Featured Guest
Sam Glover

Sam Glover is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Lawyerist.com, an online magazine and reference manual for solo and small...

Your Host
Jared Correia

Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business...

Episode Notes

Feeling uncertain about how to keep your firm up to date with ever-changing legal trends? Jared Correia brings in Sam Glover, co-author of “The Small Firm Roadmap: A Survival Guide to the Future of Your Law Practice,” to discuss the nuts and bolts of adapting your firm to the modern practice of law. They discuss how the small firm scorecard found in his book helps determine a firm’s strengths and weaknesses, and offer strategies for equipping your firm for success.

Special thanks to our sponsors ScorpionNexaTimeSolv, and Abby Connect.

Transcript

The Legal Toolkit

The Legal Toolkit: The Small Firm Roadmap with Sam Glover

10/08/2019

 

[Music]

 

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.

 

[Music]

 

Jared Correia: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the award-winning Legal Toolkit Podcast here on the Legal Talk Network. If you are looking for a Roland gift, first search in the raw and then the cooked.

 

If you are a returning listener, welcome back. If you are a first-time listener, hopefully you will become a longtime listener.

 

And if you find yourself on a deserted island, it’s probably okay to open the hatch.

 

As always, I am 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 am also the COO of Gideon Software, Inc., which offers chatbots, a first to market Chatbot Builder and predictive analytics created specifically for law firms. Find out more at www.gideon.legal.

 

You can listen to my other, other podcast, The Lobby List, a family travel show I host with my dear wife Jessica on iTunes. Subscribe, rate and comment.

 

But here on The Legal Toolkit, the podcast you are listening to right now, we provide you twice each month with a new tool to add to your own legal toolkit so your practices will become more and more like best practices.

 

In this episode, we are going to talk about the new small firm roadmap. But before I introduce today’s guest, let’s take a moment to thank our sponsors.

 

Let’s welcome in our new sponsor Abby Connect, which has delivered premium live receptionists and answering services to lawyers since 2006. You can try them out for free at abbyconnect.com.

 

Scorpion crushes the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast.

 

Nexa, formerly known as Answer 1, is a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.

 

TimeSolv is the number one web-based time and billing software for lawyers. Providing solutions since 1999, TimeSolv provides the most comprehensive billing features for law firms big and small, www.timesolv.com.

 

My guest today, more often a podcast host I might add, is Sam Glover, the Founder of Lawyerist. He is a dad, bookworm, an aging skate punk, and I have learned that he is about to go skateboarding in the near future. He is a former plaintiff’s lawyer and was named Legal Rebels Trailblazer by the ABA Journal.

 

Sam, welcome back to the big show, because you have been on before.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, thanks for having me on again.

 

Jared Correia: This will be even more fun than the last time. So you are from Minnesota, right?

 

Sam Glover: Yeah.

 

Jared Correia: We were just talking about this, so can you tell me a little bit about the intricacies of Duck, Duck, Gray Duck for those who are uninitiated?

 

Sam Glover: I can’t really, because I left Minnesota in first grade and so I didn’t actually — I have no actual memory of playing Duck, Duck, Gray Duck; it was always Duck, Duck, Goose for me, but my understanding is that people here are very militant about not playing Duck, Duck, Goose.

 

Jared Correia: Yeah, it’s like a thing, which I wasn’t aware of until some Vikings playoff game when somebody posted about this. All right, so I will have to get another Minnesotan on to tell me about that.

 

Sam Glover: I mean I can explain to you why — if you want to know why it’s better, it’s because you can call out colors and you go blue duck, green duck, yellow duck, gray duck and you can really psych people out.

 

Jared Correia: Yeah, I think that’s pretty good. I think that’s a viable description, you know your stuff, you get your Minnesota card back.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah.

 

Jared Correia: So let’s talk about Lawyerist and your new book, right?

 

Sam Glover: Sure.

 

Jared Correia: You have got a new book out through Lawyerist, you and several coauthors, who you can call out if you want, called ‘The Small Firm Roadmap: A Survival Guide to the Future of Your Law Practice’. So can you tell me about why you all decided to write this and feel free to shout out your coauthors if you would like?

