Maybe you’ve built the perfect practice, but you still never know when a natural disaster could tear it all down. Many lawyers have struggled to recover from disastrous hurricanes and fires, often not knowing how to put the pieces of their business back together. In this episode of New Solo, host Adriana Linares and co-host Jack Newton talk to Renee Thompson and Zack Zuroweste about how law firms can prepare for and recover from natural disasters. They discuss switching to the cloud in order to eliminate the loss of physical files, ensuring your backups are actually saving everything you need, and the ability to be mobile and take your office with you in a pinch.
Zack Zuroweste is a trial lawyer and shareholder at PersanteZuroweste, and has served eight years on the Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors.
Renee Thompson is a mediator at Upchurch Watson White & Max and serves as The Florida Bar Board of Governors Fifth Circuit Representative.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Clio, Answer1, Lawclerk, and Unbundled Attorney.
What Storms May Come Preparing your Firm for Natural Disaster
Intro: So you are an attorney and you have decided to go out on your own, now what? You need a plan and you are not alone. Join expert host Adriana Linares and her distinguished guests on New Solo. Tune into the lively conversation as they share insights and information about how to successfully run your law firm, here on Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hello and welcome to New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I’m Adriana Linares, I am your host, a legal technology trainer and consultant. Normally, I’m sitting around helping lawyers and law firms use technology better, but today I’m at the Florida Bar Annual Convention and because Legal Talk Network was here and I knew I could wheel in some good guests, we’re going to do a special episode of New Solo.
Before I get started and introduce our guests, and my amazing co-host, I am going to take a moment to read a couple of messages from our sponsors.
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All right, let’s get to our show. Let me start with my co-host that I sucked into. Well, I talked into co-hosting this real episode after we spent six hours co-hosting our nope cast at the Waldorf Bar last night Jack Newton. Thanks for taking some time out today.
Jack Newton: Thrilled to be here.
Adriana Linares: Well I thought it was really cool that you had the time to sit down with us but mostly because our two other guests are going to spend a lot of time, well, not a lot, we won’t spend the whole time talking about it, but they’re here to talk to us about preparing for hurricane season and your product, Clio, is probably I would say the one or two main reasons that they were able to successfully keep their law firms running after a couple hurricanes we had here in Florida.
So we’re going to talk to them about that. And I appreciate your time sitting down with this one and tell everyone else who might not know who Clio and/or Jack Newton is, a little bit about yourself.
Jack Newton: Sure. I’ll start with myself. I’m Jack Newton. I’m the CEO and Founder of Clio. We launched Clio 10 years ago this year as the first cloud-based practice management system in the world.
Adriana Linares: Happy Birthday to you.
Jack Newton: Thank you. Thank you very much. And Clio is a cloud-based practice management system and by cloud-based we mean it is in the Internet and you access Clio via the internet. You don’t have any servers or on-premise hardware or software to worry about.
You don’t need to worry about backup tapes as long as you have a phone or a laptop and an Internet connection, you’ve essentially got your entire practice with you and I think Zack and Renée will be able to tell us exactly what that looks like in their situation and yeah, thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.
Adriana Linares: Well, no I really appreciate it. So let’s introduce our guests, Renée and Zack. Zack, let’s start with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself. This is a big week for you.
Zack Zuroweste: This is a big week. This was my last meeting as President of the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division. So for the past two years, I’ve been representing all of the young lawyers in the State of Florida.
Adriana Linares: You have done a great job.
Zack Zuroweste: Thank you.
Adriana Linares: I mean amazing job.
Zack Zuroweste: Thank you, about 25,000 lawyers, so I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.
Adriana Linares: Yes, you would. Yeah.
Zack Zuroweste: Kudos. I have a small firm in Clearwater, Florida. We focus primarily on probate litigation and business litigation. And so several years ago, we made the transition into the cloud, slowly but surely. And I’m very glad that we did, and I look forward to talking to you about my experience during last hurricane season.
Adriana Linares: Right. And so for listeners who aren’t sure where Clearwater, Florida is, it’s directly on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh yeah, I’m in Flood Zone A.
Adriana Linares: Flood Zone A, well known. That’s interesting. And Renée, tell us about yourself.
