How should lawyers begin to implement metrics? In this episode of Legal Toolkit, host Jared Correia talks with Mary Juetten about her new book, “The Business of Legal: The Data-Driven Law Practice.” Her book has the goal of equipping lawyers to take their own data, improve processes, and create metrics along the way. They discuss how lawyers can assess what their firms need and then realistically consider their skill sets to decide what tasks should be delegated to other professionals to get them where they need to be.
Mary Juetten is the principal attorney at Juetten Law and is of counsel to Nimbus Legal. She is author of the book, “The Business of Legal: The Data-Driven Law Practice.”
Special thanks to our sponsors Scorpion, Answer1, Thomson Reuters Firm Central and TimeSolv.
The Legal Toolkit
Mary Juetten’s Top Tips on Using Metrics in your Law Firm
Intro: Welcome to Legal Toolkit, bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm, with your host, Jared Correia.
You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Welcome to what promises to be yet another truly delightful episode of The Legal Toolkit on Legal Talk Network. And if the lead up to this program, the conversations I had with today’s guests, any indication of the podcast, it should be truly, truly delightful.
If you are looking for the Yellow King, you should check Carcosa. If you’re not and if you’re a returning listener, welcome back. If you’re a first-time listener, hopefully you’ll become a longtime listener. If your favorite little rascal is Spanky, this is a podcast for you.
As always I’m your host Jared Correia, and in addition to casting this pod, I am the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law practice management consulting services for law firms, Bar associations and legal vendors. Check us out at redcavelegal.com.
I’m also the COO of Gideon Software, Inc. which offers chatbots and predictive analytics built specifically for law firms. Find out more at www.gideon.legal. You can also listen to my other, other podcast, yes I have another one, it’s called The Lobby List and it’s a family travel show I host with my wife Jessica on iTunes. Subscribe, rate, and comment.
But here on The Legal Toolkit, we provide you twice each month with a new tool to add your own Legal Toolkit. So your practices will become more-and-more like best practices.
In this episode, we’re going to talk all about how to build a data-driven law firm. But before I introduce today’s guest, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors.
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Our guest today is the irrepressible Mary Juetten. Mary is the Founder and CEO of Traklight, the only self-guided software platform that creates custom intellectual property, IP strategy, and assesses business risk. Mary is the Principal Attorney at Juetten Law and is of counsel to Nimbus Law.
In 2015, she co-founded Evolve Law to accelerate the adoption of technology within the legal industry. She’s also a LegalShield Access Advocate and Mary’s latest book is called ‘The Business of Legal: The Data-Driven Law Practice’, which will be the subject of our conversation today.
So welcome to the show, Mary, again, you’re back.
Mary Juetten: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Jared.
Jared Correia: Oh, it’s always great to have you on the show. So, you travel a lot, so I want to play a little game with you. What state or country are you in right now and what is this official bird?
Mary Juetten: Well, today it’s kind of boring. I’m actually in the United States, I’m in Arizona and I’m at our home in Phoenix and our state bird is the cactus wren, the little-known wren.
Jared Correia: Oh interesting. I never knew there was such a thing as a cactus wren. See, I thought it was Roadrunner, but I was informed that Roadrunner is actually the state bird of New Mexico.
Mary Juetten: That I did not know.
Jared Correia: We’re learning so much here today. I’m kind of disappointed I was hoping you’d be in some foreign country today, but that’s alright, the next time we do this show I’ll ask you the same question.
Mary Juetten: Okay, deal.
Jared Correia: And you’ve also got like a bunch of things you’re working on. I feel like you’re the only person I know who is working on more things than I am at any given time. So, can I ask you, what is the most exciting thing you’re doing right now?
Mary Juetten: Well, yes, I have started out in 2019, trying to remove some of the things that I’m doing, so far no success there, but —
Jared Correia: Makes for a better bio.
Mary Juetten: It does makes for a long bio. I’m most excited — it’s kind of a tie, I’m most excited to be working in the legal space. Last year, I started working with Nimbus Legal and we’re this outsourced in-house counsel.