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, and the coauthors are Aaron Street, who really did a lot of the work; Stephanie Everett, myself and Marshall Lichty and — I mean we all did plenty of the work, but Aaron took the lead on editing and revising and things like that.

 

(00:04:53)

 

I mean honestly the book was pretty much long overdue from us. We have been writing and speaking and talking and thinking about what it means to have a successful practice and what that should look like for years. And so the book was — we finally kind of went all hands and put that together in one coherent narrative about what the practice of law looks like today, what are the trends shaping it, what does a firm, a small firm need to look like in order to adapt to that and then nuts and bolts of how to actually get there. So that’s why.

 

Jared Correia: All right, so let’s talk about that then. Why now, like 2019? You said you have had these ideas percolating for a while, which I know, I mean I have read your content over time and it seems like this is a natural outgrowth of that, but why is this so essential now for law firms to utilize a book like this, especially to be focused on like the future of their law practice?

 

Sam Glover: I mean I don’t think there is any particular reason why now as opposed to like last year or next year, although I wish we would have published this five years ago. But I think the trends shaping the practice of the law are at an inflection point and I don’t mean an inflection point today, but at any point now there is — recently or soon, you are at a point now where you can build a different kind of a law practice and it’s very clear that the traditional law practice model is starting to flounder.

 

And I mean there are a few reasons why it feels so urgent to me, but one of the ones that is I suppose maybe one of the biggest driving factors to me is just looking at how sick our profession is, and I don’t mean that in the rah-rah law practice is a broken way; I mean the people who practice law are broken, right?

 

Our profession has the highest incidents of suicide and depression and divorce and substance abuse, except maybe dentists, which I always think is kind of interesting, but the last time I read about it dentists were beating lawyers. But our profession is quite literally sick and I think the way we practice law is a real culprit there.

 

And so ‘The Small Firm Roadmap’ is in large part a prescription for a different way to practice and a better way to practice, so that hopefully we can start turning that problem around.

 

Jared Correia: I just felt like dentists would be a nice, easy job, perhaps not.

 

Sam Glover: I think staring into people’s bad breath mouths all day and having access to prescription drugs might be the reason, I don’t know.

 

Jared Correia: That will do. That makes sense. So it’s interesting to me that you reference like our profession still and you haven’t practiced law for a long time, so you feel like you still have a real kinship with lawyers who are running small practices.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, I don’t practice day-to-day for sure, but I spend all of my time with lawyers who are practicing. So yeah, I definitely — and I definitely — I still volunteer, I do pro bono work, because it’s important to me to do that, but I — it still feels like my profession, yeah.

 

Jared Correia: Good for you man. All right, so talk to me a little bit about the Small Firm Scorecard, which is part of this book and also available separately I think through your website.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, that was sort of step one in answering the question that everyone has always had for us, which is like, you publish a blog post everyday or a couple of times a week and those — each of those posts is a small piece of the puzzle of here is what we think you need to be thinking about, and people kept saying okay, just give me the big picture, what is my firm — what do I actually need to do?

 

And the Scorecard was our first attempt to kind of make that list of here are the qualities that a firm needs to have to be successful and this is not based on woo-woo stuff. This is just based on sitting around and studying — getting out and being with law firms, witnessing what works, studying business practices and business learning and then putting it altogether. And so that’s the Small Firm Scorecard.

 

And it’s a self-evaluation. So you rate yourself, 50 questions for small firms, 42 I think for solo practices, so there are two different versions of it. I should warn everyone who might be taking it for the first time, it’s free. You go to our website, create an account so that you can keep track of your score and you can just take it. Anyone taking it the first time just beware most people don’t score well the first time and I think it’s worth warning, because most law students are used to getting good grades.

 

Jared Correia: Well, it wouldn’t be a good scorecard if people are like blowing it out of the water first try, right?

 

Sam Glover: Yeah. I mean the goal is for it to be something that you work on and it’s meant to — we always thought about it as, once you take the Scorecard, you take your responses and that starts to build the roadmap for what you personally need to work on and then we wrote the book to try and give people a more clearer roadmap.

