal podcast, but there you have it. So, it’s all your fault.
Sam Glover: Aw, shucks. So let me back up, because I let you guys introduce yourselves and then I started making fun of you. I wanna talk about your firm, first of all, because that’s why I wanted to have you guys on. I love your podcast, but that’s not the focus that I wanna have. Let’s just start with the very front page of your website, which says that, “Counter Tax is a team of tax lawyers, legal professionals, mathematicians and technology experts.” What in the world are mathematicians doing at a law firm?
Peter Aprile: Being very sad.
Natalie Worsfold: I’d say it’s more what aren’t they doing. I mean, I guess the math side comes in it from two angles. Obviously we’re a tax litigation firm, so we’re dealing with numbers to some extent in terms of looking at what amounts are people fighting over, what could they win in various scenarios and things like that. Where I think the second aspect to it is; we’re very focused on return of investment, so client ROI and trying to calculate probabilities and chances of success and things like that. Although we may be great lawyers, sometimes we need some support in the math department. When we talk about mathematicians, it’s verging into statisticians and things like that as well.
Peter Aprile: The reality is, I think one of the themes that run through our law firm and our culture is quantifying everything we possibly can. As Natalie was saying, to the extent that we could have help in that regard, having people who are trained differently kind of make us better at doing that and learning from them as well as them learning from us kind of makes us all strong.
Sam Glover: I think what I’m hearing is you really go to great lengths, not just to address the legal problems, but to try and forecast probabilities of success for your clients and kind of draw them a roadmap for where their litigation might go. That seems really forward looking to me when you’re representing someone.
Peter Aprile: Well, I think it’s … Yeah. It’s certainly a key part of what we do. We’re building and continue to build some software that helps us do that. That will continue to expand in 2018 and beyond. That’s at the core of it. I think the fact that we’re building it into a software might be new. This is what lawyers do and what we should be doing. This is kind of what we sell. To the extent that we could become expert in that regard or improve is, I think, something that certainly this firm is focused on. We think all firms, certainly all litigations firms should be focused on.
To the extent that we could make that visual and involve our clients in those conversations by making these things visual so we’re not mapping our own risk tolerance and things like that or substituting our clients risk tolerance for our own. It really points us to having better conversations and leveraging our clients collective intelligence and hopefully being better lawyers in that way.
Sam Glover: You just dropped something in the middle there that I think is worth pulling out which is you’re building your own software on predictive analytics, right? Because like, I was a litigator and my clients would sit down with me and they would ask me, “How likely are we to win this motion?” And I would basically pull a number out of my ass. I would say, “I don’t know, it feels like about 70%.” But you’re actually trying to do that for real.
Peter Aprile: Yeah, trying. I don’t wanna over blow it or over hype it in any way. It’s early days and kind of we’re building to hopefully something more sophisticated. Where it starts, I think, or where it has started with us is just understanding what goes into increasing the accuracy of estimates and probabilities and recording that. Learning how to do that, getting more skilled at actually just making predictions as well as recording them as well as … part of that, I should say, trying to remove bias. Then, checking back, right? Looking and saying, “Was that probability accurate?” It’s … Even saying to somebody, “You have a 70% chance,” I think is a good start. That’s kind of early, early … Fine. That’s a great start. Frankly, the amount of professionals that avoid that advice or that type of statement like the plague is just staggering to us.
I think you start taking next steps when you start recording those probabilities and looking back at them in after action reviews or what have you to say, “Okay, I was accurate and why was that accurate and why was that a good estimate?” We learn more by when we’re not. So, what didn’t we see at the time? What bias did we fall into at the time? Was Natalie better at that and had a more accurate prediction than I did? What went into her analysis that we can draw forward for the next time?
Natalie Worsfold: I think it’s that discussion, actually, where I see the most value is focusing people around not particularly numbers, but trying to express their level of confidence using numbers, then provokes a discussion about why do you feel this? Why do you see this this way? Who else in the room is seeing it this way and why? I think that’s where I found it really valuable.
Sam Glover: I suppose if you can have a conversation with a client where you can say, “You have an 80% chance of success on this,” or an 82.5% chance if you’re getting really granular, you can help them figure out whether or not it’s worth the amount of money it’s gonna cost to take that step.
