Featured Guests
Barbara Leach

Barbara J. Leach is the managing attorney of Barbara Leach Law, PL. She practices family law, consumer bankruptcy, and...

Your Host
Adriana Linares

Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...

In December 2015, Barbara Leach shared how she managed to split office resources without causing office drama. In this follow-up episode of New Solo, host Adriana Linares talks to Barbara about how to effectively separate after sharing an office with another firm. She also shares tips on hiring and what she does to create a supportive and creative work environment for her coworkers.

Barbara J. Leach is the managing attorney of Barbara Leach Law, PL. She practices family law, consumer bankruptcy, and civil litigation.

Special thanks to our sponsors, ClioAnswer1, Perfectit, and Unbundled Attorney.

Transcript

New Solo

Splitting the Difference: How to Change Locations

03/30/2018

[Music]

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.

[Music]

Adriana Linares: Hello and welcome to New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I’m Adriana Linares, I’m your host. I’m a legal technology trainer and consultant, I am based in Orlando, I love New Orleans. I’m in the Law Office of Barbara Leach in Orlando today and we’ll get to her in just a second. Talk a little bit more to Babs, as I like to call her, but before we get started I want to make sure and thank our sponsors.

Answer1 is a leading virtual receptionist answering service provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800 Answer1 or online at  HYPERLINK “www.Answer1.com” www.Answer1.com.

Of course, I want to thank our sponsor Clio. Clio is 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.

Then there’s Unbundled Attorney, it’s 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, and now it’s time for our show. Hey Babs.

Barbara J. Leach: Hey there.

Adriana Linares: So, your name is Barbara Leach.

Barbara J. Leach: Yes.

Adriana Linares: I love calling you Babs.

Barbara J. Leach: I love you calling me Babs.

Adriana Linares: Because we’re really good friends.

Barbara J. Leach: Yes.

Adriana Linares: And the reason that I’m here is to sort of do a follow-up on a previous episode that we did back. We just looked it was, what did I say?

Barbara J. Leach: December 2015.

Adriana Linares: Can you believe that, how time flies?

Barbara J. Leach: No.

Adriana Linares: So, before we hop in the wayback machine, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, I have a family law practice here in Orlando, Florida. I was a solo for about five-and-a-half years. Well, never solo, I was working with Marcella, my paralegal, and then two years ago we had Stephanie join us as an associate attorney; so, between the three of us and Brulee, the Chihuahua.

Adriana Linares: Who’s sitting right behind me, I don’t know how she doesn’t eat all the cookies that you have laid out on your desk.

Barbara J. Leach: She just lays there, right?

Adriana Linares: It’s unbelievable.

Barbara J. Leach: She’s not a real dog, so we are a legal team here in Central Florida.

Adriana Linares: That’s great and then I did mention the cookies that are sprawled out. Literally, I feel like I walked into a bakery.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: I hadn’t been here before. I would have turned around, been like, oh sorry, I’m looking for a law firm, not the Babs’ bakes bakery.

Barbara J. Leach: Right.

Adriana Linares: So, tell us a little bit about your side hustle as we like to call it although it’s really quite a bustling business you’ve got.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, it keeps me off the streets and out of the mall, so if I’m making cookies at night and weekends then I’m not spending money. Of course that premise falls apart when you look at how much I spend on cookie-cutters, but I recently bought a 3D printer, so I’m going to start printing my own cookie-cutters.

Adriana Linares: I’m excited about your 3D printer because I think we can make jewelry.

Barbara J. Leach: What?

Adriana Linares: Serious.

Barbara J. Leach: Oh yeah.

Adriana Linares: Maybe we can also figure out how to make like demonstrative evidence and we can do that as a podcast one day. It’s awesome.

Barbara J. Leach: Done, done.

Adriana Linares: So your — real quick tell everybody though your cookie business can be found, we’re online, because you ship, you bake, you —

Barbara J. Leach: I don’t ship Florida Cottage Laws prohibit shipping, but if you speak nicely to me sometimes I will send you free cookies, just ask Sam Glover, he is on the receiving end of said cookies. But Facebook, Babs Bakes Bliss, because Babs Bakes is some slacker cake-maker in England who won’t give up Babs Bakes, although I think she’s been active in the last three years, but I’m not bitter, or  HYPERLINK “http://www.babsbakes.net” babsbakes.net, go there and judge me on the crappiness of my website and the cookies far out exceed what you see featured there.

