The guys are back at the ABA TECHSHOW with F.O.P. Carolyn Elefant, the “Godmother of Solos.” They talk about what’s in and what’s out in the latest edition of her book, “Solo By Choice.”
Also, there’s more legal tech and more competition for your legal dollar than ever. That means great things for small and solo firms. Do you want something custom for your practice? It might be worth it to just ask for it.
Plus, exciting news from Lawmatics, and the guys debate the merits of TurnSignl, an app that connects motorists in an instant to an attorney during a traffic stop and winner of the Startup Alley competition.
Special thanks to our sponsors Alert Communications, LawYaw,Posh Virtual Receptionists, and Clio.
Conrad Saam: Before we get started today, we want to thank our sponsors: Clio, Alert Communications, LawYaw, and Posh Virtual Receptionists.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Conrad, it is so good to see you.
Conrad Saam: You, as usual, make me look physically terrible.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You are in the flesh —
Conrad Saam: You are well-dressed. The hair is amazing which is for me is an amazingly low bar, but it’s great to see you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Great to see you.
Conrad Saam: The first person I saw at TECHSHOW that I recognized was you. I saw you at the bar, gave you a hug. It’s nice to be back in the hugging world.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome to give you a hug. We’re here at ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago. You’ve got some sessions that you’re talking. What are you talking here at TECHSHOW?
Conrad Saam: Yeah. So, I am, as usual, recently talking about the CRM again. Intake management software, CRM, how to do that right. That is with our amazing friend Maddy Martin from Smith.ai. I’m also doing a review of tactical marketing plans with Gina Guzman. And then I’m also joining CallRail coming back to the CRM function. My message on the CallRail part is many of you, smalls and solos, who don’t necessarily want to invest a ton in your marketing tech stack, CallRail can really be a great solution for really using that as intake management software. So, that’s what we’re talking about. I mean, what about yourself? What are you talking about? I know you’re doing 60 in 60, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: 60 in 60, that’s it. As the vice co-chair, I am relegated to the sidelines from speaking for the most part, but I will be doing 60 in 60. We’ve got some great tips. That’s really the fire hose. We still throw a bunch of stuff at you at the last day so you can’t walk away and say, “I didn’t learn anything new.” We guarantee that you’ll learn at least one thing new, so I’ll be participating in that.
Conrad Saam: Guarantee?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. Well, I know — my 15 list.
Conrad Saam: On you’re 15?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. I took on nanotechnologies. So, Conrad, in this episode, what else are we talking today besides TECHSHOW?
Conrad Saam: Besides TECHSHOW, the other person that Gyi and I ran into a TECHSHOW was Carolyn Elefant celebrating the third edition of the Amazon best-selling book ‘Sold by Choice’. So, she is joining us. You can hear more from Carolyn about her book and that — I always love talking to her. Awesome. So grateful to have her and now what makes the world go round? Hit it.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, teaching you how to promote market and make fat stacks for your legal practice here on Legal Talk Network.
Conrad Saam: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing live from ABA TECHSHOW 2022. Let’s hit the news.
Conrad Saam: All right, Gyi, so last night Bob Ambrogi’s Startup Alley competition came up. Who was the winner? We actually both know the winner very well.
Gyi Tsakalakis: We do. A lot of great entrance. Thank you all for participating in Startup Alley. Really one of the cool kickoff events of TECHSHOW and congratulations to TurnSignl on their victory and tell us about TurnSignl, Conrad.