And it’s really interesting, it’s a subscription model but what’s the most interesting about it is that you are not just kind of like, hey, throwing — assignments aren’t thrown over a wall at you. You become a member of the clients’ team. So they don’t view you as like the office of no, more as how can you help them do things faster.
So some of the projects that I’ve been working on are making the client experience faster for a SAS company by having a better process and coming up with the Ts and Cs, coming up with contracts that enable people to do more.
Jared Correia: That’s good.
Mary Juetten: And the tie is that I’m — as you mentioned, I run Traklight and we’ve really seen that Traklight was a bit ahead of its time because what it does is it — as you’ve mentioned, it creates this IP strategy, it flags risks to do with your business and it provides education for the small businesses.
However, it actually provides data and information on leads and potential work that can be done by attorneys and also by companies. So we’re working on our own white label projects with companies like Paychex, and so I’m really excited about that because I really believe in closing this education gap because part of the reason people don’t go to attorneys, particularly small businesses, is that they’re afraid of the cost but they also don’t even realize they need to go.
Jared Correia: Yeah, absolutely, that’s true. All right, that’s — so you willed it down to two, I’m impressed. So, can we talk a little bit about your book?
Mary Juetten: Sure.
Jared Correia: As I’m sure you’re asked this all the time. You’re like the Ernest Hemingway of data in the legal industry. So your new book is called Small Firm KPIs, no, no, sorry, your old book is called ‘Small Law Firm KPIs: How to Measure Your Way to Greater Profits.’
And your new book is called ‘The Business of Legal: The Data-Driven Law Practice.’ So how are those distinguishable? Is the new book a replacement of the old book, is an extension of the old book? How does this work in the Nexus of the Mary Juetten catalog?
Mary Juetten: Well, that’s the entire Mary Juetten catalog but —
Jared Correia: Well, it’s so extensive.
Mary Juetten: Stay tuned. But I promise there won’t be another book on metrics or KPIs. So after I wrote the first book I had a lot of attorneys come up to me and say, hey, can you implement this for me, and my response was, no, actually I wrote this so that you could implement it yourself.
Jared Correia: I like that, that’s good.
Mary Juetten: So the first one really was like a handbook, almost like a text that could replace a consultant or actually some of the audience has been people who buy the book and then write me and say, this is going to be great and I’ll use it with my clients and I have had some people say to me, well, wait, they are stealing your stuff and it’s like, no, I mean, I would want to share this information, the formulas for all of the calculations are in the book. The idea is go forth and measure. That’s not —
Jared Correia: And presumably they bought the book in the first place or not, technically stealing, right?
Mary Juetten: Yes, correct. So I got a lot of questions around where to start, how do I do this, can you do this for me and a few questions around, hey, there’s nothing in here really on compensation. So the second book, I really got the idea to write it when I was at TBD Law and that’s that —
Jared Correia: And that’s a Lawerist thing, right?
Mary Juetten: Yeah, it’s a Lawerist thing, and when I was there, they were using all these business books which are great business books, don’t get me wrong but they are filled with jargon and lingo. So I thought —
Jared Correia: That was the worst.
Mary Juetten: Yeah, so I thought I’ll write a book where I’d make a promise at the beginning that there’s no jargon and it’s going to layout how lawyers can actually take data, improve their processes and along the way create metrics, so there are metrics in it and it refers to the first book, so it’s more like a companion book.
But it’s really I use stories to illustrate how to do it and it again you can do this yourself or you can hand it to somebody to help you. But I really wanted it to be super-simple and I also wanted it to be super-affordable because as those of you on Twitter know the first book’s price is set by the publisher Thomson Reuters and so this second book is on Amazon. So you can get just a Kindle version.
Jared Correia: Oh, you self-published this bad boy?
Mary Juetten: Yes.
Jared Correia: Oh nice, okay, so it’s cheaper, good.
Mary Juetten: Yeah, much cheaper and then you can even get a hard copy of it and it’s pretty for —
Jared Correia: Oh, that’s nice.
Mary Juetten: It’s under $25.
Jared Correia: For display purposes.