Adriana Linares: That’s awesome. Well, we’ll make sure and post a picture of what’s happening between us on the page for the podcast. So, I wanted to come back and talk to you about a couple things. The main thing being just how amazingly I think you treat your employees and your law firm and I think that’s probably a reflection on how you treat your clients. As a matter of fact I can speak to that because I have referred some clients to you and they absolutely love you, so I want to talk about that, but before that I want to tell everyone that back in December 2nd of 2015 we had you on the show as someone who is sharing office space with your best friend, Conti Moore, and so you all were sharing a printer, a receptionist, and so that whole show if you’re a listener now and just looking to figure out how to share resources and space, but still be two completely separate law firms, go back and find that episode in the New Solo Archives because that was really I think one of our most popular episodes too.

(00:05:06)

Barbara J. Leach: Oh thank you. Awesome.

Adriana Linares: People loved that information and I thought it was really helpful too.

Well, at some point you and Conti — I want to say Conti because of New Orleans.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, it’s right, Conti Street.

Adriana Linares: There is a street in New Orleans that’s spelled the same way as Conti’s name, but of course, in New Orleans we pronounce everything not the way it looks, so it’s Conti.

So, you and Conti decided to get big girl law offices and just split up into to keep your individual law firms but just get your own offices and sort of just split. So, I wanted you to just talk about that for a minute what it’s like going through a split, which I think was easier for you because you were actually two separate law firms, but you still had, what like a shared lease, maybe this printer how do you end, so just tell us a little bit about what it was like to break apart not necessarily whole law firm?

Barbara J. Leach: Well, it was hard because as you said Conti is one of my best friends and we are fairly codependent and call each other work-wives. The good news is we live seven minutes away from each other. So, we are still hitched together at our at-home level and honestly her office is probably seven minutes away if you get stuck in one traffic light here in Orlando. So, we are very close together still.

Adriana Linares: Sure.

Barbara J. Leach: And we still collaborate in terms of big picture decision-making as to how we want to move our firms forward. I think the biggest challenge was deciding to pull the plug in the first place and the reason behind that quite frankly and this is Testament to Conti’s awesomeness, but one of the reasons was her practice was just growing by leaps and bounds. She opened a second office. She started doing some heavy marketing that was resulting in an immediate increase in client generation.

Adriana Linares: Right, and let me interrupt you just real quick to remind listeners too that I had Conti on, did I do her by herself about the TV commercials? I am trying to remember.

Anyway, there is another New Solo podcast where we interviewed Conti and it’s C-O-N-T-I M-O-O-R-E about the fact that she started doing TV commercials, that were probably what led to a lot of much of the growth and success because those commercials were really good and in that episode you will learn that she also said they kind of weren’t that expensive and totally worth it. So, just another tip for listeners to go back and find that episode if you have been thinking about TV commercials in your local area.

Barbara J. Leach: So she had — her practice was booming, she also took on a new practice area which kudos to her about stepping outside her comfort zone as a 9-year lawyer and learning something new. And as she does everything mastered the hell out of that, and all of that translated into growth, whereas I was really wanting to streamline a little bit more and not necessarily have that kind of growth, and as another girlfriend of ours commented, Conti and I were growing our practices. She was taking the elevator, I was taking the stairs, and I really wanted to be someplace insular and quieter where I could just control the environment a little bit more so —

Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s fair.

Barbara J. Leach: — we moved here about two — little over two years ago now.

Adriana Linares: And then tell us just a little bit about looking for space and what you were maybe the trials and tribulations of finding office space that’s suitable for a law firm and how you ended up here, it’s a very cozy nice office with exactly the number of offices you need. I guess if you ever do decide to grow, you are going to have to expand or move to a new space, right?

Barbara J. Leach: Well, we signed a three-year lease —

Adriana Linares: Oh excellent!

