Attorney Rose-Ellen Heinz Fairgrieve has been a practicing attorney in the public and private sector for nearly 20 years,...
Albert Thuesen is the principal of Coit Law Group (CLG), founded in 2014 in San Francisco. CLG is a...
Tony Chiosso recently started his own firm, Chiosso Law. He has represented clients in a variety of transactional, consulting...
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...
Taking the plunge into solo practice can be intimidating. Maybe even downright terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be. This is part 2 of the New Solo episode in which host Adriana Linares talks to Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve, Tony Chiosso, and Albert Thuesen about their experiences running their own solo law firms and advice for those thinking about doing the same. Their tips and tricks range from scanners they use in the office to marketing techniques and social media. Whether you are looking for experience with video conferencing software or finding a solo community, these experts have you covered.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve has been a practicing attorney in the public and private sector for nearly 20 years. She has owned Fairgrieve Law since 2013.
Albert Thuesen is the principal of Coit Law Group (CLG), founded in 2014 in San Francisco. CLG is a full service civil practice, focusing on handling litigation claims on behalf of individuals, families, and local business clientele.
Tony Chiosso recently started his own firm, Chiosso Law. He has represented clients in a variety of transactional, consulting and litigation matters throughout his career.
Mentioned in this episode:
Diving Into Solo Practice Part 2_ More Advice from Experts
Intro: So you are an attorney and you have decided to go out on your own. Now what? You need a plan and you are not alone. Join expert host Adriana Linares and her distinguished guests on ‘New Solo’. Tune into the lively conversation as they share insights and information about how to successfully run your law firm, here on Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hello, welcome to ‘New Solo’. I am Adriana Linares, I am a legal technology trainer and consultant. I help lawyers and law firms use technology better.
Today, we have a special episode which is Part 2 of the last episode which was Part 1 that we are recording at The Bar Association of San Francisco, during the Solo and Small Firm First Annual Conference.
Before I tell you about the guests that are on the show, we’re going to take a minute to hear some words by me about our sponsors.
Unbundled Attorney is a premium lead generation service that delivers exclusive leads directly into your Inbox in real-time. Looking to get more leads and grow your practice, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.unbundledattorney.com/”unbundledattorney.com today.
PerfectIt is a legal specific proofreading software that locates mistakes that neither spell check nor the most eagle eye lawyer can find. Try PerfectIt from HYPERLINK “http://www.intelligentediting.com/”intelligentediting.com.
I also want to make sure and thank Answer 1. It’s a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800 Answer 1 or online at HYPERLINK “mailto:answer1.com”answer1.com, that’s HYPERLINK “www.answer1.com”www.answer1.com.
I want to make sure and thank Clio, the world’s leading cloud-based legal practice management software. Thousands of lawyers and legal professionals trust Clio to help grow and simplify their practices. Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com/”clio.com.
All right, so we are back, and if you have listened to the last episode, which I hope you did, which is very informative, sitting here with three San Francisco solos, and I’m going to let them introduce themselves.
Albert Thuesen: This is Albert Thuesen of Coit Law Group.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: I am Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve of Fairgrieve Law Office.
Tony Chiosso: And I am Tony Chiosso of Chiosso Law.
Adriana Linares: How does that feel, Tony?
Tony Chiosso: It feels like I am throwing down my hammer every time I say it.
Adriana Linares: So if you have listened to the last episode, you may have heard that Albert’s been out on his own for —
Albert Thuesen: Two and-a-half years.
Adriana Linares: Two and-a-half years. Rose-Ellen for about three years, and our true new solo is Tony, who’s been out on his own for 30 days today. It’s a 30-day anniversary of Chiosso Law Firm.
Tony Chiosso: Let’s go get a drink after this.
Adriana Linares: We really need one. So we had such a good time in the last episode and felt that there was so much information these lovely, lovely lawyers were sharing that, we thought we would give you some more tips and during the break that we took they went out, they scrambled, talked, networked, and then came back with pages of ideas that we want to share with you.
So this is just going to be an episode filled with tips and tools and services and ideas that you all use and love, and I think where do we start? One of my favorites?
Albert Thuesen: One of your favorites is the ScanSnap and —
Adriana Linares: I love the Fujitsu ScanSnaps.
Albert Thuesen: Yes, Fujitsu, I believe is also a Bay Area company, so shout-out to Bay Area companies. The Fujitsu ScanSnap is as advertised it is the urban myth of scanners and it is worth every penny. It’s amazing.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: And I have challenged LT to convince me that I need the ScanSnap, so let me just say what my setup is —
Adriana Linares: We can’t wait to hear this Rose-Ellen.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: So I have two printers in my office. One is a super-fast Brother that is just black-and-white, that’s just for printing out the really lengthy briefs and litigation kind of stuff that you have to do. It’s great, functions quickly et cetera.
