Starting your own solo practice in a competitive area is hard enough; raising five kids while running your business is even harder. In this episode of New Solo, host Adriana Linares talks to Bill Galione about how he combined research, personal interest, and passion to establish a niche within personal injury law. He also shares how he balances caring for five kids on top of his solo practice, which could potentially qualify as another kid.
Bill Galione, founding attorney for The Galione Law Firm, has been practicing personal injury law for more than 20 years.
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How to Own your Niche
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: Hi, welcome to New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I’m Adriana Linares, a legal technology trainer and consultant. I help lawyers and law firms use technology better.
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Bill, are you there?
Bill Galione: I am.
Adriana Linares: We made it.
Bill Galione: Yes.
Adriana Linares: It’s been a long time coming.
Bill Galione: Yes, it’s a little bit.
Adriana Linares: We will tell everyone in a moment how we met, but before we do that tell everyone a little bit about yourself?
Bill Galione: Sure. Well, I’m Bill Galione. I am a Child Injury Attorney in Gainesville, Florida. Basically means I help families when their lives been turned upside down, when their child has been hurt by somebody else. In lawyer terms I’m a personal injury attorney who helps children who have been hurt.
I’ve been in Gainesville for quite a while, came here for undergrad, law school also. So, I got both of my degrees at University of Florida, and I say I’ve never really achieved escape velocity and I’m just — I am loving it here. Over the years I got married and we have five kids, a house the whole thing, and so, I think we’re here for the duration.
Adriana Linares: Five kids is an insane number of kids, Bill. You and your wife must really like each other.
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Or there is not that much to do in Gainesville.
Bill Galione: We do tend to get that reaction when I say, we have five kids, it’s not to point something, it’s actually five kids and it was purposeful, and yeah, but it’s life is — our life is a great big adventure, it’s something I thought I would never have, and so it’s wonderful.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome, tell me how old are they and what are their names?
Bill Galione: So, they go from ages 4 up to 14. We have boys on the bookends and so the youngest is Jonathan Graham Galione, so little Jon, Jon, he is four, and then we have Katie Rose, his next oldest sister and she is eight and then his next oldest sister is Essie, her name is Christina Ester, but for Ester we use Essie for short, which actually — actually came from a little cartoon we watched once, we thought Essie was a really cute name and it was —
Adriana Linares: That is cute.
Bill Galione: Yeah, it turns out it was perfect for her. She is so cute and wonderful, but — so that’s Essie and so let’s see, so she is 10. Then we go to Mary Grace, who has just turned 13 and then the oldest is Billie, named after me, so Galione, Jr. is number five – number, well, first kid, but the fifth one we’re talking about, he is 14, getting ready to have past school. Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Oh wow. I always love hearing what people name their kids. You have got a bunch of good solid names there, Bill.
Bill Galione: Thank you. Yeah.
Adriana Linares: That’s great. I am from Florida and I always joke around the term that I use for Floridians like me who love Florida because it’s hot and steamy and all the reasons that northerners might hate Florida I love Florida for. I call myself a Floridiate, because I’m the person that shows up in New York City with like flip-flops and no winter coat, so I can totally understand why you got stuck in Gainesville, because it’s just such a nice place to live and obviously a great place to raise a family, and it sounds like it’s also a great place to start a solo practice.
So, I want you to tell us a little bit about how you — well, wait, let’s back up, let’s talk about how we met.
Bill Galione: Okay.
Adriana Linares: I was doing a talk at a Florida Bar Solo Small Firm Conference.
Bill Galione: Yes.
Adriana Linares: And there you were.
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: You came up and you said, oh my God, I listened to your podcast which is always so hysterical and random to me, because I think I have one listener and it’s my boyfriend.
So, you were at the Solo Small Firm Conference and you said, I just started my own practice and I said, well, you need to come on my show when you feel like you are ready to spread some seeds of wisdom for everyone else.
So, tell us a little bit about how you started your practice and I really want you to talk a little bit about your very interesting niche that you got into.
Bill Galione: Okay. So, how I started my own practice? So, my background was — so I’ve been an attorney for about 20 years. So, when I’m a new solo I’m not a new attorney, but I’m a new solo attorney, I’m coming from kind of a small to mid firm background. And so, I’ve worked for a couple of firms before I had started my own practice; and for me, for those of us who kind of had done something else and deciding to go out on your own, for me it was kind of a — I say it took me 20 years to figure this out, but I’m one of those people where I never wanted to do this.
So, if you had kind of talked to me kind of throughout my career you never would have found any interest.
Adriana Linares: In going solo?
Bill Galione: Right, right.
Adriana Linares: You like the infrastructure and the support and the resources of a bigger firm?
Bill Galione: Yeah, yeah. I mean, my first job I was hired into the litigation department for a personal injury firm and I just hit the ground running just covering depositions and litigating and that was my job. I just — I was lawyering, that’s all I was doing and I was lawyering and there was a lot of stuff I liked about the personal injury field. And specifically within the type of job what I found was, yeah, I liked the lawyering, I liked that, I did not have to worry about overhead, I did not have to worry about hiring and we’re in leases and where’s the law. I liked — I liked just the lawyering and not having to do all that stuff.
Adriana Linares: A lot of lawyers do. I mean, and that’s just fine, right?
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: So, that’s normal.
Bill Galione: Yeah, and there’s something different for everybody and some things work for some folks and some things don’t. And so some people, and actually that’s part of what I discovered, part of my process I am kind of a research nut and so I research and I look at everything, probably too much, matter of fact when we were getting — my wife and I were getting married, normally go through premarital counseling once and we had three premarital — three sessions and one video series.
Adriana Linares: Oh man.
Bill Galione: So, I just — I was trying to make sure that we were just as prepared as we could be —
Adriana Linares: You do not like failure.