Barbara J. Leach: And one of the reasons ultimately to that Conti and I separated is because our lease was expiring at our prior office and when we were looking for what our next step was going to be, we first started looking for space together and Conti wanted at least a five-year lease for wherever she landed and I didn’t feel comfortable making that kind of commitment because —

Adriana Linares: Well, perhaps you and I do have commitment issues.

Barbara J. Leach: Right, as much to everyone else’s dismay, works for us but whatever.

Adriana Linares: Yeah, whatever.

Barbara J. Leach: So, I was not willing to swallow something for more than three years, so that’s why we landed here and one of the challenges, biggest challenges I think was taking a deep breath and allowing the viewing the space and offering the letter of interest and then negotiating the terms of that and then getting an agreement, a contract in hand for me to review and then ultimately accept or decline was really hard because the clock was ticking and I wanted to make a decision yesterday, and of course no one cares about your issues as much as you do. So, no one was operating as quickly as I wanted them to actually.

(00:10:01)

But yeah, it was — so when you walk into the office we have a small entryway I intentionally, I chuckled because it’s a very small perhaps uncomfortable desk if you have to sit there for any length of time but the idea —

Adriana Linares: Which is currently covered in cookies.

Barbara J. Leach: Right, yeah, so nobody is actually sitting there.

Adriana Linares: So nobody sitting there anyway.

Barbara J. Leach: But the idea was to — we have a couch, we have a chair, we have a coffee table, we really wanted to create an environment that was more like a living space.

Adriana Linares: Yeah, it is.

Barbara J. Leach: I don’t want to be – oh, yeah, I am so glad that it works. I don’t want to be a typical law office, I don’t want you to come into stodgy, heavy reception desk with walnut furniture and paneling on the walls. It’s stressful coming to hang-out with lawyers, so let’s do what we can to alleviate that stress to make people feel comfortable.

Adriana Linares: You know what you need, Babs?

Barbara J. Leach: What?

Adriana Linares: A freaking chandelier.

Barbara J. Leach: Ah.

Adriana Linares: A chandelier in that little room would be so awesome.

Barbara J. Leach: Oh that would be awesome.

Adriana Linares: Okay, let’s work on that.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: Before we go on to our next segment, which you gave me a great segue for, which is, you don’t want to be your typical law firm, which is really the main reason I wanted to come and talk to you again, and we will talk about that after the break. So, before we go on we are going to take a quick break and listen to a couple of messages from our sponsors.

[Music]

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[Music]

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Adriana Linares: Okay. We are back. I am Adriana Linares. I am here with Barbara Leach of Leach Law. I was going say Babs Leach Law, you should get that domain.

Barbara J. Leach: That would be awesome.

Adriana Linares: Because that’s what would come out of my mouth, but your website is  HYPERLINK “http://www.bleachlaw.com” bleachlaw.com, tell them your tagline that you joke around.

Barbara J. Leach: We say bleach law, because we will clean up your messes.

Adriana Linares: It’s so awesome. So, before we left off we talked briefly about you the fact that you have been a solo for a while, although you have an associate now, so you are a solo plus. You always had Marcella, your trusty loyal assistant, you’re partnered up in at least an office setting with you, one of your best friends, Conti Moore, for long time and you have gone out and you have got your own firm now.

And you said earlier that you didn’t want to be a typical stodgy law firm, and well, you are A. not a typical stodgy lawyer, that’s for sure, and B. I know you don’t like to do things in a typical way, and one of the things I have noticed just from being one of your best friends is how much you truly care about your associate and your assistant and the way you treat them insofar as the way you respect them and then you go on retreats together and you really help them do a better job for you and your clients.

So, I really wanted to talk about where you got the ideas to run your law firm like that? What advice you would give to other lawyers about that? You are an all-women law firm, just some things like that. So, why don’t you start by just telling us a little bit about everyone else that’s here your family, because I think they really are like your family?

Barbara J. Leach: They really are and I don’t know if that’s a product because I don’t have children because I have a maternal instinct.

Adriana Linares: Well, it’s because we have that commitment issue, it gets back to that.

