Jeffery P. Alford is the owner of and attorney at Alford Law Office. Jeff has tried numerous divorce, custody,...
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...
Lawyers are often hesitant to set up a practice in a rural area because they believe it will be difficult to find enough clients and sustain a business, but this isn’t necessarily true. In this episode of New Solo, host Adriana Linares talks to Jeff Alford about why he chose to set up shop in small-town Kentucky and what technology he uses to help his practice thrive. They also discuss Ernie Svenson’s Small Firm Boot Camp and why conferences are important even for those who run in smaller circles.
Jeffery Alford is the owner of and attorney at Alford Law Office. Jeff has tried numerous divorce, custody, civil and criminal cases to final judgment or verdict.
Using Technology to Sustain a Rural Practice
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: It’s time for another episode of New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I am Adriana Linares. I am your host. I am a legal technology trainer and consultant. My job is to help lawyers figure out how to use technology better. I’m happy to be recording from my home office in lovely Winter Park, Florida today. As you know if you’re a regular listener, I travel all the time. So, it’s a pleasure to be at home, so I’m super-happy about that.
And today’s guest is a gentleman named Jeff Alford. He’s an attorney in Western Kentucky. We’re going to spend a few minutes talking to him about his solo practice and how he and I ran into each other and I asked him to be a guest on the show. But before we get started, I want to make sure and take a few minutes to thank our sponsors.
Answer 1 is 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 “http://www.answer1.com” answer1.com.
Of course, I want to make sure and thank Clio. Clio’s cloud-based practice management software makes it easy to manage your law firm, from intake to invoice. Try it for free at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com” clio.com.
And I want to thank our sponsor PerfectIt. PerfectIt is a legal specific proofreading software that locates mistakes that neither spellcheck, nor the most eagle-eyed attorney can find. Try PerfectIt for free at HYPERLINK “http://www.intelligentediting.com” intelligentediting.com, and I am happy to announce that they have given us a New Solo discount code. You can use it within the next 10 days at HYPERLINK “http://www.intelligentediting.com” intelligentediting.com and that discount code is newsolo.
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.
Hey Jeff, are you there?
Jeff Alford: Yes, I am.
Adriana Linares: Awesome. How are you?
Jeff Alford: Doing well. How are you?
Adriana Linares: I’m great. Where are you?
Jeff Alford: I am in my office in Paducah, Kentucky, which is right about where the Ohio River and the Mississippi River meets.
Adriana Linares: And Paducah — why do — is that like the name of a song or something, why is Paducah like a city that people know of?
Jeff Alford: I don’t know that a lot of people do know of, at least they have to explain how to pronounce the name.
Adriana Linares: Maybe where I’m getting it confused with Podunk, is that insulting because I don’t mean it to be?
Jeff Alford: Actually, there is actual town called Podunk.
Adriana Linares: No.
Jeff Alford: It is just down the road, right near Possum Trot about 20 miles from here.
Adriana Linares: I don’t even believe you.
Jeff Alford: True story, look it up.
Adriana Linares: As the Geography major that I was, I am totally going to look it up a little bit later. I was recently — actually it’s been a year now, I was out in Kentucky for the first time, but I think I was in the easternmost part of Kentucky, doing a technology audit at a legal aid organization over there. And I wish I could remember the name of one of the three little towns that I was in, but I had a great time.
It was in the middle of nowhere. I mean it was so beautiful, it was so peaceful. Are you sort of in a rural area?
Jeff Alford: We are. For our area, Paducah and McCracken County where I practice is kind of like I think the term that is often used is a micropolitan area because we –
Adriana Linares: I love that.
Adriana Linares: — attract actually well over a 100,000 people regularly each month to our area, but as far as population-wise, Paducah only has about 28,000 people. And I think somewhere around 65,000 in the entire county of McCracken, but they pull from Southern Illinois, Southeastern Missouri and Western Kentucky because there’s a lot of shops and restaurants and things like that.
Adriana Linares: Oh, no kidding. So, a lot of times I feel that attorneys are hesitant to either move or start practices in rural areas because they think there’s not going to be business or it’s going to be hard to sustain a practice. It sounds like you have not had that problem.
Jeff Alford: Now — and I’ve heard those same types of statements and same types of arguments. When I went through law school I was actually already married and we had our first child. So, looking at post law school life, my wife and I were kind of considering lifestyle choices from the standpoint of — I actually interviewed with some larger firms up in central Illinois and in Chicago and considered that but they were kind of what you would call the meat-grinder type firms.