Renée Thompson: Hi, I am Renée Thompson. I’m a mediator with the firm of Upchurch, Watson, White & Max. And I also maintain a small solo practice in between mediating with my own firm, which is Thompson Law Center.
Adriana Linares: I love that. And Renée, can I just spend one second of bragging on you, other than the fact that you’re an amazing lawyer and very active with the Florida Bar. Renée, have you ever heard Renée sing?
Zack Zuroweste: I have heard Renée sing, she’s phenomenal.
Adriana Linares: It’s amazing, right. Can you maybe a little ditty now.
Renée Thompson: Maybe, we’ll save that for later, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Awesome. So what I really wanted to have a good episode about is hurricanes or just natural disasters, unnatural disasters, emergencies, even a fire that your law firm might become a victim of and just being prepared to get up and go.
Zack, let’s start with you for just a second. Tell us a little bit about the infrastructure at your firm. You said you moved to the cloud, was that hard, how big is your firm, why did you decide to do that to even just kind of prep the story?
Zack Zuroweste: Sure. So we have three lawyers and three paralegals, and for many years, we worked on a hard-line server which was basically a big computer in a closet that was hardwired to all the different computers in our office and that is where we house our online calendaring program.
I should say our calendaring program at the time was not online and then we had a separate timekeeping program and then we also kept our files on that server. So that server was basically a huge data index that everything from our firm went to.
And so, I started practicing law about 12 years ago and the server was a struggle every month. There was holes in the data and then we have to call the IT guy to come out and he’s resetting things and it’s like a $150 a pop, $300 a pop. Things would go wrong and it was something that was very frustrating and at that time, I was not familiar with the cloud-based resources. It was really probably four or five years ago that I started learning about them, and our first transition was to Clio.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. And do you have any questions? I’m sorry I keep — I’m a Mike Hoggard, Jack you got to jump in.
Jack Newton: No, you go ahead, you are doing great. Let’s hear from Zack and Renée and then I’ll jump in.
Adriana Linares: Did you have a hard time convincing your partners and your staff that going to the cloud was — like was it an easy decision for you all or is it something that you had to struggle with.
Zack Zuroweste: It was actually a very big struggle. So my law partner has been practicing now for probably 35 years and had been using programs that he knew and was not that trusting of the cloud, didn’t really understand what it entailed. And I really had a difficult time understanding a lot of the nuances and how the data was stored and was it secure, and all of those types of questions, because years ago it was still relatively new.
So for us, I kept on interviewing different cloud-based providers and learning a little bit more overtime and overtime. And I went to go purchase different programs several times but I kept stopping and then about maybe three or four years ago, I could not take it anymore. So I just –
Adriana Linares: I wish you all could see Zack’s face when he says that.
Zack Zuroweste: I was so frustrated.
Renée Thompson: He means it.
Zack Zuroweste: These stupid programs that we use that kept on breaking and so I had a new associate at the time, being with us for about a year, and I said I just want to go with the cloud and he goes well, I think you and I could do this, and I said okay.
So I knew Clio, I had friends that had used Clio, Renée had used Clio and bragged about it. And so I chose it because I really liked the interface, it was simple and we got a couple of different test pilots that we could utilize it and we kind of created files, kind of like big files of our firm, you just kind of see how it went.
Adriana Linares: Give it a couple kicks of the tires.
Zack Zuroweste: And then I gave it the option to our paralegals to use it. So they used it for like a week, just kind of playing around with it to see if they liked it.
Adriana Linares: Oh, smart move.
Zack Zuroweste: And they loved it.
Adriana Linares: Awesome.
Zack Zuroweste: And they basically came in and we’re like, let’s make this work.
Adriana Linares: Oh, no kidding.
Zack Zuroweste: So we made the switch.
Adriana Linares: That’s great to get buy-in and that support from your staff.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh yeah.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Zack Zuroweste: And so, I envisioned this data process conversion from like a database program to Clio in the cloud as being a really difficult thing. And what we learned, was that essentially most every program has a way to export to Excel, and then Clio just takes those things and exports it into its format and it was just in Clio. And there were some few things to clean up as with any type of conversion, but it was really easy and it was so worth it.
Adriana Linares: And Renée you were an early adopter I think. I mean in our world here, you were one of the first to move your practice to the cloud, do you want to talk a little bit about how and why and where you came from?