Then I have the — an HP OfficeJet, that’s a color printer for when I need the color and it’s a scanner obviously, and so it has —
Adriana Linares: Do they both sit on your desk or is one of them like the standalone all-in-one device?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: They are both in my office.
Adriana Linares: Are they desktop?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Yes, they are desktop.
Adriana Linares: Okay. Got it. All right. Two desktop?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Yes. So they have their different purposes, and the other thing that I found that was really key was sometimes one just decides it doesn’t want to work, so it’s always my — I always have a backup, which I have found that I’ve needed, because I don’t have an in-house IT person who I can call and say, come fix this right now because this file needs to print in an hour.
Adriana Linares: Right, okay. And so, how are you doing your scanning, through the —
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Through my —
Adriana Linares: — the HP.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: The HP, it’s got a flatbed and the feeder that can feed double-sided and so I feel like that it’s meeting my scanning needs but LT seems to think that ScanSnap can do something more. So I can’t wait to hear what that is.
Adriana Linares: By the way listeners, Albert’s nickname is LT, so when you hear someone refer to “LT” we’re talking about Albert Thuesen.
Albert Thuesen: The benefit of the ScanSnap is that it is amazingly fast. I’m sure your HP was probably on par with the Epson that I still have in my system. The Epson scans at approximately one page every 14 to 15 seconds, which is all fine for a 2-3 —
Adriana Linares: It’s that slow?
Albert Thuesen: — for a 2-3 page document but when opposing counsel sends me records of 100 pages, do the math. The ScanSnap scans at less than a page a second.
Adriana Linares: It’s super fast, double-sided and color if you want.
Albert Thuesen: Yeah, it’s about 50 pages a minute, so —
Adriana Linares: It’s crazy time.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Sold, let me get on online right now.
Adriana Linares: Hold on. Let me send you an affiliate link before you buy one on Amazon, Rose-Ellen.
Albert Thuesen: Yeah, and I bought it as a Christmas present to myself last year and it’s very nerdy. My wife doesn’t understand why I got so cornball doubt about it, but it works amazingly fast and it just — it’s part of the reason you go solo is to give yourself some time to spend with your friends, family or otherwise, this is exactly the sort of thing that does that.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s been a well-known scanner loved by legal for a really long time because it is really fast, but also they are very sturdy like they just last forever. I have got a law firm in West Palm Beach that has one on every Secretary’s desk, and they have learned how to service themselves. So when the little hairs need to change they have figured out. I mean, these are the darlings of scanning and legal.
So okay, good, ScanSnap. Cross that off your list. LT, we talked about that one. What else? Let’s go round Robin. Let’s go round robin. Rose-Ellen you got a tip.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Can you just indulge me one second to add to the scanning discussion.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, definitely.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Which is another tool that I have just found absolutely that I couldn’t do without is the TurboScan app on my phone.
Adriana Linares: Okay, so you are an app phone user and maybe there’s one for Android, but it’s called TurboScan.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Right. And you just — it’s like $3 or something but it just — you can scan anything anywhere, it goes straight to the PDF, you can email it, you can message, you could do whatever.
Adriana Linares: So you take a picture of it, it converts it to PDF and then you — if I have the ability to save to popular things.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Absolutely, you can do anything with it.
Adriana Linares: TurboScan?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: TurboScan.
Adriana Linares: All right? What about our new solo, does he — our newest new solo, does he have a new tip?
Tony Chiosso: Okay. So, now again, I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m not the first person to figure this out. But, if you’re trying to save money as a new solo, which of course is a bit primary driver, then you start thinking about all the big ticket items and the biggest one for me was my insurance. And then, there’s the virtual office space which is much, much less by an order of magnitude.
Then we go to things like research, and I really — I don’t know what research plan I want to commit to, and truth be told, I don’t need to do a ton of research right now for the three main practice areas that I’m practicing right now, the state planning, employment law, and personal injury litigation. But I do sometimes and I also want to go to a different, quiet kind of place. You put those all together and that works for me at law libraries.
So we’ve got two — at least two amazing law libraries at UC Hastings and at USF (University of San Francisco), but we also have San Francisco’s own law library, which if you are not a solo is going to cost you on the range from $2,000 a year, but if you are a solo, it’s free.
