Renee Thompson is a mediator at Upchurch Watson White & Max. She serves as the fifth Circuit representative on...
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...
Balancing a solo practice while being involved in an overwhelming number of bar committees is only possible thanks to the great tech tools available to lawyers today. New Solo host Adriana Linares sits down with Renée Thompson, mediator and member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors, to discuss what tools enable her to accomplish her goals, to review her accomplishments during her time on numerous bar committees, and to look forward towards her planned run for Florida Bar president (and why being a solo practitioner is an asset for the role).
Renée Thompson is a mediator at Upchurch Watson White & Max and a member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors.
Balancing Solo Practice with Bar Leadership with the Right Tech Tools
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: All right, it’s time for another episode of New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I am Adriana Linares, I am your hostess, I am a legal technology trainer and consultant. I help lawyers and law firms use technology better. Before we get started with today’s episode, I want to make sure and take a couple moments to thank our sponsors.
Answer 1 is a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800-Answer-1 or online at www.answer1.com.
Thanks to our 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.
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 lawclerk.legal and be sure to enter rebate NEWSOLO300, all together, that’s NEWSOLO300, for a $300 rebate after your first project.
CourtFiling.net, e-file court documents with ease in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. If you file in Los Angeles Superior Court, you know that e-filing has recently become mandatory and CourtFiling.net is there to help.
All right, so I am here with Renee Thompson. Renee happens to be one of my very good friends and if you’re a regular listener to New Solo, you’ve definitely heard her in the past as a co-host for me. She regularly co-hosts other Legal Talk Network podcasts when the guys are out on the road, and I did have her recently on one of my favorite episodes with another Florida Attorney, Renee’s a Florida attorney, Zack Zuroweste talking about how their use of technology allowed them to up and move their law firms when hurricanes were on their way pummeling through Florida.
So if you’re interested in learning more about what would we call that, Renee, being a mobile lawyer, yeah, and being disaster-ready. So being a disaster-ready mobile lawyer or not even disaster, I mean, it could be your law firm might be under construction or there might be construction happening next door and you need to get out of your firm for a while, so it doesn’t always have to be a disaster but that’s a great episode to go back and listen to, but for now, thanks for coming on, Renee.
Renee Thompson: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Adriana.
Adriana Linares: It’s always fun. Tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
Renee Thompson: Sure. So I am a mediator with Upchurch, Watson, White and Max, and I also maintain a small solo practice in Ocala, Florida. And I serve on the Florida Bar Board of Governors and have served on that Board now for eight years. So I am thrilled to be here, thrilled to be currently at a Board of Governors meeting as we record this, which is wonderful.
Adriana Linares: It is. It’s a good time to see not just everyone but also catch up on all the Board of Governor’s activities which that’s how you and I met and became friends.
Renee Thompson: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: We work together on the Technology Committee and you’re one of my so if technology were a drug, you would be one of my pushers that helps —
Renee Thompson: Well, they are making me technology chair, so that tells you a little bit about the habit.
Adriana Linares: Right, and the fact that you love technology which we’re going to talk about what technologies you use both as a solo but also as part of your mediation practice because you are a walking talking billboard for the good use of technology and how it makes your life and your practice easier. So we’ll talk about that in a few minutes, but before I want to really just talk a little bit more about your work with the Board of Governors because I think you want to be President of The Florida Bar someday.
Renee Thompson: I am definitely going to be putting my name in for that this fall. So for President-elect, yes, so I’m very excited about that as well, so some really fun things on the horizon.
Adriana Linares: That gives me goosebumps because a lot of people would think and part of the reason I wanted to do this is because I think a lot of people would think that only big firm lawyers would be able to even take on that sort of challenge or if I may have the balls to run, but no, it’s not like that. So tell us a little bit about why it’s easy and great and cool for a solo or a small firm practitioner to be able to run for President of one of the largest bars?
Renee Thompson: So we have some experience in that now as a bar, we have — our current President is Michelle Suskauer who was a small firm attorney, pretty much her entire practice and one of the reasons that I’ve been able to do it is because of technology, honestly, because we now have the ability to take our practices on the road with us. So as we travel for the Board, as we travel for Board work, all of those things can come with us now, so it makes it so different than the old model of having to have someone in the office take care of all that for you because you have it all with you.