Adriana Linares: Sure, yeah. Nobody wants to get into one of those, nobody does that on purpose.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, you go for the interview and they’re like, oh, here’s your office and this is the couch for your office, it also folds out into a bed, here’s your private bath.
Adriana Linares: Make sure you bill your 2200 hours.
Jeff Alford: Right, here’s your private bath with a shower and before you know, you’re kind of thinking they don’t want you to go home so —
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Jeff Alford: — part of the reason why we chose this area was because we already had our daughter. We knew we wanted more children and it’s a great area to raise a family as far as making a living, honestly, I mean, dollar-wise probably less than what you would make practicing law in a bigger city but you also have to factor in that that dollar goes much further in areas like ours because the cost of living is so much lower.
Adriana Linares: That’s very good and do you — as far as the other, like the legal network in your area, are there a lot of other lawyers, do you all pretty much know each other, is it a good supportive network? Tell me a little bit about being a lawyer in a rural town?
Jeff Alford: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to say “rural”.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, it kind of is. In a “micropolitan area”, I like that much better.
Jeff Alford: Feel free, I didn’t trademark that one.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I am totally going to use it.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, McCracken County, if you look at the Kentucky Bar Association statistics, I think McCracken County has somewhere around 240 lawyers or lawyers that state that they practice within McCracken County because of course folks across county lines all the time. So that being said, for the most part it is a fairly close community. I know pretty much every attorney that practices in Paducah and McCracken County, in some way, shape or form obviously I’m closer to some than others.
My practice — we advocate for people in high conflict and high asset divorce litigation, normally from talking with attorneys across the country in similar type practices. It sounds like they are having to deal with people constantly in very hostile, professional relationships. Some attorneys seem to think that they have to hate each others’ guts in order to effectively advocate for their clients.
But our area, we are actually very fortunate, we go to court, we’ll do get out, and then at the end of the day, may go grab a beer together or something like that.
Adriana Linares: Oh, that’s really good. I like that, that’s what you should do.
Jeff Alford: I describe it to folks like kind of like the old Warner Brothers cartoon with the wolf and the sheepdog, they have breakfast together and then they go punching, and they try to blow each other up.
Adriana Linares: So, we’re going to advocate for moving to rural areas, where lawyers are needed and encourage people that it’s not so bad. The lifestyle is comfortable, the living can be made and lawyers in those areas are friendly with each other. I’m going to go with that.
I think it’s interesting that you and I have seen each other twice at technology conferences far outside the geographical lines of Paducah. So, I wanted to talk to you about that because I think a lot of lawyers don’t think there’s much value in traveling to technology or practice management conferences or even just legal conferences. But I feel you’re one of those attorneys that does and I wanted you to sort of talk about that and we can talk about the fact that we ran into each other at Ernie Svenson’s Small Firm Bootcamp that he’s been doing for a couple years and want to talk about some of the tips and tricks and ideas that you picked up from that.
But let me just go back and ask you about the value that you find in traveling to those conferences and the people that you meet, like tell lawyers why that sort of stuff is so useful and important.
Jeff Alford: Yes, certainly. I think that a lot of attorneys have this mindset that a lot of the conferences that, for instance, the ABA TECHSHOW or I go to what used to be called MILOfest now it’s MacTrack Legal, I go to that just about every year. Ernie’s bootcamp, these larger more nationally oriented conferences or tech-oriented conferences, oh, those are great for big-city firms or large firms, but that’s not really for me in places like Paducah, Kentucky.
And I found it’s exactly the opposite by going to those conferences and bringing back these big ideas in trying to implement them into my own practice, it’s put me leaps and bounds ahead of other attorneys in my area. I constantly will throw out an idea and people say, well, that would never work “around here”. And then —
Adriana Linares: They say it’s malarkey? I feel like “malarkey” is a word that would be used in Western Kentucky. That’s malarkey, Jeff, bunch of malarkey.
Jeff Alford: This is a family show, so we will say, “Yeah, malarkey is good”, we’ll go with that.
Adriana Linares: Go with that.
Jeff Alford: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: And then, can you give me an example of what one of those things is that you said, yeah, I went to this conference and they had this suggestion and somebody said, come on, Jeff, that’s a bunch of malarkey, that’s not going to work out here.
Jeff Alford: Well, actually, I was one of the first attorneys in the area to start using Clio, for example.
Adriana Linares: Oh, my favorite.
Jeff Alford: And I actually turned — I don’t know, something like half a dozen different attorneys or firms on to Clio back early-early days of Clio.