So, it’s an incredible deal because they have just about every type of practice management software, practice guide, Lexis Westlaw, you name it, available when you are in the library. So that’s a savings of thousands of dollars right there.
Adriana Linares: That’s a great tip. I haven’t heard that one. And you don’t have to be an alumni or anything, you just go into a law library and they have got all these resources you can use or you have to be an alum?
Tony Chiosso: You do not have to be an alumni.
Adriana Linares: Oh, excellent.
Tony Chiosso: You just need to be a lawyer.
Adriana Linares: Oh, oh, that’s very good.
Albert Thuesen: Yeah so — on one hand you’ve got the law schools and if you are a Bar Card holder, then you can go into the law libraries. If you otherwise want to, City of San Francisco has a law library that Tony was referencing and they have got a great program for solo and small firms which is either free or close to free, and they have got a staff of five or six researchers who have got Master’s degrees in Librarian Studies and you tell them the type of case you’re working on and it’s like your own research team.
Adriana Linares: Ah, that’s awesome.
Albert Thuesen: And they send it to you for free within a couple hours, they say a couple days, it’s usually within a couple hours, books, law reviews, HeinOnline Access materials, Lexis Westlaw materials from time-to-time. There is page limits and same things like that, but it’s a great resource we have here.
Adriana Linares: I think that’s great, and we have to mention one of my other favorites which Fastcase. Fastcase and I know at least in California is a number of benefit and it is for many states.
And what I hear often from lawyers is, I haven’t tried it, I don’t know that much about it, but the truth is that you get a lot of research for free because of your Bar membership and then if you do decide to upgrade to a paid it’s going to give you all the research you need, and I think it’s pretty affordable at $200 a year, it’s ridiculously cheap.
So please lawyers, go look at Fastcase or whatever your state — I forgot the name of the other one, whatever your state gives you a discount through, Fastcase is my personal favorite, and they bought Loislaw recently so they are — I think it was Loislaw, I hope I’m not saying that wrong. They are really advancing what they are able to do and the services that they provide is a great research service that is not going to cost you, but some of those other costly services might cost.
Okay, what’s your next tip, LT?
Albert Thuesen: Videoconferencing.
Adriana Linares: Okay, let’s talk about videoconferencing.
Albert Thuesen: Traffic in there is horrible; parking outside of my office is atrocious and very expensive. So here in the Bay Area we’re pretty hipped with videoconferencing and a client, from your neck of the woods actually, from Tampa, he made a recommendation to me that I use a conference line which is aptly named HYPERLINK “http://www.freeconferencecall.com” freeconferencecall.com and I thought what a plain name, but it was an excellent service, free, great clarity, they’ve got both free conference calls plus video networking, Skype-like screen sharing the works, and I’ve also been recently turned on to Uber conference, which is very similar and so far seems to be of equally great quality.
They of course have a free version, a little bit of commercials here there are advertising on the screen or whatnot, otherwise membership is a few bucks, something like that. But it reduces the need to meet with clients in person and it’s really a valuable part of my business.
Adriana Linares: So my favorite is a product called Zoom, HYPERLINK “http://www.zoom.us” zoom.us, it’s high-def, you pay a small fee per month, I mean, they have a free too, but it’s worth and it’s – “by small fee” I think, I mean, $15 a month, it’s super-cheap.
It has a little app that sits on my desktop and it’s also on my mobile phone and I can send invites directly to everyone from inside Zoom, and it has a built-in Outlook for the PC module. So if I launch a meeting inside Outlook I can hit the Zoom button and it puts all the information in there. It’s very cool. So HYPERLINK “http://www.zoom.us” zoom.us is my favorite.
Albert Thuesen: And I’ve done that, they are very good.
Adriana Linares: They are very good and it records in high-def and it can be used on any device, it creates very few problems and everybody always figures out how to use it, so that’s good.
Alright, Rose-Ellen, you’ve got another tip for?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve:: Well, for me the thing that made the most impact when I went out on my own was really finding a community, and so, here we’re very fortunate to have the solo small firm section in San Francisco and we have monthly brown bags, and I found that just showing up and even if you’re not particularly into whatever topic they have, you’re building your network of other people in your same situation and that was really key to —
Adriana Linares: And that’s another fear I think a lot of new solos have is, I’m going to miss the community of being in an office and walking down the hall and be able — talking to my comrades about a problem, but then you can create that community and your Bar Association could be at the center of it or on Inns of Court or some other association or there’s the American Bar Association’s solo — general practice solo small firm has a great listserve called SoloSez and then there’s also the Macs in a Law Office group, if you’re a Mac it’s called MILO, so you can Google “Max in Law Office” and they have a great online community where they ask each other questions and they help each other. So there’s physical communities you can become a part of, and of course, there’s virtual ones that can be pretty powerful.