Bill Galione: So, I do the same thing with work apparently. I kind of — I read all this stuff, so that’s part of what I was finding is, it’s kind of where we were just saying, which is one of the things you look at, if you’re going to think about starting your own business, starting your own firm is, is this even right for me, that’s kind of one of the first questions.
Adriana Linares: Interesting.
Bill Galione: You kind of have to do this internal assessment, because for some people it’s not right. If you really — if I were the same person I was 10 years ago it would not have been right, it would have been a mess.
Adriana Linares: Sure. Yeah, timing definitely matters.
Bill Galione: Yeah, and so since then I guess a few different things kind of came into play that kind of pushed me in the direction of starting my own business. And just to kind of look at maybe a few of those sort of forces, I think looking back on it, I think one of the things that kind of got me to that direction was my interaction with other small business owners.
So, as a part of trying to build the business for my last employer, I was trying to become more involved in the business community, getting to know folks and small business owners, and I was involved in some networking groups and things, and I was just finding, I was super-impressed with folks who could just take nothing and build something, folks who could kind of start from scratch, put together a business plan, have a dream, have a vision and create this viable business that supports them, their family, employees and give something to the community. I was just so impressed with that.
So, I think that was kind of one — one of the sparks that kind of got me thinking along those lines.
Adriana Linares: Sure.
Bill Galione: Probably the most direct thing was in the course of trying to build the practice for my last employer, I was trying to research everything how could I help them be better, how could I help the firm be better bring more business.
One of the things I found was that some of the best practice management material was coming out of solo small practice groups, and yeah, and so I just started — I was reading things, going to seminars and here I’m involved in the State Bar Association here in Florida and they have a solo small practice section and they do a few different seminars.
And I was at one of those seminars and it was a panel of folks who were solo attorneys and I was kind of there for the practice management tips.
But, as a part of that seminar they kind of told their stories and they kind of explained kind of their background how they got to be where they were, and they explained probably the key part was they explained a little bit more specifically how they did it. So, this is how I got from here to here, and that was probably a key point because that was a point where I first seriously thought, oh, maybe I could do this, maybe there is a reason to do this.
Adriana Linares: Interesting.
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: So your law firm was sending you out to learn more about making them better and little did they know Bill was being converted to a possible solo.
Bill Galione: Yeah, never would have guessed it. We’ve had some friends as a matter of fact are accountant, we have been friends with for about 15 years and just about every year we are doing our taxes sitting down one thing my wife and I go together and he used to always ask me, when are you going to start your own fir? When are you going to start your own firm? And it was always the same thing. No, never. I am not going to do that, but I got to that point, and it’s funny at particular seminar because my wife is also kind of my biggest cheerleader because —
Adriana Linares: Of course —
Bill Galione: — she out of the two of us —
Adriana Linares: You know why, Bill?
Bill Galione: Why?
Adriana Linares: Because you guys went to three premarital conferences and watched the video series and that has to be one of the main things you guys learned.
Bill Galione: Well, yeah, that’s right, you see this —
Adriana Linares: And she’s obviously awesome but I mean come on.
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: You prepped her for this, you didn’t even know it 20 years ago.
Bill Galione: I think so, I didn’t think of it like that, but in terms of kind of her personality though, the two of us, she’s the more entrepreneurial-type person, business-minded. Before she started having kids she was a salesperson for a local gym and she was just amazing and she was building a business there. So, she has been kind of like our accountant after me forever, well, you just got to go do this. So I came home and when I first shared that little moment at that seminar, and her reaction was — I kind of said, I am kind of wondering if maybe I should be thinking about this — her reaction was, oh of course yes, oh my goodness, yes, yes, of course that’s what you have to do.
Adriana Linares: Oh, very good. Well, and that’s I think one of the most important things of course is having the support from your partner and being able to do that I mean otherwise it would just be the friction at home and then stress at the office. So, that’s great, well, good, so she supported you.
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: You figured out there are some ways that I could possibly do this, and then, how did you take the initiative and then the experience that you had with bigger firms and funnel that into not just a solo practice but your niche, your child injury practice?
Bill Galione: Yeah, so from there you go — that’s kind of the dreaming vision passion stage, you kind of realized, yes, it’s something that I want to do, you have to impetus to go do it. Then there’s kind of like what you are saying now there’s the more practical stage of, okay, well, then how do you actually do it, what do I actually do now with this kind of feeling desire dream?
And so, I went back to kind of the research process and I guess kind of more specifically I was looking at, okay, so if this is what I want to do how do you — with my experience how do you have a practice that could sustain itself because my entire experience is personal injury, that’s all I have done, that’s all I know which in some ways is great, it’s good because I have that developed skill-set, but at the same time that’s kind of it.
So, part of it, it’s kind of obvious, kind of the first thought is, okay, well, what am I going to do? Well, the obvious part to me then is, okay, well, it’s going to be a personal injury type practice, but then you have to think, okay, well, how we are you going to put that together because I guess all lawyers to some degree have competition, personal injury —
Adriana Linares: But this field has the biggest competition possible.
Bill Galione: Yeah, if you kind of look at the rates for the Google AdWords and all that —
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Bill Galione: — the personal injury apparently were the high — the highest ones out there and that’s why it gets so tentative and so that was a real question and that was part of it. Even though I kind of had this kind of feeling of, okay, let’s go do this, the next part was, well, can you really make this work and how do you put together a business plan, and so that was kind of the first — to me kind of like a first stumbling block is, well, I can’t figure this out, then we don’t really need to go any further with this, because kind of like we are saying, I have got five kids and a wife to support. We’ve got a house now, and so there has to be a plan, and there has to be a reasonable basis to think the plan is going to work despite all the cheerleading and support.
So, we kind of had to think through. A lot of it kind of comes down to marketing issues. Okay? So, I have personal injury — a personal injury skill-set, now what do I do with that, and so what I do — I go and I am reading all these books and listening to all this stuff and one of the techniques for good research when they teach in law school is, when you are researching an issue the way you know you are done is when you start looping back to things and coming back to things and you refer to things that you have already hit, that you have already come to —
Adriana Linares: Hey, that’s what I do when I shop on Amazon and I didn’t even go to law school.