Barbara J. Leach: Déjà vu. There is a theme here and not what we thought it would be or what, but part of wanting I knew the environment I wanted to create because I knew of what environment I would not have wanted to be in. So, Stephanie came to work with us right out of law school, but as I have said to her on many occasions, she is a better legal writer and a better legal thinker as a baby lawyer than I was like three years in. So, she’s got a maturity and a wisdom that exceeds her experience as a lawyer and as her age, so we take advantage of that, yes.

Adriana Linares: I am raising my hand.

Barbara J. Leach: Yes, Ms. Linares.

Adriana Linares: Right. When you decided to hire Stephanie were you looking for an associate or did someone kind of say, hey, I have got this new lawyer that I know or did she come knocking at your door? Were you ready to hire?

Barbara J. Leach: I was ready.

Adriana Linares: Okay, you were looking?

Barbara J. Leach: I was past ready, in fact I had decided and — so she started in January, I had decided the prior September that I was ready —

Adriana Linares: Awesome.

(00:14:59)

Barbara J. Leach: But as often is the case I got too busy to do what I needed to do as Stephen Covey would say I was hanging out an important and urgent and not hanging out an important non-urgent category. So, although I put out feelers for résumés and I ended up with a ton of résumés, I couldn’t even look at them because I was so busy trying to drink water from a fire hose.

So, fast-forward to January and I again said, I’m going to make it happen this time because I can’t continue to do this. So I had started putting out résumés and I got to know Steph because she had been recommended to me by someone else who had previously interviewed her but hadn’t been in a position to make an offer yet.

So Steph also reminds me of a very dear friend of mine, Megan, on many levels and so she already kind of had a leg up because she was like Megan and Megan is awesome. So, then Stephanie had previously sent her résumé, and then followed up with it again, and here’s a tip for people who are scared about hiring.

I brought Stephan and I had an interview with her and then I gave her the opportunity to do some work for me on a contract basis. She interviewed on a Friday and I said, I know this sounds crazy, but do you have any interest in doing XYZ over this weekend, I will pay you because I need the help, and at the same time, I will judge your work accordingly.

Adriana Linares: Right.

Barbara J. Leach: And she did and she just had such a willingness to do so and she solved an immediate problem that I needed for that research project, but better yet, I did get a chance to review her work product. So, for those of you who were contemplating —

Adriana Linares: Sample the dough.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, absolutely, put it out there and if somebody is reticent or produces mediocre work product, at this juncture, you’re never going to want to work with them.

Adriana Linares: Right.

Barbara J. Leach: So, that’s how Steph came into our lives. And then Marcella, this is really awesome because she started working with us through Workforce Central Florida, which is a program that provided job training. So, this woman went from never having worked in an office before let alone a legal office went from that to within the six years that we’ve been working together, she finished her bachelor’s in Legal Studies and now she is a Florida-registered paralegal.

Adriana Linares: Awesome.

Barbara J. Leach: And rules my life.

Adriana Linares: Yes, she does.

Barbara J. Leach: Thank goodness she does.

Adriana Linares: Your friends thank her.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, all right. We can’t get anything done without Marcella’s approval or coordination.

Adriana Linares: I love that. So I think what’s interesting is that personalities and how you interact with them are really important to you. A lot of lawyers just want somebody who’ll do the work, they don’t need to like each other, really almost looking for — I hate to use the word, a machine or a robot, but that’s not how you operate.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, life’s too short.

Adriana Linares: You want to like the people that you’re in this small space with.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, because you are going to be stuck with them more so than anyone else. In fact, before we sat down for this podcast, I asked Marcella and Steph, I was like, so what do you guys — here’s some of the things that Adriana is going to ask me about, what are your thoughts on this? Like, be as honest as you can with your boss which to their credit, they are very good at being honest with me.

But one of the things Steph said was, yeah, that we — it’s important that we have a family because you’re spending more time with your work family than with your flesh and blood or people you are yoked to or whomever.

Adriana Linares: And just so they know, we did give them the opportunity to participate in this podcast, if they so wanted to speak for themselves.

Barbara J. Leach: — which they both said no, emphatically.