Tony Chiosso: My turn?
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Tony Chiosso: Okay. So I spent the last 12 years in insurance defense and 30 days ago I decided to become a plaintiff’s attorney, so I wasn’t bringing any of that business with me, and like I said in the last episode, business has come, but there’s also gaps of time where I’m not dealing with a client issue and how am I going to make that the most — I get the most bang for my buck, and keep me busy because there’s — an idle mind is a devil’s playground, and so besides just setting up coffees and lunches with other solos and practitioners, I’m marketing my estate plan business through financial planners and real estate agents who I’ve actually got quite a few recommendations from already, and then I’m playing with the practice management software and client intake software.
Adriana Linares: Have you picked one yet that we asked you?
Tony Chiosso: I’m ready to commit I think.
Adriana Linares: All right! That’s your thought. I don’t want you interrupt you, I mean, I did, but —
Tony Chiosso: Well, I think now is the time, because I want to talk about them. So I tried several different practice management software formats and I got to the point where I just needed to pick, because I didn’t want to spend anymore time messing around with other things I just needed to get going. So I ended up going with Clio and I’m also using Lexicata for client intake.
Adriana Linares: Excellent.
Tony Chiosso: Now the thing is, there’s a tremendous amount of work on the learning curve side and they have all kinds of online things for —
Adriana Linares: There is videos and tutorials, the customer service will walk you through anything.
Tony Chiosso: Real good customer service, but you still have to do the work yourself and you have to figure it out yourself and that’s by doing it over and over and over again and setting up your own — your strategy, how are you going to take a client call and get that information into your computer? And do you need extra — depending on the practice area you’re going to want to ask certain questions so you have to have different —
Adriana Linares: Customize.
Tony Chiosso: — templates and all that. And so, that is taking quite a bit of my time when I have it.
Adriana Linares: And it should because what happens to a lot of lawyers is they don’t do it now and then three years later they’ve got all kinds of systems and spreadsheets and the information is in all these really bad places. So taking that time upfront now, looking Rose-Ellen is going, yes, yes, I know exactly how this goes, is really important.
Tony Chiosso: Yeah, and I had heard from lots of practitioners in the months leading up to this launch I talked to a lot of people and I wanted to get all the different ideas and everybody has their own opinion, but one of the things I consistently heard was, oh, I wish I had gotten that software sooner because it’s — once you have to work your way out of that it’s a lot more work.
Adriana Linares: Bad habits are hard to break or actually any habit, and so that’s what I see happening all the time as lawyers forming habits that might not be the most efficient.
Let’s stop for just a second and I want you — so I was in the restroom a few minutes ago and this adorable — this just this little angel came to me and she said, “You know, I liked your talk but I’m afraid I’ve been raising a kid, I’m going back on my own, I don’t think I’ll get clients”, and I said, “Oh my god, we just talked about this.” So I made her come over to you and say, “Talk to Tony, he’s literally been out there for 30 days”, and so, tell us about that conversation because that is the biggest fear that lawyers all have and here was a — and she and her and her — I think her law partner, right, that came up and also started talking to you and they were worried that they are not going to get clients.
Tony Chiosso: Well, her out of just about anybody I’ve talked about this should not be worried about it because she has such a minute, niche practice of migrating foreign companies, it just, it seems like such a — I want to call it strange but very specific it should be really easy one for her to mark that right and two I told her, the worst anxiety and fear I had was up until day one, and then once I got started I didn’t have time to be afraid about it, I was busy every minute of the day, and that’s part of it, it’s just keep your days plan, stick to your schedule and the work will come and you’ll get use to it and I’ve already forgotten about my old life, and that’s just been a month now.
Adriana Linares: That’s amazing, isn’t it? I love that. Okay, let’s go on to another tip. LT, have you got something, let’s see you got all kinds of notes there.
Albert Thuesen: I do, I’m going to go off the notes. I think the tip I can give to a new solo is in the spirit of time management. In that you may feel as though a wave is coming over to you at the first point, but it’s important while you have the free time before the thousand clients are knocking at your door every day that you figure out how you’re going to spend your week. And I think that it’s going to include looking for new clients, business development, one way or the other, and before I got started I was of the opinion, probably foolishly, that I would need to spend somewhere around let’s say 10% of my week in the areas of business development. I find it more to be upwards of probably 35%.