Peter Aprile: You’re absolutely right. That’s the next part of it. That’s kind of where Natalie started off in terms of that ROI idea. When I think of, how do we know we’re good at what we do? Winning at all costs isn’t … in some cases is easy. The question is how can I generate the highest ROI for the client, which is arguably viewed in a certain light … Some lawyers and people would think that’s contrary to our interest. We don’t view it that way. We did a great job if we can spend a dollar of the clients’ money and save him or her ten. We did an okay job if it’s five to five. We need to have that … We feel like, at least, we need to have that front and center for the client. We think that that’s part of what make a good lawyer.
Sam Glover: I’m curious now that we’ve talked a little bit about mathematicians and analytics. I was reading some of the bios on your website and I wonder if practicing law day to day looks much different at Counter Tax than it would at just a typical, traditional law firm, because it feels like you guys are using tools that aren’t present at normal law firms. So, I’m wondering if it looks different day to day.
Peter Aprile: We hear that it looks different. Yeah, it looks different. It’s funny, every five years we have a law society financial audit. We just had the law society auditor in here the other day going through our records and making sure we’re compliant with law society requirements and things of that nature. He walked in and said, “It feels like I stepped into the future.”
Sam Glover: Nice.
Peter Aprile: I’m like, “Well, that’s a bit extreme.” I don’t know, this is our normal. We do weird things, I guess. We do stand up huddles every day. The way we talk is kind of … Taking off of what Natalie was saying, the way we talk is very different. When we’re having conversations with other lawyers or clients, most of our clients are sophisticated and have other accounts for other areas of their business and what have you. We do get a lot of comments that we talk differently and we think differently.
I don’t think you walk in really and … We just got these new sound proof phone booths. Those look different, so you’re definitely … Shout out to Framery. It kind of looks different in that regard in terms of it’s open concept and all that other good stuff. Like I said, I think the biggest difference is how we talk to each other. It’s those types of conversations and the level of those conversations that I think I don’t see a lot of other lawyers or law firms having.
Sam Glover: What’s the … When you do talk to each other, what do you think it is that makes that different? When you talk to clients?
Natalie Worsfold: I’d point to the collaboration side of it. When I’ve seen [inaudible 00: 10: 16] spoken with the lawyers working in other practices it’s been less about collaboration and working together. I think what I see here is everybody being very focused on working together to find the best result or something like that. I would go collaboration. I don’t know what you see.
Peter Aprile: Yeah, I hate, I hate the word client-centric, because it gets thrown around so much. Natalie and I talk about as a firm we’re all in for each other. We’re also all in for our clients. It is our interest second to our clients. I don’t think that that happens, unfortunately, in too many law firms. I was talking to some tax lawyers somewhat recently, we were talking about our software and the showing our clients the analysis and putting our probabilities right out there. Saying the clients before examinations for discovery, “This is what I think your probability of success is.” Then after examinations for discovery maybe that probability changes, maybe it doesn’t.
The lawyer looked at me and said … After some other questions that I won’t go into, they looked at me and said, “Aren’t you worried that if your probability changes that might expose you to some sort of liability from the client or something like that?” I thought to myself, that’s exactly the wrong mindset. You just put your own interest in front of giving your client complete information.
Sam Glover: Yeah.
Peter Aprile: You know, doing the best that you can. I’m certainly not saying we have our probabilities down. Like I said before, we’re learning every day and we’re hopefully getting better at it every day. It’s that type of mindset that you just put yourself in front of your client. You’re more worried about your own liability or how this impacts you as opposed to putting that client first and saying, “I’m gonna do the best I can to give John or whoever the client is the most information possible to make the best result for him and for his business.”
Sam Glover: I think that feels like a good place to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. When we come back, I wanna kind of blow up that mindset that you talk about and spin off of something that you’ve talked about at the Cleo conference. We’ll take a quick break and when we come back we’ll keep going.
Aaron Street: Being a self-employed lawyer is hard enough, which is why dealing with your day to day paperwork on top of it all shouldn’t have to be. FreshBooks make ridiculously easy to use cloud-based time and billing software that will help you work smarter, get paid faster, and become more organized. With FreshBooks invoicing, you can create and send polished, professional invoices effortlessly in mere seconds. FreshBooks can set you up to receive payments online, which can seriously improve how quickly you get paid. You can track your time either by using their mobile app or your desktop, meaning you’ll always know what work you did, when you did it, and who you did it for. There’s also a super handy deposit feature so you can invoice for a payment up front when you’re kicking off a project. To feel the full impact of how FreshBooks can deal with your paperwork, FreshBooks is offering our listeners a 30 day free trial. To claim it, just go to FreshBooks.com/lawyerist and enter “Lawyerist” in the “How did you Hear About Us” section.