Bill Galione: Cool. See, it’s the same skill-set.
Adriana Linares: Same, correct. Anybody can make hard decisions doing good research, okay.
Bill Galione: Yeah, so that’s the basic research skill. So, then that’s kind of part of what I used when I was looking at all this stuff because the part that’s hard to figure out is what really works, you kind of hear all these things and you’ve got hundred different opinions, talked to hundred different attorneys, and so, how do you figure this out, and so I was kind of looking for sort of trends and things that were coming up from multiple sources.
So, I felt like it was trustworthy information, and so, one of the trends I saw was that a lot of people say, well, if you are doing this what you want to do in this day and age is you have to narrow down your focus, your field as much as possible as a matter of fact you want to narrow it down even more than it feels comfortable. And so that means what they are saying to me is if you are going to go into a market like Gainesville you can’t just open a broad-based personal injury practice, to be really competitive you have to find your niche, you have to find that little area that’s why you hear about that so much these days is because that’s what people are advising, you have to find one little area to focus on to somehow distinguish yourself.
Now I can also distinguish myself with some of my experience but what a lot of folks seem to be saying is that in addition to that you want to look at how can you distinguish what type of personal injury practice you are building, and so, then it gets to, okay, well then how do I do that, if you accept that and say, okay, well finding your little area, finding a niche is good, so estate and trust attorneys don’t want to be just estate and trust attorneys, they have to find a little niche and if you are PI attorney don’t want to just be a general, I take every PI case. So, how do you do that?
Well, then the advice seem to be — well you kind of go through a few steps and you look at a few different things. So, you kind of look at your experience, so you look for types of cases that you’ve handled any kind of trends, there are a lot of certain types of cases that you have done over the years. You look at any particular skill-sets within your field that might lean towards a particular type of case, and you look at your personal interests kind of in your broader life what are you interested in —
Adriana Linares: So, do you think five kids, there’s none of those personal interests in this checklist of you?
Bill Galione: Yeah and I could throw in a few more details, that will make you think, oh my goodness, of course you are doing this, but – yeah, and part of it is, it’s not just interest but then passion, what are you passionate about?
Adriana Linares: Sure.
Bill Galione: And so, you kind of put all that together and see if it kind of will point in one direction. And so, when I started thinking about it, I could kind of come up with some areas of law that seem like, okay, well, nobody seems to be doing that, that might be good for marketing purposes, but when I throw in the other things something — if you can find something that intersects with your personal interests and your passion, then it becomes easy to talk about it, to make your business because it’s something important to you.
And so, that’s why you want to try to connect all those. Yeah, so for me, yeah, beyond the five kids so I started kind of thinking about my life and everything, and yeah, so when I started doing the math, okay, will you start with our family life, we got five kids, okay, well that’s one part of it. Well, what else are we doing? I have been very involved in my church and as a matter of fact I have been a Sunday school teacher, when I added it up, probably almost 20 years, I have been teaching Sunday school.
So, I’ve been teaching grade schoolers for a good period of time because of our kids — it’s not just them but they have brought us into this whole other life in our town, so I have coached my son’s football team, which is kind of funny, because I don’t play sports, but I have coached different sports for him. We have been involved in karate, we have been involved in dance, and all their stuff.
Adriana Linares: All kinds of weird stuff you and your parents get into with kids.
Bill Galione: Yeah. In our neighborhood we are connected to folks there and their families. Our kids decided they —
Adriana Linares: So, your network is also really wide, I mean — and I hate to say that like, oh, there’s this opportunity for when someone needs that type of lawyer you don’t want to think that you are going to be available for something like this because it’s certainly not something you want to go after but your network, the opportunities get wider because of all that interest in those connections and the many things that you do in your community, I mean, that makes perfect sense.
Bill Galione: Yeah, in that perspective, yeah, there is a certain kind of network that’s already there because of all of that, you throw in our neighborhood our kids decided a few years ago they want to have their own Fall Festival. So, now once a year we have about a hundred of their friends and our neighbors over in our backyard and they do their own little thing. And so we have all types of little activities like that and it all points to being involved with families.
And then my wife and, I in addition to that kind of have a more personal desire to want to help parents, to help them to be good parents, help because we know the struggle.
Adriana Linares: I have tons over.
Bill Galione: I remember the first two running around in the diapers and all that, and oh my goodness, and there was so much to learn, it’s all on-the-job training, and you’re trying to take it all in, and so, we just — we want to help folks who are in that stage of life raising kids and families.
And so that all kind of swirls together then and points to the direction of, okay, well doing something with kids, and so since I’m in the personal injury field, then we’re looking at, all right, so then, maybe we want to help families, when their child is the one who’s been hurt. So, that kind of gets me to that point.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. Wow, well, I think that’s a really interesting process that a lot of attorneys don’t go through and I think they do stay too broad, too often. We’ve had so many marketing experts come on the show and say the same thing, which is you can’t walk into a marketing firm and say, I want to be at the top of Google search for personal injury.
They’re all going to look at you and say, give me a niche to work with because otherwise it’s going to cost you a lot of money and your success rate might be a little bit lower than you want.
Listen, before we move on to the next half of our conversation, let me take a quick break to hear a message or two from some sponsors.
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Adriana Linares: Okay, we’re back. This is Adriana. We’re on of course New Solo on the Legal Talk Network. In case for some weird reason, you ended up in the middle of this episode and I’ve got Bill Galione from Gainesville, Florida on the line, and we’ve been talking about how his – your interest, Bill, I can talk to you like you’re actually here how your personal interests in your life, sort of organically, but naturally – organically and naturally guided you toward going out on your own and building a child injury law in Gainesville, which sounds very interesting.
And maybe sad at the same time, you must have to have a very spirited life and wife to be able to do that kind of work, and I’m sure that the people that get to work with you are pretty grateful for that.