And business development doesn’t necessarily have to mean schmoozing a client, it’s attending networking events, it’s attending CLEs, it’s attending business groups, it’s shaking hands with colleagues you haven’t seen in years, and when I got started in October of 2014, just about a month-and-a-half later Christmas party started. So my wife was used to me coming home at the end of the day at around 5:30 and for series of weeks I kept coming home later and later and later, and she would ask me, “Where were you going?” I said, “Well, I had a happy hour tonight or I had a Christmas party tonight or I had some sort of festivus celebration or whatever it was.” And so my wife kind of turns me and she says, “Do you have a drinking problem?” And I said, “No honey, but nobody is going to knock on our door and say, excuse me there is a lawyer living here.”
Adriana Linares: Maybe she wanted you to invite her.
Albert Thuesen: That’s true, that’s true. Nobody is going to knock on the door and ask if a lawyer lives here. So I needed to spend time every week one way or the other, and it can be fun, some of it is boring, some of it is great, but it’s important that you lock out a certain amount of hours per week that you dedicate to the area of getting new business one way or the other.
Adriana Linares: I think that is incredibly important otherwise those clients will not just show up. I love that you said, “No one is going to knock on the door and ask you if there is a lawyer that lives here.”
Listen, before we move on to our next segment we’re going take a quick break to hear a message from our sponsors, but before I actually cut in the message sponsors I want to talk about them as actual tips because all of these sponsors — I have a little bit of say in the sponsors that come on the show because I want to believe in them and like their products.
So I actually use one of them it’s called PerfectIt, write that down, you guys want this. PerfectIt is really cool, it’s an add-in for Microsoft Word and then it works really well with another tool called WordRake that I use all the time, even in my emails it sits inside of Outlook as well, so they are both PC, I think, you’re all PCs here.
So here’s an example of what PerfectIt does. I spell “email” with a dash, without a dash, sometimes I capitalize it in one document, it goes through, it says, you’ve got “email” spelled three different ways here, which one do you want it and it fixes it in all of them.
If I have an ellipsis and maybe I missed one it says, you know, you’ve got two dots here. If I’ve capitalized “firm” on three pages, but didn’t capitalize it in two pages, it says, you’ve got the word “firm”. So it really perfects your grammar throughout, it’s a very cool tool. And then WordRake goes in, it analyzes what you wrote and it makes suggestions for how to make that sentence better, that thought more clear, I use this all the time because I’m not really a good writer You guys are, you’re trained to be good writers, I’m not. So even for a non-lawyer I like both of those tools.
Answer1 is a great answering service so we’ve mentioned Ruby a couple times and Answer1 is another great service that everyone should research and take a look at. And then of course Clio, which is my favorite, we all know and that’s because when Clio was born, I feel like I was there and I help nurture them, and it is — I don’t need to say much more about Clio, but I will say that one of the reasons I like Clio so much is because of its open API, which means, it allows other programs and services to plug into it and pick up where they don’t specialize. So that’s one of the reasons, it’s my favorite. And then Unbundled Attorney is a great lead generation tool.
So it’s a service, they’re actually based in LA, two episodes ago on ‘New Solo’ actually interviewed the founder about alternative fee arrangements and how he trains his clients which are the lawyers but they also are a pretty powerful lead generation tools. So having said all that is my set of tips, I’m going to launch into some recordings. There is commercials for them and then we’ll come right back.
Advertiser: Is your firm experiencing missed calls, empty voicemail boxes, potential clients you’ll never hear from again? Enter Answer1 Virtual Receptionist. They are more than just an answering service, Answer1 is available 24×7, they can even schedule appointments, respond to emails, integrate with Clio, and much more. Answer1 helps make sure your clients have the experience they deserve, give them a call at 1-800-Answer1 or visit them at HYPERLINK “http://www.answer1.com/podcast” answer1.com/podcast for a special offer.
Imagine how much faster you could work if you spend less time proofreading. Almost every lawyer wastes hours each week proofreading rather than producing legal work. With PerfectIt’s American Legal Style you spend less time proofreading and have more time to focus on substantive matters. It’s easy to use and there is no training required. Try PerfectIt for free from HYPERLINK “http://www.intelligentediting.com” intelligentediting.com and start saving time on proofreading today.
Are you a family law immigration or estate planning attorney looking to attract new leads and retain more clients, join hundreds of other solos and small firms, just like you, who use Unbundled Attorney to receive premium, exclusive leads delivered directly into their Inbox in real-time. To learn more about how their lead generation services can grow your practice, subscribe to the Unbundled Attorney Mastermind Podcast or visit HYPERLINK “http://www.unbundledattorney.com” unbundledattorney.com today.