Adriana Linares: That’s great. Was it protests like, well, you’re just one lawyer, what do you need to pay a monthly fee to manage your practice, can’t you just do it with Word and Excel?
Jeff Alford: It was really more of the Software-as-a-Service idea –
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Jeff Alford: — that people griped against, because there were — several attorneys were using the old amicus or —
Adriana Linares: Sure, the Time Matters or PC Matters.
Jeff Alford: Time Matters, yeah exactly. And of course, those things are just dinosaurs.
Adriana Linares: It’s so funny the way we talk about them like they are actually dead and gone, and they’re not, but we talk about them like they are because we have these great options like you said, Software-as-a-Service, that is very good and affordable. So yeah, go ahead.
Jeff Alford: Well, and I shouldn’t — I probably shouldn’t log on PCLaw too much because my bookkeeper still swears by it for the back-office accounting side of things.
Adriana Linares: Sure, good solid tool, still a dinosaur.
Jeff Alford: Sure. But that’s one example. Some of the other things — I have turned several folks on to SpeakWrite for dictation.
Adriana Linares: Love it.
Jeff Alford: TextExpander, all these — these different tools.
Adriana Linares: What about the fact that you’re on Mac?
Jeff Alford: Oh yeah, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Jeff Alford: I started trying to push towards using Mac computers in a law office, well, about a year or two before I went to my first MILOfest, which I have been going since the second MILOfest.
Adriana Linares: That’s cool, that’s a fun conference.
Jeff Alford: Oh yeah, yeah, I have made lots of friends there, and gotten a lot of ideas from there. And I did get a lot of push back when I first started using Macs, and now it’s actually becoming more-and-more prevalent.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, for sure.
Jeff Alford: And I think a lot of that is because of Software-as-a-Service.
Adriana Linares: It is.
Jeff Alford: Microsoft’s shift into being a little bit more platform agnostic since Satya Nadella took over. So, I am probably getting way nerdier and geekier than you want me to —
Adriana Linares: It’s okay. We are going to cut in the nerd alert noise.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, there you go.
Adriana Linares: Don’t worry about it.
Jeff Alford: But actually, the Mac has been awesome. Yeah, I use a MacBook Air and I take it with me to court because I am not paper-free, but I am trying to use less paper. We scan everything. I think PDFpenPro is one of if not the best PDF tools out there. Several folks use Adobe Acrobat Pro, but I think that’s way more than what I need.
Adriana Linares: Sure.
Jeff Alford: And I have used my MacBook Air to do courtroom presentations and just keep track of everything as I am presenting cases. I had a — I have also started using my iPad a lot more in court especially with the Apple Pencil.
I had a case, it was a divorce case, fairly high asset case over in Southern Illinois back a few years ago, and I was against this older attorney who was insistent that I provide all of the discovery in paper form, did not want it electronically.
Adriana Linares: Oh yeah, geez. I hope you just emailed it to him and made him printed himself.
Jeff Alford: Oh no, no, no, no, I printed off every page, piled it all up loosely in a banker’s box and shifted.
Adriana Linares: All to your advantage, my friend, all to your advantage.
Jeff Alford: During the trial I had everything on my iPad and I was just skipping around, jumping all over the place while he is rummaging through his box and paper.
Adriana Linares: Making an occasional Sudoku move while you waited for him.
Jeff Alford: Exactly. So — that kind of shift and trying to use that kind of technology has definitely made an impression, not only with other members of the Bar but also with your clients. When they see you’re just cutting right through things and not making the Judge upset while he is waiting for you to find something as opposed to the other counsel, they are going to refer way more people to you.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, makes a lot of sense. I like that you use technology as a weapon. I think it’s important for lawyers to realize that it can be, right? I say that all the time and I get these funny looks like, what do you mean, and I think just think about it.
You said “we” earlier, and so I wanted to ask you about your office. I failed to ask you what kind of law you practice, although you have hinted to it a little bit, but tell us a little bit about the type of practice that you have and then who else is in your office?
Jeff Alford: Sure. My practice is primarily high conflict divorce cases, child custody, high asset, that sort of thing. I have two legal assistants as well — there is another attorney here, her practice is more towards criminal defense with some family law, and then I have a part-time bookkeeper.
Adriana Linares: Okay, good. Let’s take a quick break before we move on to our next segment and hear just a couple of messages from our sponsors.
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, deliver 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.
Adriana Linares: Okay, we’re back. Jeff, you are still with me?