 

Jared Correia: And you guys have been doing some conferences of late as well, right? I am guessing some of this, the book and the Scorecard are driven by your experiences at conferences that you have had with lawyers, right?

 

(00:09:51)

 

Sam Glover: Yeah. So we started out calling it TBD Law and now we call it LabCon and this is an invitation-only conference for the law firms leaders really that we work with in Lab, which is our premium program, where we actually do one-on-one coaching and run workshops and masterminds and there is an online course curriculum and things like that.

 

Jared Correia: I have never gotten an invitation Sam, don’t worry I will —

 

Sam Glover: You are not a practicing lawyer.

 

Jared Correia: Yes.

 

Sam Glover: And so LabCon is where we twice a year spend really two-and-a-half intense days with practicing lawyers working on their firms, and it’s a really amazing experience. We just decided to do it twice a year and we are going to be doing it splitting time between Atlanta and Minneapolis.

 

Jared Correia: Oh nice, excellent, Minneapolis in the summer and Atlanta in the winter?

 

Sam Glover: Atlanta in the winter, yeah.

 

Jared Correia: Well played sir. On that note, I am looking at my scoreboard and we need to take a break.

 

Here are some of the things that a reasonable lawyer might consider purchasing along with a nearly complete DVD set of ‘The X-Files’, nothing after season 7.

 

[Music]

 

Jared Correia: Do you feel like your marketing efforts aren’t getting you the high value cases your firm deserves? For over 15 years, Scorpion has helped thousands of law firms, just like yours, to attract new cases and to grow their practices. As a Google Premier Partner and winner of Google’s Platform Innovator Award, Scorpion has the right resources and technology to aggressively market your law firm and to generate better cases from the Internet. For more information, visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast today.

 

[Music]

 

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[Music]

 

Jared Correia: Thanks for not leaving. We didn’t, now that I have located my passport. Let’s get back to our conversation with Sam Glover of Lawyerist. We are talking about Lawyerist’s new book, ‘The Small Firm Roadmap’.

 

So Sam, we talked a little bit about why you wrote this book, the experiences that made it happen, let’s dive into like the actual Small Firm Roadmap, the book itself, the guidance you give, starting out with one of the things you talk about in the early chapters, like why is it so important to law firm managers to develop goals?

 

Sam Glover: I think if you don’t have goals you don’t really know what you are trying to do in the world, and I am glad you brought that up because that is one of the first things we often end up doing with firms is either working on clarifying your mission and values or clarifying your personal or business goals.

 

And I think this is — there is no big secret here. There is no big secret to any of the stuff that we teach, I don’t think, but if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish in the world, if you don’t know what kind of job you are trying to make for yourself, if you don’t know what kind of vacation time you need to have or what your goals outside of work are, it’s really hard to decide on what you want to do in your firm.

 

And then in your firm, it’s really important to know what is the impact you are trying to have and what are your goals for the firm; they can be financial goals, your goal can be to travel Southeast Asia while running your firm from a laptop. I think that’s one of the things that distinguishes us is, when it comes to the meaning of success, we are trying to tie this to your actual goals that you want to have for your firm, and if you haven’t ever sat down and done this before it’s an interesting exercise, especially if you have partners, and you may find that you have incompatible goals, which is kind of a weird experience that we have seen several firms go through.

 

Jared Correia: Don’t break up too many partnerships over there. No, but it’s funny, like every time I talk to a lawyer I am like, what do you want, and they are like, I want to make more money.

 

Sam Glover: Which is fine.

 

Jared Correia: It’s more than that obviously.

 

Sam Glover: How do you want to make more money, under what circumstances, and what do you want to do with your money when you are not working, if assuming you want to have a not working time.

 

I think another thing that exercise can help with is reflecting on what kind of work you want to be doing, because a lot of law firm — not a lot, maybe a lot, many people end up starting their own firm without actually meaning to be a CEO of a business, and you can still hear the noise about law is a profession, not a business, which is absolute bull****, but it’s —

 

Jared Correia: Sam, you can’t swear on this podcast. Sorry guys.