Mary Juetten: Yes, if you want to write on it because I actually had some of the people that helped me, specifically Jordan Couch from Palace Law, he went through it and he’s like you have to have a hard copy, I want a hard copy. I was like, okay.
Jared Correia: 10:11, right?
Mary Juetten: Yeah.
Jared Correia: Jordan seems like a technical guy who’d want a hard copy.
Mary Juetten: Yeah, and it’s when you say self-publised, that means I paid somebody to do the self-publishing.
Jared Correia: Oh yes, exactly.
Mary Juetten: And but they —
Jared Correia: That’s what I am at.
Mary Juetten: Yeah, they did a great job and it’s really — it’s not much more to just say, hey, let’s create this hard copy version and I tested out the process and of course Amazon does an amazing job, it just shows up at your house. So there you go.
Jared Correia: That was cool. Hard copy books are like a lost art, and I remember once that during the like iPad craze, which is currently ongoing, I sometimes bring like a real book through like airport security and they’re always like, what is this? I am like, it’s a book.
Mary Juetten: Well, it’s funny because my son is 22 and he prefers like the casual reading that he does, he prefers a hard copy book.
Jared Correia: Good for him, I like it. There is some hope.
Mary Juetten: There’s an old soul, every few people.
Jared Correia: Yes. All right, so let’s talk about like something you just addressed, and I think I know the answer to this, but let’s make sure so. So how should lawyers begin to implement metrics in like a perfect world? Should they hire consultants? Should they just change their processes on their own? Should they just read more books or should they do a combination of these things?
Mary Juetten: I think the first thing they should do is figure out why they would want to do anything they are doing. So I find with lawyers they like to read a lot of things, they don’t necessarily want to talk to other lawyers about what they’re doing and that can be a great way to find out what’s going on, but ultimately, it’s very personal, you have to decide what’s your pain point.
One lawyer might be sitting here saying, I have no clients and another lawyer might be saying, I have too many clients and I can’t get this work done properly or I can’t collect from these clients. It’s all over the place. So you should really start with your own internal inventory of what’s going on in your firm and you don’t need to hire consultants right-away, but you need to figure out and this is something that I’ve written about a lot, you need to figure out what you’re going to do yourself as an attorney, like what is your skill set versus what you should delegate, so.
Jared Correia: Excellent. Oh, that was a good answer, I think. That’s kind of the it depends answer, but I like it. I can roll with that. It’s a pretty lawyerly answer.
Mary Juetten: I decided not to lead — I do not lead with that.
Jared Correia: All right. So the analytics are telling me that I need to take a short break, so here are some things you should buy.
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Jared Correia: All right, thanks for staying put. I am going to pour myself a Bailey’s On The Rocks and continue this podcast, because I’m here for you. I’m also here talking with Mary Juetten of Tracklight, and we’re all here to discuss the data-driven law firm.
So Mary, you have a saying which goes something like this, data before decision process before purchase, in addition to alliterating extremely well, what does that mean?
Mary Juetten: Well, thank you for the compliment.
Jared Correia: I appreciate the poetry in it.
Mary Juetten: It makes it easy to remember when I’m doing a show like this or teaching around this topic. So the thing is that I have seen and this is how I got into the metrics in the first place and the KPIs was, as I was going to lawyers and explaining to them, hey, you should use Tracklight because you can put it on your website, like I have it on Juetten Law, and you can capture people’s information and you can get some data, you can get some idea triage whatever you want to call it, before a client comes to see you.
So I would — that was my sales pitch and initially I would be like hearing things like, well, it’s too expensive and so it got into the cost of customer acquisition and all of this type of stuff.
But what I found was I had attorneys buy it and then never use it, and when I would dig deeper into it, it just created shelfware because they weren’t willing to change their process. They had just seen me speak, heard about the company, so like we’re all human, lawyers are humans, so.
Jared Correia: Is that so?
Mary Juetten: For now.
Jared Correia: We are both lawyers, we are both human.
Mary Juetten: So, you hear about something that somebody else is using or you see something cool. I hear like I want to adopt that. So what this saying is supposed to mean is like check out your data, do you really need whatever software or whatever idea you’re going to buy, and before you purchase anything you should basically do review. It doesn’t have to be hiring a consultant.