Adriana Linares: I agree and do you think that attorneys in Florida, we’re going to have to decide whether to vote for you or not, are going to look at you and go, Holy Moly, she’s a solo just like me. She can not only run her practice but also do this Board work and run one of the biggest bars in the State, do you think that’s a — I think that’s a total asset, don’t you?
Renee Thompson: Well, you’d be surprised to learn if you look at The Florida Bar’s data that 68% of our lawyers are in firms of about five or less.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Renee Thompson: And if you look at firms of ten or less that’s almost 75%. So the majority of our Bar members are in solo or small firms. And so for me I think they are able to accomplish amazing things in their practices. So, yeah, I don’t think it’ll be a hard leap for them at all.
Adriana Linares: No, I think they’re going to look and go, Holy Cow, she’s one of us.
Renee Thompson: Well, I hope so.
Adriana Linares: I mean, you represent the interests of solo and small firms better than anybody because you are both the solo and with, smallish firm, I guess.
Renee Thompson: Well, I definitely understand what it takes to run a practice, the administrative part of it, there’s the daily upkeep of having to deal with all of the things that solos and small firms have to attend to because you don’t have other people who are handling that for you.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, you don’t have the resources like big firm lawyers do.
Renee Thompson: Exactly.
Adriana Linares: No, I think that’s awesome. Well, that’s great. So if somebody — like let’s use this for a minute, if somebody were to say, Renee, why should I vote for you for Florida Bar President? What would you tell them?
Renee Thompson: Well, I can tell them that if they had the opportunity to vote for someone like me that they would see that I’ve been advocating for their interests for a very long time. I started in The Florida Bar my second year as a baby attorney and I have continued my service ever since. I was on the Young Lawyers Division Board when I first started and I served on that Board for over eight years when I became President of the entire division.
I had an opportunity then to continue my work and service on some really important committees with the Bar until I was elected to the Senior Board of Governors and have now really taken the charge to continue my committee work and share work and help essentially shape the Leadership Academy.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s right, that was your baby.
Renee Thompson: Well, Eugene Pettis, who was the President at the time, asked me at the time to help him create that. So it was just an honor and a privilege to do it and I love seeing all of our Academy alums and all they are doing across the Bar.
Adriana Linares: Tell everyone a little bit about the Academy because we might have some Florida lawyers who haven’t heard of it and would be interested in joining.
Renee Thompson: Absolutely. So the Academy has this mission of teaching leadership skills to lawyers so that they can become leaders in their communities and within the profession. And so every fall when committee applications come out leadership applications come out as well, if you’re interested in being an Academy fellow and so you submit that application and if you’re selected you serve the following Bar year in the Academy. It’s a one-year program. It’s an in-depth program where you not only get to see a big picture of what’s going on in the Bar but they actually teach you the leadership skills that you need, whether it’s your goal to run a community foundation, whether it’s to continue your service in the Bar or maybe just run for judge, whatever it is that your passion is to lead in this profession, it can really help you achieve that.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s great. I get a little choked up when I talk to you and/or John. John Stewart is —
Renee Thompson: Our incoming President.
Adriana Linares: Our incoming President and I really do I get choked up because you guys are so passionate and so truly dedicated to help like just your Bar work, it’s amazing and when I was interviewed for John’s — so John Stewart is going to become President of Florida Bar in June of 2019 and The Florida Bar magazine called me. He gave my name as one of his friends to talk about him and I literally started to cry like —
Renee Thompson: Did you really?
Adriana Linares: Like I almost did just now, listening to you and I know it sounds so cheesy but it’s true. But when I was talking about John I did. I choked up because it’s just so refreshing to see someone who’s so — and just like you, so into it, and the reason I really choked up when I was talking about John is because after his year is done, he’s gone.
Renee Thompson: Sure.
Adriana Linares: The Bar has this interesting way of sort of sun setting and you guys sail off after a Presidential year and I just really love seeing attorneys who are just so enthusiastic about helping other attorneys.
Renee Thompson: And John has always been that way.
Adriana Linares: He has, just like you. It’s —
Renee Thompson: John was President of the Young Lawyers Division and I had the privilege of serving on his Board as a young lawyer, so I’ve seen him in action for many, many, many years. And so now serving on the Senior Board with him, to see him in that capacity and see him grow in his leadership styles and all that he has done for our profession has just been — it’s been a really neat experience.