 

Sam Glover: But it’s absolute baloney, and it has to be a business too, and if you don’t want to have a vision for a business, if you don’t want to manage people, if you don’t want to think about business strategy, if you don’t want to do those things, then you shouldn’t own a law firm, you should go work for another practice. And that isn’t a judgment, you are not bad or good or anything else, it just means being aware of where is your highest and best use and where do your interests lie, and if what you want to do is serve clients, then you probably shouldn’t be running a law practice, because that is a different job that requires different skills.

 

(00:15:12)

 

Jared Correia: Let me first apologize to all the children out there. No, I am just kidding, but yes, it’s true, like running a law firm is more like being a CEO, now more than ever and lawyers haven’t quite come to grips with that.

 

Let’s also talk about marketing, which you address in the book as well. So is there a disconnect between lawyers and their potential clients, and if so, how does that affect law firm marketing potentially in a negative way?

 

Sam Glover: I think there are a number of disconnects, but I think one of the things that — this is again like if you don’t want to market your practice like that’s — that is a job, there is a job description which is your Chief Marketing Officer, and if you are a solo, you just have to put all these different hats on at different times, but again, like marketing is something that is a little bit different than I think many lawyers think about it as.

 

I think many lawyers have this idea that marketing is mostly advertising and you see this reflected sometimes on Twitter, where a law firm opens a Twitter account and every tweet is some variation on, if you have been in a car accident, call 1-800 broken bones or whatever; I think that’s too many letters.

 

And you see it reflected in stuff like that, where really marketing, especially in 2019 and beyond, if you are listening to this later, looks very different than blasting out your message into the ether and we are really promoting a more empathetic brand of marketing called Inbound Marketing, where what you are actually trying to do is attract people by delivering value to them before they even contact your firm.

 

The way I used to describe this is let’s say you have a family law firm and you want to focus — you want to market to divorce. Well, one way to do that is just to try to win the game of billboards and search engine terms so that the moment somebody is searching for Stewartville divorce lawyer, you are the top link on Google, or when somebody is thinking about getting divorced driving down the highway, they see your billboard.

 

But that’s the last moment of the last mile marketing, because before somebody is trying to get divorced, they are trying to stay together and they are trying to figure out what to do with their kids and there are a number of different places along their journey towards divorce where you could help them and deliver value to them and if you do that, then they never actually get to the point of looking at a billboard or googling Springfield divorce lawyer because they already have one and it’s you, because you have been helping them along the entire time.

 

And that’s just a totally different approach to marketing, but it comes from understanding deeply the way your clients’ problems unfold and it requires you to look beyond the simple law school final exam problem of what are the legal issues present in this case and instead look at the larger problem as it unfolds of what your client is trying to do and how they are going about trying to solve it and looking for opportunities to help them along the way.

 

Jared Correia: Right. It’s funny, because people aren’t necessarily sitting there looking for a personal injury attorney and saying like wait, who was the attorney that tweeted about the most horrific of the car accident that I heard about recently, who was writing about like the 18 car accident that killed 30 people.

 

Sam Glover: And honestly, personal injury is one of those things where actually just winning the search engine game might be the best way to go about it, because people get in an accident and then they want help, but there are a lot of practice areas where that’s not true.

 

Jared Correia: Oh, true. All right, let’s turn the page here and speak on the value of systems and workflows in law practice, something else you also talk about in your book.

 

Sam Glover: That’s something near and dear to your heart as well I think.

 

Jared Correia: Yeah, I am a fan, so why don’t you tell us why it’s so good for lawyers and why they don’t do it enough?

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, there are a few different things, but I think taking the time to actually sit down and figure out how you do what you do and then document that, it’s sort of like the operating system for your practice. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about code and writing code for building the Lawyerist products that we offer to our members, but I know a lot of lawyers don’t.

 

But think about it like IRAC, right, IRAC is the way that you go about writing briefs, at least when you are learning and you have that system and then you can start tweaking it.

 

Now, in your law practice that’s, every time a client walks in the door, we give them a menu of beverages that they can have and snacks that they can have and if they have a child, we hand their child a free little Lego set that we have bought for a few dollars and give their kid a corner to play in while we meet with their client, that process, if that’s how you serve every client, it becomes sort of your guarantee, and not in the legal sense of a guarantee but it’s the experience that you want people to have.