You can do it as simply as taking some post-its going up to a wall and mapping out your process and then see whether the technology fits, what are you going to have to change, and it’s kind of like the idea that you wouldn’t just go into a house and you want to change the color on the wall and just paint over it, you would first look and say, hey, do I have to like — there’s things that need repairing, things that need sanding, because otherwise you’re just going to cover up mistakes.
Jared Correia: Yeah, very good analogy. I like that you work in.
Mary Juetten: Thank you.
Jared Correia: Well played. All right, let’s go down this path a little bit on this technology question, because data often links to technology these days. This is an ongoing debate that I want your opinion on and I don’t know if I’m going to offer my own opinion on this, should lawyers code and ostensibly I think what that means when most people say it is, should lawyers build their own software or law firms I should say?
Mary Juetten: So you’re not going to chime in?
Jared Correia: I can if you’d like. Why don’t you say something and I’ll tell you whether I agree?
Mary Juetten: Okay, so —
Jared Correia: That’s unfair, I will respond. Go.
Mary Juetten: Go, okay. My opinion is that any lawyer that wants to code should learn to code, but they don’t need to learn to code, because I just think it gets back to this whole idea of what are you good at. If you’re a lawyer who’s really good at coding and I’ve met several of them and they do cool things on their websites and they provide feedback to vendors and they are beta testers for things and then they build their own databases of information. That’s great. As long as you keep in mind I could be billing instead and earning this much or I could pay somebody else to do this.
Now, if you are somebody who already knows how to code, it might be more cost-effective for you to just do it yourself. However, this notion that people have to go out and code, and that’s the only way that you’re going to be able to adopt technology, I think that’s completely incorrect.
Jared Correia: Yes, yes, all right. I feel like I’m interviewing myself now, but I’m going to — I will say something, because I only think it’s fair. I think the whole lawyers coding thing is stupid frankly, because —
Mary Juetten: It’s trying to be more diplomatic.
Jared Correia: If I’m a law firm like I’m not going to be dinking around with building software, like I’m going to be practicing law because that’s what I’m going to make the most money, and that’s like my opinion on it. Like I have conversations like this with big firm attorneys, small firm attorneys, like you’re a lawyer, go make money doing that, that’s what you’re going to get paid the most and just buy a software because it’s reasonably cost-effective these days. That’s my opinion.
Mary Juetten: Well, yeah, and there was one other thing I wanted to add is this idea that almost every lawyer thinks that their practice is so unique that they need to build their own software.
Jared Correia: Yes, yes.
Mary Juetten: So it’s like, no, and I talked to people who are using Tracklight and they’re like, you know, this is what you need to do. You need to add this question into like the risk assessment. I’m like, okay, I’ll just add that for everybody, because it’s a good idea like we don’t customize it.
And so I just wanted to share, a little tiny story is, I was on Twitter seeing this whole debate about lawyers coding and I was expressing my no opinion and then a couple days later I go to my doctor’s office and she’s showing me like here’s this new system that we have and this and that, and I looked at her and I’m like, hey, so did you put this system in? And she’s like I’m absolutely crazy, right. And she goes, no, I can barely get on the Internet.
Jared Correia: I know and lawyers would be like damn right, I coded that thing.
Mary Juetten: Yeah. Like I did my own implementation, it’s like why, why, you can make hundreds of dollars an hour and you can pay a consultant, whatever, it’s going to be less to put this in for yourself, yeah.
Jared Correia: Yeah, I think it’s a colossal waste of time. I think that custom software in the legal industry is like a losing game pretty much every time. So send in your hate mail everyone.
Do you have anything else to add on this, to fray that?
Mary Juetten: No, no, but don’t send me any hate mail.
Jared Correia: No, no, people are writing letters to me from prison right now.
All right, now, let’s talk to this coding thing, to something else that lawyers really hate, which is time recording and billing. So one of the things you talk about is the difference between billable hours and recordable hours.
So what’s the difference? What does that mean?