Jeff Alford: I am.
Adriana Linares: Great. So, I wanted to just recap a couple of things that you mentioned, in case people are needing to hear things again. Some tools that you use and you love, and you rely on are Clio for practice management.
Jeff Alford: Yes.
Adriana Linares: TextExpander, which we should tell everybody what that is, but I think hold on a second — let’s hold on to TextExpander because we can use it in talking about the context of Ernie’s bootcamp because it did a whole presentation on TextExpander.
Jeff Alford: Sure.
Adriana Linares: PDF Pro you like over Adobe Acrobat, because it’s less expensive and does all the basic stuff that you need. Does it redact for you? Obviously, it must.
Jeff Alford: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Okay good, because that seems to be like where PDF software becomes expensive is when you are asking for things like Redaction and Bates numbering, so —
Jeff Alford: Bates numbering is about the only thing I found that PDFpenPro doesn’t do, but I really need Bates stamping.
Adriana Linares: Okay, so that’s just an important point to make, because those are the — usually that will draw the line but as long as it redacts for most lawyers — a reasonably priced PDF program that does all the basic stuff including redacting is good. Do you remember what it cost-ish?
Jeff Alford: PDFpenPro usually will run, I want to say about $120, but you can watch, it’s one of the Smile Software which also does TextExpander.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Jeff Alford: They have sales all the time or they will be bundled in like Mac bundles, because it is important, it is a Mac-only software.
Adriana Linares: Oh, we should definitely say that, right.
Jeff Alford: But I think I managed to pick it up on a sale for like $65.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I got TextExpander once on a sale for like — wait, I think it is $19 for half.
Jeff Alford: No, I mean PDFpenPro I got for $65 as opposed to $120.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, right, I am sorry and I was just saying, yes, I think they put their stuff on sale every once in a while, TextExpander being one of the tools which we are going to talk about in a minute. And I want to spell that out so people know we are saying PDFpenPro; P-E-N Pro.
Jeff Alford: Correct.
Adriana Linares: Okay. And then you also mentioned SpeakWrite, which you use to dictate into; do you use your iPhone?
Jeff Alford: I do.
Adriana Linares: Okay. So, you dictate into your iPhone, it sends a live recording of your voice to a human being, the human being actually transcribes it and sends it back in whatever format you want. It’s very reasonably priced too. I used to use SpeakWrite.
Jeff Alford: Oh yeah, it’s — I think it’s like one and a fourth penny per word.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Jeff Alford: And they use the — Microsoft word count. So, I don’t necessarily dictate everything like the heading of the case or anything like that, but just the guts of it. They send it to me as a Word document, you cut and paste, it’s super-simple, and the turnaround time is usually somewhere two to three hours.
Adriana Linares: Right, they are really fast, that’s really good. And then what size iPad do you have?
Jeff Alford: I have the – what is that, the 9.5” iPad Pro. A friend of mine, he bought the massive, like —
Adriana Linares: Yeah, Ernie bought the massive one first and then he exchanged it for the smaller one eventually because it was just too big.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, it’s like your Moses carry it around one of the Ten Commandment tablets or something, but it is plenty money, he absolutely loves it, but it’s just too big for me, so I waited till they came out with a smaller one.
Adriana Linares: Maybe that’s where Moses went wrong. I mean if he had only had the tablet, imagine how many other more Commandments he could have written with the ease of that tablet and that pen, we would have so many more. Good Lord.
Well cool, no, that’s good. I wanted to make sure we recapped on all that stuff and — because I think our listeners really like hearing other tips and tools from lawyers that that you use and recommend. Let’s talk a little bit about Ernie’s Small Firm Bootcamp.
Jeff Alford: Sure.
Adriana Linares: So, Ernie Svenson, who is very well-known in the legal community as a former lawyer and a consultant and a trainer, teaching lawyers how to use technology better has for the past couple of years, put on this great technology conference in New Orleans, and if you are a regular listener of the show, you know that I have an apartment in New Orleans, because it’s the city where my heart is. I spend a lot of time there, Ernie is one of my best friends and we have a whole group of really good legal eagles down there and this conference comes on and Ernie has packed that room. Was this your first year there, Jeff?
Jeff Alford: It was.
Adriana Linares: Great, and so how do you hear about it and what made you come down?
Jeff Alford: Well, I followed Ernie’s blog for years and this conference looked like the itinerary, it looked very good. My friend Brett Burney was speaking. I have known Brett for years; I met him through the MILOfest Conference. We would always have a good time hanging out together at conferences and things like that.