Tell us a little bit about — we’ve talked a lot about your family and obviously, that’s number one and you mentioned to me on a side conversation that you talk about that a lot on your website that family is first. Talk to us a little bit about finding that balance between being able to pay attention to five kids and a wife, but also, I mean, you’re almost raising like another child when you start a solo practice because this thing needs attention, and nurturing, and it needs feeding and all the same types of things.
And it’s your livelihood at the same time that your family is such an important focus of your life. How did you manage or how do you manage to balance things like this?
Bill Galione: Yeah, so I actually had to talk to some UF law students once about that particular issue and I probably fielded that question because of my life’s experience because I was up there with the five kids and all the law students want to know that’s their question. There was kind of a point where there was a QA and they were asking how do you do these things. And so –
Adriana Linares: Well, wait, can I just ask you real quick before you?
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Because, don’t you feel like this profession is changing and 20, 25, maybe 30 years ago that’s not a conversation you would have had in law school because it was just a different world and now all these young lawyers are coming out and they get it, they want to have that balance, they don’t want to be chained to their desk, they want a mobile practice, they want to have a successful personal life as much as.
So, I think it’s just a different conversation that we’re having these days and you’re living it, so yeah, tell us.
Bill Galione: Yeah, well, I think you’re right. It does feel like there’s kind of been a shift where this is kind of a more important, more relevant issue I think to put kind of everybody involved in the process. So, yes, so for me, kind of looking at this if the question is, so how do you balance work and life?
I think the best way to start is it’s very difficult. You do have a feeling, especially if kind of a large family and a job and especially a new job, you have a feeling of being kind of that circus performer with the plate-spinning. So, I’ve got maybe eight plate-spinning. So, I’ve got the five kids, I’ve got my wife, maybe I have my own, one for me for a little bit my own things I like.
Adriana Linares: Sure. Well, I am glad you figured stuff in there, that’s important.
Bill Galione: Yeah, so I got one for my business and now I know I have to have more than one for my business because there’s now two parts to it. Now, there’s the lawyering and there’s the business management. So, there’s two distinct parts of it, which was this past year, it was the biggest learning.
Even though I was told about it that was the biggest learning curve experience was realizing that there are kind of two different things and you have to budget time and resources. So, yeah, so if I’ve got all those plates spinning then so how do we manage that?
Adriana Linares: How did you find time to do this podcast?
Bill Galione: Yeah, right. Well, but it reflects kind of what we’re talking about now, it has to do with prioritizing, it has to do with your value system, but I think you start with that. So, when I was talking to law students I said, you start with your values and what’s important to you and what you want out of life in your career?
Okay, because you have a right to answer that question however you feel. And I think the most important thing is to know what you’re getting into. So for example, some of these big law firms you jump into them, your first year out of law school and it really is 80 hours a week.
Adriana Linares: Oh, for sure.
Bill Galione: And really is, because I had a friend who did that. He went over to California making huge money, his first year but no personal life.
Adriana Linares: Right, no, no.
Bill Galione: But, if you want to choose that, okay, well, you can choose that, I guess. But the important part is to first — don’t wind up there by mistake and miserable, if you’re going to do that, you only want a willful choice and you want to make sure that you’re honoring your own internal value system.
So, I think you start with what’s important to you, and what is the reality of all this and what are these different types of jobs going to require you to do, because if you have a value of doing a good day’s work, if you have a commitment to excellence and doing good work, and you have a value of a good personal life.
If you have certain activities outside of work, if you’re involved in — I don’t know Cub Scouts or helping other in a family stuff or Church or whatever. If you have a value of that those two values are going to kind of come into conflict. And so, you need to think about it ahead of time and kind of look at your values, how did they fit together and how do you prioritize those things.
So, because what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to say, well, I want to start a family right out of law school. I’m going to – we want to start having kids right away because we want to have them when we are younger, and then also commit to doing excellent work for the law firm when the law firm requires 80 hours a week.
How is that going to work?
Adriana Linares: Right.
Bill Galione: So, you have to back up and think about this ahead of time and so you want to look at what’s in front of you and kind of what’s calling you into. And so, for me then, if I kind of like try to personalize a little bit, so for me what I’m thinking is, all right, so, I have these commitments to my family and I have a commitment to doing good quality work and I want to be able to help people.
So, that’s kind of one of my driving values for staying in the personal injury field. It’s very personal to me because I feel like I’m helping people on a daily basis going through one of the worst times of their lives, and that’s very meaningful to me. So, I kind of have those three — I have those three things kind of going on in my head.
And so, you have to find a way to then make it all fit and one part of it is then if you’re coming into this with the family, some of the research I did said that then this becomes a family decision, and I don’t just go start a business and kind of tell the wife and kids, hey, by the way we’re doing this, because especially in the first cup few years it’s going to put certain demands on me.
And hopefully it’s going to grow in a way where some of those demands are kind of redistributed and allocated in different ways, but it’s a family project. And so that’s how we treated it. It started with my wife and I –
Adriana Linares: I love that idea. It’s a family project.
Bill Galione: Yeah, and it very much feels if I showed you pictures of our grand opening over here, all the kids had the little Galione Law t-shirt on and we had the face painting and I do balloon animals —
Adriana Linares: One of them was handing out name tags and other one was checking people in, so another one handing out cookies and coffee, I mean, everyone was working that day, all the Galiones.
Bill Galione: Yeah. Yeah. As a matter of fact, I am starting a YouTube channel for stuff with child injury things, and my daughter, the 13-year-old is doing the video editing.
Adriana Linares: Is that Essie?
Bill Galione: This is Mary Grace, the one just older than Essie.
Adriana Linares: Oh, Mary Grace.
Bill Galione: Yeah. And so, Mary Grace, because that’s her thing, she is into video and editing and writing as well.
Adriana Linares: No kidding.