Adriana Linares: Well, listen, before we go on and I ask you about the cool things that you do with them and for them and for your firm and your clients, let’s take a quick break and listen to another message from some sponsors.

[Music]

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[Music]

Adriana Linares: Okay, we’re back. It’s me and Babs, I’m sitting in the middle of Babs Bakes Bliss Bakery disguised in the Law Firm of Barbara Leach Law. We’ve been talking about how Barbara runs her solo plus one, plus two practice and I really wanted to talk about how not only are they your family and you all respect and really like each other, but you take retreats.

Like you will take a day off, you took them all to the Clio Conference, you guys have — tell us a little bit about some of the things that you do to improve teamwork, to sort of grow the bond between you and how that ends up reflecting upon the work that you do for your clients.

(00:20:07)

Barbara J. Leach: This is going to sound bizarre and I’m okay with that.

Adriana Linares: So am I.

Barbara J. Leach: But, I’m a huge proponent in the love languages, the five love languages.

Adriana Linares: Yeah, totally.

Barbara J. Leach: And I think that you should incorporate the importance of recognizing and speaking to people in their love languages at any end of the spectrum any type of relationship.

Adriana Linares: And sorry to interrupt you, but is that also an approach you use when you do family law? So, your clients are probably obviously in sensitive positions and is that an approach you use with clients as well?

Barbara J. Leach: No, not even close.

Adriana Linares: No, not just no, but hell no. Barbara uses very tough love with her clients and I know because she’s helped a couple of my friends and I just had lunch with one of them on Friday that Barbara helped, get divorce, if there can be a happy divorce, Barbara helped my friend do that and she was like. I said how — so how was Barbara and I want to know because you know, not only is she one of my best friends but I want to keep sending her any other friends that need her help and she looked at me she goes, well, she was tough. And she says it was that New Jersey accent it’s so cute, but then she smiled and said she was amazing.

Barbara J. Leach: Oh, that’s awesome.

Adriana Linares: So, yeah, okay, so tough love outside the office, five languages of love happening inside the office, it’s very complicated in here.

Barbara J. Leach: So, the idea is I’m not a big large firm. So, as much as I would love to throw money at people I can’t as much as I would love to but studies show that even if you were giving people whatever money they wanted —

Adriana Linares: Oh, I think they want.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, that’s not enough for you to really achieve self-actualization or have independent validation. So, to me that’s where I want to show people how I value them and the way I do that is, well, I say with chagrin is more through my love language, which is presence than it is through theirs.

And we had a lively conversation earlier where we were trying to figure out what Marcella’s love language is and her response to that was, well, which is the love language that says give me space?

Adriana Linares: Well, it’s almost the opposite of quality time.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, actually we said it was quality time because it was quality time alone. We’re respecting her need to be alone and I said to her, it kills me because I will give her a present to celebrate an anniversary because she actually somehow has two anniversaries with my firm, I don’t really know how she finagled that —

Adriana Linares: She’s brilliant.

Barbara J. Leach: — but it is what it is, and so or a birthday or Christmas or when she graduated. I have to bring her a present and slip it to her.

Adriana Linares: Right, sneak it through.

Barbara J. Leach: And then walk away like she’ll never even open a card in my presence and it kills me.

Adriana Linares: Oh, you poor thing, listen Babs, when you need to have that need filled –

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: Just give me a present.

Barbara J. Leach: I gave you a present today.

Adriana Linares: You did and how happy was I kind of I see.

Barbara J. Leach: Right.

Adriana Linares: So, maybe every time you give Marcella a present, you should call me, give me one and then I can give you that —

Barbara J. Leach: This is wonderful spin, I like this, I like this.

Adriana Linares: Right.

Barbara J. Leach: Your listeners will —

Adriana Linares: Send me presents.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, that’s a takeaway. So — but it’s not about me at the end of the day getting my reward from giving her, her present, it’s about what she wants and what makes her happy and satisfied and comfortable. And so that’s one microcosmic example of a big theme though and that is what is it that we want to do collectively that’s going to make them feel important.

Adriana Linares: Yeah.