Adriana Linares: He is such a great, smart guy, he is awesome.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, he is awesome. Plus, it fell right in line with one of my daughter’s graduating from high school, so I said, hey, how would you like to go to New Orleans for graduation? So, dad got to go to a conference, she got a trip to New Orleans and I get to write it off, it’s all good.
Adriana Linares: It’s perfect. Before we just sort of pass by Brett, can you off the top of your head, or I can look it up real quick, remember the name of his blog with the software review on it, because I would like to mention it. Look it up real quick.
Jeff Alford: Apps in Law is it?
Adriana Linares: Apps in Law, I think that might be right, HYPERLINK “http://www.appsinlaw.com” appsinlaw.com. So, Brett Burney, for those of you who haven’t heard of Brett Burney, it’s B-R-E-T-T B-U-R-N-E-Y was also a lawyer, is now a consultant. He specializes in e-discovery. He is the Past Chair of the ABA TECHSHOW, just like me, and is just a really knowledgeable smart, again, attorney, consultant who is constantly sharing his knowledge and ideas. He has a website. I know he does a newsletter.
I don’t know, does he do a podcast? He might even do a podcast, but again, if you are one of those lawyers that’s looking for more resources to help you with practice management and technology, make sure you look up Brett and follow him. Did you find it Jeff?
Jeff Alford: Oh, I was actually trying to pull up his LinkedIn page to see if I could find it.
Adriana Linares: All right, well, people will find it when they put in Apps in Law or Brett Burney. If we can find it while we are chatting, we will.
So, you see this conference, you decide to go down there and it looks like a great agenda, and there were some really great speakers on there, and one of the things that Brett Burney did with Andrew Legrand, who is an attorney from New Orleans that I have had on the show. Andrew is, again, like the small world that we sort of live in, is one of my dearest friends. He is a young attorney, who is a major tech user. I mean he just goes all out.
So, if you are interested in learning about automating your practice, there’s — I think I actually had to turn the episode with Andrew into two episodes because the content he gave us was so good.
They did an hour-long presentation on TextExpander. So, I just want — I don’t want you to take an hour, but for a couple of minutes explain to lawyers what TextExpander is and how you use it?
Jeff Alford: Sure. TextExpander is a program that allows you to essentially use the power of what — if you have been working with word processors for several years and are familiar with using macros at all, you can take that power and apply it across pretty much all of your software, where you just type in short, little what they call snippets, three, four keystrokes to produce massive amounts of text, could be anything from just a simple address, all the way up to whole letters.
Adriana Linares: So, it kind of does what it says. It expands text so when you put in — so I use it too and I am constantly having to put in a signature block. You can reach me at and then my name, my phone number, my email address and my website, so just four pieces of information that I am constantly typing and they are not always necessarily at the end of an email.
So, I created a little snippet, which is mysig, M-Y-S-I-G and anywhere and everywhere that I am on my computer, whether I am in Word, in an email, putting in a comment on a website, if I type mysig, it expands that text into those four lines. So, you can use it for very short phrase, like if there’s a word you have a hard time spelling, medical terms, or like you said, you could use it for pages worth of text or clauses.
For me as a bi-tech user, so I am both a Mac and a PC and I am constantly moving between the two of them, one of the most awesome things TextExpander did was create a cloud-based storage for the snippets. So, I log into my PC or onto my Mac, whether it’s in Orlando, New Orleans or on an airplane and my phone, because there’s a keyboard for it on the iPhone, and wherever I am I have access to those snippets. They are — I would die without those things. That tool is so important to me.
Jeff Alford: Yeah. Well, one thing you want to be aware of, because Brett and I were actually both trying to do tech support for a gentleman who was just learning how to use TextExpander at Burney’s conference, and if you have an iPad with the — what do they call that, the Apple Magic Keyboard, the case, that keyboard won’t recognize the TextExpander keyboard, that’s a soft keyboard on the screen. So, you have to actually turn off the Magic Keyboard, use the screen keyboard or the iPad in order to use that. However, if you have a Logitech keyboard, it will work with that.
Adriana Linares: Well, that’s weird. That’s interesting. A little tip for you.
Jeff Alford: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Save you some googling. Tell me what other tips or tools you learned about at the Bootcamp; give our attorneys a couple more?