Bill Galione: Yeah. And so I sat down — I was going to kind of try to learn it all myself and I had done the research, but then she —
Adriana Linares: And then maybe you were going to hire somebody, and you looked up and you are like, Mary Grace, what are you doing over there.
Bill Galione: Well, she suggested it because she has her own cameras. She wants to be like a future YouTuber type thing and have a million followers and all that. And so she said, well, could I try doing it for you? And so we did like a test run and then she went back and I saw her at her computer, she got a Apple Computer specifically for the video editing software.
So she is sitting there clicking a few things; it would take me like two or three hours to figure it out, she is clicking, well, let’s move this, let’s bring sound in here, we will take the sound out here, we will fade this in and out, we will put the text right here. And it looks amazing.
So yeah, so it is very much a family project.
Adriana Linares: That’s great.
Bill Galione: Yeah. So like I said, we started kind of the discussion with my wife, and okay, and kind of, are we all in, let’s realistically look at what this is going to take and how are we going to have to redistribute family resources, what’s this going to mean to her schedule, what’s this going to mean to the kids’ schedule. And at the time I was making these decisions, she was homeschooling all our kids.
Adriana Linares: Amazing. Holy cow.
Bill Galione: Yeah. And so we are looking at what this means. And then at some point we brought the kids into the part of the conversation, and one of the things that it meant for us practically is my wife had to kind of pitch in and help me get started.
So it would have been — and she already has kind of a part-time job; she teaches Aqua Aerobics and helps folks at our local gym who have movement issues and she did a few classes a week. So she kind of had that and she was homeschooling and now I am going to ask her to then take on some duties, business type duties to help the firm. So we kind of realized —
Adriana Linares: She sounds like a saint.
Bill Galione: She is pretty amazing. When I met her she had four different jobs, because she was that type of personality. So we realized, well, I think one of the things that we have to look at here is the kids go into a traditional school setting to free up some time for mom, because she is going to put some time temporarily over here. That was a huge decision.
Adriana Linares: I bet. That sounds like a big decision.
Bill Galione: And she was all in on that decision, and it was something she wanted to do, but man, her dropping off the kids at school that first week she called me crying. She was crying —
Adriana Linares: Of course she did.
Bill Galione: So it was a very serious kind of family thing. And the kids, we found out that my wife was a lot better at homeschooling than we realized and it was really tough on the kids at first. She created an incredibly dynamic educational environment, and she is so supportive and so good at people skills, she kind of would walk them through the daily social development things and so now they are going to this other environment.
So it was a hard transition, but that’s part of what it is. It’s kind of part of what I am talking about, you have to look at, okay, well then, how do we make it all fit? So for us it means that there is some element of sacrifice.
Okay, so we are going to — and that’s kind of what we talked to them about. It’s like, okay, well, you guys are going to go to this school setting for a while, this is your sacrifice, and then here is how it’s going to play out. And when things kind of ease up and mom’s time — there are not so many demands on mom’s time then we can readjust if you need to, and we kind of had to have that conversation with the kids.
And that’s part of what they suggest, some of the researchers, even if you are not dealing with these issues I am talking about, if you have a family, you kind of have to say to the kids, hey, here’s what we are doing, here’s how we expect it’s going to go.
Adriana Linares: Well, but isn’t everything — I mean I hate to be corporatey, but it just sounds like when I go into a law firm and a managing partner has been the one to initiate contact or an office manager has — I actually sent an email saying this very same thing today, which was I hate to sound corporatey, but you have really got to get buy-in from all the stakeholders, which is what you were doing. I mean when has that ever not worked?
So now you are taking this classic Business 101 thing and applying it to what is probably way more important than Business 101, which is family 101, and of course that makes so much sense to me.
Bill Galione: Yeah. I didn’t think of it exactly in that sense, but yeah, it’s exactly kind of what was happening on a very personal relational level, so yeah, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Amazing. So I am going to ask you one more question before we move on to a quick break and then I want to talk to you about technically how you manage to do all this stuff. It’s been, what, a year since — I am very concerned to hear about how the kids are doing in school. Has it been a year?
Bill Galione: It has been, yeah, yeah, so they are finishing up their first year.
Adriana Linares: And?
Bill Galione: Well, I guess the end of the story is the happy part, so I will start there.
Adriana Linares: Yes, I hope.
Bill Galione: They are doing well.
Adriana Linares: Cool.
Bill Galione: It was a very rocky road.
Adriana Linares: At first.
Bill Galione: A couple of them took to it very, very well. Our 14 year old, my 14 year old son Galione, Jr, he is — once he connected with sports, when he was about six or seven, he became this little social butterfly and he just loves the social environment, so he was fine.
A couple of the others, sweet little Essie was crying for a while. We found out she would go in the bathroom and cry. And there were a couple of kids that were not treating her so well, but it was mostly — it wasn’t really that, it wasn’t like we hear about bullying stories, it was nothing like that. It’s a very good school that they are going to, but she is the one out of the five of them that’s particularly sensitive to different things.
Adriana Linares: Oh yeah. You have got to have one out of five, I mean come on, you are doing all right.
Bill Galione: Yeah. But on the flip side, that’s her greatest strength. Her empathy and her passion with things, but the way it plays out on the other side is this. And so it was difficult for her.
She is now — we actually had a conversation with her recently, she has now kind of swung around and she has kind of adjusted and there’s things she now likes about that kind of environment. And so she is happy again and all the others I think have kind of settled down and settled into a routine. Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Well, that makes me happy. I was very concerned for a minute, and I mean that. I was like, oh my God, I hope he doesn’t tell me that he has got to go back to a big firm because his kids didn’t adjust well. I knew they would because I feel — I don’t have kids, but obviously my friends do and I hear stories all the time and kids are so resilient and amazing and especially it sounds like you guys have such a strong family structure and a support system that I didn’t doubt that they were going to be fine, but I needed to make sure and ask.