Sam Glover: Ruby Receptionist is a live remote receptionist service that is dedicated to helping lawyers win clients and you build trust one happy caller at a time. From their offices in Portland, Oregon, Ruby’s friendly, professional receptionists ensure exceptional client experiences by answering calls live in English or Spanish, transferring calls, taking messages, collecting new client intake, addressing common questions, making outbound calls for you and more. Just like an in-house receptionist at a fraction of the cost. More importantly, they sound like they’re sitting in your office. For a special offer, visit callruby.com/lawyerist2018 or call 844-715-7829. That’s 844-715-RUBY.
Aaron Street: Did you know that attorneys who accept online payments get paid 39% faster on average than those using traditional payment methods? With Law Pay, the only payment solution offered through the ABA Advantage program, you can accept client payments online, via email, or in person, no equipment needed. Visit lawpay.com/lawyerist to sign up and get your first three months free. Trust the only payment solution developed for attorneys and recommended by 47 state bars. Law Pay.
Sam Glover: Okay, we’re back and Peter, part of the reason we’re talking is because I bullied you both. The other part of the reason-
Peter Aprile: Nudge, nudge, nudge.
Sam Glover: Well, I really wanted to have you on my podcast.
Peter Aprile: We so respect it.
Natalie Worsfold: It’s effective.
Peter Aprile: Yeah, it’s totally.
Sam Glover: The other reason is because we finally got to meet, the three of us, at the Cleo cloud conference this past year and you gave a presentation there where you talked about how you’re … It had some ridiculous title that didn’t really get the point across. What it was really about is kind of is that mindset; how your firm thinks about law practice and its business differently. You didn’t couch it as different, you just explained how you do it. I feel like I really wanna dive in and explain that and have you explain that and take it apart. I loved it. It really resonated with me. Do you remember what item number one was?
Peter Aprile: We started talking about how … Again, what I wanna underscore is we don’t have any of this mastered. We struggle to stay consistent in our thinking and not fall into, I guess, more traditional ways or different ways of thinking. With that, one of the things that we try to keep top of mind and try to keep as our north star is having the longest you in the room. That’s kind of where we kicked off the Cleo talk. The idea that everything we do, we do for 5, 10, or 15 years from now for or law practice. We think to ourselves what is our law firm going to need and what do we need to start building today to get there?
Sam Glover: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So essentially, what you’re saying is you’re trying to build your business for the future, not for the present. Is that right?
Peter Aprile: Yeah. No, that’s absolutely it. The theme that runs through this office is how can we be just a little bit better tomorrow than we are today? Then we try to multiply that out. When you say our business, I don’t wanna separate the business of law from the legal work that we do, because what it is about and one of the points that I was trying to make in that I think people sometimes gloss over or miss is that it’s about quality of work and it’s about becoming better lawyers. I think that everything will follow from that.
That is kind of our north star. It’s how do we become better lawyers? How do we make sure we’re giving value at the highest level for our clients? What does the law firm need to look like and what are the roles that need to be part of that law firm and who are the people that need to be here and what technology needs to exist in order to allow that to happen?
Sam Glover: I think lawyers bristle when you use the B word, business. It’s a business and a profession. To do it well, you have to keep those things in balance. Your right, a great business serves its customers in the same way that a great law firm serves its clients and invests in that future. I think it’s that investment piece that really strikes me about this idea, is that many, many law firms don’t invest. They take all of the money out all of the time and so there’s nothing left to say, “Well, here’s where I’m gonna be in five years and I’m gonna take a hit now so that I can build my firm to be what it needs to be for my clients so that they can win and I can win in five years.”
Peter Aprile: Yeah. That’s what we try to do every day. I think that we’re lucky, because the people that are this firm and that have been here for a while are all willing to do that. We’re very fortunate that everybody is very much behind the idea that … I think Jordan Furlawn calls it breaking the piggy bank and emptying it out at the end of every year. We can’t get to where we want to get to if we wanna do that. The question becomes what’s more important? Is it … If you truly want to be the best at what you do, it’s going to require some investment. It’s going to require you to make sacrifices today to get there tomorrow. There’s no way we could hire a developer or focus some of our time on the things that we’re building without sacrificing short term revenue and short term profit. Like I said, I’m just fortunate that we have assembled a group of people that put being a little bit better today and hopefully being a lot better ten years from now to cracking open that piggy bank and focusing on that short term buck.
