Jeffrey Pratt is an attorney representing clients in civil litigation, trials, real estate and real property matters, construction defects,...
Kim Swierenga is a financial elder abuse attorney who specializes in unsuitable annuity and life insurance sales; including trust...
Alara T. Chilton is a criminal defense and consumer rights attorney. She began her career as a prosecutor at...
Deborah Wolfe has been licensed to practice law in California since 1981, and in Arizona since 1982. She frequently...
Eric Ganci is an attorney specializing in DUI defense. He is the only San Diego attorney trained in DUI...
Julie Wolff is a dependency attorney and child welfare law specialist who practices in family law. She received her...
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...
Solo lawyers face a demanding but rewarding profession. In this episode of New Solo, host Adriana Linares talks to a panel of solo attorneys about their diverse career experiences. They discuss the many challenges of being a solo lawyer and offer practical guidance to solos on a variety of topics including: mentorship, choosing (or not choosing) office space, building independence, developing fee agreements, technology, self-care, and much more.
Jeffrey Pratt is an attorney specializing in business and real estate litigation.
Kim Swierenga is a financial elder abuse attorney and consumer protection attorney.
Alara T. Chilton is a criminal defense and consumer rights attorney.
Deborah Wolfe is an attorney specializing in plaintiff legal malpractice law.
Eric Ganci is a DUI defense attorney with a lawyer-scientist designation.
Julie Wolff is a dependency attorney and child welfare law specialist.
SDCBA Solo Lawyer Panel Part 2
Laurence Colletti: Hello Legal Talk Network listeners. This is Executive Producer Laurence Colletti. Before we get started with this Part 2 of two episodes, we want to thank our sponsors.
CourtFiling.net, eFile court documents with ease in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. If you file in Los Angeles Superior Court, you know that eFiling has recently become mandatory and CourtFiling.net is there to help. To learn more, visit CourtFiling.net to take advantage of a free 30-day trial.
Answer 1; Answer 1 is a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find learn more by giving them a call at 800 Answer 1 or online at www.answer1.com.
And long time sponsor Clio. Clio’s cloud-based practice management software makes it easy to manage your law firm from intake to invoice. Try it for free at clio.com.
And LAWCLERK; LAWCLERK is where attorneys hire freelance lawyers. There are no sign up or monthly fees, only pay the flat fee price you set, increase your profits, not your overhead. Learn more at www.lawclerk.legal, and make sure to enter the code New Solo 300 for a $300 rebate after your first project.
And now, onto the show.
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 am your host Adriana Linares. And this is a special edition, this is Part 2 of two episodes of New Solo that we recorded at the San Diego County Bar Association. And now, let’s cut to our interview already in progress.
Julie Wolff: Now, so eventually I started downtown and I think it was kind of cool at first because there’s a lot of people here, you meet a lot of other attorneys, there were a lot of other attorneys in my building. But once I got a bookkeeper, he looked at my parking expenses which were just as expensive as my office and then occasionally I’d have clients that would be like I’m driving around the block the only lot I have is $20.
My clients $20 is a lot of money. So about maybe a year ago I moved to La Mesa, free parking, it’s like right off the 8 Freeway and the good thing is since I’m a member of the Bar I always do have the Bar, and occasionally, when I meet people here that maybe don’t have a car or something like that, I can just meet them at the Bar and book a conference room. So, that’s pretty convenient as well, it’s kind of like you have two offices.
Adriana Linares: It is and I’ll throw in real quick because I was up at the front desk ordering lunch earlier and a member called and the receptionist said, yeah, you got some mail, and she opened up his envelope and he asked, who’s it from, and I think that’s another benefit that Bar associations, especially this one, offers, which is if you do want an address, if you do want stuff delivered to a big address downtown, you can do it very affordably.
So, Julie, question for you. You have now – oh, you said, Costa Mesa.
Julie Wolff: No, in La Mesa.
Adriana Linares: La Mesa, sorry.
Julie Wolff: So I am right off the 8, by SDSU. We’ve got a little parking lot and I’m in a building with like a tax person, a real estate person, there aren’t any other attorneys, luckily I have attorneys I can call. But the real estate person is pretty interesting too and we are able to talk law a lot because he’s been a landlord and so it seems like there’s always some litigation going on.