Listen, before we move on I am just going to take a quick break, we will hear another message or two from some sponsors. When we come back I am going to ask Bill about the technology that you must have researched and what you are using and you and I were at a technology conference when we met, but I am sure our listeners want to know how you took all that passion and interest and your family and your crazy calendar that you guys must have and have been making this work for about a year. We will be right back.
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Adriana Linares: You are still with us, Bill?
Bill Galione: I am.
Adriana Linares: All right. I am so glad. It’s been so interesting talking to you about your personal life, which is so embedded into your work life and I love it. I have been doing this for 20 years, technology consulting and training and I find that most lawyers don’t really love what they do, and I can’t be a lawyer counselor, obviously I am not one, but I have found that when I meet lawyers who love what they do and have it as a really integrated part of their life in a positive way, even when it can be sometimes negative work that you are doing, it’s really meaningful.
And I want to tell all my lawyers who say to me, I can’t stand this job, I really want to do something else. I say, well, what’s your personal interest, figure out a way to practice law in that area or help people in that area, and I think it really turns the minds and the hearts around of so many when they can do that. But that’s really hard.
And of course another thing that’s really hard on lawyers and it’s what I do for a living mostly and why I am always surrounded by them is talking about technology and finding and figuring out ways to not be tortured by technology, that sounds terrible.
So sounds like you decided to go out on your own, you got the support that you needed, you figured out logistically how to refocus your family or sort of not even refocus, but more rearrange your family and your personal life and then you must have done a ton of research to think about technology. I mean, you weren’t going to go out and buy $10,000 server so you must have been looking at cloud-based technology and I am sure you wanted to be paperless and you wanted to be able to answer your phone from wherever you were and respond to client needs from wherever you work, because you have got five kids and a wife and a busy life.
So where did you start?
Bill Galione: Well, you kind of summed up the end result, that’s about where I got to, it’s what you were just describing, that’s exactly it. But yeah, I kind of looked at the practical side of it. So some of the other advice you get when you are kind of starting out then with your own place is you want to be very conscious of your overhead expenses. You hear terms like lean and agile and all these things and you are trying to come up with as kind of a lean simple structure as you can, while being able to provide the quality of services that you need to provide. And so you are looking very carefully at what are you spending and is there a better way to do it.
And yeah, so probably one of the first big things, the first concept that becomes really significant in that, with the idea of trying to watch overhead and expenses and simplicity and things like that, is the idea of a paperless office, and so that is incredibly significant.
So I was coming out of an environment where we had the paper files and I have kind of always had a paper file, and that was one of the areas over the years —
Adriana Linares: Don’t think I forgot about that, because I didn’t.
Bill Galione: Yeah. So that was one of the areas of where I saw a lot of opportunities for efficiency. In addition to kind of researching everything, I am always thinking in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and kind of what can you do and what’s a better way to do this.
And I saw a lot of opportunities for how things could be done better or easier or quicker and a lot of it had to do with technology. And one of those big parts of the equation has to do with all that paper, because once you get there, once you realize that you can and will run a paperless or almost paperless office, some people say it’s never truly paperless, but once you commit to a paperless office, it brings in so many facets of what you are doing, with costs and expense and resources, that it kind of transforms what you are able to accomplish.
So for example, I was putting this together and partly what you are thinking is, okay, office furniture and what do I need to buy and what can I get by with, and so I was thinking about filing cabinets. So I am coming from a place, walls of filing cabinets.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, big firms, they love filing cabinets.
Bill, let me back up and ask you one thing, your office space, did you end up renting an office in an office building or did you find like wouldn’t — Gainesville has a lot of cool little standalone houses that are zoned for business. So what did you end up doing as far as your actual office?
Bill Galione: Yeah, so that’s kind of another issue then you have to sort out is what you are going to do. So what I kind of realized — the first question is okay, well, do I need space and what kind of space do I need? So for my type of practice, I really do need physical space.
Adriana Linares: Right, your clients will come visit you.
Bill Galione: Yeah. It doesn’t have to be the mahogany table, but you do have to think about appearance to some degree, because until they have spent a little time with me and can understand what I bring to the table and the experience and the concern and the compassion, we don’t want them to be turned off and turned away by some superficial things. So it has to be some level of quality in where you are going to be meeting with them. You have to think about that to some degree.
So yeah, so I had to look for physical space, I couldn’t do the home office thing, I couldn’t do the virtual office thing, and I couldn’t do the home office partially, like be there part of the time is because of our house family dynamics. There’s just — there’s not a good place to get quiet in our house. So ideally —
Adriana Linares: And you wouldn’t want a quiet house with five kids.
Bill Galione: Well yeah, that’s true too, yeah. And so I did have to look for — start thinking through, okay, so I need a place where I am going to sit down and you think through how you are using your time. You are like okay, so here are all the different tasks that are going to be connected with what I am going to be doing. And so this is the physical space I personally need and then you think about okay, well, what am I doing with staff, what are they going to need, and you think about the clients, what are they going to need.
So for me, what I came up with is, well, I was going to need a place that had space for me, with additional offices I could grow into and the immediate needs were space for me and a conference room and a receptionist. That’s kind of the bare minimum I could get by with.
And then I kind of had in my mind sort of my wish list of what I wanted it to look like and be like and all of that. Part of what you think through when you are starting your business is, okay, so what kind of — what’s the culture of your firm and what’s it reflecting. And they say it should reflect you in some way. It should be personal. And it should also be based on the folks you are working with and recognize that.
And so when I started thinking through I am thinking, well, what I am doing here is I am working — probably going to be working mostly with families and with kids and I am kind of a relaxed, casual, laid-back type of person. So although I take kind of the professional appearance very seriously, I am always in a suit, but at the same time, I wanted my firm to have a little bit of character of kid-friendly, family-friendly, relaxed. So I didn’t like the idea — so I started looking at spaces and it all looks kind of — and I am thinking traditional law firm spaces, traditional buildings and brick on the front and all this.