Jeff Alford: Well, one of the — just actually before we leave TextExpander, one of the things I want to make sure it’s clear, because this has actually been a conversation on the Slack Channel from the Bootcamp afterwards and I actually posted some things in there about that. I actually started using TextExpander even more so. I historically have used it for signature blocks, addresses, a couple of short letters, addresses and things like that or time entries. I actually with the new and updated TextExpander, which allows you to use drop-down menus and different things I have started creating entire forms that you can complete. So like while we were there at the Bootcamp I showed Brett, I programmed an entire divorce petition.
Adriana Linares: Oh my gosh. No way.
Jeff Alford: And used the — there’s a fill top line of code that you can use in TextExpander. So, it will go through and it will find all of those spaces to fill in information and you just fill those in rather than having to tap through and it takes that, populates it, boom, it starts creating documents for you.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, it can be very sophisticated, so if it’s something you get into, make sure you don’t just use the tip of the iceberg with it, spend a few minutes really learning what that product and that tool can do, for not just your practice, I mean for every single thing you do on a digital device that software is pretty amazing.
And I will let you answer your question about what else did you learn at the Bootcamp after this quick break we are going to take.
Imagine what you could do with an extra eight hours per week? That’s how much time legal professionals save with Clio, the world’s leading practice management software. With intuitive time tracking, billing and matter management, Clio streamlines everything you do to run your practice from intake to invoice. Try Clio for free and then get a 10% discount for your first six months when you sign up with the code New Solo 10, that’s New Solo 10 and do that at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com/”clio.com.
Is your firm experiencing missed calls, empty voicemail boxes and potential clients you will never hear from again? Enter Answer 1 Virtual Receptionist. They are more than just an answering service. Answer 1 is available 24×7. They can even schedule appointments, respond to emails and agree with Clio and much more. Answer 1 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.
Adriana Linares: Okay, we are back and thank you everyone for taking a few moments to listen to the messages from our sponsors. Please remember to go and visit their websites. We do want to support them because we couldn’t do the show without them.
So, we are back talking to Jeff Alford and we were talking about the Bootcamp, Ernie Svenson’s Small Firm Bootcamp where Jeff and I met and we are just talking about TextExpander and Brett Burney as one of the speakers, and Andrew Legrand, who I have had on the show. And I was going to say to Jeff, but then we got on the TextExpander love fest, I was going to let Jeff tell us what a couple of other things are that he learned or picked up at the Bootcamp.
Jeff Alford: Sure. One of the things that Ernie’s Bootcamp or the other tech conferences I think have going against them is that people think of it as, or think of them rather I should say as just “tech conferences” and there are a number of lawyers who do not identify themselves as “techie” but at all these conferences you get so much more than just knowledge about tech. There’s also a lot of information that is shared in the networking programs and even in the presentations themselves that go specifically towards growing your business, making your business more efficient, not just with technology, but just in other different ways.
John Fisher at Ernie’s Bootcamp, he did an amazing job talking about marketing and networking and presenting yourself and telling your story. There was, I am sorry, I just drew a blank on the gentleman’s name who was there, actually was a marketer and a copywriter.
Adriana Linares: Oh right, what was that guy’s name? Jess —
Jeff Alford: Mark Lee.
Adriana Linares: Mark Lee. Anyway, there was a guy there.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, fill that in later.
Adriana Linares: Go to Ernie’s Bootcamp’s website, we don’t know.
Jeff Alford: Exactly, but awesome, awesome tips for how to market your practice and that sort of thing. John Fisher, he talked about the power of writing a book and using that to market your practice.
I actually just — my book was published earlier this year, because it was an idea that Victor Medina from MacTrack Legal had presented last fall and got me inspired and I basically repurposed a lot of prior writings I had and worked with an editor and got that published. And that’s one of the best business cards I have ever had.
Adriana Linares: Well, what’s the book about, are you going to tell us?
Jeff Alford: Sure, always leave them wanting more. It’s called ‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do; But It Doesn’t Have to Be: A Divorce Survival Guide’.
Adriana Linares: Oh excellent.
Jeff Alford: It’s available on Amazon, on Kindle or in paperback. But I used CreateSpace, which is an Amazon subsidiary to help me get it published. It’s for sale on Amazon, but as an attorney and a practitioner, they charge the same whether I order five of them or I order 500; it’s about $3 a book.
Adriana Linares: Wow. And is it for clients or for lawyers?
Jeff Alford: It is for clients. It’s definitely written towards clients, because those are the people who are going to hire me. So, anybody that comes in has a consultation with me, anybody that hires me, they get a copy of it. If I go to a speaking and engagement, I take a box of them, give them out, and it helps to establish me as an authority in that field, because it impresses people, you are a published author, you must know what you are talking about.