 

(00:20:12)

 

And you can start this when people search for your name, you can start this on your website and you can start this the first time you shake hands with somebody whatever it is, but that becomes the process.

 

Here’s how we handle summary judgment motions and then once you have a process and you start using it every time, you can start looking for ways to tweak it and improve it, maybe we should approach settlement differently, what happens if we send a demand letter at this time instead of this time, let’s try it in a few cases and see how that works.

 

What happens if we don’t insist on meeting people during business hours, what if we don’t pick up the phone every time it rings? You can start working on those things, but you can’t, if you don’t actually have a system for doing it, and the way this plays out is like, I remember, a couple years ago somebody asked me about an estate plan and I referred them to a lawyer in whom I have a lot of confidence about the quality that they work that they do and the kind of client experience that they deliver but they didn’t have a system.

 

And the result is that they totally drop the ball on my referral. They never got a call back, they never got any attention and they were like, who is this knucklehead you referred me to? And I feel bad for making the referral; that lawyer ended up apologizing but couldn’t salvage that relationship.

 

And, if instead, if you had a better system, he would have been a lot less likely to drop the ball on that client and now I actually know him that he does have a system and he’s not dropping balls anymore. And I think that’s part of just why systems are so important is because it allows you to think about your practice as a client service delivery machine and the goal here is not to automate it, not to remove the soul from what you do and not to cheapen your service, but the goal is to improve your service so that it is more reliably good and better than what you were doing before.

 

And that’s what you can do once you have systems and procedures that is really hard to do when it’s just you thinking about how to do it the best way every time, which just doesn’t always work.

 

Jared Correia: But dude, for real, intake systems, can we get every lawyer to adopt an actual intake system? I mean for the love of God.

 

Sam Glover: I definitely want to draw a contrast though between when I use the word “systems” and “technology”. Technology absolutely plays a really important role here but systems happen outside of technology and then you put technology in there when and where you can.

 

Absolutely every lawyer should have an intake system and most lawyers should be using some form of technology as part of it, for sure.

 

Jared Correia: Agreed. Can I get a LEGO set as well?

 

Sam Glover: That’s been one of my things like so many lawyers, I have like if they make any provision for kids in the office, it’s like a box of toys that other kids have been playing with for years and like just go to Target every once in a while and buy a ton of those $3 LEGO sets and you’ll make kids so happy.

 

Jared Correia: And me. While I wait for Sam to send me my LEGO set, let’s take another break. So listen to these words from our sponsors.

 

[Music]

 

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[Music]

 

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[Music]

 

Jared Correia: Hey, thanks for sticking around like Joaquin Phoenix, we’re still here and we’re still talking with Sam Glover of Lawyerist.

 

Sam Glover: Joaquin Phoenix is not talking to us.

 

Jared Correia: Well, he could be. Like Joaquin Phoenix, if you are listening, come on the pod, man.

 

Sam Glover: He is lurking.

 

Jared Correia: He’s great. He’s a listener, I’m sure he is. So, Joaquin, come on the show, man, Joker’s great and we’re still talking with Sam Glover right now of Lawyerist, who’s definitely not Joaquin Phoenix but he’s still pretty cool and he’s telling us about Lawyerist’s new book, ‘The Small Firm Roadmap’.

 

Let’s find out more. All right, Sam, ready for your biggest softball of all your softball questions.

 

Sam Glover: Bring it.

 

Jared Correia: What will the role of technology be in the future of small law firms? And go.

 

(00:25:00)

 

Sam Glover: Okay, I want to give a little bit of context here because Lawyerist is often still referred to as a legal-tech website or blog which drives me crazy because we are not and have never been. We are interested in technology and absolutely believe that technology plays a key role but one of the things that drives me nuts is when lawyers start by shopping for technology instead of starting from the problem that they’re trying to solve.

 

So I don’t assume that your firm necessarily needs law practice management software. It probably does but you’ll have a much easier time finding the right one once you understand what is the problem you’re trying to solve by getting law practice management software because very often, as I’m sure you know, the problem that law firms have is something that isn’t going to be solved by law practice management software, right? Like, I need to get organized. Well, the software isn’t going to help you. So let’s get you organized first and then let’s make sure that you’re organized within your software which you’re probably going to need.