Adriana Linares: And do they refer work to you being —
Julie Wolff: They have; yes, they actually have.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, okay, that makes sense. So, another thing to consider is what is your office space or the environment that you’re working out of whether it’s virtual or not. I’ll add one more thing too, you all mentioned your clients don’t care, and it’s true, your clients don’t, and I have a lot of lawyers, of course, that I know who have big clients who much prefer a solo who’s able to deliver that customized bespoke.
I don’t have to wait to go through the receptionist to get to the secretary to get my lawyer on the phone. So, I don’t even know that it’s fair to say that big clients don’t also want the services of a small and solo firm. I think more-and-more especially in this world that when a small or a solo can get in front of a company and say, look, I can do just as good of a job as a big firm can, you wouldn’t get that work.
And especially using technology smartly and practice management tools and being able to deliver quickly and efficiently and securely, I think those things are key.
Jeff, do you have anything you want to toss into that conversation? You kind of look like you did.
Jeffrey Pratt: Well, looking like I did and actually doing that are two different things.
Alara T. Chilton: I just wanted to speak to finding your people, because I remember when I first started on my own that was a challenge and I just want to encourage people just go out there and meet people, get involved in causes that matter to you and you’ll find your tribe.
Adriana Linares: I agree. I think the lawyers that I know, the happiest ones are the ones that are passionate about the area of practice that they are in and love their job, and I think for solos sometimes — or new solos and new lawyers, that’s so hard because you’re just — you’re struggling or you think I’ll never get work, where am I going to get clients? I better have — I better do door law. But once, I think you can hone in on what a specialty is especially if it’s something that you like.
When I talk to law students I’ll say, look, what do you do for fun? You weight-lift, you surf? Guess what, the weightlifting world, they need lawyers. Surfers, half of my friends are professional surfers, and you know what, they all have lawyers. Surfing magazines, they need lawyers, everybody needs a lawyer. So, if you can hone in on an area that you are really passionate about and also practice law, I think that’s really important.
Jeffrey Pratt: May I add to that?
Adriana Linares: Please.
Jeffrey Pratt: I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer. I’ve always been a plaintiff’s lawyer. I do some defense, but not that much. You get beat up as a plaintiff’s lawyer and you get beat up as a solo, it’s just part of the territory and sometimes you’re going up against just to another more experienced lawyer.
Sometimes, it’s another more experienced lawyer in a larger firm with a lot more help. Sometimes, it’s several lawyers in a larger firm. Sometimes, it’s more than several lawyers in a larger firm, but you get beat up, and I’ve found over the years that there’s an emotional part to that, you have to learn to be able to deal with that.
And I think what you’re saying in terms of working in an area that you really enjoy is extremely important because that helps you to mitigate the emotional component of being a lawyer. And I again, speak as a plaintiff’s lawyer because there is a huge emotional component to it.
And I think if you want to be a good lawyer, you got to care, you got to care about your clients, and you got to care about the outcome, you got to care about it more than you care about the money. Obviously, we do it to make money but you got to care about the outcome.
And so, there’s a huge emotional component to that and working in an area that you can enjoy, you’re not going to always find that, but when you can find it hang on to it. And then with that, you mentioned like weightlifting or surfing, I guess what I want to point out in that context is that it’s important to supplement the practice of law was something that you can do to relieve the stress; exercise, bicycle riding, weightlifting, surfing, meditation. Meditation; yeah, meditation is great.
Adriana Linares: Affirmations law.
Jeffrey Pratt: Something that you can do to help you relieve the stress of getting beat up on all the time because you are going to get beat up.
Deborah Wolfe: Well, it’s not just beat up and it’s like we talk about being tough. I mean, I was always tough because I was a girl in an era, when girls couldn’t do a whole bunch of stuff. There’s like a whole big list of stuff and I thought, oh, I’m going to do it.
And it’s more about being than just being tough, resiliency is the most important quality to have because as a plaintiff’s lawyer, especially, you know this Jeff, you’re going to lose. I mean, when you go to trial, we’re usually trying our worst cases because if they’re good cases, the defense knows that and they’re going to settle them with you.