By the way, the other thing about all that, that’s not in the best interest of our clients either. It is not in the best interest of our clients for the law firm that’s serving them to empty the piggy bank at the end of every year.
Sam Glover: I mean, what if you really want the BMW?
Peter Aprile: Yeah. By the way, our clients who are entrepreneurs, they don’t run their businesses that way either. They know better than that. If they had a better understanding of how some law firms are run, I think they’d be shocked at what’s actually going on. I think they would quickly realize some of the deficiencies of some service providers.
Sam Glover: If you’ve got the longest view in the room and you’re building towards it, I think your second point was trusting the process. What do you mean by that?
Natalie Worsfold: We spent, I guess part of the investment story again. We invested a lot of time early on in mapping out all of our processes. Sitting down and thinking about how do I do this in reality/ what are all the pieces that go together for a legal submission or even for something as simple as we have a process mapped out for when a fax arrives in our office. Who does what with it? Where’s it gonna go and things like that. If everything is, I guess, identified as a process, you can have more confidence that it’s going to the right person. You know it’s going to be dealt with int he right way and then you can focus on … For me, I’d be focusing more on the legal side of things. For other people in our office who have different roles, they can focus on how they contribute to the larger value that’s being driven.
Peter Aprile: Again, going back to that earlier point. Those discussions about how we do things here, it’s part of that. It’s how do we wanna handle … It’s part of the steps that we’re going to do to put together questions for examination for discovery for the sake of example. Spending the time to have those conversations and what are the best practices that surround that? How can we do that better? How have we done that in the past or how did we wanna make sure that it’s done to maintain?
One of the big things that Natalie and I always talk about is it’s great to have a law firm and it’s great to grow, but the one thing that we’re always unwilling to sacrifice is quality, so how do we make sure we’re running that quality through the organization? Even for the articulating students and paralegals that join us, how do we make sure they’re being trained properly and in accordance with the system? How do train people that this is the level of quality and not only that but more importantly this is how you get there?
Like we were saying earlier, if you’re not taking the time to have those conversations, those conversations themselves have a significant amount of value. That’s at least what we found. Then, when you actually implement it into a system neat things start to happen.
Sam Glover: I’m curious, we are also very process oriented. I’m bought into that. I love seeing law firms build that process in because it’s quality control. It’s like having a checklist for cleaning up the operating room, just completely eliminates all of the transmission of diseases. Maybe not completely, but it has a huge thing in the medical community. Let’s bring that kind of quality control to law. One of the things that I’m curious about is how do you teach people when to break process? How do teach people how to recognize when something shouldn’t be done that way?
Natalie Worsfold: I think that’s more … We do a lot of after action reviews, so if somebody sees something that isn’t right in the process, then we have ways of talking about that. I don’t know if I would say we encourage people to break process so much as if you see something that’s wrong, stop everybody and just figure out why it’s wrong and what we should be doing instead, if that makes sense.
Sam Glover: Yeah.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. It’s that idea that you don’t get a free pass around here by saying … It happens in law firms all over the world. I followed the template or I followed the precedent. Just because it’s ours, doesn’t mean you follow it. Your job is to question everything, including what we’ve built, and make it better. That’s part of our interview process. We challenge people and we say, “Your job is to train us just as much as it is to train you. Your job is to grow me just as much as my job is to grow you.”
Talking about this earlier today with [Yoni 00: 22: 41], we need those questions. Either you’ll find something that we didn’t see before, which is great, you’ll make us stronger. We’ll tweak what we’re doing. Or, you’ll reinforce what’s already there. Both those things are really valuable. I’m not looking for people to simply blindly follow a process. It’s, “There it is, now question the heck out of it so that you can look for opportunities for all of us to make it better.”
Sam Glover: One of the things that I was struck by … I was listening to another podcast that was talking about those medical checklists and they tried to impose them on another hospital and it was totally ineffective because nobody understood why they were being asked to do the things on the checklist. It sounds like what you’ve done is you’ve got a team that understand why they’re doing what’s on the process and you’re encouraging them to continually look to improve that, but to have a process and respect it as well. Is that a matter of … how do you get those people on the team? Is that a matter of culture or is that a matter of building the process together and getting everybody on the same board?
I imagine if you tried to bring a procedures manual into most firms it would probably just collect a lot of dust and nobody would use it. How do you do differently?