Mary Juetten: So this is another topic where I can just get really heated about this. If I see one more article that says you don’t have to record your time anymore because we have subscription fees, I have actually given up even responding to it anymore, because let’s use any other industry, just because you have — you are not turning around and adding up all the hours that are spent making the Ford Taurus doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t still track them. So it’s idiotic.
Jared Correia: Do they even make Ford Taurus anymore?
Mary Juetten: I don’t know. I don’t know why that came to mind. I have never owned a Ford Taurus.
Jared Correia: It was an interesting choice of vehicle, but go ahead.
Mary Juetten: I was just thinking about — that’s my analogy usually as anybody produces anything, you go through and you track all the costs in there and it becomes a benchmark.
My husband is in the mining industry, if you look at any publicly traded mining company’s financial statements, they have a metric, which is nothing to do with financial reporting at all, nothing to do with GAAP, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It’s like an all-in cost of producing gold or whatever metal. And so that metric is tracked and you better believe that includes the engineering hours and all the other hours, but it doesn’t mean that they sell the gold based on those hours, no. They sell it on a per ounce flat fee.
So the idea that you don’t record your time and that has anything to do with the supposed death of the billable hour, those are two different things that people seem to get super mixed up.
And the other one is people don’t want to record their admin time and that data, the data of what you do in a day is gold, that’s the information that you need to make decisions, because if you are spending — let’s say you are spending, I don’t know, 20 hours a week giving away time or speaking or writing or whatever and you are not recording that that’s your marketing time, then how are you supposed to measure how much it costs you to acquire a client. You can’t, because you are missing the biggest cost.
And too many attorneys think the cost of acquisition of a client or that the cost of winning a project is just the time that the staff has spent on a proposal and sometimes they don’t even include that, but it’s just like the hard costs, how much does my website cost, how much does my auto listing cost, whatever it is.
Jared Correia: Oh yeah, I am in lockstep on all this, like I think attorneys kind of feel like if I am tracking my hours, that means I have to bill by the hour, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Mary Juetten: Not at all. And with Nimbus Legal, we have done some projects where they were experiments. We are like okay, we are going to do this for you for this much money and we do our best to estimate how much that flat fee is going to be, because we have flat fees and subscription fees.
So we had a disastrous one and it didn’t back up onto the client, we had to take the hit. Now, the only reason we know it’s disastrous from a dollar point of view is because everyone who worked on it recorded all their time. So it’s such a fundamental business process and it’s part of the philosophy of running a good business is understanding what your inputs are and what your outputs are.
And I just can’t understand anybody who is trying to say like value billing means you don’t have to do any of this, and it’s just wrong and lawyers are not so special that you need to somehow be different.
Jared Correia: Oh boy, here comes the hate mail. Go on please.
Mary Juetten: You are not special. You are not special, because I am a lawyer now, so I used to say this and wonder when is somebody going to say hey, Mary Juetten, you are not a lawyer, but now I am. So I practice law, I was an accountant and I can tell you that like 30+ years ago we had flat fees as an accountant and we recorded our time, sadly in pencil, on time sheets.
Jared Correia: Well, yeah, I miss the way it was back then.
Mary Juetten: Yeah, in the Dark Ages, in the 80s, big hair, time sheets.
Jared Correia: Big hair, big pencils. So let me say this. There is some conflicting information on the Internet, but there does appear to be a 2019 Ford Taurus redesigned. So you are actually like very current on stuff.
Mary Juetten: Excellent. I don’t know why I picked Ford Taurus.
Jared Correia: Yeah, I don’t know how I am going to make a segue out of this, but we need to take another break. So let’s take a moment to collect ourselves here, read our hate email and then we will come back for part three of the show.
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Jared Correia: Thanks for coming back again. I hope you all enjoyed your Chocolate Chip Z Bars, those are amazing by the way, and I am calling out the Z Bar people, sponsorships, I will take it.
Now, let’s get back to our conversation with Mary Juetten of Traklight, who is setting me straight on how law firms can use data more effectively as we make every lawyer in America hate us.
So we have talked about law firm data. What’s the top metric that lawyers should be monitoring Mary?