Conrad Saam: Well, TurnSignl will not describe themselves as this, but I will because this is what it is. This is a driving-while-black app, okay? So, we talked about calling things out as they are. It’s a really fascinating product where if you get pulled over by the police in real time via videoconference, you can have a lawyer in your car with you to walk yourself through that process. Now, I’ve never felt like I’ve needed a lawyer when I’ve been pulled over on those very, very few occasions, but I happen to be a white dude and I expect my experience being pulled over by the police is very different because of that. And so, we talked to these guys about a year ago, I think, both of us. They were doing some fundraising. It’s a very, very interesting application. It’s a very interesting commentary frankly on society. I love them. They’re passionate. What do you think it’s in the future for TurnSignl?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, again, congratulations to them. There’s obviously a lot of interest. They’ve garnered the most votes at Startup Alley. Some of the conversations I’ve had some questions around — does having a lawyer on your dashboard and you actually deescalate while you’re sitting down in —
Conrad Saam: Literally on your dashboard.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. And to TurnSignl’s credit, as the presenter brought up, they’ve really made a lot of inroads with law enforcement and corporate sponsorships too so that even the example that he gave during the presentation was that there was an encounter where the officer was familiar with TurnSignl and TurnSignl allowed the driver to continue to have TurnSignl on the dashboard. So, again, trying to get it both ways there, I think that creates some interesting issues, but in terms of providing some visibility and accountability into the encounters, it’s interesting. I think we’ll see — I’d be very curious also from the criminal defense bar what their thoughts are on its terms of deescalating or escalating police encounters by having a lawyer at the scene.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting perspective on this. The other thing that I found fascinating with TurnSignl was if I was running TurnSignl, I would have lawyers paying really a lot to be a part of that network.
And that’s not their model, that’s really not their perspective on things. And so, at the risk of sounding like I’m pitching for TurnSignl depending on what market you are in, it can be a really interesting way to get yourself out there.
All right, there’s more stuff that came out of ABA TECHSHOW. Just before TECHSHOW launched, Lawmatics made a big announcement. And, Gyi, I know you are an investor in Lawmatics. I know we are both close friends with Matt Spiegel. He is a third-time legal tech entrepreneur, super successful. So, I know you can’t really crow about it, but I know you can talk about it. So, what did Lawmatics announced and why do we care?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I’m going to force listeners to go check out the details of Lawmatics. Like you said, I’m an advisor, a personal friend and I have a dog in the fight with Lawmatics. But I think the thing that I’ve always respected about Matt and the directional Lawmatics is going in is that he’s listening to the users. And so, one of the complaints that we hear from lawyers all the time is they don’t want to sign up for like 20 different things to do 20 different things. I think in fact Jeannine Lambert, when we were recording our talk on our 60 in 60 mentioned this, but there’s this idea of bundling, right?
And so, Lawmatics is breaking into — started out as CRM. You’ve got the — the onboarding and client relationship process is the center of it, but now it’s growing into additional practice management areas, payments, stuff like that. So, again, the idea is if you’re a Lawmatics user, you’re going to be able to move more in the direction of running your firm on Lawmatics which I think is a benefit for their users.
Conrad Saam: And an obvious step forward for Lawmatics like it wasn’t really a surprise that this is where Matt put his investment dollars.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah.
Conrad Saam: Okay. And finally, the Keane Award winner was announced at TECHSHOW. Gyi, can you tell us about the Keane Award winner?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes. Congratulations to Greg Siskind. Again, if you think if you’ve been at the intersection of law practice and the web, Greg is one of the very, very earliest influencers, immigration lawyer and so, congratulations to Greg. And if you’re — I would say this too, and Greg is very generous with some of the information stuff that he shares about what he’s done from a business development standpoint, but go check out visalaw.com., that’s his site and, again, one of, if not, the oldest law firm websites on the web. So, congratulations to Greg and for his leadership and winning the Keane Award.
Conrad Saam: All right. Let’s take a break.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: And now for our Clio Legal Trends Report minute. Conrad, did you know that 66% of consumers consider online payments their top choice when paying for legal services?
Conrad Saam: I keep coming back to this, only 66% who’s like, “Yes, what I really want to do is mail you a freaking check?”
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes, I want to bring my bag of cash to your office to pay you.
Conrad Saam: I mean — Yeah, okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: If you’re still only accepting checks by mail, you may want to reconsider.
Conrad Saam: You may you may want to welcome yourself to this century.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Online payments are helping lawyers introduce greater flexibility and convenience to clients. In fact, in addition to online payments, preference for automated payments and ones made through mobile apps outranks mailed-in checks by a whopping 13%.
Conrad Saam: Well, so that’s a no-brainer more for the law firm than the consumer, get those payments like — Gyi, I remember sitting down with Mike Ramsey when I was starting my agency and he said, “One of the things that you should do is accept credit cards early on.”