Adriana Linares: That’s a great tip and suggestion. I hope you inspire other lawyers to do the same. If Barbara Leach ever listens to this episode, I want to remind her that she owes everybody from that Bootcamp a book.
Jeff Alford: Exactly.
Adriana Linares: What else did you learn, what were some of the other tools or services that you checked into or maybe you have checked out since you got back?
Jeff Alford: Well, actually there was a presentation about Google AdWords.
Adriana Linares: By Conrad Saam.
Jeff Alford: Yes, it was excellent. I actually used to use Google AdWords quite a bit and I kind of drifted away from that because I started actually doing a lot more advertising using Facebook and I just started toying around a little bit with some of the tips that he gave in that presentation, literally while we were sitting there.
Adriana Linares: Oh great.
Jeff Alford: And kind of tweaked a couple of ads, changed up a few things, and I think my click-through rate ahs gone up. I just got the report yesterday or day before, click-through rate was up 67%.
Adriana Linares: Oh my gosh.
Jeff Alford: So yeah, it was amazing.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome. What about, do you have any other really great tools and services that you use that you want to tell everybody before we unfortunately wrap it up?
Jeff Alford: We already talked about the iPad a little bit, but since the advent of the Apple Pencil —
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I was actually going to ask you more about that.
Jeff Alford: I use Notability for my note-taking and the great thing about that is of course it’s excellent at reading the handwriting with the Apple Pencil. You can record while you are taking notes. You can set it so that when you highlight a certain section that you have written, it will jump to that portion of the recording and play back what was being said at that time, so a lot of great benefits.
Of course, now if you are using that in consultations with clients, check your local rules, but usually it’s a good idea to say, hey, do you mind if I record this as I take notes?
Adriana Linares: And are you excited about a new iPad when those come out or you think you are good with this, because I think everybody has that thought in their head when Apple releases the next edition of something, should I get it, is there any reason that you think you would jump to a new iPad?
Jeff Alford: It’s always super tempting for a tech nerd to jump and grab the newest, shiniest thing, so I am constantly at war with myself between, well, this is working, but that’s so pretty.
Adriana Linares: I know. I am having a real hard time still trying to decide between a drone or a 3D printer, neither of which I know what I would do with, but because I am also a tech nerd and have to have every little thing that comes out, I am like, oh, a drone would be so cool, I could take pictures of my garden from up top. A 3D printer, oh my God, what could I do with that.
No, I am looking at those new iPads too and the new iPhone, whenever it decides to come out, looks like it’s going to be amazing. I think that is such a funny addiction that the Mac users have, anything new and shiny that they put out, we want it.
Jeff Alford: Yeah, I have to admit the new iPad, that’s, what is it, 10.5 inches?
Adriana Linares: 10.5.
Jeff Alford: That’s tempting for — one, it’s still not the Moses Ten Commandments tablet size, but it is bigger, and my eyes are now 42 years old and I find myself squinting and trying to use that stretch thing, so I could read small print more and more.
Adriana Linares: It’s amazing what one centimeter will do for you on devices, imagine a whole extra inch on one of those screens, I mean I am totally with you.
Jeff Alford: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Well, listen, it’s been really fun having you on. I appreciate your time and sharing all your knowledge and experience and encouraging lawyers to practice in rural areas, but then get out of those areas.
Hey, if you want me to come and do a presentation at your bar, so Jeff, if you want to bring this show in-house, why don’t you and I put on like a half day at your bar, tell them, we will come and we will do that and then all those attorneys who think that there’s no reason to get out, we will give them like a little teaser and then they will think, wow, that was amazing. I wonder if I go to Chicago one year, how much more I would get out of this, that would be fun.
Jeff Alford: Careful saying things like that. I am actually the President of the McCracken Bar Association and I may take you up on that.
Adriana Linares: Wow. No, look, I am easy, just pay for my travel and I will come up there, I love doing that sort of stuff. I think that’s really fun. And anyone else that’s listening, a lot of us that are in this little world are always happy to travel to conferences and to put conferences on, which I do all the time, just cover our travel and we will be there.
Jeff Alford: All right, all right, cool. Hey, wait a minute, before we go, you advertise yourself as a technology consultant, so why don’t I get to ask you a question.
Adriana Linares: Oh, I love that idea. Okay. Well, let’s hope I can answer it, give me an easy one.
Jeff Alford: Okay. Well, what is the number one tech tool you would recommend for lawyers to improve their practice?