 

Now, obviously most firms are going to need to become very tech savvy in order to stay competitive and in order to serve clients and meet clients’ expectations. Like, I don’t want to talk to anyone on the phone. I have an electrician now who texts messages with me and he’s the best because he doesn’t require me to sit there on the phone, like he was at my house and when he needed me to check the fuse box, we just FaceTimed so I could point the camera at the fuse box for him and the fact that I have a Millennial electrician who is willing to do those things makes me so happy.

 

Jared Correia: It’s the small things.

 

Sam Glover: It is the small things but it makes things easier and nobody wants to think that their lawyer is wasting time doing things manually that could be more easily done with technology. Nobody wants to know that their lawyer is dropping the ball on tasks that could be more easily done if they were automated or at least if the checklists were automated.

 

And so you obviously need to bring in technology when it can help you improve the level of client service that you’re delivering, the quality of the work you’re doing, the efficiency that you’re bringing to the work. You need to be savvy and we’ve put together a checklist of what we think sort of basic competence means.

 

I’ve done some podcasts with people about what that might mean. I’m just like the idea that lawyers don’t need to be tech savvy is so dated, I’m so tired of hearing about it, of course, you too, and like you know, it boggles my mind that lawyers still object when I talk about things like going paperless, that’s table stakes. Like, I went paperless in my firm in 2005. So here we are 14 years later, I think that my math is right.

 

Jared Correia: I think you’re good.

 

Sam Glover: There’s nothing cutting-edge about going paperless in 2019, it’s like, come on, just get with the program.

 

Jared Correia: If only the clients knew how the sausage was made.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, totally, and like being able to having arguments about should you move your practice, your software to the cloud? I mean, do we really have to talk about this again, like yes, there are concerns and you should be aware of them and you should understand what the security levels of the services and the vendors that you’re working with are so that you can make sure that they’re good fit for your practice.

 

But that argument is over if you’re not using cloud-based software, you should have a really clear understanding of why and a plan to move because it’s just that isn’t how the future is going to be for your firm and the sooner you can accept that reality, the better.

 

And I guess what I just said is kind of what is our core philosophy is like the world is changing and we can argue about it but if you refuse to accept reality, there isn’t a whole lot that anyone can do to help you. The reality is that clients expect different things, the reality is that you’re competing with Google and online DIY services and you’re competing with, honestly, court’s DIY portals are getting better and better.

 

You’re competing with a lot of things and you can say but, but, but they are no good but it doesn’t matter, you’re actually competing with them and your clients want more for less and they want it to be more efficient and you can either accept that and figure out how to take advantage of it or you can refuse to accept it and eventually you’re going to lose out.

 

Jared Correia: On that note, I’m going to walk us back to the mid 70s. Do you remember all Saturday Night Live with Chevy Chase when he was playing Gerald Ford in the presidential debates?

 

Sam Glover: Vaguely yes.

 

Jared Correia: And they keep asking questions about finances and he objects and says, I was told there would be no math. I feel like that’s every lawyer I’ve ever met, but you’ve got a piece in your book on financial management for attorneys. So lawyers save math and by extension, a lot of them hate financials.

 

So what sort of financial management is going to be a requirement for the small law firm of the future?

 

Sam Glover: I think so I’ll offer one really important thing that I think every firm should be doing, but first just in general like this is — there is no rocket science here, you just need to be smart about finances.

 

(00:30:00)

 

One of the things that I think you need to be able to do is if you want to have a strategy and like your strategy is I want to be a nine-person firm and I want to be a full-time CEO and I want to be able to go on vacation and turn my phone off, like those are totally valid normal goals that everybody should be able to have.

 

How are you going to get there is a question of financial strategy, right? Like, how are you going to fund those, the staff that you are going to need to bring on to make that happen? And so, like at our company, which obviously is not a law firm, every time we set out our goals though, we sit down with our balance sheet and our budget and we try to project where we’re going to be and how it’s going to work out and you have to be able to do that.

 

You have to be able to manage your accounts receivables so that you’re not — your money isn’t all sitting in other people’s bank accounts. Those are all really important things.