And so, when you go to court, those are your ones that you’re praying on and you’re praying for the client, you’re there to help the client get their day in court. It is important to choose cases that you think you can win and you can make money for the client and for yourself.
But, you also have to realize you’re not going to win every case, you’re not going to please every person, you’re not going to get along with everybody that you come in contact with and sometimes, you’re going to get knocked down and you have to be able to get up. That’s the most important thing, just keep coming.
If you just keep coming, then everybody figures out you’re going to keep coming and they better not take for granted that they can get rid of you somehow or shake you off or I’m tougher than that person, and it’s always also important to be kind and collegial with people especially I found that in San Diego.
Our judges here really hold us to that, which is wonderful. I mean, I was in front of a judge one time and this lawyer was being just particularly a jerk and just unnecessarily so and I was trying to be collegial, and of course, he interpreted that as weakness.
Adriana Linares: Why was he wrong?
Deborah Wolfe: Yeah, and the judge said, at one point just looked at him, I think it was Judge Hayden looked at him and said, you must be from Los Angeles.
Adriana Linares: Oh, I am new around here and even I get that joke.
Deborah Wolfe: Can I make up two points is, initially as a solo, it’s important to decline cases to. You might very much want the money or want the experience and if you’re going to have a problem case or a problem client, it’s not worth the headache.
Adriana Linares: Hey. It’s like you’re reading my mind. As you go on, I want you to also tell us how do you fire a client? How do you decline a case and then how do you fire a client?
Deborah Wolfe: Sure, so for my practice, first of all it’s important to know my goal is to be the most reasonable person in the room and that includes with my clients, with co-counsel, with opposing counsel, and so with my clients right at the intake, I tell them the good, the bad, the ugly, and I tell them what I expect from them and what they can expect from me and I put that in my fee agreement. Here is what you promise to do, here is what my scope of representation is. Here is what I will be doing for you.
If ever we have problems between the two of us or the group of us as clients, it says right in the fee agreement I’m allowed to back out if these things happen, and so I just have that real candid conversation on day one before they choose to hire me.
Alara T. Chilton: I just want to speak to that quickly. The new rules that went into effect today also require that we now look at a client’s objectives. So, that’s an important piece of that conversation now.
It used to be that some people would defer the attorney, the attorney knew more, the attorney knew better, not so fast anymore. You’ve got to ask your client what are you achieving here, what are your goals? And then work your plan around that.
Secondly, if you’re going to fire a client, check the rules. You cannot prejudice your client. That’s very important, and the way you — firing a client is very different from the way you do, and both, civil and criminal contacts are very different.
Adriana Linares: Excellent. Hey everyone. Let me interrupt this great conversation so we can grab a couple of quick messages from some sponsors.
LAWCLERK is where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers, whether you need a first year to perform legal research or a seasoned attorney to assist with a complicated appellate brief, LAWCLERK has hundreds of freelance lawyers with every level of experience and expertise. There are no sign up or monthly fees, only pay the flat fee price you set. Increase your profits, not your overhead. Learn more at lawclerk.legal.
Imagine what you could do with an extra eight hours per week? That’s how much time legal professionals save with Clio, the world’s leading practice management software. With intuitive time-tracking, billing and matter management, Clio streamlines everything you do to run your practice from intake to invoice. Try Clio for free and then get a 10% discount for your first six months when you sign up with the code New Solo 10, that’s New Solo 10, and do that at clio.com.
Adriana Linares: All right, welcome back to New Solo. We are going to sneak back in and listen to this great conversation with some solo and small firm practitioners from the San Diego County Bar Association. Anyone else want to throw anything in, to any of that?
Deborah Wolfe: I agree with Alara about the rules. A lot of people I teach ethics, that’s my specialty. I’m actually a certified legal specialty in Legal Malpractice Law and one of the things I find when I teach ethics to lawyers I ask them, when was the last time you read the rules? And many times I will get no hands, they have never read them at all after they took the PR exam, and it’s unfortunate because in California every lawyer needs to be an expert in ethics on at least those rules because if you fall below those, that’s when you have your ticket is in jeopardy and so now they’ve just adopted — California was the last State basically to adopt what’s very close to the ABA (American Bar Association) Model Rules. There’s more rules on the State Bar website. There’s a table so that you can cross-reference them, but there’s some rules there that we never had.