Renée Thompson: Sure. I had been working with a midsize Orlando firm for a very long time and wanted to make the leap to become a full time mediator. And so, in order to do that, I needed to find a way to transition my client base and to have time to be a mediator. And so, essentially I needed a program that was worry free. That didn’t require a large hardware investment. I’m a true solo because while I’m building my mediation practice, I still have my local work.
So I really needed something that kind of took care of itself but also was very mobile. As a mediator, I can find myself in multiple offices across the state on any given day of the week.
So in order for me to maintain my practice I needed something where I wasn’t stuck at my computer only in my office. So the cloud really made sense to me. I had learned about Clio through the Florida Bar, through the technology committees and the work that they’ve done with those committees.
So for me, it was really a question of how best can I be mobile and how best can I have the opportunity not to have to worry about my practice management.
Because it was something that didn’t need to be the focus of what I did on a daily basis. And I had worked in firms where it really was truly a focus, so seeing that difference has been really amazing.
Jack Newton: Awesome, let’s talk about hurricanes. So when you signed up for Clio and maybe other cloud-based services, it sounds like it was primarily motivated by the needs that you had around your business, did you have natural disasters like hurricanes in the back of your mind when you were selecting a cloud-based service.
Tell us about how much that factored into your decision-making?
Adriana Linares: Wait, and can I just say that’s totally the question I was going to ask. You’re the best co-host. We are like this.
Jack Newton: We are like this.
Zack Zuroweste: For my firm, yes. So my firm actually shortly before I began practicing law it actually burnt to the ground. So they lost a lot of stuff in that fire and that’s always remained in the back of my mind. And we also had this like minor flood in our office and our server at the time was on the floor and I remember thinking this is so reckless.
We’ve got to fix this situation and see, it’s one of those things where it takes some effort in some time and some planning but then once you do it you look at yourself and go, why didn’t I do that five years ago.
Adriana Linares: Amazing, right.
Zack Zuroweste: And for us, I travel a lot and so I do all of the billing for the firm that takes several hours for me a month and I didn’t want to have to do it inside my office. I wanted to be able to do it at home so I could do it when my kids were napping on the weekends or I could do it in a hotel room or I could do it at the annual convention of the Florida Bar in a hallway.
I wanted it to be able to have that option and so Clio was a great, great thing for me. And then we had some hurricane scares a few years ago and we developed this plan for our files which were still on the server to basically either create like a second shadow server, which is going to be like many thousands of dollars and would backup remotely.
But we had had experiences where our backups didn’t work. So when we tested it they would fail and I don’t have the time to check every day to make sure those are running well. So that was frustrating.
Jack Newton: You touched on it quickly but it’s such an important point. So many firms that have on-premise systems that think they’re doing backups are not actually backing up what they think they are and what they need to be backing up to do a full restore and the stats around backups not being what people think they are and people not being able to recover from a natural disaster where their primary systems are destroyed or damaged are really astonishing.
So it’s a really high business risk and if you are using on-premise systems, making sure you’re verifying your backups all the time is super important, but as you point out super time-consuming as well.
Zack Zuroweste: Right, I just don’t have time for that. And so –
Adriana Linares: Can I make a PSA just real quick for listeners who might still have servers and IT people who help support you, I want you to stop whatever you’re doing after listening to the entirety of this podcast and send an email or walk over to your IT person and force them to show you a successful restore.
Because what Zack has just described is one of the most common situations that I as a consultant witnessed when I walk into a law firm and often it’s after there’s been a problem and they say well, our IT people kept saying the restore was done, the backup was done but nobody actually tests it.
So if you’re still in that world please, please check a restore and make sure it actually works. Okay, go ahead Zack.
Zack Zuroweste: It happened to a colleague of ours, they lost all their files and they got corrupted and their email, because their email was hosted through their server. So when I found out how many tens of thousands of dollars it took to get back most of their files that were still heavily corrupted. I looked at my partner, I go we got to do something.
Jack Newton: Yeah.
Zack Zuroweste: So after using Clio for a few years I felt a lot more comfortable with the cloud and then we actually made the switch to take our firm totally in the cloud by moving our files into a virtual cloud service, and that to me was a total game changer.