Peter Aprile: Again, I wanna underscore we’re still learning how to do this. How did it start? It started with us doing it really poorly. We didn’t communicate effectively, we didn’t tell people why we were doing this. I said in the Cleo talk that we were a small group and we thought as a small group. We didn’t have communications issue or maybe we didn’t have to communicate because we were in an open office together. The long and the short of it is we did a poor job when we first went down this line and suffered for it. We went slower and had some disagreements between us and members of the law firm. We would do things a lot differently. Thankfully, we made it through that and now it is part of our culture and it is one of the things that we talk about in interviews.
The other thing is, as soon as you come on board here, you’re building something. There’s nobody in this law firm that isn’t building something right now. Whether it’s a process map, whether it’s a relevance diagram, or whether it’s role definitions in the law firm, or whether it’s a checklist for examinations for discovery, there is not one person here who isn’t building something that is either part of or going to become part of the process. Through that, through everybody contributing, I think that it’s much easier to create a culture where people understand when you pick up something else, when you pick up some other process or template or whatever that’s built, you immediately understand because of your experience in building something the value of that thing.
Sam Glover: That’s awesome. So your final point that you made, I think, was about the courage to make a bet. Say more about that.
Peter Aprile: I’m pointing to Natalie and she’s pointing back at me. Yeah, I think it’s cheesy.
Sam Glover: I don’t think it’s cheesy. I’m not gonna let you get away with that.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. It’s … I was gonna say it’s cheesy and it’s so real.
Sam Glover: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Peter Aprile: Like I’ve been saying throughout this podcast, we’re learning, we’re trying to figure it out. I have no idea whether we’re making the right bets or have the right answers, I just know that this is right for us and this is our north start. We can’t practice any other way. It’s like supreme confidence and self doubt simultaneously. That’s the world that we exist in. We’re constantly thinking about, “Should we be doing this and wow are we crazy? Why don’t we just break the piggy bank at the end of the year? Is this going to quote unquote pay off?” But it’s the understanding that payoff isn’t what motivates us, that traditional payoff isn’t what motivates us.
It’s also the understanding that we can never know and like I said, you just have to … We think, for us at least, we just have to have the courage to step up and risk that. At the end of the day if we look back at our careers … I can’t even say that because I feel like we already have the payoff. When I look at how people grow here, when I look at people supporting each other and becoming stronger and relying on each other as well as the technology and systems and stuff like that and growing, it kind of feeds into this idea that this is the path that we wanna go and helps us in those moments of, I guess, self doubt or things of that nature.
Also, all that being said, its communities like this. The podcast has helped us. That’s why we started the podcast was to find other people who we thought were doing interesting things, because we kind of felt like we were doing this and felt alone. When we listened to you guys get the same thing and then when you go to Cleo Con. You meet a couple people that feel the same way and you sort of connect the community, which again, although it doesn’t cure those many, many, many moments of self doubt, it certainly helps.
Sam Glover: When you said this the first time, it reminded me of Peter Teal’s idea of the secret. Peter Teal is apparently the terrible person, but in his book Zero to One, he talks about what makes a successful start up. He explains that most start ups, these being the disruptive companies, not the ones who are just replicating other stuff, but most are built around a shared secret. Something that you know to be true about the world that most people don’t think is true. That sounds a lot to me like your idea that you are trying to figure out where things are going for you, for your clients, for your competition in 5, 10, 15 years and you’re gonna build that firm now so that you can get there first.
Your understanding of the future is your shared secret around which you’re building your firm. You could be wrong, but it sounds like even if you are wrong, you’re building a company and a firm that you really like having and that your clients enjoy in the meantime. Maybe you go out of business in 10 years, but between now and then it sounds like you’re gonna be pretty satisfied with your work.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. Maybe we will, no. Natalie and I often look at each other and say, “Why are we doing this?” The answer is because we can’t do it any other way. Like you see … We have assembled a group of people that see and opportunity to do things better, so when you see and opportunity to do things better, you do it better. To bastardize another quote, you be the law firm that you wanna see in the world. If I was a client that had a tax litigation matter, this is the type of law firm that I would want to retain. That’s the type of law firm we’re gonna build.
I think that at the end of the day, it’s really, really that simple. If you can … If I can figure out a way to do better quality work, if I can figure out a way to train junior lawyers to be better, if I can figure out a way to heighten my analysis and get better at quantifying risk and probability and stuff like that, I feel like there’s no choice. You have to do that, don’t you? He laughs.