Adriana Linares: So that’s a great question actually and it’s funny that that’s what you chose to ask me, because I do consulting for the Florida Bar Board of Governors, and the incoming — the President-Elect called me and said, hey, I want you to sit down with me and give me some ideas of what I need to do, and for her, it was not just that she is a busy — her name is Michelle Suskauer and she is the President-Elect and will become so in a couple of weeks in Florida, it’s not so much only for improving her practice, she has a successful practice, a criminal defense practice, but she really is going to become soon overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being the President of an 80,000-100,000 lawyer bar. And I sat down. I made a list of the things that I want her to start using.
So first of all, she needs to get Clio, is the first thing I am going to tell her, because of course I think Clio is a great practice management software. But on my list of the little things that are easy for her, it was TextExpander, which we talked about, a password manager, which —
Jeff Alford: Oh excellent.
Adriana Linares: Right? And I don’t think people understand the value of both of those tools together. If you think about how much time you waste either looking up a password, resetting a password, finding an old document to copy and paste text from, just the hassles, the minutes that up in a day in those two little things, looking for text and logging into stuff. So, it was going to be TextExpander. I use RoboForm because I have used it for a million years and it’s been great, but I know there are — which one do you use.
Jeff Alford: For password manager?
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Jeff Alford: I use 1Password.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, so 1Password is obviously very popular. And then the other thing I was going to show her is Chrometa. Do you know about Chrometa?
Jeff Alford: I have heard about it. I have never used it though.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. So, I think — and because it integrates with Clio and a lot of other products, but it’s one of the tools, one of the integrations with Clio that I really like, it’s a little bit creepy what it does. So, it’s HYPERLINK “http://www.chrometa.com” chrometa.com, and what it does, you install it, PC or Mac and I have it on all of them. So, I have one subscription and it sits on my PC and it sits on my Mac and it’s kind of like a weird Big Brother, sort of sits there and it watches everything you do all day.
And you can set rules. So, you can say to it when I visit HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com” facebook.com, do not log my time, but otherwise at the end of the day it sort of creates a report of everything you did. You spent 20 minutes in this Word document. You replied to this email. You surfed this long on the Internet and it really breaks down what you did.
Then what you do is pretty quickly you go down the line and you assign that time to a matter, if there is one. Like it connects to Clio, so you can say, okay, it goes to that matter, it goes to that matter, and then it helps create an easy time entry in Clio.
Jeff Alford: Oh, that’s pretty sleek. I am going to have to check that out.
Adriana Linares: Yes, definitely check it out. So those were the three, four really, if you want to throw Clio, and it’s a big one, but for just day-to-day time saving, especially for lawyers, I think text expansion tools, the password manager and then something that sort of creepily, but very helpfully captures your time in the background is of paramount importance.
Jeff Alford: Excellent tip.
Adriana Linares: Thanks. Thanks for asking. Before I let you go, tell everybody how they can become friends with you, follow you, keep an eye on you, get your book.
Jeff Alford: Sure. My website is HYPERLINK “http://www.alfordlawoffice.com” alfordlawoffice.com or you can just type in HYPERLINK “http://www.jeffalford.com” jeffalford.com, took me forever to snag that one, but I got it.
Adriana Linares: Good, good job, that’s another important tip.
Jeff Alford: Find me on Twitter at @jeffalford and the book is available on Amazon and Kindle or paperback form.
Adriana Linares: Well, great Jeff. Thanks so much for coming on. It’s been really nice chatting with you. I look forward to seeing you in Paducah.
Jeff Alford: I will look to see what I could do about making that happen.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome. For everyone listening, thank you so much for listening to New Solo on the Legal Talk Network today. If you loved this episode, please take a minute to head over to iTunes, rate it, leave us a review, the good kind, it would be very, very much appreciated.
Until then, remember, you are 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.
Bill Galione talks about how he combined research, personal interest, and passion to establish a niche within personal injury law.
Barbara talks about how to separate effectively after sharing an office with another firm. Additionally, She gives tips on hiring and what she does...
Guest Joe Patrice talks about what it really looks like to switch from Windows to Mac and the advantages and disadvantages of using tablets...
Legal Office Guru Deborah Savadra explains the details of creating tables of authority in Word.
Andrew LeGrand discusses the ins and outs of using newsletters as a marketing strategy for your legal business.
Ivy Grey and Daniel Heuman of Intelligent Editing’s PerfectIt talk about the editing services that their product offers and how it helps lawyers daily.