I was scared of what that process would entail, but it literally over a weekend, we just hit a couple of buttons and it copied all the files we wanted to and then it was working and I was looking at my associate going wait, I thought this was going to be hard. I think it’s amazing.
Jack Newton: The data migration piece is what stresses people out the most and I think it’s the reason you see so many people sticking with on-premise systems and I think a lot of people don’t realize is that the vendors will often provide some kind of red carpet service in the form of data migration services, sometimes they’re free, sometimes there’s something you need to pay for but they’re often something that that has been exercised so often that there’s a pretty high level of predictability around the data migration, and a very high level of confidence around being able to do the data migration successfully.
So I think that’s one thing that listeners can think about in terms of getting over that fear of moving to the cloud is know that if you’re using any widely used piece of software, chances are, like if you’re an on Amicus Attorney or whatever that software might be, there’s a very well-trodden path of people moving from the software to Clio or to other cloud-based practice management solutions.
Adriana Linares: You won’t be the first.
Jack Newton: And I can speak for Clio, particular we offer free data migration services for customers moving from those platforms and it’s very predictable. So Renée, let’s move, hear about your perspective on how strongly did disaster recovery and disaster preparedness figure into your choice to move to the cloud.
Renée Thompson: It was probably more so for me. I had a very unique experience in the Young Lawyers Division, prior to my presidency of the division, I had experienced the 2005 hurricane season, which in Florida was a really rot with quite a disaster.
Adriana Linares: Who was that, remind me, who was that?
Renée Thompson: Charlie, I mean there was quite a few that it was like three –
Adriana Linares: Yeah that was the x marks the spot in Central Florida.
Renée Thompson: Yeah, it felt like every week we were having, Ivan, I mean it was something always happening and part of the division’s responsibilities is to man the hurricane helpline. So we were helping attorneys and clients throughout the state navigate through all of these issues.
So I was seeing it on a macro level at a very young age. So when I had the opportunity to make those decisions for myself, it definitely weighed on my mind about do I really want to put myself in a position where all my files can be swept away, flooded. Do I really want to be in a position where I’ve invested in all of this hardware and it’s doing me absolutely no good because no one can get in the building.
So we had seen maybe some of the worst in Florida for quite a few years and so this for me was a solution that made a lot of sense.
Adriana Linares: In all kinds of ways.
Renée Thompson: And really very affordable, especially as a solo, I needed something that was affordable too. So it was a really the best of both worlds.
Adriana Linares: Well listen before we go on to the next segment, where I want to talk about what you all actually did when the hurricanes came this past year, we’re going to take a quick break and listen to a message from our sponsors.
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Adriana Linares: Okay, we’re back and we’re going to get into some good hurricane stories but before we do that, Renée had brought with her an interesting article and we’re going to quiz Zack on his hurricane, what will we call this.
Zack Zuroweste: Knowledge.
Renée Thompson: What would you choose?
Adriana Linares: Yeah, decision-making when hurricanes are coming.
Renée Thompson: So I have the occasion to see the Herald Tribune’s article on Floridians who are preparing for hurricane season. And much to my surprise despite having now had a brush with Alberto, a tropical storm and dealing with some effects from Irma, Floridians are still not prepared for this hurricane season. Go figure.
So they did a survey of Floridians to find out what would you choose in the four days following a hurricane if you had an option.
And I wanted to ask Zack what he would choose because I thought it was very interesting to kind of see where the minds of Floridians are, despite having gotten through some trying times over the past year.
The first question was if you had the opportunity to choose a fully charged cell phone or refrigerator, which one would you rather have?
Adriana Linares: I wish you guys could see Zack’s face.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh God, a fully charged cell phone. I remember last year I want to have that fully charged cell phone.
Renée Thompson: So Floridians chose the refrigerator by 74%, right.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh God.
Renée Thompson: The next question was if you could choose Internet access or cable television following a hurricane, which would you choose?
Zack Zuroweste: Oh I would do cable. I was so tied to the news. I just watched it over and over and over again. I really did.
Renée Thompson: Well most Floridians, 83% actually would prefer Internet access following a hurricane, rather than cable television.
Zack Zuroweste: I am a leader not a follower.