So, it’s really important to know those rules, and also as a malpractice attorney I can tell you, it’s very, very important on who you choose as a client because I can almost predict with certainty what clients are going to sue you? What clients are likely to sue you, and unfortunately, in my trade, I mean, I’m already suing lawyers for somebody.
So I’ve got to be really particular about that and sometimes people get sued. It’s a occupational hazard, but when you fire a client as Alara said, you have to make sure you don’t leave that client in peril, you can’t jeopardize the clients’ rights. Sometimes you’re going to be working for free because the client won’t let you out, you’re going to have to get relief from the court, but you can’t leave them standing on the railroad tracks and the trains ten feet away.
So, there’s ways to do it, you should always have a discharge letter. You should always give a client a cost risk benefit analysis which goes along with figuring out their objectives because a client is not going to be happy with you. If they come in to you they have a $250,000 problem and you charge them $300,000 to fix it because let’s face it as a civil attorney all you’re going to get that person is money, generally speaking.
So, if you charge them more than they are going to get and you should be able to predict that before you even take the case on how much is this going to cost and tell them and constantly make that evaluation as the case goes on.
Alara T. Chilton: It occurs to me — as solos I find myself referring a lot of cases to other practitioners and I want to be very careful with whom I refer cases to because I might know them socially, but I don’t know their work product and I don’t want that client to come back and say, you gave me a negligent referral, and so, I’m going to send a declination letter. So, sorry, I couldn’t help you. You’ve got a statute running, make sure to inquire from somebody else and there are multiple panels throughout the State that will refer you to other lawyers. If you don’t know someone who does the area that they need I explain it often to clients, you have got an eye problem and I am a foot doctor. We need to find you a foot doctor. That kind of a thing, but along the same lines as the cases that you don’t take.
Adriana Linares: I think malpractice is such — see they are really hot topic or it’s not because what I find with lawyers that I talk to a lot is they don’t fear malpractice because they either have been practicing a long time and never had a problem or they work at a firm that’s never been sued but I find especially with technology today can we talk for a few minutes about just technology and malpractice and using technology in an ethical and responsible way.
Eric Ganci: Can I tell you the —
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I want you to tell me about that.
Eric Ganci: The thing that I see the most and that’s the worst is when people put on Facebook or like Avvo or like LinkedIn or whatever and they make statements either like trying to solicit clients of like, I just did this at trial and I’m awesome. If you’ve been arrested, call me, like can’t do that, or if they are answering questions on like Avvo or like Yelp or places where people can ask questions and then the lawyer is answering the questions and what they don’t understand which I don’t understand is that they have just given legal advice and what you need to — what you can think about because I’m not going to give you advice, you the listener, but what you can think about is that anytime that you write a statement if you can put the words “my advice to you is” and then insert your statement there then — you just gave some a legal advice and then you may have like formed them as you’re like attorney-client relationship and then we already talked about how to try to get out of a relationship like that which can be scary. So, the Internet can be very powerful both ways, for good or for bad.
Adriana Linares: Do you think robots are going to take your jobs, speaking of technology and all?
Alara T. Chilton: Oh, I’m so glad you’re asking. Thank god, yey you guys.
Female Speaker: Not a chance.
Female Speaker: I think it’s going to get to where research is going to be a lot easier, but I don’t think that people will ever stop wanting to talk to human beings.
Adriana Linares: I agree with you and I think that. So what’s funny is people ask me all the time, oh, I actually did a talk last week on AI in the law and I told the people who invited me, I said, let me tell you something. I have yet to have a lawyer call me and say, Adriana, can you tell me about the Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence because I’m really worried about these robots taking over my job. So, I’m really glad to hear that you all strongly believe that your career is safe, your profession is safe and it’s just technology, we have to use it to our advantage.
And just talking about finding that work-life balance, Alara, you mentioned just when we were sitting down that you had an app for affirmations. Tell us a little bit if you don’t mind those of you who have really busy personal lives, which I’m sure is everyone, how do you balance work-life and running a solo practice?
Alara T. Chilton: I think that’s obviously something that everyone deals with. For me, personally, I find my mindset is key so I try to keep very positive thoughts in my head at all time. I know that this profession challenges us to be seeing the worst case scenario, but I really keep my mind focused on what I’m trying to achieve.