Barbara J. Leach: And to that end, I don’t know if you can see on the bookshelf over there next to the Star Wars Cheez-Its is a little candle holder with popsicle sticks in it. So, every once in a while we all get together and we’ll brainstorm ideas for things that we want to do on a retreat and we’ll write these ideas or a sharpie on a popsicle stick and then we’ll pull one out and we’ll do that.

Adriana Linares: Are there some in there now?

Barbara J. Leach: Oh yeah.

Adriana Linares: Can I look?

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: Are they surprises for you?

Barbara J. Leach: No, no, no. No, we collectively come up with the ideas, although do you want me to get them because you’re attached and not going to stretch that far. Hold on.

Adriana Linares: Yeah, hold on. Hold on everybody, Babs is going to get the – okay, here they are. All right. Wow, there’s a lot. Are these full?

Barbara J. Leach: I don’t think they’re all full.

Adriana Linares: Wow.

Barbara J. Leach: I am like aren’t they written on, where the hell are our sticks?

Adriana Linares: Get manicures and pedicures.

Barbara J. Leach: Oh that’s easy.

Adriana Linares: Go to the day spa at the W Hotel. Wow, somebody’s got some magic tastes.

Barbara J. Leach: I’m like I think you added that one into, is that the zip-lining one.

Adriana Linares: Zip-lining is here.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, well we did that once, never again. Oh, yeah, cruise, two-day cruise.

Adriana Linares: Oh, wow, man, these girls know what to ask for, I like that.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, oh the pottery one. Marcella — we can’t talk her out of this, she wants to throw pottery.

Adriana Linares: I don’t understand that.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, well.

Adriana Linares: No, okay and that sounds fun.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: So, this is a very cool and great idea and some of them are just afternoon or day trips and then some of them are a little more extensive.

(00:25:01)

Barbara J. Leach: That’s great. That’s amazing. Whose idea was this?

Adriana Linares: Ellen, do you it’s The Ellen Show?

Barbara J. Leach: Well, we actually started a list at one of our retreats where we sit down and at the retreats we talk about firm goals and then we talk about individual goals on a monthly and on an annual basis and then we circle back the next year and see where we were on achieving our goals from an annual basis.

Marcella is the only one who always checks all the boxes, Steph and I do, we are no Marcella. And then we also do what’s it called, I literally just forgot the word, evaluations. So, we evaluate each other, so the three of us will sit down and will complete an individual self-evaluation.

Adriana Linares: What?

Barbara J. Leach: Oh yeah.

Adriana Linares: This sounds crazy and is there anonymity here?

Barbara J. Leach: Oh no, no, no. oh no.

Adriana Linares: That would be hysterical. You should have said, they are anonymous.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, yeah, yeah, right, yeah. All that, oh, that would have been much funnier, yeah, yeah, but we — so we fill out written evaluations for ourselves and for each other and then we sit down and we go around the table.

Adriana Linares: Boy, how painful is that?

Barbara J. Leach: Well, it depends on who it is.

Adriana Linares: It can’t be that bad.

Barbara J. Leach: No again, because they are awesome. I do my best to keep up with them. I have said on more than one occasion, thank goodness I’m the boss otherwise I think Marcella would fire me. She always just laughs, and never disagrees.

But what I love about that and what I love about our office is — be careful what you — what questions you ask because you might not want to hear the answer.

Adriana Linares: Right.

Barbara J. Leach: There have been times when they’re like, Barb, we really wish that you would not — the worst is, oh, you’re going longer on a call than you should, so therefore we’ve got appointments stacked up.

So, once the train gets off the track, good luck getting it back on track and it negatively impacts them.

Adriana Linares: And your clients that fall behind so they are looking out for the whole firm, which is I think so important.

Barbara J. Leach: Exactly.

Adriana Linares: Give me an example of some of the questions. Are they the same every time?

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: Okay.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, we have a form like how teamwork, attention to detail, mastery of the law in terms of — and they always grade themselves low as far as that goes, I’m like, guys, you will never be fives, because it’s scale of one to five, because there’s always something to learn, but are we doing what we can? Right? Yeah.

Adriana Linares: Now do you somehow – look, two questions came up in my mind. Do you ever tie, you said you set firm goals and individual goals or any of those monetary as far as either billing or collecting.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, in Florida you cannot incentivize non-lawyers financially.