Adriana Linares: Yeah you are.
Zack Zuroweste I want you to know that.
Renée Thompson: And then the final question that they asked Floridians was, if you had the choice between a fully charged cell phone or air conditioning which would you choose?
Zack Zuroweste: Oh air conditioning.
Adriana Linares: You are in with that.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh my God.
Renée Thompson: You are in with that. You are in with that. They have definitely chosen that. 77% of those who took the survey, said they would choose air conditioning over a fully charged cell phone. Which I thought was just so interesting because it really showed to me the significance of folks who are really putting this emphasize need for what’s going on in the comforts of their home after a hurricane.
But I think it really underscores that people need to realize you might not be in your home after a hurricane. You might not have access to air conditioning and a refrigerator and you hope you do, and you hope you are able to have those comforts but if you have to leave, which does happen, what are you going to do if you don’t have the availability of meeting the needs of your office and meeting the needs of your family in a mobile setting.
So it was just so interesting to me that Floridians are very, very focused on staying in their home right after hurricane.
Adriana Linares: And Renée you did not stay in your home after or when hurricanes were coming.
Renée Thompson: Well, we were out of power for eight days.
Adriana Linares: I went 13. It’s crazy.
Renée Thompson: Yeah it’s a long time. Yeah, I mean when we were in 2005, we went for 14 days without power and I can tell you it was really eye-opening experience. I bought my first generator I mean I did things that I didn’t ever think as an adult I would have to do.
But you finally learn a window air conditioner, by the way, is a really great thing Zack if you’re wondering. You can put it in one room and air-condition an entire room for a week, it’s awesome.
Adriana Linares: With your phone, stocked refrigerator and cable TV, Zack.
Renée Thompson: Yeah, I learned a lot during that first round of hurricanes but you know, now that I am an adult and I have to make adulting decisions, I think about how can I best manage a disaster like this and not have to necessarily invest in so many things to get me through such a trying time.
So that’s why I love the mobility of having the office that goes with you. I have the occasion to call Adriana after I packed my office which was a very short process this time. I literally put my files from my banking account, my trust account records and some things like that in a box, and I took my laptop and I left my office. And it was the first time I have ever had that experience having prepared for multiple hurricanes at midsize offices, at small offices.
I can tell you that was a long ordeal in the past trying to secure the client files and trying to secure things in a way that frankly I didn’t need to worry about. I felt like I had it with me and if I needed to reproduce it or duplicate it, it was easily managed and easily accessed.
And I also didn’t have to worry about my billing because that was another concern for me. When it hit, it was right during one of my billing cycles and I thought well gosh, if I had to sit here and do this, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to get bills out this month. And if you miss billing as an attorney, you may be able to do that one cycle but it starts to build up very quickly. And I wanted to have the opportunity to take that with me and so, I was able to do all my billing remotely which like I said, was a real game-changer for me to be able to do that right on the road.
Jack Newton: I think the way you framed it last night was a powerful way of framing where you said, you were actually so able to jump back into your work. You are able to actually catch up on work because you are able to be so productive.
Renée Thompson: Yes, well the whole state had shut down for an entire week and so I took the time to not only clean out my inbox and do things that you don’t always get an opportunity to do, but the clients that actually needed assistance or needed help, I was able to do that for them because I wasn’t managing my own crisis.
I actually felt a little bit ahead of the game because I was able to say hey look, you know, my things are taking care of what can I do to help you.
Adriana Linares: I love that.
Renée Thompson: And I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I been worried about my own needs and my own survival but I was able to take care of others.
Jack Newton: I think that’s so powerful for a lawyer and confidence building in your clients as well, if they can look to you in a time of need depending of course on your practice area. If they can look to you and see, you are on top of it, you didn’t miss a beat, you are ready for this and you are ready to help in and you are not yourself in crisis mode. It’s really powerful.
Renée Thompson: And it’s true. You have clients who aren’t in your state, in the mobile world —
Adriana Linares: Who don’t care that you have a hurricane. Sadly.
Renée Thompson: Yeah, maybe they have hired some local counsel from another state and they don’t understand the whole state of Florida has shut down. Their case is still going on in their mind and you still need the ability to communicate and contact with them. So that’s why I say it’s that for me was a game-changer, trying to see how to take your office with you. I have always used things mobily but this was on a whole another level.