Adriana Linares: It is, I know, and being a part of it for me just sort of sitting on the sidelines and helping has been really great, but one of the cool things that John did that you helped with was make technology CLE mandatory in Florida.
Renee Thompson: Yes, our Board really saw an opportunity for Florida lawyers to get the training that they needed. I think when Bar members hear, oh goodness, I have more CLE credits to get, at first they groan, but then they realize one of the things that does for them is it allows the Bar the opportunity to teach them the skills that they’re going to need in their practices.
So finding your technology CLEs of course through LegalFuel or other places really isn’t as difficult, maybe as it sounded at first. And so the membership has really I think taken to having the ability to learn what it’s going to take especially in today’s technology age to be competitive and productive and efficient.
Adriana Linares: One of the cool things we get to do because of that or for that is the technology roadshows.
Renee Thompson: Oh, I love those.
Adriana Linares: So let’s talk about those real quick because maybe we will have Florida lawyers who are part of a Board or a Bar, who hasn’t had a Technology Roadshow come by and they will email to invite us to come.
Renee Thompson: Sure. So the Young Lawyers Division has worked with Adriana, our technology consultant, and they have put together like this powerhouse of technology information for folks and so if you are interested in a technology roadshow, please, please, please reach out to the Young Lawyers Division or to anyone involved in the technology committee myself or Adriana who can definitely get that scheduled for you. Your members will benefit greatly from the information that’s provided because the reality is I don’t know if you get it anywhere else.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Renee Thompson: It’s the practicalities of how to make your practice run, how to help with confidential information as an attorney and at the same time utilize the technology you have before you.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, it’s a prepackaged, four-hour technology CLE, oh plus one, ethics, so we get three technology credits and one ethics credit and we bring the show to your local Bar, so yeah, definitely reach out.
Well, before we switch over and start talking about the technology that you use in your practice, let’s take a quick break and listen to a couple messages from our sponsors.
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 NEWSOLO10, and do that at clio.com.
Is your firm experiencing missed calls, empty voicemail boxes and potential clients you will never hear from again? Enter Answer 1 Virtual Receptionist. They are more than just an answering service. Answer 1 is available 24×7. They can even schedule appointments, respond to emails and agree with Clio, and much more. Answer 1 helps make sure your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call at 1-800-Answer-1 or visit them at answer1.com/podcast for a special offer.
Adriana Linares: Okay, so we are back. And I’m here with Renee Thompson, who is a dear friend, a Florida attorney, a mediator, a solo practitioner and a technology enthusiast. So now I want to ask you, Renee, about the technology that you actually use in your practice.
So, I’m trying to remember, when we first started you were with a larger firm?
Renee Thompson: I was. A midsized firm out of Orlando.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, then you went out on your own?
Renee Thompson: That’s correct.
Adriana Linares: And you looked around and said, okay, how can I use technology?
Renee Thompson: And trying also to figure out how I could compete with technology that some of the larger firms are able and access to, and it became very clear to me there were a lot of options for solo and small firm lawyers that frankly didn’t even exist five years prior.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Renee Thompson: So I really felt like when I had the opportunity to make that leap a few years ago, I was in a really good place technology-wise to make a leap as a solo and small firm lawyer.
Adriana Linares: And take a lot of the same resources and technology that your big firm used?
Renee Thompson: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: When was this, five years ago?
Renee Thompson: Three-and-a-half.
Adriana Linares: Okay, three-and-a-half years ago, right. So at that firm they used NetDocuments?
Renee Thompson: Correct.
Adriana Linares: And did they have a practice management program?
Renee Thompson: No.
Adriana Linares: So you came out and you said, okay, well, I cannot live without NetDocuments.
Renee Thompson: I had used it for so many years while I worked at the firm, that I had just become accustomed not only to being able to access my documents remotely, but being able to search for all of my files, my topical files, and once you get into a system it’s a totally different way to use a different one or just to go back to a regular Word system of file folders, it just didn’t offer the level of security I was looking for at all.