Adriana Linares: Right. The McDonald’s with that Bounce House in it is definitely better.
Bill Galione: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Like that’s what I am envisioning. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Bill Galione: Right. So it wasn’t fitting, and at the same time, you have to have some type of timeline, what’s going on in your life and when this has to start, and then you are looking at overhead expenses and how much you could spend or should be spending and things like that.
So you are putting it altogether and I am looking around here and there was just not a lot that was working for me, and I found a couple of places, nothing that I was really excited about; I was probably leaning towards one.
But one of the things I was thinking — my wife found it and she realized —
Adriana Linares: Of course she did.
Bill Galione: And she did, it’s so funny, I was talking to her, so she would find these places and I would be like, that’s not really what I am looking for.
Adriana Linares: What is her name?
Bill Galione: Leah.
Adriana Linares: Leah.
Bill Galione: Yeah, Leah. So Leah is looking around for me and is like, well, what do you want and I will look for it? And so I was describing it to her and I was like, well, I want kind of a place that’s a little more casual, it needs to look very professional, very nice, all of that, but I want it to be a little bit more casual.
I am kind of a techie type guy, so if it could be like —
Adriana Linares: It should be modern.
Bill Galione: Yeah, and somehow maybe connected to technology, like share space, and kind of like if Google had a little space in town that I could work with them, that would be pretty cool. So that’s kind of what I am thinking.
Adriana Linares: Good luck in Gainesville, but I can’t wait to hear what you found.
Bill Galione: I found it.
Adriana Linares: No kidding.
Bill Galione: There is a — it just so happens there was — Gainesville is kind of building up their technology center.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, yeah, I know.
Bill Galione: And so there was a local tech company that I guess before I met them, it was maybe a year or so, they had grown so big, they took over a large one floor office complex, gutted it, renovated it, and made it this beautiful high-tech thing. And so you walk in the lobby and they have got this nice long reception table on the left, on the right they have a little coffee shop. They have kind of the highlighted colors. They have the big screen TVs.
Adriana Linares: Isn’t it amazing how things work out.
Bill Galione: Yeah, bold us over.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, right, great story.
Bill Galione: Yeah. I got the call from my wife, and it’s so funny, because it was like, I found it, I found it.
Adriana Linares: Come now.
Bill Galione: I found it, but you have to be here at 6 o’clock tonight and here’s where you are going and the guy is going to meet you there. And so I showed up. The guy who runs the business is just this amazing guy. He has this great heart for the community, which is part of what is important to my wife and I.
Adriana Linares: Also how the universe works, just bringing all the right people and pieces together, yeah.
Bill Galione: Right. And so I show up and he gives me the tour, and it’s amazing. So he is like an online tech company. He teaches IT folks by recording videos and putting them online. So you walk in and he shows me their production studio. It looks like a movie studio and part of it and he has redone the whole kitchen area. There is this great fancy break room. He has this huge conference room with all this new office furniture. Every place is just — it’s been painted over. He has all these skylights so there’s lots of natural lighting and there’s a receptionist up front, and it’s — and there’s a coffee place built into it. So it was just —
Adriana Linares: Wow.
Bill Galione: So I showed up and I am like, yeah, she is right, this is exactly what I was looking for.
Adriana Linares: That’s great. Well, good.
Bill Galione: Yeah, yeah, so that’s where I wound up and it’s a process getting there, but yes, I am very happy now. It’s really cool.
Adriana Linares: So you will have to tell us about your technology in like a summary format; I think we are going pretty long, which I don’t mind at all, but tell us then a little bit about what you ended up with and maybe a couple of the bumps that you hit. I know you switched practice management programs, which is always hard, but I tell lawyers if you have the time and you need to make it when you have made a decision that isn’t necessarily working for you, it’s okay to switch. It’s going to be a little bit of a pain, but you have to do that.
So tell us a little bit about your technology. I think you are going to be a great guest again, we will check in on you in about six months and see how things have changed and we can talk a little bit more in depth, but for now, tell us a little bit about your technology.
Bill Galione: Sure. So yeah, so for the paperless office, the basic — the cornerstone of that is scanning. And so you get all these different opinions for all the other technology and you have all — everybody has different opinions.
In the legal tech sector, pretty much everybody is unanimous about you need a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. And so I kept hearing that over and over, so I got the iX500.
Adriana Linares: And you love it.
Bill Galione: I do, yeah.
Adriana Linares: The thing is amazing.
Bill Galione: Yeah, it works perfectly. It connects. I run everything right now off of a laptop so that I can be completely portable. And it connects to my laptop and I tell it to scan and it runs everything through. I have a folder system set up for where it comes into. And yeah, it’s fast and it’s quiet.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome.
Bill Galione: And it’s been working great. So that’s the first part. So I have to agree with everyone else who said that’s what you need, they were right, you do need that.
Adriana Linares: Okay. They were right on that one?
Bill Galione: Yeah, they were right on that one.
Adriana Linares: What were they wrong on?
Bill Galione: Yeah. I did get a — and being a techie I want to buy all the best, latest and greatest, but I know I am not supposed to be spending all this money, so you kind of have to compromise on something. So I did buy a specific laptop just for work to kind of start with a kind of clean slate there, and that’s kind of what I use.
The other part was, yeah, I didn’t go into any kind of putting together server routes, I kind of have everything online one way or another, but really for me, online for the most part means I am using an online case management system.
And so I came from a background of server-based systems.
Adriana Linares: Traditional as I call them.
Bill Galione: Yeah, yeah, which have a lot of great features. So like the systems I came from, I had needles at one firm and feature-rich and lots of data, lots of data crunching, and that part I liked. And I found one of the reasons for my switch that you were just talking about is because of how I was trained and what my background is as far as case management goes.
But I was used to the server system and I had not really — I had kind of heard about the cloud systems and I was — at the start of the process I was not sure what I thought about them. I was one of those uninformed folks thinking, well, I don’t know about putting everything in the cloud.