Sam Glover: I laugh because I understand. When you see the world in a certain way, you don’t have any choice about how you move through it. You just go with it.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. That’s why when we met face to face at Cleo conference, Natalie and I left and what really came through in meeting you … kind of see your own kind from a distance over the internet.
Sam Glover: Like wolves, we can smell each other out.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. But that interaction is … You kinda left and you think that’s one of us. It’s really, really neat and really powerful when you see and when we see it in other law firms. It’s a really, really cool thing. I just wish there was more of us.
Sam Glover: Yeah. I mean, I don’t wanna get all promotional, but that’s hwy we started organizing the TBD law conference, because it is so powerful to go from trying to do neat things in your own … Seeing the world you do building your neat things and then getting together with 50 or 60 other people who also see the world in similar ways, it’s really powerful.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. Then, it’s a balance of … What’s interesting about that and then it’s a balance of contributing to that community while maintaining what you’re doing in your own practice and balancing that and seeing how you can kind of play both. That’s not an easy balance either, but definitely when you get a bunch of people in the room who are trying to do better, good things happen.
Sam Glover: So, we’ve mentioned your podcast, Building New Law, which is a phenomenal podcast with actually … You guys put more effort into the production value than we do and it shows. People should listen to it. Where can people find out more about it?
Natalie Worsfold: You can go to our website. So it’d be bulidingnewlaw.ca, and you can also find us on Twitter. I believe it’s @buildingnewlaw.
Sam Glover: We didn’t mention it, I don’t think at any point during your podcast, but you’re a Canadian law firm.
Natalie Worsfold: Yes.
Sam Glover: Hence, the ca’s. You were using terms that sound more Canadian than American, and I don’t think we mentioned that at any point, but for those listeners who are not Canadian, that’s why. There you go.
Peter Aprile: I have no response for that.
Sam Glover: So go to buildingnewlaw.ca to listen to the Building New Law podcast. Is there an episode that you think best embodies the podcast that people should start with?
Natalie Worsfold: That’s a tough one.
Peter Aprile: Yeah.
Sam Glover: No disrespect to any of the other guests, but …
Natalie Worsfold: My favorite is still the Closed Focused podcast, which I think it’s seasons one, episode three with Andrew Currier.
Sam Glover: Oh yeah.
Peter Aprile: So I would say this. If you want the philosophical one, kind of that underlying purpose one that really stands out is we did an interview with Seth Godin that I think a lot of people responded to and a lot of people know who Seth Godin is. I agree with Natalie. From kind of a nuts and bolts practical perspective, Andrew Currier talking … Us nerding out with another law firm who build a bunch of process maps and the journey that we went through to get there is I think … We’re proud of that one.
Sam Glover: And that’s season one, episode six. If I had to pick, I’d pick two. I would pick Jordan Furlong part one and two.
Natalie Worsfold: Yeah, that’s a good one.
Peter Aprile: Yeah. Jordan’s book … What was it called? Laws of Buyers Market?
Sam Glover: Yeah.
Peter Aprile: You know, you read so many of these types of quote unquote new law books or whatever we wanna call them, and they lack a practical element to them. Jordan’s book does not fall into that trap. I can read that book and have read that book more than once. I’ll probably do it again. Yeah, that’s a good choice.
Sam Glover: Peter and Natalie, thank you so much for being with us today. I really enjoyed having you on our podcast.
Peter Aprile: Thank you so much.
Natalie Worsfold: Thank you.
Aaron Street: Make sure to catch next week’s episode of The Lawyerist Podcast by subscribing to the show in your favorite podcast app. Please leave a rating to help other people find our show. You can find the notes for today’s episode on lawyerist.com/podcast.
Sam Glover: The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by legal [inaudible 00: 32: 51] network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you.
The Lawyerist Podcast is a weekly show about lawyering and law practice hosted by Sam Glover and Aaron Street.
Stephanie Everett talks about some of the questions small firm lawyers should ask themselves.
Natalie Worsfold talks about her law firm’s approach to law practice and why more firms aren't following suit.
Jennifer Longtin talks about why implementing low cost options for clients doesn’t mean you will be less profitable, and how to have reasonable conversations...
Mike Michalowicz talks about main concepts from a few of his books, including the idea of “entrepreneurial poverty” and why most average companies lose.
Sherry Walling talks about the typical sources of stress and unhappiness for an entrepreneur, and how to be objective about these levels.
Will Hornsby talks about whether or not ethics rules are standing in the way of innovation.