Clio is an invaluable software solution for law firms of all sizes, handling all the demands of your growing practice from a single cloud-based platform. Clio enhances your firm with features such as matter and document management, time-tracking and even billing. Clio is an effortless tool that helps lawyers focus on what they do best or practice law. Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com” clio.com.
Adriana Linares: Alright, welcome back to ‘New Solo’, I’m Adriana Linares, and with me are three very cool attorneys from San Francisco, Anthony Chiosso, I’m going to just try everybody’s names; Albert Thuesen and Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve, nice. We’re just going around sharing tips and tools with these lawyers who have been out on their own for 30 days, 3 years, 2.5 years, and I think it’s been really useful. Rose-Ellen, have you’ve got another tip for us? We will come back to you. Tony, you’ve got another tip for us?
Tony Chiosso: Yeah, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I knew when I started that at some point I’d want to make a cool logo and I haven’t done that yet, and it’s not something I think that you have to do first.
It’s kind of like the website, do you really have to have the most amazing website before day one? I don’t think so. Just get it up, people are going to check it to make sure you are legit.
So the other thing is that there’s spaces of time that sometimes you have when you’re — I have had since I’ve been started on to stock for my own perspective. And so I fill some of that up by listening to CLEs and webcasts and expanding into my practice areas in a much more deeper, richer way. This is the time that I have to do things like that. I know, I can see it coming down the pike already that a few months from now maybe even I’m not going to have that much time to just sit and listen to a podcast, and so, if I’m not doing that I’m coming into the Bar Association and attending one of the weekly CLEs too.
Adriana Linares: Very good, have you got another tip for us, LT?
Albert Thuesen: Sure, I think the tip I wanted to share is the importance of getting to know the folks who are serving in a quasi support staff role. And for some of us that is a reception service, for some of us that is the greeter at a virtual office, for some of us that maybe someone at your law library or local Bar association, but my point is, it’s important that you make friends with these folks who are supporting you one way or the other. And in my particular office it’s important that I’ve got a shared receptionist and she needs to have an understanding that a lawyer works here and certain things need to be brought to my attention immediately, like yesterday, and if I don’t treat that person with an appropriate amount of respect and friendliness on a regular basis then my work product will suffer.
So I’ve heard on your podcasts before others indicate the importance of — as I like to say just be cool to people, if you are cool to people, then they will be cool back to you and it is important the individuals with whom you’ve got a professional relationship they understand what your needs are and the friendlier you are to them they will support you more, and folks in our profession don’t always have a great reputation for being friendly. So go out and be cool to people.
Adriana Linares: Just be cool, just be nice.
Albert Thuesen: Be nice.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve:: Well, and I would say that applies on the cases you’re handling as well I find that most of my referrals come from other attorneys and they come from attorneys that I had a case against 20 years ago. So it’s just a good practice all around to always be cool, always be nice, and you can represent your client vigorously as well as —
Adriana Linares: Without being a jerk.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve:: Without being a jerk, yeah, and that goes a long way.
Tony Chiosso: Okay, I’m going to build on this thing. And again, I didn’t invent this theory but one thing that happens quite often is that, you get a lead, you get a referral to someone and you don’t really think that you can help them, and that happens to me every once in a while, it’s too far outside of my practice area and in some of the areas that that do come and they are outside of my practice area I take because I’m just interested and I’d like to know how things work.
But sometimes it’s just not going to happen, and instead of just telling someone, sorry, I can’t help you, keep in mind or I keep in mind that they — you might not actually do business with them this time, but refer them to somebody else who can help them and be as friendly and helpful as you can because this time they’re not going to need your services, but next time one of their friends or family member says, “I need a lawyer for this.” He’s like, “Oh, I know that lawyer that helped me out, that’s who you should call.”
Adriana Linares: And it’s just so easy, it’s such an easy tip. And I think what happens is lawyers just get so busy, sometimes that you forget that someone might remember you two years later, just because you were cool and you did help them. That’s the key is you want to stay top of mind, you want to be at the top of someone’s mind when they have a friend who needs a lawyer when they need a lawyer.
Tony Chiosso: They are already in your door, and so you didn’t have to go market to them, they’re going to market for you.
Adriana Linares: So let’s talk a little bit about marketing. We haven’t talked about marketing yet, other than networking and you built a website or any of you paying for marketing services or do you plan to or have you thought about commercials or any tips or ideas that you’ve – oh, Rose-Ellen has got big smile on her face.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: No, I – I — yes I —
Adriana Linares: As our senior, she’s our senior attorney.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Right and I hesitated to let this out because —
Adriana Linares: Well, don’t give away any secrets.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: No, I do pay for help with social media.