Adriana Linares: So for those of you that are listening if you are a regular listener you have heard me talk about how awesome and I think important NetDocuments is, but for those of you who haven’t, if this happens to be the first time you’re hearing about it, it’s a cloud-based legal, specific, sophisticated document management system. It’s a little bit expensive now because they closed out this, they used to sell solo seats, now they don’t, but if you’re interested, contact me, I might have a secret in for you. But it costs about $99 to $200 a month, and for me if I was a solo, that price tag would not prevent me from having this tool, because it is so critical to helping you manage not only your email, excuse me, your documents but your emails, because it sits inside of Outlook and also really helps manage emails.
So NetDocuments was important to you?
Renee Thompson: It was and because of the way they store emails it was really important to me, because I didn’t want to have to maintain and print a copy of every email that ever came through the door. So being able to store it through NetDocuments was just essential.
Adriana Linares: Great. So we got you NetDocuments and then you had to choose a practice management program?
Renee Thompson: Correct. I chose Clio because of their third-party integrations and it made complete sense with NetDocuments because they sync, so that was an easy step for me.
Adriana Linares: And what do you use for accounting?
Renee Thompson: Well, I don’t currently have a system through my practice management, I just have an accountant that I use, but other than —
Adriana Linares: So your Clio pushes out to a QuickBooks file?
Renee Thompson: Exactly, yeah.
Adriana Linares: That you are accounting.
Renee Thompson: It’s not a specialty software.
Adriana Linares: Right, and that works so that’s your technology cocktail so far. Clio for practice management which exports to QuickBooks, NetDocuments, anything else that you use?
Renee Thompson: There are a couple things that I just use through apps or whatnot, because I do a lot of mediation work. So there are many apps that I utilize with my clients so that we are able to communicate whether it’s through videoconferencing or whether it’s through they may use for their timelines or others, but no particular software otherwise, mostly just through app-based programs or through video streaming.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, let’s talk about Zoom.
Renee Thompson: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: And what we were just talking about how you’re able to do breakout rooms with this.
Renee Thompson: Yes.
Adriana Linares: So tell us about your use of Zoom; zoom.us.
Renee Thompson: Yes, Zoom to me is one of the easiest videoconferencing systems to utilize. We use it a lot within The Florida Bar for just regular meetings and I’ve been able to now integrate that into my practice life as well.
So if someone wants to have a conference with me to discuss a mediation I can send them a Zoom link, as long as they have an iPad or iPhone or something that has a camera on the other side, it’s very simple for them to just go ahead and click on it and we can speak and I can share things on my screen with them, very simply and now as a mediator, I’m able to use them as well because they have breakout rooms.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s so cool.
Renee Thompson: It is, so you can have private conferences when you’re even in a large group which like I said that technology just blew my mind and really opens up for alternative dispute resolutions, so many opportunities, because you don’t have to be in the same place and maybe you have an adjuster from another State or maybe you have a client who couldn’t be there for some reason and everyone’s okay with them appearing, by Zoom, it’s very easily done.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I use Zoom too and so for those of you again who may not have – I mentioned it all the time but if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a videoconferencing software service, it’s cloud-based, it’s $15 a month I think — yeah, $15 a month is the lowest price and I think you got up to 100 attendees, and they don’t have to appear by video. You can also have people that just call in by conference call.
So it’s a phone-conferencing and/or a videoconferencing plus screen sharing service. Yeah, so I love that one.
Renee Thompson: It’s great. I teach a class at the University of Florida Law School in the spring on Practice Management and we actually use Zoom to zoom in our speakers.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I did it.
Renee Thompson: So — yeah — oh, that’s right. So our speakers have the opportunity to be all over the nation and talk to our students there, so it’s really — it’s pretty amazing.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s a great service. What other tools like that do you use that are critical? Well, let’s talk about Tali.
Renee Thompson: I’m so sad to hear about Tali.
Adriana Linares: Let’s not even talk about it, never mind. We could talk about it if you guys can’t have it.
Renee Thompson: Well, I would like to talk about it from the sense that if there’s someone out there who’s listening, voice recognition billing is a must. It’s an absolute must for lawyers especially for mobile lawyers and Tali provided that service so seamlessly integrated with my practice management platform. So if there’s someone out there who is interested in finding a service like that, please let us know about it, because I’m still sad by the news.
Adriana Linares: I know.
Renee Thompson: Yes.
Adriana Linares: So you guys aren’t aware there was a product called telltali.com that allowed you to capture your time entries by voice through Amazon’s Alexa services in any way. They had to sunset the product, I guess, they didn’t get enough lawyers that were interested how is that possible. And what are the tools?