The other thing is I try to do things, they are just healthy, I try to eat healthy. I try to exercise, and I don’t think I’m going to say anything shocking when I say that this profession is extremely stressful and if you don’t have a way of releasing that stress before it affects your life. I’ve seen so many people either become alcoholics or become very upset and not just not happy people. So, it’s really important I think to honor yourself and whatever that looks like to you.
Adriana Linares: How many of you do yoga? About half of us? How about meditation?
Female Speaker: I meditate.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. All of us? Almost all of us? A lot of meditation and then physical exercise?
Female Speaker: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Eric Ganci: There is another thing too, just real quick that you could also take just something that you enjoy doing, like I have like a music background and so it’s been a wonderful way to connect with, like Deborah is really into music, and so for me, it’s a way to de-stress, because I get to play drums and I just — I love the fact that I don’t have to talk to anyone when I am doing that. So it’s just like you get to — because you just spend so much talking and so at a certain point people need to not hear me talk, but like you are just getting to like communicate by not — like talking, which is awesome.
But it’s also a great way to just like go and — I see a lot of shows, so I go and like see music with like lots of different people and it’s a great way to connect with people in the legal community or people outside the legal community and just they get to know you on a personal level, which is nice.
Deborah Wolfe: Yeah, I do. Eric mentioned music. I am really involved in the jazz community locally, somehow I got in touch with like the top jazz people, it’s just amazing that are my friends. So I see a lot of music. I try to limit myself to a couple of times a week, because otherwise I can just burn out.
But I also am in a band, I am a vocalist. I have house concerts at my home, I invite people, including lawyers to come.
Adriana Linares: We should have done this at your house and Eric should have his drum set there.
Female Speaker: She is a fabulous singer.
Deborah Wolfe: Yeah, I am dying to hear Eric play, but that’s a wonderful thing. And I also paint. I am an artist. So I started doing that after my kids left home, because when my kids were growing up I had no life. It was just my kids, my job, and that was pretty much it. And that was okay because they were a wonderful part of my life and I enjoyed raising them and their activities, and I had to give up I think income for that because — which I was willing to do because you can do it all, you just can’t do it all at once. And you have to decide is it more important for you to make a lot of money or spend time going to your kids’ Christmas programs, because that’s not forever.
So anyway, that’s just how I do it and I agree with Eric.
Female Speaker: Well, I have dogs and they are just sweet and fluffy and they will — you hug them and they will hug you back. I think one of the reasons I have the office that I have is that I am allowed to bring my dogs in. So if I am not in court and I will email the client, just want to make sure you are not allergic to dogs and so far I have only had great, I would love to meet your dogs, please bring them in, I am not allergic.
Female Speaker: And now I am curious, has your dog ever not liked a client?
Female Speaker: No, my dogs are very friendly to everyone.
Adriana Linares: I love that.
Female Speaker: So that’s just kind of a stress reliever. And then they also have to be walked, so it’s kind of nice to take a little break and just walk around the block.
Adriana Linares: All right everyone, thanks for listening. We are going to take another quick break here to hear a couple of more messages from some sponsors.
Is your firm experiencing missed calls, empty voicemail boxes and potential clients you will never hear from again? Enter Answer 1 Virtual Receptionist. They are more than just an answering service. Answer 1 is available 24×7. They can even schedule appointments, respond to emails and agree with Clio, and much more. Answer 1 helps make sure your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call at 1-800 Answer 1 or visit them at answer1.com/podcast for a special offer.
This episode of New Solo is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that sometimes work happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit them at CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
Adriana Linares: All right and we are back. Let’s continue listening to this great conversation. What about fee agreements? I think forms and agreements and starter kits, if you will, is the type of thing that new solos — or it’s funny when I say the term new solo, I don’t always mean a young attorney, because oftentimes I have a lot of big law refugees as I call them that have a place to start maybe, they have agreements that they can leave their old firm with. But if someone were to say I don’t even know where to start to get my retainer letter, my fee, like where would someone go look for that?
Deborah Wolfe: The State Bar.