Adriana Linares: So Stephanie and you could?

Barbara J. Leach: Yes, yes, I don’t, but you are right, I could.

Adriana Linares: Okay, so you leave that out for both?

Barbara J. Leach: Correct.

Adriana Linares: Okay.

Barbara J. Leach: I am a huge — so five million lifetimes ago I used to be in direct sales when I would have a down line in — we got into a whole discussion and I think this is important for people to recognize the difference between incentive and reward. And if you’re trying to get somebody to do something, if you give them a reward after the fact not knowing that they were trying to achieve a goal —

Adriana Linares: Working for something.

Barbara J. Leach: — then it’s not an incentive, it’s a reward. So, I more often than not am the fan of a reward as opposed to an incentive. And quite frankly for those who are really and only tend to bean counters listening to this they’re going to cringe when they hear me say that I will sometimes, at least a few times a year look in my bank ledger and see if I’m sufficiently flush and we’ll give them a monetary reward or I try to celebrate holidays like don’t hopefully this won’t come out before Easter, but they are like I got them Easter baskets with treats in them and —

Adriana Linares: Cookies?

Barbara J. Leach: Probably not, because I’m about cookies — I’m about done with Easter cookies for now.

Adriana Linares: They are – oh okay.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, they’re about dead to me.

Adriana Linares: Right. Well, the bunnies are really cute.

Barbara J. Leach: Feel free to eat some more, because I know that’s where you’re heading, and then gift cards from Target to give them as well. Do I need to do that? No, but it makes me happy, and I like being able to make them happy, because, yeah, it does make us closer as a team.

Although it’s very interesting too, thank goodness, they get along as well as they do, because for me it’s almost like having two daughters and I have to get them the same thing but in different colors. One can’t be blingier than the other, because they are going to be like, what the heck; but yeah, it’s pretty awesome.

Adriana Linares: You took them both to the Clio Conference last year because your office is a Clio office and I think you had gone the year or two before by yourself, right?

Barbara J. Leach: Two I’ve been, so this past year was my third year.

Adriana Linares: So, you went to first two years?

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: You got a lot out of it I know.

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah.

Adriana Linares: So, then you come back here and you are trying to probably remember everything, explain everything, get them to execute everything, and then did you just decide, I’m just going to take them this year.

(00:30:03)

Barbara J. Leach: Yeah, well, the reason being because what I love about Clio and this obviously, this is not a Clio advertisement, it’s just coincidental.

Adriana Linares: No, it’s cool, they are a sponsor, we can say great things about them.

Barbara J. Leach: Well, I would say it even if they weren’t a sponsor —

Adriana Linares: As what I —

Barbara J. Leach: What I love about Clio’s conference is it works on a micro and a macro level and in between. So, like, I was going to these things at the Clio Conference that was really about how to create custom fields, none of which I do in my firm, Marcella handles all that. So, I’m sitting there, I am like, gosh, do you know who could really benefit from this?

Adriana Linares: Right.

Barbara J. Leach: MC, she should be here, and then some of the things they do also are talking about like in between that how can I use technology to make my life more efficient? I’m like Steph as a budding lawyer wouldn’t it be great for her to learn this stuff now getting good habits sooner rather than later?

Adriana Linares: No, I love that, and I think that again just sort of shows your commitment to your firm and to your family and your staff and then tell us a little bit about how you think like all of your friends are lawyers, a lot of mine are too, how do you think this approach to running your law firm makes yours different and very likely better than some of the other law firms you see out there?

Barbara J. Leach: Well —

Adriana Linares: Do any of your friends ever said to you, you are crazy, I would never share a hotel room with my assistant.

Barbara J. Leach: Yes.

Adriana Linares: Right.

Barbara J. Leach: Yes. Yes, Yes, yes, yeah. I don’t know, I guess maybe it’s because I came to being a lawyer at age 37 and I had had all kinds of shit jobs, working for shit people before then, that —

Adriana Linares: I know we all.