Renee Thompson: One of the things I think that’s probably the most important for me now it’s just what I use for my hardware.
Adriana Linares: Oh yeah.
Renee Thompson: So I bought a Surface, a Microsoft Surface and I have been so extremely pleased with it. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to do everything I was doing on my iPad because that was kind of my go-to for a long time and then I realized how much I miss my USB port.
So getting my Surface has really simplified things for me in the solo setting. So really, really happy with that if you’re looking for some type of new platform. I love it. It comes with a pen, so there’s like all of these electronic signatures and things you can do remotely for drafting that. I just couldn’t do even on my Apple. So I was just like — like a big step in the right direction for me, I thought.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, I love the Surface too. I have one, that’s what we’re using today. I even picked up a little go one of the little versions to just use for my San Diego Bar work, so it’s been great.
Okay, well, anything else, any other critical tools?
Renee Thompson: Nothing that comes to mind at the moment. I am still waiting for some folks to come out with tools that will just integrate seamlessly all the things we just talked about. So if we could find all these platforms so that they all talk to one another, that’s really, really where it’s at for lawyers so they don’t have to keep duplicating the wheel.
Adriana Linares: I think it’s getting better and better.
Renee Thompson: It is.
Adriana Linares: Especially with — when you’re using Clio like you do as your base because it has that open API and all those integration partners, it works great. What I still struggle with even today, even through all my techiness is I don’t even know how to say this, I have all these inroads for information. So I have like a chat and a connection service, a contact service on my website. I’ve got a forum on Google for information that I’ll send out when someone wants a technology audit initially. I’ve got Office 365, I’ve got G Suite, I’ve got Clio, I’ve got Grow, I’ve got VC, and because these services are so affordable and they’re so useful I just keep —
Renee Thompson: Keep adding on.
Adriana Linares: It’s like — it’s just crazy. So as soon as I figure out that magic — well I do use Zapier a lot actually, Zapier is a great way —
Renee Thompson: It’s so interesting.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, so I use Zapier as much as I can to get all of those disparate services to sort of —
Renee Thompson: I’ve been playing around with Trello lately, and so that in conjunction with Zapier can do some really neat things.
Adriana Linares: Oh, you know what, I have a great Trello story.
Renee Thompson: Okay.
Adriana Linares: But let’s take a quick break. Listen to a couple more messages from our sponsors and come back.
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 work sometimes 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.
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
Adriana Linares: Okay, so about Trello. I’ve never used it and I had not a need or an interest for using it and I thought, oh my god, I do not need another service, but I just signed up for Fancy Hands.
Renee Thompson: Oh, I love Fancy Hands. I use Fancy Hands.
Adriana Linares: All right, I love it too, because I got it, I got the nod from Liz, we have another friend Liz McCausland who’s also a mediator and a good friend of ours and she’s always using Fancy Hands. So I finally got Fancy Hands and I have been using them. So let’s talk a little bit about that service.
Renee Thompson: Sure. So Fancy Hands is a virtual assistant for those of you out there who just need some help with daily tasks that frankly you probably shouldn’t be giving to your legal secretary because they’re not billable, but can handle very, very fast and very efficient. They are wonderful, I mean, you can send them everything from please find a present for somebody and they’ll do all the research on it too. I need you to create a spreadsheet for me, and fill on all the formulas. So, like I don’t spend my time anymore trying to even remotely create spreadsheets or anything remotely related to that. I just send it to them and they take care of all of it and send it back to me and it’s ready to go.
Adriana Linares: I am one of the things I had them do was I had to frequently ask questions that I wanted to put into a spreadsheet but it was on a PDF. So I thought, well, I could sit here and copy and paste, it’s the stuff. Forget it, I sent it off to them and they get back pretty fast and they have different levels of service, they call them requests, so it’s only a backup. You subscribe monthly and I think it’s either $25 a month or maybe $75, that it’s pretty affordable and if you go to their website they have a ton of frequently asked questions about what you can and can’t ask them to do and most of the administrative stuff that we have. They will do and they do it pretty well and they turn around the information pretty quickly and they are all U.S.-based assistants which — I also use Upwork a lot.