Adriana Linares: Renée you use Clio and then you have net documents for a little more sophisticated document management which is also cloud-based. So you had that whole world with you. What other mobile technologies do you have, what do you do for phone or any other cool tools or tips you can tell everyone about that builds your toolbox?
Renée Thompson: I use Tali.
Adriana Linares: Oh sure tell everyone.
Renée Thompson: Which is a voice activation billing.
Jack Newton: I love Tali.
Renée Thompson: I love it a lot. I use it on Google Assistant. So I am able to take all my billing with me. I literally talk to my phone and it inputs it right onto a spreadsheet and then uploads directly to Clio.
Adriana Linares: And that’s T — their website is tell –
Renée Thompson: tali.com.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, awesome. before we go on and keep having this great conversation. Let’s take one more break, listen to a couple messages from some sponsors.
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Adriana Linares: Okay we are back. So when we last left off, Renée was just giving us a few more tips about the technology and tools that she uses. Any other things you want to make sure to mention?
Renée Thompson: I would just say for those who are considering the move to the cloud or who have already done it, put yourself in your shoes of having to leave your office for a week, maybe two weeks, what is that going to look like? And start to map out what you would actually take with you and when you start to see how very few things you actually need when your life is in the cloud, you will have a sense of relief and it will bring a peace of mind to you that you may not have even realized that you have using a product like that.
So I really encourage those of you who are on the fence or maybe like Zack, who thought about it did some research and put it down on the desk for a while and said, maybe I will get back to it. It’s time to get back to it. It’s hurricane season, you owe it to your clients, and more importantly, you owe it to yourself. That peace of mind is invaluable.
Adriana Linares: Zack, you have probably my favorite story about disaster fleeing, hurricane, leaving out of anyone I heard. Tell us a little bit about how you handled that and how you helped your staff and your employees and continue to support your clients.
Zack Zuroweste: Sure. So we integrated and went into the cloud with our files in May of last year and so we migrated to the Google Drive Cloud.
Adriana Linares: So you are a Google Docs user?
Zack Zuroweste: Yes.
Adriana Linares: The firm is, and are you also Office 365 or just mostly Google Docs?
Zack Zuroweste: We are all Google.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Zack Zuroweste: They also host our email as well.
Adriana Linares: Okay
Zack Zuroweste: And so we started using that and love it. So everything was working great and I felt very confident going into hurricane season. I have two little kids and so once we realized that a hurricane was likely coming, I immediately thought oh God, I could be stuck in a house with an infant, a two-year-old, no air conditioning, no milk for the baby and a very unhappy wife. Someone has got to get us out of here.
So my partner and I sat down and we said okay here’s the game plan. We are going to just rent a giant Airbnb; like Jersey Shore style, giant Airbnb in Atlanta. We invited all of our staff and their families to go.
Adriana Linares: I love it.
Zack Zuroweste: Everyone caravanned up to the Atlanta area and we hit Atlanta before the hurricanes hit.
Adriana Linares: So smart.
Zack Zuroweste: And so I went to my office and I took my laptop and my iPad and I have the cord in the duet program, so I have dual monitors through that. I took my trust accounting stuff and my business account stuff like for writing checks and things, and stamps and some things like that, that I use for business processing. And I packed up and I laughed. And I packed up the boys and my wife and we drove and we got up to Atlanta.
Adriana Linares: Wait, can I just ask some backup information?
Zack Zuroweste: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: So there’s no service left at all in the office? You didn’t have to worry about any infrastructure in the office?
Zack Zuroweste: No.
Adriana Linares: And so everybody came in took their laptops, took whatever they wanted and off they went, shut, locked up the office, we are gone.
Zack Zuroweste: Yeah, we are gone.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Zack Zuroweste: It was really easy. I mean people went home, they packed their stuff, they came back and everyone just caravanned up I-75 together.
Adriana Linares: Amazing.
Zack Zuroweste: And, so we had maybe 12 of us and the giant Airbnb; and then my wife and I and family stayed with her family in Atlanta, separately in a house and we just operated. So we actually used Zoom to have office conferences and talk about what deadlines we had to meet, we had a trial coming up. We have to figure out how we are going to meet those deadlines and get filings done. With the paralegals were right there, it was very easy to have an office conference.