Mary Juetten: Okay, so going on the theme of making all the rest of the lawyers in America except for a few dislike us immensely, hate is such a strong word. I think the most —
Jared Correia: Strong dislike.
Mary Juetten: Strong dislike. The metric that every lawyer and actually everyone in business, every profession is client or customer feedback, because without the clients, it’s a cliché, but without the clients you don’t have any revenue, you don’t have any cash, you don’t have a business.
So I think even putting in a simple Net Promoter Score or some other question that you ask, you need to get feedback and it doesn’t require any technology purchase. You can have something as simple as SurveyMonkey, which is free. So getting that feedback and acting upon it, that’s gold data, no pun intended.
Jared Correia: Oh, I like that. Well played. You are on your game today I have to say.
Mary Juetten: Thank you.
Jared Correia: So we went a little long on the last segments, so I am going to tidy things up here with one last question for you on this short end of the show. Who, Mary, with the premiere of Game of Thrones coming up in April will ultimately be seated on the Iron Throne?
Mary Juetten: Okay, so now I am outed, but I have never seen —
Jared Correia: Oh, shame, shame.
Mary Juetten: –one episode, not one — actually, that’s not true. I saw like once when it was on before something else that I was watching. I saw like — I was very confused, saw somebody cut off someone’s head.
Jared Correia: You were watching like Sesame Street and you are like, what’s happening, someone is being beheaded?
Mary Juetten: What is happening here?
Jared Correia: This is terrible.
Mary Juetten: But I am on book number two because I mentioned my son.
Jared Correia: You read books, interesting, interesting.
Mary Juetten: Yeah, so I am on book number two, so I am still back at I don’t know who Jon Snow’s father is.
Jared Correia: Lord, my wife is going to be so — I am going to make my wife listen to this, she is going to be really angry. Actually, I am not that into Game of Thrones, I watch it because my wife watches it mostly. I don’t love it, but like I don’t really have any theories either. So now I am like lost. I don’t know.
So let me say this, like if you are listening to this podcast, tweet at me and tell me who you think is going to be on the Iron Throne, because I am sure people have opinions on this.
Wow, that was not a great way to end the podcast in retrospect. Probably I should have asked you if you had seen Game of Thrones before.
In any event, we have resurrected the Ford Taurus, so congratulations to us.
Mary Juetten: Maybe you can get a sponsorship from Ford.
Jared Correia: I would love to get a sponsorship from Ford, that would be great. So Ford and the company that makes Z Bar, that’s what I am working on today.
Mary Juetten: Okay.
Jared Correia: And we have reached the end of yet another episode of The Legal Toolkit Podcast. I promised you this would be a good one. And we have been talking to Mary Juetten of Traklight about lawyers, data, Ford Tauruses, Game of Thrones and many other things, and also about her new book called ‘The Business of Legal: The Data-Driven Law Practice’.
Now, I will be back on future shows with further insights into my soul, the soul of America and the legal market, but if you are feeling nostalgic for my dulcet tones, you can check out our entire show archive anytime you want at legaltalknetwork.com.
So thanks again to Mary Juetten of Traklight and various other things for coming on the show today.
Mary, can you tell everyone how they can find out more about you, your new book, Traklight and whatever else you want to tell people about, that’s not Game of Thrones, which you have not seen ever.
Mary Juetten: Ever. Thank you again Jared for having me, and if you want to find the new book, it’s on Amazon, so you just put in Mary Juetten and The Business of Legal, it will pop up. If you read it and you like it, please leave a review. The first book is still on there at its slightly large price.
And Traklight is traklight.com. If you are an attorney interested in reducing your customer acquisition cost in the business side of the law, definitely reach out. And I am always on Twitter, @maryjuetten. Thanks again Jared.
Jared Correia: That is M-A-R-Y J-U-E-T-T-E-N. I figured I would do that for you, and that was the right spelling, right?
Mary Juetten: Yes.
Jared Correia: Yes. Excellent. Okay. Finally, thanks to all of you out there for listening. This has been The Legal Toolkit Podcast, where our data analytics are always top point.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Legal Toolkit, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join host Jared Correia for his next podcast covering the current business trends for law firms.
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