Julie Wolff: The California Bar has amazing templates and I know now that the flat fee agreement stuff just changed over, but other than that, I just went to that site and you can cut and paste if you have — email like is now one thing you have got to put; you have email, an iCloud server, all that stuff in your contracs. So I literally just cut and pasted the pieces that you need.
Kim Swierenga: I am in the school of thought to have, I like how you termed it, a starter kit, and so it’s almost an intake kit. It’s not just the fee agreement but I have all the other forms that I need from them. So that they do some heavy lifting right upfront, it keeps them busy while it buys me time to draft the complaint. I will get the fee agreement initially of course, but that way they have a kit to look at later to see what they can expect and it’s essentially a roadmap. So I am not the two page —
Adriana Linares: And do you mean things like once our case is over, I am going to hold on to your documents electronically or digitally for X number of time and then after that it’s up to you to and I destroy them. I mean I think —
Kim Swierenga: Correct, it’s got clauses like that.
Adriana Linares: There you go. And I feel like that’s an important thing for people to know today, the technology that is being used by lawyers, there should be a part of your agreements that say okay, six months after this case is officially closed and we are done, I destroy your documents, unless they are of course the documents that you have to keep.
Alara T. Chilton: I think it’s best practice to go ahead and keep an electronic copy, but there is nothing stopping you from letting the client know that in your agreement, you are going to give them back the physical hard copy, and so that will cut down your storage needs quite a bit.
Julie Wolff: One thing that Kim brought up that’s really the only part that I have significantly embellished from the fee agreements on the Bar is duties that the client has to you. Mine really specify do not lie to me, if something goes wrong and there is something negative, you need to tell me, you cannot withhold information, whether it’s positive or negative towards you. And that’s a way to get out of a case if they don’t tell me important information. I learned that one the hard way.
Adriana Linares: Excellent.
Deborah Wolfe: That’s including one of the reasons you can terminate the relationship is if they don’t pay you, that’s really, really important to have as part of your fee agreement. That is on the State Bar website, they have several different templates.
Also, if you are in a particular area of the law, call up some other practitioners and see if they will share their agreement with you. I share that. I share my fee agreements with people and help people with that kind of stuff.
Kim Swierenga: For contingency work, I lay right out in the fee agreement, we don’t know what the dollar amount will be at the end, but here is how it will be divvied up and we will discuss that before we even have a penny, so that doesn’t become a problem. And I find that helpful.
Adriana Linares: Wow, excellent.
Deborah Wolfe: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: So I am going to go around the panel and ask you two things. Number one, what is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you went out on your own that you would advise to someone who came to you and said hey, I am starting my own practice next month, what should I not do or what’s the best advice you ever got?
And then make sure you tell us how people who either read about you in the magazine or listen to this episode of New Solo can find, friend, follow or ask you to share their documents with them? Who is ready?
Alara T. Chilton: I think one of the things that I would have told my younger self was to know the type of client that you want and where you are going to find them. I can remember attending way too many networking events that were not strategic to the type of client I was looking for.
Adriana Linares: Great. And tell us how people can find, friend, follow or reach you out there in the world?
Alara T. Chilton: lawofficeofalarachilton.com and you can google me and I am on the Latino Bar website and the SDCBA under Legal Ethics.
Adriana Linares: Alara T. Chilton, just like it sounds.
Alara T. Chilton: Alaratchilton.
Adriana Linares: Excellent.
Kim Swierenga: A piece of advice before you go solo is have your systems in place before you announce you are open for business, because what I find is, I often kick the can down the road on my administrative tasks and now I am fighting deadlines. And so having learned there aren’t enough hours in the day, I am happy to do it because it’s all for my practice.
But to calendar block time so that you can get all those tasks done that have to happen because there is not just litigation, there is bookkeeping, there is interviews to be done, there are a lot of competing things for your time.
Deborah Wolfe: I would say the same. I would echo what Kim said, which is you have to block out time. It’s really helpful if you block out some period of time. Sometimes it takes a little bit more at the beginning, like maybe three hours a week and then you can get it down to an hour a week and every Friday.
I have things set in my Outlook Calendar. Plan next week. And then I look at all the list of things I have to do and every one of them I put them into a block of time, whether it’s next week or the week after, just so that it’s done. Sometimes I have to do tickler things, and you know what, when you put it down like that, you are not worried about it.