But there are some things I don’t for some reason want to trust a data entry person in the Philippines to do. So — I don’t know why mentally I just think, oh, it’s probably better, they are here in the U.S. So both of those are very critical tools for me, Fancy Hands — oh and so the point to that is they integrate with Trello. So then I ended up having to go get myself a quick little Trello account to be able to share data and information with them and that’s been great. So, another service I added to my toolkit of services.
Renee Thompson: I think those are two really important ones though because Trello visually is so wonderful to keep track of things and to maintain lists and boards of how you want to do things, and then you’ve got Fancy Hands which they’re just an on-the-go assistance, so say you need something typed or say you need something really quickly done, you can send it to them and they’ll send it right back to you, it’s just taken care of. So you don’t even have to remember to tell a legal assistant or someone else to take care of it. So it’s just very – it’s ease of use for me because we talk a lot being a mobile lawyer; well, you’ve got to have mobile assistance with you and you could send it to them at all hours. So it’s not like you have to wait until the person gets back online to do it. They have people all the time taking care of that stuff for you.
Adriana Linares: It’s true. They are seven days a week.
Renee Thompson: And you buy blocks of time. So they’re 20-minute increments. So if you have a task that’s 20 minutes or less you’ve only used one block of time. So I probably have enough time between now and 20 years from now, but I’ve purchased because I know I’m going to use it. I have them help me with everything down to my Christmas card list. I mean they really do keep you organized if you want them to.
Adriana Linares: And they are so helpful, it is just having a pair of extra hands and they’re fancy.
Renee Thompson: It’s true.
Adriana Linares: One of the things that I love about you just being not just being a mobile lawyer but you’re so enthusiastic about transportation as well. So we are really excited about the Brightline which is a new high-speed train that currently goes between Miami and West Palm.
Renee Thompson: Just bought by Virgin Trains. Yes.
Adriana Linares: I read that article you sent. So I think that’s awesome and you immediately sent me the app because you are truly a mobile lawyer. So you hop on that train.
Renee Thompson: I love it. It’s Wi-Fi. You can get work done and you don’t have to stress about being on some of the busier roads with all the congestion and they have a Lyft station when you get there so you just hop in a Lyft and go wherever you need to go. So when it gets to Orlando, it’ll be a life-changing event for those of us who utilize it.
Adriana Linares: And you will be traveling a lot over the next several months and —
Renee Thompson: I mean think about from a lawyer perspective just the ability to be able to get to courthouses across the State by hopping on a high-speed train like that. I mean, it drops off literally at the federal courthouse in Miami, so you don’t need to worry about parking and being all stressed out from being on 95.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Renee Thompson: Hop on that Brightline and you show up with bells on. It is a totally different experience.
Adriana Linares: And you’ll be using it a lot because —
Renee Thompson: I hope so, I’m really excited about the Orlando connection.
Adriana Linares: And now me too.
Renee Thompson: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: So a couple more things I want to ask you or just make sure we talk about before we wrap it up here. I’m really excited that you’re going to explore running for President-elect of the Bar. I want to make sure everybody knows that you have been the Chair or involved deeply in literally every single board and section of this Bar, nobody knows, how this Bar operates runs and thinks like you do, and I just think that’s so critical for people to know that you’re the deal, you’re the real deal and you love this Bar.
Renee Thompson: I do love our Bar and I really do try to be a hands-on leader. I learned a long time ago from some really wonderful mentors that you should never ask of other people what you aren’t willing to give yourself. And so I’ve really tried to use that as a mantra in how I have led organizations, on how I’ve given my time because it’s important — it’s important for people to see that if you’re going to ask it of them that you’ll do it yourself.
And so I’ve spent the majority of my career focused on Florida Bar Service and leadership roles, and so for me the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest attorneys in the entire State in the Bar organization is just a thrilling opportunity and I just cannot say enough wonderful things about all of the leaders that we get to work with here on a daily basis.
Adriana Linares: I agree, because I get to touch it just a little bit with my consulting work with you guys, it’s been great. Can we talk about Tommy?
Renee Thompson: Sure.
Adriana Linares: Tell us about — so tell us about Tommy who is your hubs.
Renee Thompson: Sure.
Adriana Linares: Who is your high school sweetheart.
Renee Thompson: So Tommy is a County Judge in Marion County in Ocala. He is in his second term on the bench, and yes, we did meet in high school. We didn’t date in high school, we dated when I was in college, but he sat behind me when I was 14-years-old in American Government.