Adriana Linares: That’s great.
Zack Zuroweste: We kept billing, everyone kind of went to their own separate parts of where they were staying and just worked barely normally through the Google Docs into the Clio program, because all your phones are there, all your deadlines are there.
Adriana Linares: What do you use phones?
Zack Zuroweste: We use voice over IP inside the office and so we were able — you can bring phones with you.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, so you just unplug the phones at the office, brought them, got them on the Internet.
Zack Zuroweste: Yeah.
Jack Newton: With some VoIP systems you can also just redirect your cell phone if you want to as well, right.
Zack Zuroweste: Yes, so once our VoIP phones go down it forwards to our cell phones automatically.
Adriana Linares: Do you know what service you use?
Zack Zuroweste: It’s a service called SunTel.
Adriana Linares: Okay, go on, sorry.
Zack Zuroweste: And so we got up there and we’re working and then obviously the hurricane could not make up its mind where it wanted to go, but I was very nervous and I was sitting at my in-laws house going are we ever going to get back into our house, this is so miserable trapping with two kids. But I was able to bill fairly normally.
Adriana Linares: Amazing.
Zack Zuroweste: And we met all of our deadlines, we had a fairly normal billable week for being out of the office for seven days, we had a fairly normal billable time, most all of it was collectible and it was a pretty neat experience because everyone got to be together and I also felt like it was a good showing for our staff that we care about them. And that they had a place to go because it’s expensive to evacuate.
Jack Newton: I think that we had the makings of a reality TV show.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh it did, oh it did.
Jack Newton: Sounds incredible, and I think people often get daunted by all the systems they think they might need but it sounded like you really had a three-legged stool here. You had your practice management system in the form of Clio, document management system of Google Docs and Google Drive and your SunTel VoIP system and that was essentially your business, and you can plug in anywhere there’s an internet connection and operate your law firm with those three tools, that’s pretty incredible.
Zack Zuroweste: Absolutely, and what I love about all of these web-based programs is that it’s so easy, all you have to do is plug in and with Clio, when my wife is driving in the car on trips and stuff I can be talking and then bill my time on the phone, or I can upload stuff or get messages and return phone calls, it just makes everything so much more effective.
So for me because I have an infant, or at the time an infant and a two-year-old on the weekends every hour is precious time, and so when they go down for a nap I can immediately start working.
Adriana Linares: Your wife must love that.
Zack Zuroweste: And then they wake up and then we can play and we can do all the stuff that they want to do. So it really does help make a more enjoyable lawyer experience for a busy trial lawyer.
Adriana Linares: Question for you about your partner that you said had been practicing for 30 or so years, was he part of the caravan up to Atlanta.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh yeah.
Adriana Linares: Does he use Clio?
Zack Zuroweste: Oh yeah he, oh he loves Clio now.
Adriana Linares: That’s amazing.
Zack Zuroweste: He loves Clio, he loves Google Docs, now he’s on Facebook, he loves Facebook. Now he’s a huge fan, oh he’s a huge fan. And so in actually on that, so he for most of his career that he and I worked together, he never remembered to enter in his time, so it was constantly a battle for me and for the paralegals to recapture his time. So much billable time was lost.
Adriana Linares: Oh God, drives me crazy.
Zack Zuroweste: But with Clio it is so much easier.
Adriana Linares: And it’s kind of fun, hate to say it is kind of weird, but it’s fun.
Zack Zuroweste: It’s just so easy and it has really been revolutionary for our little practice because every minute counts. And now they just revise their billing, editing program which if you’re the office administrator like I am and do bills at the end of the month.
Adriana Linares: It’s amazing.
Zack Zuroweste: It just got even better than it was before. It’s so fast.
Adriana Linares: Zack walked up to Jack when he saw him and said, I love you, because of the new updates to the billing process included, do you want to plug that real quick for just a second.
Jack Newton: We just rolled out some real exciting new features; payment plans, evergreen retainers, a few other features that just make collecting from your clients in an automated fashion a lot easier and what we’re working toward, I think is a really exciting future where you can almost have a an autopilot for your billing program and just tell Clio, go get me paid and whether that’s a flat payment from a client or whether that’s something that needs to be broken down into multiple bill payments because maybe your client needs to pay down the bill over several months, we want to provide that flexibility and make it really, really fast and really easy and painless for everyone.