I was like, “No way. It’s like 3% to 5%.” And he’s like, “But you don’t have to think about it.”
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. And even though it might be obvious to Conrad and Gyi, here’s what’s in it for you. Clio has found that firms using online payments collect as much as 16% more revenue per lawyer.
Conrad Saam: Again, no-brainer. The math is — I mean, this is not even pre-calculus. This is abacus work.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m trying to think there who is — I’m going to probably miss a tribute, so if you’re a listener and you want to hashtag LHLM us, but making it easy to take people’s money is like rule number one of business, right? It’s up there.
Conrad Saam: I believe that is in — it’s not in the market — the five P’s of marketing, but it’s before the five P’s of marketing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, it’s before I was in business, for sure. Anyway, to learn more about the impact of online payment technology on law firms, download Clio’s Legal Trends Report for free at clio.com/trends. That’s Clio, spelled C-L-I-O.com/trends.
Conrad Saam: So, Gyi, we are super, super lucky to be joined by Carolyn Elefant, and I knew Carolyn I want to say back in 2007 when I first got into the legal marketing industry. ‘Sold by Choice’ was not a book at that time. It hadn’t come out yet or had the first version come out.
Carolyn Elefant: No, it didn’t. I think the first version was 2009 or 2008.
Conrad Saam: Okay. So, I have always called Carolyn the Godmother of the Solo Practitioner and we’re super, super happy to have her. We’ve got a lot to talk about because her book just came out.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, if you’re solo and you don’t know Carolyn, you’re doing it wrong period.
Conrad Saam: I’ll go as far as like just get the book and I think there’s so much — I don’t know how many copies — I’m probably closing in on 100 copies that I’ve sent out to people. There are thousands of copies have been sold. Tens of thousands, Carolyn? Are we in the five-figure number?
Carolyn Elefant: It could be at least for the prior editions over the past decade. I mean, people are always coming up to me saying that they’ve read the book even though I never knew that they had bought it, so —
Gyi Tsakalakis: That is got to be the most flattering thing, right?
Carolyn Elefant: It is, it is. I like being part of people’s starts.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s awesome. So, third edition?
Carolyn Elefant: That’s right, that’s right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And what’s new in the third edition?
Carolyn Elefant: So, it’s really funny. Each time I do an update, so much has changed and it’s more than you think. I mean, when you’re living through it, it’s all incremental, but when you’re looking back, it’s crazy. So, between now and 2013, which was the first edition, I would say one of the things of course is the pandemic and people being more accustomed to working from home, being more accepting of that, looking for ways to serve clients online. I mean, that’s been a huge to see change. There’s also I think a larger desire amongst lawyers to engage in some type of entrepreneurship whether it’s starting a firm or starting some kind of legal tech company or some sort of hybrid like the Hello Divorce model, so there’s a lot more interest I feel like in starting a practice. So, it’s just a whole different zeitgeist now than it was before.
Conrad Saam: How has — I mean, we always — I’m kind of tired of talking about COVID, but it’d be interesting to hear your perspective on the entrepreneurial leanings of the legal industry during COVID. Has that accelerated or have people kind of gotten cautious and backed off on it?
Carolyn Elefant: No, I think it’s interesting because I think COVID and especially the unfortunate — all the death surrounding it, I think it made people, first of all, really focus on what matters and realize that life is short and you really need to do work that’s important to you and if that means taking a risk, then you’d go for it. So, I think COVID kind of forced people to just say like, “What the hell, let’s do it,” and see where the fallout is. And I think for the people who did that and who took that approach, there are huge rewards, both in either the success of their practice or even if it hasn’t succeeded, we’re seeing the job market open up again. There are huge numbers of positions opening up at firms and there are a couple of attorneys I know who started firms who have merged with or gone on to become of counsel at other firms just because they took the step of starting to begin with.
Conrad Saam: All right. I’m curious take a trip down memory lane. One of the things when you put out the next version of the book is you’re not just adding to it, you’re actually taking stuff away. What came out of the book that is no longer relevant because it’s like AOL?