Because if you have it, you know you have it in your calendar, you are going to do it. There is a time for it to be done, so then when you are doing something else, you can just concentrate on what you are doing in the moment because you know, you already have it on your calendar, you have time dedicated to that one thing.
And always remember that the most money sometimes you will ever make is the case you didn’t take. Don’t panic if you are not busy, because quality work is better than quantity work.
I can be found on www.wolfelegalgroup.com. I am also in addition to being a litigation attorney representing plaintiffs in malpractice cases, I do consult with lawyers who are defendants. I do expert witness work and I consult with people about their practice, their business, their life, whatever they want to talk about. I have been doing this for such a long time I can pretty much guide people in just about any area.
Adriana Linares: Thank you.
Eric Ganci: So the advice that I would give, outside of the keep your overhead low, but it is set a time to check your email and don’t check your email first in the morning, because that will give you so much more stamina throughout the day, and usually the world doesn’t explode if you don’t respond to an email by like 5:30 in the morning.
But also track your lists. This is what has worked well for me is that tracking list, I use Google Docs and that way I don’t miss things, like when you are in the solo world and you have so much to do, if I don’t write something down, then it doesn’t get done because I just forget it, so I just track things on Google Docs. So that would be the things that I wish that a younger version of myself would have told me that just to be able to write things down.
Julie Wolff: So Julie Wolff, you can find me at jwolfflaw.com. My Wolff is spelled W-O-L-F-F. On Twitter, I am @JWolffLaw. You can also call me at 619-777-6583.
As far as what I wish I could tell myself would be when you get a new client call, just don’t start answering their legal questions, get them an intake form and make sure that they get it back to you before you start answering even the most basic of questions.
Female Speaker: Check for conflicts too before you talk to anybody, that’s really important.
Adriana Linares: Jeff, round it out for us.
Jeffrey Pratt: Before I became a lawyer I was a professional ski patrolman for the second busiest ski arena in the United States and I would probably tell myself to stay there and do that. This was a paid job. I was skiing 100 days a year. I got to do some avalanche work. I handled hundreds of accidents. I don’t know.
You know, the practice of law is tough. I think the hardest part is the business end of it, and I think I would tell myself, you need to get more education in how to run a business.
In connection with that, I would add learn QuickBooks. Actually take some classes on QuickBooks, something I have never done. I have just struggled with it.
Adriana Linares: They travel around the country and do three day seminars, which I went to and it was one of the best things I ever did.
Female Speaker: They do free one hour webcast just because QuickBooks —
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s great advice.
Jeffrey Pratt: Yeah, QuickBooks is —
Female Speaker: I have a bookkeeper.
Adriana Linares: Me too. I like that advice too.
Jeffrey Pratt: Yeah, that’s excellent advice. Where I can be found, okay, www.jprattlaw.com. My email is [email protected]. I am at 110 Juniper Street, in Bankers Hill, San Diego. Twitter, I don’t know if you can find me on Twitter, but I am there if one were to google me. My phone number is 619-338-8100. And I have enjoyed being here. Thank you.
Adriana Linares: No, thank you all so much for your time. This is such good information. Don’t you wish we could just do this all day?
Well, it looks like we have reached the end of another great episode and I hope you realize that that was Part 2 of 2, and if you didn’t catch the first episode go back and have a listen, because it was a great conversation here at the San Diego County Bar Association.
If you loved this episode and the rest of New Solo, make sure you head over to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, make it a good one and leave us a review, it’s really appreciated.
Catch us next time for another episode, 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.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
New Solo covers a diverse range of topics including transitioning from law firm to solo practice, law practice management, and more.
In the second part of this two part series, Adriana Linares talks to a panel of solo attorneys about the many challenges of being...
In the first part of this two part series, Adriana Linares talks to a panel of solo attorneys about the many challenges of being...
Jake Heller talks about how Casetext’s artificial technology software, known as CARA, works.
Taylor Darcy talks about why he chose to go solo and the technology that has helped make his practice successful.
Tom Martin gives tips and tricks on implementing chatbots on small law firm's websites.
Greg Garman talks about New Solo’s new sponsor Lawclerk and what it offers to solo and small firm lawyers.