 

One thing that especially solos but many small firms really need to do is make sure they are accounting for their own salary. A lot of solos in particular and a lot of very small firms in particular think of their firm as profitable if it is making a profit and then that’s how they pay themselves, which is okay if all you’re trying to do is pull some cash out. But, A, you’re not actually probably planning to invest in your business, which is something that you probably need to do as a healthy business and number two, it means that your income statement is wrong because your salary should be an expense. You have to account for that in what you’re doing and you might not actually be profitable or you might be not nearly as profitable as you think.

 

So one of the really important things that every firm should do is whether or not you actually pay yourself a salary every month, which you probably should do to be responsible. But you should account, when you’re trying to figure out like what was my profit, make sure you’re subtracting a reasonable salary for yourself first. And once you start doing that, you’ll have a much more realistic picture of your firm’s finances which will be very helpful to you, I think.

 

Jared Correia: That’s pretty good. So you alluded to this just now, but this is an issue with solos, this is an issue with smaller firms as they start to ramp up, how should the modern small law office owner think about staffing up and when should they do that?

 

Sam Glover: I like the advice to hire only when it hurts. But the first exercise that I would do, including solos, solos are really resistant to this idea, but the first exercise I would do is create an org chart, an organizational chart, right? Like put yourself and if you’re solo, your name is in every box, which is okay, but put together an organizational chart and be realistic. I mean, there has to be a CEO, you have whatever you want your chief of services, officer, whatever you want to call the column of your org chart that delivers the actual client services.

 

You have a chief marketing officer, you have a chief financial officer, you have a chief operations officer, and it’s important to then put sort of a time estimate on each of those. How much time are you devoting to each of those roles and in bullet points, what are the roles and what are the responsibilities of each of those roles?

 

And the reason you’re doing this, is to try to figure out where your time is going, and if you’re a small firm you can do this too. I mean, if you’re a partnership of two or three people, you’re going to have — everybody’s going to be sitting in multiple seats but like be honest, is the CEO job getting done, is anyone actually doing strategy and thinking about where things are going, who is doing the role of accounting and bookkeeping, and is that job getting on, who’s answering the phones, how much time is going into that and are they doing it?

 

So, the reason you lay this all out is because it helps you figure out where are the weak points and where are the needs. A lot of lawyers just want to hire somebody to take over things that they don’t like doing, which is fine, except what if those things aren’t going to help you bring in more money.

 

I mean, you can only put in so many useful billable hours and as soon as you hire, now you’re a manager too and so hiring one person isn’t going to make anybody more efficient. It’s really just going to probably be even. So I think doing an org chart can really help you figure out where are the points where you could hire and come out ahead.

 

I think for most firms those are usually going to be things like a receptionist or an intake specialist to take some of the pressure of answering the phone off so that you can actually have more focused time, an accountant and/or a bookkeeper to handle billing and invoicing and things like that. Those are pretty easy to outsource and I think if you really want to run your firm and not do most of the client work, then hiring a lawyer to do that work is probably somewhere next on the to-do list so — or maybe the first thing on the to-do list.

 

So those are some places to do it, but I think hire when it hurts is probably my best advice because until it hurts, it’s probably not essential and you might not be able to make a cash flow, but when it does hurt really take the time out and do the hiring, because otherwise it’s just going to keep on hurting.

 

(00:35:08)

 

Jared Correia: Sam, we covered a lot in like about half an hour. I’m impressed. Take a big swig of water or coffee, or whatever it is you’re drinking. I’d like to end with a new segment I have, it’s called the social media post you forget about.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah.

 

Jared Correia: Where I read you back an old social media post of yours and you comment on it.

 

Sam Glover, are you ready?

 

Sam Glover: I’m ready.

 

Jared Correia: Good, because that was a rhetorical question.

 

On July 3rd, 2019 you re-tweeted the following post from the Uber facts account.

 

The band Blink-182 incorporated themselves under the name “Poo Poo Butt, LLC” because it was funny to make their accountants, attorneys and managers say it.

 

Great tweet by the way. So, tell me if you hated your corporate attorneys as much as Blink-182 did, what would you name your company?