Carolyn Elefant: Yeah. So, that’s a really good question. There is something in the book keep it or leave it, which talks about these sort of legacy marketing tools like the direct mail where you get lists from the court and send things to people, yellow pages, some question about business cards and have yes or no. So, there is a section that actually talks about some of those omissions. Other than that, it hasn’t really been so much omissions as things that have just changed. There used to be discussion about like checks clearing or getting physical checks. I mean, that’s kind of have been converted into credit cards clearing or getting credit card payments for things.
So, a lot of things have just more transitioned like that. The one thing about the first book is I never had rules like you’ve got to have a brick-and-mortar office or you have to do things this way. If I had written a book saying, “You have to have a brick-and-mortar office,” that mandate would have come out, but there certainly more discussion of virtual options too.
Conrad Saam: All right, with that, we’ve got to pay some bills. Mr. Lockwood, hit the commercials.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: I want to get some of your thoughts here. We’re here at TECHSHOW. It’s the first time we’re back. It’s in person. It’s great to see you. What kind of tips do you have for folks that might be considering whether it’s TECHSHOW or going to another kind of conference or an event and making the most out of their experience from like a professional development standpoint?
Carolyn Elefant: So, I guess — I mean, there’s so much that’s going on. I think this is a great opportunity to see vendors. One thing that is really exciting, and that’s also a change from the first book, is it’s a buyer’s market for solo and small firms. There’s so much competition for their attention that you can pretty much go to any vendor and they will develop a bespoke solution for you, which is something we never had with like Lexis and Westlaw. I won’t say anything else about those companies out here.
Conrad Saam: You can if you like to.
Carolyn Elefant: No. So, I would say to — get to know vendors whose products you are interested in and create relationships and tell them what your needs are and they’ll work with you to come up with different solutions. And then I would say also talk to other participants at the conference and see what kinds of things they’re doing because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Somebody has like a cool workflow or neat hack that they’re using. Figure that out and implement it in your practice.
Conrad Saam: Awesome, really great advice. So, I’m curious, Gyi and I are both vendors to the legal world.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You just revealed the big secret.
Conrad Saam: So, I’m curious on your comment there and I think you’re right it’s just never occurred to me before. I don’t want to say desperation, but there are a lot of vendors and they are very, very eager and they’re looking at things like lifetime value of customers. And so, it feels like at this moment the opportunities for informed lawyers to get the most out of vendors is kind of at the highest level it’s ever been. Is that what you’re saying?
Carolyn Elefant: Absolutely. I mean, it’s just — again, I remember, I mean, it was — you had Lexis and Westlaw and then you had some of those like Abacus or some of these very complicated practice management systems that resided on your computer and you had to work with a practice management person or somebody, a consultant, to set it up and the consultant was probably getting kickbacks from the company and so, they were going to do it their way, not your way.
But now, again, there’s just so many independent companies coming from different industries. There must be like 10 new practice management systems or tools that I’ve never even heard of before that are that are here marketing and they all have their own like kind of unique thing about them. So, I think it really, like I said — I mean, it’s a buyer’s market like never before and as it should be because solo and small firms make up the majority of practicing lawyers in the U.S. There’s no reason they should be the center of the show. It shouldn’t be big law, it should be solos and smalls.
Conrad Saam: Power to the solos. I love it. Well, Carolyn, thank you so, so much for joining us. The book ‘Solo by Choice’ the third edition, you got to have it. If you’re a solo, you’re just missing the boat on this.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Actually, if you’re a law student also — do we have law students that listen to us? Probably not.
Conrad Saam: I mean, look, honestly, if you’re a practicing lawyer, you should be thinking — check this book out.
Carolyn Elefant: Yeah. I mean, it really — if I could just add, I mean, it really is a resource. It’s not just a reflection on how I started my firm and the three tools that I use. I really spent a lot of time gathering and aggregating different products and different ways of how to go about evaluating them. So, even if you are practicing attorney and you haven’t modernized your firm or you’re thinking about bringing in a new generation of attorneys, it just kind of gives you a very quick look at what’s out there now and what’s happening now.
Conrad Saam: With that, dear listeners, Conrad and Gyi reporting live from ABA TECHSHOW 2022 in Chicago. Please do give us your feedback, #LHLM, reach out to us, subscribe on your favorite podcast, do a hicky. You want to be a friend of the pod, hit us up. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much. Out.
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