Adriana Linares: Oh excellent, so do I, and I think that’s okay.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Because you need I think the thing is, is that not only do you need to have a presence, but you need to have an ongoing consistent presence to stay top of mind. And so, I think I realized this when — like I wrote an article for The Bar Association and then they sent it out on Twitter and then all of a sudden I had followers and I was like, uh oh, now I have followers I need to talk to these people. And so, it’s just one of those things that you — it’s really hard to stay on top of when you’re doing everything else. So making sure that you have a consistent presence, I think is really important, because it is that staying on top of mind, because people will forget that you’re out there doing what you’re doing not because they don’t like you just because they get busy and they forget.
Adriana Linares: People forget. I was going to tell you, guys, last night when we were out at The Stinking Rose and Vesuvio, very cool places in San Francisco, that my new friends took me to. Have you all heard of the Lawyernomics Conference?
So you’ve heard of Avvo, right? Everybody knows Avvo. Oh, they’re here, I wish I had time to — oh no, they are in Seattle, never mind, okay, good, I feel better.
The Lawyernomics Conference by Avvo is in Las Vegas every year and it’s marketing conference, teaches lawyers all kinds of cool things about marketing. I went last year and it was so good.
So if you’re looking for a great marketing conference specifically for lawyers, that’s a good one year after year. Of course, I have to pitch the ABA TECHSHOW because I am Chair this year, and whether you make it this year before March 17, it’s during St. Patrick’s Day, this year 2017 or you make it for next year when your — maybe your budgets are a little bit bigger the ABA TECHSHOW is a great conference where we spend 3 days and it’s every category, marketing, technology, management, and accounting get covered in finance, so a couple of really good conferences to go around.
Tony Chiosso: Where is that?
Adriana Linares: In Chicago, every year.
Tony Chiosso: Okay.
Adriana Linares: And it’s really, really good. Lawyernomics is really good.
And then I think there’s one more that I really like that I go to every year. Oh yeah, The Bar Association of San Francisco Second Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference will be in 2018.
I think we should take a minute to talk about your Bar Association and encourage lawyers. A lot of lawyers think they don’t need to be members of their local Bar association or they’re only members of their State Bar Association because they have to be. But you all are very dedicated to this Bar and it seems like it does a lot, the woman that gave the talk, I missed who she was.
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: Carolyn.
Adriana Linares: Is she your executive director or —
Tony Chiosso: She’s our immediate past president.
Adriana Linares: Oh ok. And she was so heartfelt, and I’m sorry, I missed her name I just walked in late, but she really meant the things that she was saying about how hard these Bar associations will work and it really sounds to me like “You all get a lot out of it” and I think it’s important to encourage again, building that community and having a place to go.
And then, if you are part of a Bar Association that doesn’t have brown-bag lunches that’s never had a solo and small firm conference, be the one that goes to them and says, “I want to organize this, our members need it and that’s what you guys did.”
Albert Thuesen: Well, for me, I was a member of BASIF immediately out of law school, I joined a big firm, they paid for my membership dues, I hardly ever came, I was too busy with my big firm. But when I went solo I realized that it can be a lonely existence and you need to see other people who are also in the trenches with you.
So coming to meetings here at BASIF, be it our monthly brown-bag lunches or the CLEs that are dedicated to the small firm practitioners or the social events or whatnot, you are seeing your brothers and sisters that are in the same stresses, in the same highs and lows as you are, and it’s really, really encouraging. It almost feels as though we are one super large law firm.
And when I worked on the other side I had heard urban myths about how solos and particularly plaintiff’s lawyers worked with each other, but I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes very often.
I can tell you unequivocally, the moment you go out on your own, you have hundreds of thousands of other lawyers who are in similar straits and they are just — they are waiting to help you.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, well, that’s great and I can also say that if you are going be that person who says, “I want to plan a conference or I want to do something that helps” call me, I help Bar Associations of all sizes all the time. I help bring in sponsors and we bring in speakers and it’s not that hard and that’s part of that networking that you’re doing because what a better way to get your name out to the local community by being on the committee that helps organize conferences and practice management stuff, and of course, I think that’s really important because my whole world is practice management technology.
Albert Thuesen: And Rose-Ellen is the co-chair of the Solo and Small Firm section.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. All right, guys, is there any last tips we forgot before we wrap this up. I think this — I mean, I think people’s heads are going to explode already.