So I have so many wonderful memories from high school, just listening to Tommy and his stories. So it has just been great, growing our life with him. This week is our 20-year wedding anniversary.
Adriana Linares: It’s amazing. Oh my god.
Renee Thompson: Yes.
Adriana Linares: With more goosebumps.
Renee Thompson: So it’s wonderful.
Adriana Linares: Well, I love listening to Tommy, his honor, and his stories from sitting on the bench are so hilarious. Anyway, I think he’s an asset to — to you and to the Bar.
Renee Thompson: Yeah, we went to law school together and got married right before we graduated, and I can tell you, talk about someone who keeps you entertained and he has made not only the experience of going to law school but being an attorney just so wonderful to have someone like that in my life. He is a wonderful husband and a huge support and I absolutely love all that he’s doing with the County Court Conference of Judges and he’s got some really neat things ahead of him as well.
Adriana Linares: I think that’s awesome.
Renee Thompson: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Well, Renee, thanks for talking to us today.
Renee Thompson: Well, thank you, I appreciate your time.
Adriana Linares: No, yours. If we have listeners who want to learn more about you or find, friend or follow you, tell them how to do that on the Internet?
Renee Thompson: Oh sure. So, I’m on most social media platforms; LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, you can follow me on Twitter @legallyrenee, so that’s probably the easiest way to find me or of course on my firm’s website.
Adriana Linares: So, we haven’t even said what those things are. Renee is spelled R-E-N-E-E, Thompson.
Renee Thompson: T-H-O-M-P-S-O-N.
Adriana Linares: Your firm?
Renee Thompson: Upchurch Watson White & Max.
Adriana Linares: They are great, very active firm here in Florida.
Renee Thompson: Sure, they’re a statewide mediation group and just some of the most top-notch individuals you could ever work within the mediation field.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, they’re so great. When you decided or not decided — when I lured you into the faculty of technology.
Renee Thompson: When you decided —
Adriana Linares: That’s right. When I decided you to be on the faculty for the Technology Roadshows they reached out to me and said, hey, we want to become sponsors and support Renee and I have seen so many law firms who don’t really outwardly support what their attorneys are doing as far as community outreach in Bar work and that again, just touched me. I just — I know I’m getting a little sentimental on this episode and we’re not used to that, but I really just — it means a lot to me, and I’m not even a lawyer to watch how hard, not just you guys work, but everyone in the community who really cares about the profession gives back. So I want to say thank you.
Renee Thompson: Oh thanks, and I want to say thanks to them. They have been a tremendous resource to me and to have that level of support when you do what you love is really nice.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, and I think that’s a tip we should give. If you’re a lawyer looking for a law firm, to support you and to be a part of, you want those types of things.
Renee Thompson: You do.
Adriana Linares: You do. We see so many young lawyers who either are just struggling where they work or they’re not happy with the firm or they aren’t getting what they need out of it and I think that’s really important part and I’ve been watching lawyers either do that well or at least find that home or search for another place for 20 years, and I just think it’s so critical to find that kind of support.
Renee Thompson: It is, and having the background in service makes a difference. Look for law firms where those people are serving in their communities, because those are the people who understand what it means to give back and those are the type of mediators that they are, so they understand it. When I go to them and I say I’m going to be at a Board of Governors meeting for X, Y or Z, they get it, they really get it.
Adriana Linares: All right, well, I guess we got to go. Renee.
Renee Thompson: Thank you for having me.
Adriana Linares: Thanks for coming on. And thanks everyone for listening to New Solo Podcast on Legal Talk Network. If you liked what you have heard today, I would love to get a good rating from you 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.
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.
David Leatherberry talks about how healthcare law led him to start his solo firm, his experience in the legal industry and his current...
Renée Thompson talks about what tools enable her to accomplish her goals and to look forward towards her plan to run for Florida Bar...
Renee and Phil Stackhouse discuss their individual careers and delve into how they manage their personal lives as a couple and as parents.
Paige Greenlee and Brittany Maxey-Fisher talk about their career experiences.
Neil Squillante of TechnoLawyer talks about TL NewsWire’s top 25 products awards.
Matt Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Lawmatics, talks about the software solutions they offer lawyers for streamlining the processes of customer relationship management.