 

Sam Glover: I don’t think they hated them, I think they were just punk rock.

 

Jared Correia: Well, you’re a punk skater guy, so you have a chance.

 

Sam Glover: I’m going to digress for a moment here but I just saw, I’d forgotten about this entirely but Nirvana was at one point on Top of the Pops in Great Britain on the BBC and the rule was that you had to sing to your pre-recorded track and so they just totally destroyed their own song. They sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and just ruined it because they were so annoyed by this stupid rule about it, so.

 

Jared Correia: This sounds very British.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, what — so I don’t have a great answer.

 

Jared Correia: That’s all right.

 

Sam Glover: For what I would name my company if I were trying to piss off my lawyer.

 

Jared Correia: Well, I don’t want to piss off any lawyers but can I tell you what, I would name my company in a perfect world.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, please do.

 

Jared Correia: Have you ever seen ‘Step Brothers’?

 

Sam Glover: No, I haven’t.

 

Jared Correia: No?

 

Sam Glover: No man.

 

Jared Correia: All right, so Step Brothers —

 

Sam Glover: I am bad at watching movies in TV, I don’t have an attention span for it.

 

Jared Correia: All right, man, you should watch ‘Step Brothers’, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, it’s a good movie. So they’re like unemployed 50-year-olds who live at home and they do a rap video to pitch their dad on their company and they’re on his boat and they crash his boat into the dock and destroy his boat, but they call their company Prestige Worldwide, it’s a 360 Entertainment company.

 

So, occasionally, I’ll go into meetings with people and they’ll be like, what should we call this? And I’m like, I think we should call it Prestige Worldwide, and they are like, that’s amazing, and they’ve no clue that that comes from ‘Step Brothers’.

 

Sam Glover: I did it — for a brief time I considered filing assumed names from my law firm and there were two options on the table. One was just calling it Awesome Law because I just like — I like to use the word ‘Awesome’ a lot as people probably know and the other one was derived from my elevator speech, some people know that I sued debt collectors but depending on the context if you asked me what I did I would probably just tell you that Earmuffs Kids. I would probably just tell you that.

 

Jared Correia: Thank you.

 

Sam Glover: I would probably just tell you that. I probably just tell you that I sue — and so I considered reincorporating as I sue –. I think I actually owned isue–.com for a while, so.

 

Jared Correia: It was a long run up but we made it there.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah.

 

Jared Correia: And so on that note, let’s end another episode of the Legal Toolkit Podcast. This was the podcast about the small law firm roadmap where we’ve been talking with Sam Glover of Lawyerist, who has cursed on the podcast no less than four times. You’re welcome, Adam and Evan.

 

Sam Glover: I do my best.

 

Jared Correia: Now I’ll be back on future shows with further insights into my soul, the soul of America and the legal market. If you are feeling nostalgic from my dulcet tones however, you can check out our entire show archive anytime you want at legaltalknetwork.com.

 

So, thanks again, to Sam Glover, oh that could be your skateboarding name, Slam Glover, Chevy sweet, wouldn’t it?

 

Sam Glover: That pretty much describes the first two years of skateboarding.

 

Jared Correia: All right, that one’s free. Thanks again to Sam Glover of Lawyerist for making appearance as my guest today.

 

All right, Sam, can you tell everyone how they can find out more about you, about Lawyerist and ‘The Small Firm Roadmap’ book.

 

Sam Glover: Yeah, just go to lawyerist.com, that’s the best place to go and if you want to just go straight and get the book, which you totally should, because it’s the best book ever written about law practice. You can find it on Amazon.

 

Jared Correia: Thanks again to Sam Glover of Lawyerist. Check out the book ‘The Small Firm Roadmap’. Finally, thanks to all of you out there for listening.

 

This has been the Legal Toolkit podcast and where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

 

[Music]

 

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.

 

(00:39:56)

 

If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.

 

[Music]

 

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, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

 

[Music]

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Episode Details
Published: October 8, 2019
Podcast: Legal Toolkit
Category: Best Legal Practices , Practice Management
Podcast
Legal Toolkit
Legal Toolkit

Legal Toolkit highlights services, ideas, and programs that will improve lawyers' practices and workflow.

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