And I think it’s — we’ve been getting great feedback and it was really enthusiastic to — happy to hear your feedback today about that too Zack and Renée, you’re both excited about.
Renée Thomson: The in-bill editing is so much easier, so much easier.
Adriana Linares: And I think this would be just a great opportunity for Renée to make a pitch for a feature she’d love to see in Clio.
Zack Zuroweste: Oh here we go, here we go, hold my feet to the –
Renée Thomson: We need multi-client billing –
Zack Zuroweste: You waited until that’s being recorded.
Renée Thomson: Multi yes, multi-client billing, when we get multi-client billing, my mediation practice is going to soar, because you know one of the things about being a mediator is you would don’t just have one person that pays your bill, so. Multi-client billing.
Jack Newton: Multi-client billing is coming, I can promise you that, I can’t promise a specific date but –
Adriana Linares: But it’s promised.
Renée Thomson: We have it recorded.
Adriana Linares: That’s awesome.
Jack Newton: You have got to record it, we will get there.
Renée Thomson: Great.
Adriana Linares: Well this has been great you guys, before I let everyone go I do want to clarify one thing that you mentioned, in case listeners were wondering Zoom is an amazing video conferencing and telephone conferencing system.
Zack Zuroweste: It’s phenomenal.
Renée Thomson: It’s changing lawyers’ life.
Adriana Linares: Oh my gosh, zoom.us.
Zack Zuroweste: I am the biggest Zoom fan.
Renée Thomson: Me too.
Zack Zuroweste: So, if you’ve never used it, it’s sort of like FaceTime, it’s sort of like Skype, but it’s flawless every single time you use it. There’s no skipping, there’s no scratching, it’s beautiful and it’s easy to use and so we use it to have remote conferences with clients, we use it to have office conferences when I’m working remotely, and I used it this entire year with the Florida Bar for all of our meetings, and it makes it so much more personable and effective to be able to see the people you’re talking to and show your screen easily, it is such a time saver.
Adriana Linares: And it’s very inexpensive, I think it’s $14 a month if you’re going to have less than —
Zack Zuroweste: It’s a blip on the screen.
Renée Thomson: It’s like, a $100 a year.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, it’s a joke, whatever it’s worth it and it’s beautiful and it records conversations and videos and you can screen share and do all the typical things that you.
Renée Thomson: And I use it for my mediations as well. We do a lot more electronic mediations with it.
Adriana Linares: That’s great.
Renée Thomson: Because they have a feature that allows you to do breakout rooms, so I can go into a private room.
Adriana Linares: Wow, really?
Renée Thomson: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Everyday learning is something new.
Renée Thomson: Yeah. You can go into a private room and have a conversation with someone and then go back to the group setting.
Adriana Linares: No kidding.
Renée Thomson: Yeah, so.
Zack Zuroweste: I didn’t know that.
Renée Thomson: Yeah, some really neat multi-room add-ons that you can do with Zoom which as a mediator are invaluable.
Adriana Linares: I love that. Well, thanks everyone. I really appreciate your time. Before I let you all go, I want you to just go around and tell everyone where they can find, friend or follow you on the Internet, Renée.
Renée Thomson: Yes, I’m on Twitter @legallyrenee, you can also find me on the Upchurch, Watson, White, & Max website, again Renée Thomson, I am with the Florida Bar, Board of Governors.
Zack Zuroweste: My name is Zack Zuroweste, the typical spelling of Zuroweste. You can find me on Twitter @zackzuroweste, and on Facebook Zack Zuroweste, and I have a small firm in Clearwater called PersanteZuroweste.
Jack Newton: And I am Jack Newton, you can find me on Twitter @jack_newton or always happy to receive email at [email protected].
Adriana Linares: Thank you everyone so much for taking the time to do this. This has been a great episode. Hope all the listeners enjoyed everything you’ve heard. If you are looking for more information, make sure you visit the New Solo page on legaltalknetwork.com. I’m Adriana Linares, and remember you are not alone, you are a 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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