Barbara J. Leach: Right. To me it was just recognizing the importance of people and the relationships that we could be ditch-diggers, please don’t make us be ditch-diggers, but I would like to think that this relationship would transcend or apply to whatever it is that we were doing.

And I think I would hope I don’t want to speak for them but I would hope —

Adriana Linares: Well, they had their chance.

Barbara J. Leach: They did, they did.

Adriana Linares: Let’s go ahead and speak for them.

Barbara J. Leach: That they have a sense of loyalty.

Adriana Linares: Agreed.

Barbara J. Leach: And there’s a sense of trust, so when I posit we do good. Our job is to help people and end their suffering as grand as that sounds they believe me when I say that, because they know, they see it —

Adriana Linares: They live it.

Barbara J. Leach: They live it.

Adriana Linares: And then do you think that this all just passes down to your clients, you have happy clients that you guys do a great job for your clients?

Barbara J. Leach: I think so I’ve had my firm six, seven years, in that span of time I’ve had maybe three or four people complain about the bill.

Adriana Linares: That’s it.

Barbara J. Leach: So, the only thing we do flat fee is bankruptcy representation, but everything else is hourly, and people don’t complain for two reasons, one, we are very conscientious with our billing practices, and two, I will periodically pick up the phone and call a client and say, hey, I’m not billing you for this because I’m always talking about money, because I don’t ever want people to have this big question mark. She’s asking about my golf game, is she charging me $300 an hour for this?

So, I let them know upfront that, hey, this is non-billable or okay, I’m cutting off the timer now and let’s just talk about life what’s going on, but there are oftentimes I’ll pick up the phone and call a client and say, hey, just talk to me, how are things, what’s the temperature at home right now?

No, no charge I just know that we’re getting ready to go to mediation in a couple of weeks and we’ll talk about it with greater specificity when the clock is running but for now just tell me what’s going on. And people appreciate that.

Adriana Linares: Yeah. Of course they do.

Barbara J. Leach: So, we’re just trying to maintain and respect relationships with people whether it’s colleagues or clients or judges.

Adriana Linares: Each other.

Barbara J. Leach: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Adriana Linares: Well, Babs, thanks for letting me crash your afternoon and talk to you about this. I think it’s going to be really interesting for a lot of people, and tell everyone how they can find, friend or follow you on the Internet before I let you go?

Barbara J. Leach: The best way honestly is to email me and that’s [email protected] I have a Twitter handle but I never check it. I know, shame on me. And then I’m also Facebook, and I love Facebook friends. So, please reach out to me. I would love to chat with anyone who has any questions or thoughts or can help me make our practice better, I would love that.

Adriana Linares: You are very, very generous with your time, all the time. So, yeah, listeners take Barbara up on that. She’s really just a brilliant lawyer and a great friend, and just an awesome human, and I know she’s always excited to hear from new people.

So, I want to make sure and thank Barbara, and tell everyone that if you would like more information about what you’ve heard today, make sure you visit the New Solo page on  HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com/”www.legaltalknetwork.com.

(00:35:07)

I will make sure that we post some pictures of Barbara and it’s a shame that we’re not on video right now because I walked in here and Barbara had these earphones that are wrapped around or wrapped inside of a headband that are bunny ears and I’ve been wearing them this whole time, so I’m not even sure how she’s managed to keep a straight face.

Barbara J. Leach: I’m used to this. I’m used to this with you. This is like tame compared to when we are in New Orleans and how we usually wear _______. Come on.

Adriana Linares: You also should have seen this that we formed this girl gang during Mardi Gras and well, maybe I’ll post a picture back to you, because it’s pretty amazing.

Barbara J. Leach: Plus on our rides.

Adriana Linares: Anyway, we’re at the end of the show. I am Adriana Linares, join us next time for another great episode.

Oh, and if you have a second, please take a moment to rate us on the iTunes Podcast with five stars, it would be amazing. If you don’t want to give us five stars then don’t even go there; but remember, you’re not alone, you’re a New Solo.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

[Music]

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Episode Details
Published: March 30, 2018
Podcast: New Solo
Podcast
New Solo
New Solo

New Solo covers a diverse range of topics including transitioning from law firm to solo practice, law practice management, and more.

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