Adriana Linares: Is the Bar going to be okay with this? Is my data secure?
Bill Galione: Yeah, so I had those thoughts.
Adriana Linares: What happens if they go out of business, can I get my data out of there? Okay, we know all the questions. It turned out okay.
Bill Galione: Yeah. I researched it enough that I got past that and got to the point where that was my preference, that I realized that’s what I was purposely looking for is that I was trying to find a cloud-based system.
And so once I knew that, then I looked for the ones that were specific to my PI practice, because what I found also is that a lot of the guys kind of I wanted at first, they are not PI specific, so a lot of the data crunching I needed to do, there was not an easy way to do it in our systems. So I did have to look at the PI based ones.
I probably demoed 15-20 different ones.
Adriana Linares: Oh my gosh.
Bill Galione: Oh yeah, it was crazy.
Adriana Linares: That is crazy, but amazing.
Bill Galione: Yeah, yeah. So I know a lot about these cloud-based systems. I settled on one — and actually kind of initially had settled on two and bounced around and got to where I am now. And so right now I am using a system called SmartAdvocate.
Adriana Linares: You emailed me about that one a while ago after we met and I couldn’t really give you any advice because I hadn’t heard of it or heard too many lawyers that had been using it, and I said, but please tell me what you find out. So it sounds like you did the research and you ended up liking it and getting it.
And how long have you been using it now?
Bill Galione: Not that long, maybe about two weeks, it’s a very recent switch.
Adriana Linares: Okay. And so far?
Bill Galione: Well, so far I found kind of what I had already discovered, which is that you can’t have everything. So there were a lot of wonderful things about it, and the important things, what I was looking for, now that I have a better idea and better understanding of what I need, what I found is that I am not a typical solo small practice attorney. I function more like a large practice attorney when it comes to data and information management.
And so I like to have all these fields, and because I am kind of a techie I like to be able to manipulate it and I like to be able to customize it, and I don’t want a one-size-fits-all type thing, and so when it comes to customization this thing is amazing.
I am still going through it realizing, oh my goodness. Like the thing I mentioned to you, the aha moment I had two days ago was I can email my faxes to my online fax service, I don’t have to log on to the —
Adriana Linares: Oh, that’s what it was, oh yeah, yeah.
Bill Galione: That’s what it was.
Adriana Linares: God, don’t you love those moments when you are like holy moly?
Bill Galione: Because I had already saved — that’s probably a whole other podcast.
Adriana Linares: Well, good.
Bill Galione: Like the fax system we were using, just going to online was a huge thing, but the thing I discovered then was while I am within my case management, if I direct it to this address with my online fax service, it gets faxed from the email within the case management. I am not going anywhere else, it’s emailing me back confirmation, it’s emailing me what it sent and I am done, with like a few clicks of the button.
Adriana Linares: And so you are mentioning the F word a lot, that’s what I call it by the way. Your practice must lend itself to still needing fax.
Bill Galione: Yes, yes, so that’s the sad part about PI work.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, yeah, okay, I just want to make it clear that you are not doing that because you want to; you are using that because you have to.
Bill Galione: Oh no. I am doing that because I am being dragged, kicking and screaming. There are certain vendor — insurance companies and healthcare providers, a lot of what they do, they won’t do email, so it has to be faxed. So yeah, so I have to — if I want to communicate with them quickly and directly and cheaply, I can’t email, so yeah.
Adriana Linares: Well, here’s what I want to do Bill, because I feel we should wrap this up, people are going to — they are going to be sitting in their car half an hour after they already got to work trying to listen to the end of this episode. I am going to check back in with you in a few months, maybe five or six months, and we will talk more.
You sent me such a great list of topics as far as going paperless and thinking about office equipment, getting virtual support, Office 365 and all the tools that you are using, like you put in here TextExpander, Dictation, Scanner Apps for your phone. So what I want to do is just invite you back, once you have honed a little bit more and maybe had a couple of more foibles, because I think it’s so realistic when we have to switch or figure something new out and talk about that in depth.
I think this episode is going to be so valuable to lawyers who are trying to figure out how to either start a practice that is in an area that they love and they are passionate about, and also being able to balance work and life and family and still maintain a passion for all of those things, like I can feel and hear that you have, I think it’s so sweet and amazing and you sound like such a sweet guy, and Leah sounds like a saint. I hope I get to Gainesville one day and we can all meet, because I would love to meet you and your family.
Bill Galione: That would be great.
Adriana Linares: So before I let you go this time, tell everyone how they can follow up with you, ask you some questions or find you on the Internet.
Bill Galione: Sure. So we do have a Facebook page, so if you were to look for Galione Law, you would find us on Facebook.
Adriana Linares: And spell that for us.
Bill Galione: Oh sorry. Yeah. That’s true.
Adriana Linares: I know. Don’t worry, I think everybody can spell Adriana Linares, unless you are from South America or speak Spanish as a second language you can’t. So tell everybody how to spell Galione.
Bill Galione: Yeah, generally people don’t get Galione, I forgot about that. So it’s G-A-L-I-O-N-E, so Galione Law, and then Twitter would be @GalioneLawFirm, and then website is HYPERLINK “http://www.galionelaw.com” galionelaw.com, and the email address is simply HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]”[email protected].
Adriana Linares: Excellent. Well, Bill, I can’t thank you enough for your time, because I figured out during our talk how valuable and precious that is, and I hope you will come back in just a couple of months. I keep shortening the time, because first I said six months and then I said five months, then I thought why do we wait that long, we will just check in on you every couple of months and see how you are doing. So I hope you will come back.
Bill Galione: I would love to. Thank you Adriana.
Adriana Linares: Oh yeah, I would love to have you back, it will be great.
Well, for everyone listening, thank you so much. You have been listening to New Solo on Legal Talk Network. If you liked what you heard today, I would love for you to subscribe, rate and give us a review on iTunes.
We will see you next time. And 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.
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