Tony Chiosso: Yeah, oh that’s another good point actually. There’s so much to digest when you are going solo, but just take a deep breath, make lots of lists, check things off your list, I mean, that’s what kept me saying the whole time and knowing that I had a dead line and when I was going to launch, it was firm, a good month out really, really, really has sued my, I don’t know, my anxieties about going solo. One, of course not getting enough business; two, just how’s it all going to work it all works, you get the business, you meet people that’ll help, you ask lots of questions, maybe you think you’re swallowing your pride, I don’t, I think that reaching out is not a sign of weakness, I think it’s a sign that you are confident in the fact that you need help.
Adriana Linares: I think that’s such a great way to end part two of our totally awesome series. If there’s two, is it a series?
Tony Chiosso: I believe it’s a pair.
Adriana Linares: It’s a pair of podcasts from The Bar Association of San Francisco. So before I let everyone go I’d like to ask you to each give one last words of inspiration or piece of advice and then remind people how they can keep an eye on you.
Albert Thuesen: Again, this is Albert Thuesen, Coit Law Group in San Francisco, you can find me on Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and about the best words of the wise I can give is, believe in yourself. If you’ve got through law school you probably didn’t do it alone, you probably had a network of friends, family and neighbors who cared for you, and when you decide to go out on your own that same network is going to be there to help you and encourage you, and make sure that your parachute opens when you jump out of the plane.
Adriana Linares: And we should use this as a great opportunity. What kind of referrals do you like, Albert Thuesen, spelled T-H-U-E-S-E-N.
Albert Thuesen: My primary practice is in personal injury, I take cases both here in the Bay Area as well as in Oregon, Washington, and Nevada.
Adriana Linares: Great, what about you, Rose-Ellen?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: I am Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve at Fairgrieve Law Office and Fairgrieve and, I mean, LT said it as well as it could be said, your network you don’t even realize who they are and where they are and that they exist until you go out on your own and then there they are.
Adriana Linares: And if somebody thought you were so sweet and amazing and they wanted to send you some clients, what type of referrals would you like?
Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve: I do employer side advice and counseling and litigation defense.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. And our young new solo here.
Tony Chiosso: All right, if you want to reach me you can reach me at [email protected] and if you don’t know how to spell in Italian that’s C-H-I-O-S-S-O law.com.
I — my words of wisdom to a new solo, I don’t really think I have any words of wisdom other than you can do it if you really want to and just keep in the back of your mind, of your heart what’s motivating you to do this to make a step and that will keep you going.
Adriana Linares: And what kind of referrals would you like from the world?
Tony Chiosso: Okay. Well —
Adriana Linares: If there was a referral machine out there which new solo can be?
Tony Chiosso: So the first thing is personal injury and I’ve been on the defense side for years and now I’ve taken my practice to the plaintiff side and, so I’m — I’ve seen behind the curtain and I know the processes back there and I can really position my clients as best as possible for the best outcome, and I also do quite a bit of state planning.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. Awesome. Well, everyone, it looks like we’ve reached the end of another great episode. We want to make sure to thank everyone and thank our sponsors; and, don’t forget to give us a rating on iTunes. I keep forgetting to ask people to do that. That would be great if you like the podcast we’d appreciate some five-star ratings. If you don’t like the podcast, just delete it, don’t listen to it again, don’t say anything bad about us.
Make sure you visit HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com to learn more about what you’ve heard we put transcripts and information about all the tools and resources that we talked about during these past two episodes and more out there.
Of course, you can find us on iTunes, RSS, Twitter, and Facebook.
I’m Adriana Linares. Thanks again. Join us next time for another great episode of ‘New Solo’, and remember, you’re not alone, you are New Solo.
Outro: Thanks for listening to New Solo with host Adriana Linares. Tune in again to learn more about how to successfully run your new practice, solo, here on Legal Talk Network.
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.
New Solo covers a diverse range of topics including transitioning from law firm to solo practice, law practice management, and more.
Amanda Moore, CPA, shares tips on how to manage your practice’s finances and your bookkeeper as well as keeping yourself off the IRS’ radar.
Liz McCausland shares some of the professional and personal services she uses to improve both her work life and her personal life.
David Leatherberry talks about how healthcare law led him to start his solo firm, his experience in the legal industry and his current...
Renée Thompson talks about what tools enable her to accomplish her goals and to look forward towards her plan to run for Florida Bar...
Renee and Phil Stackhouse discuss their individual careers and delve into how they manage their personal lives as a couple and as parents.
Paige Greenlee and Brittany Maxey-Fisher talk about their career experiences.