Liz McCausland earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1994 and her Juris Doctor...
Sitting down with some familiar faces, Adriana Linares is joined by guest co-host Renée Thompson in this conversation with Liz McCausland to discuss the many tools she uses to optimize her work and her life. From services to help in the office, like Fancy Hands, Trello, and Upwork, to others that can help anywhere, like Alexa, Shipt, and Thumbtack, find out how the new landscape of apps and services can help improve both your work and personal life.
Renée Thompson is a mediator at Upchurch Watson White & Max and a member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors.
Liz McCausland started her career as a civil litigator and now does bankruptcy and mediations in Orlando, Florida. She is a past president of the Orange County Bar Association.
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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 Adriana Linares, your host. I’m a Legal Technology Trainer and Consultant, I help lawyers and law firms use technology better.
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All right, so we are in Florida today, and I have come to visit my friend Liz McCausland who has been a guest on not just my podcast but other podcasts and has hosted and co-hosted, but I’ve never really interviewed Liz about how she efficiently runs her life and practice, which she does. She’s a model to all of her friends and we all turned to her for all kinds of advice notwithstanding that the network of people between her and her mom are incredibly impressive and whether we need a house painter, a dry cleaner, chauffeur we need to know how to cure a wart, we all turn to Liz for information like this, right Renee?
Renee Thompson: Liz is a fountain of knowledge.
Adriana Linares: The fountain of knowledge and resources. It’s actually very amazing. Hi Renee.
Renee Thompson: Hi, how are you Adrianna?
Adriana Linares: Good thanks for joining me today.
Renee Thompson: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: I am so lucky that, so Liz and Renee are headed off tonight to a —
Renee Thompson: Alumni reception.
Adriana Linares: An alumni reception. So Renee happens to be my guest that we had on last month. So when I spend a lot of time in Florida I tend to gravitate toward my Florida friends. So Renee, thanks for helping me co-host.
Renee Thompson: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: It’s always fun to have you. Tell everybody a little bit about your practice before we turn to Liz and then figure out how she has all these amazing resources.
Renee Thompson: So I am a solo civil attorney and also a mediator with Upchurch Watson White & Max. So I split my time between both litigating and mediating.
Adriana Linares: Is there more? So anything else you’d like to share?
Renee Thompson: I serve on the Florida Bar Board of Governors and have served on that for eight years actually.
Adriana Linares: It’s a long damn time to serve for a Board of Governors. I’m wondering if you’ll ever reach ascend to the highest peak of leadership at the Florida Bar, Renee?
Renee Thompson: Well funny you mention it I am actually running for President Elect of the Florida Bar in the fall. So you will see my name on a ballot in Florida.
Adriana Linares: That’s really exciting.
Renee Thompson: Yeah it’s very exciting.
Adriana Linares: It is. Coincidentally we have another friend in the room which will be — I’ll be actually interviewing a little bit later, who is also running for an elected position among the Florida, the world of Florida and everything. So it’s pretty exciting, you ladies are really amazing and impressive and oh, then there’s Liz, okay. So Liz —
Liz McCausland: I am not ready for anything.
Adriana Linares: Okay, no as a matter of fact you’re done running for stuff.
Liz McCausland: I am done.
Adriana Linares: Tell us a little bit about your practice, your past and why you aren’t running for things anymore?
Liz McCausland: Well I am a solo practitioner. I am what I call a recovering insurance defense attorney. So for the first 13 years of my career I tried civil cases and decided that was no longer for me, so I did a total 180 and now I practice bankruptcy and I mediate. And I’ve been very fortunate to find a little niche in the bankruptcy world where I mediate primarily bankruptcy cases in five different states, and then practice locally doing bankruptcies and mediations and then I was involved with both the Florida Bar and the Orange County Bar having served as the Orange County Bar’s past President and now I’m in happy retirement from all of that.
And then practice locally doing bankruptcies and mediations and then I was involved with both the Florida Bar and the Orange County Bar having served as the Orange County Bar’s past President and now I’m in happy retirement from all of that.
Adriana Linares: No more running?
Liz McCausland: No more running.
Adriana Linares: Just from the law.
Liz McCausland: I try not to do that.
Adriana Linares: Which can actually tease next month’s episode because I’m going to be back here tomorrow to record next month’s episode and for all you listeners you are not going to want to miss next month’s episode because it’s the most it will be a really fascinating and interesting conversation and an insight into why we talk about Liz the way she does because your mother was once arrested —
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: In Vietnam.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: and was put in Vietnamese prison —
Liz McCausland: Hmm.
Adriana Linares: And you have to listen to the next episode to find out how Liz helped get her out.
Liz McCausland: That’s a good teaser, I would like to find out myself.
Adriana Linares: So the reason we’re all here is because you are on a solo practice, usually you have a receptionist and an office assistant but right now you don’t.
Liz McCausland: Correct. I do have a virtual assistant.
Adriana Linares: It’s one of the reasons we’re here. You use a lot of third-party services, you are not afraid to spend money on a monthly fee or service for deliveries or assistants and I really wanted to talk to you about that because you’re so good at doing that and I feel like a lot of lawyers, well what lawyers are not just humans in general, we’re so either not used to that or so afraid or so unsure that instead people are scrambling trying to figure out how to balance work life living and still bill and make money.
So I really just wanted to talk to you about some of your favorite services. I know Renee you have some too I thought we would just have a chat about some of your favorite services that you use and why.
Renee Thompson: So Liz we just got through Amazon Prime Day so —
Liz McCausland: They say got through because I mean got through all the boxes, right —
Adriana Linares: And literally I just put them outside the door —
Liz McCausland: Right, Right.
Renee Thompson: So I want you to share with the listeners how you use Amazon in your solo practice because it was always something that’s really impressed me about you is how you’ve used that service to keep your office stocked on a regular basis. So if you could just share a little bit about what you use for Amazon purposes so that other folks can use it too?
Adriana Linares: Oh and do you have a business account? Because mine’s still personal but it’s always asking me if I wanted to get a business account.
Liz McCausland: I don’t have a business account, it does always ask me but I guess let me start by saying, I don’t understand the fear that people have in kind of outsourcing.
Adriana Linares: I don’t either.
Liz McCausland: There’s too much I think all of us here and probably those listening, there’s just too much to remember on the day-to-day. So when you talk about work/life balance I really try to get all those little things that pile up in my head out and have someone else deal with them. So that I can focus on the things I need to focus on so one way I do that is by taking those little to do’s and trying to automate them. So I don’t have to think about them. And so I have the Amazon Prime shipment and I have them automatically ship certain items to me on a regular basis. So I don’t have to think about it.
So every couple months I’ll get a restock of toilet paper and paper towels for the office, paper for the office, anything that I know I need that I would normally put down on a to-buy list or to-do list. I just get it automatically shipped and if I don’t need it that month they send you before they ship it a little reminder that it’s about to go out and you just tell it no skip this month and do it next month. And that’s a whole lot quicker than making sure I pick it up while I’m at one of the local stores.
Renee Thompson: That’s a big time-saver. I mean it’s a big-time saver.
Adriana Linares: Yeah I mean it’s like a no brainer. But I think —
Renee Thompson: But it simplifies things by automating it.
Adriana Linares: It does and I think what happens is there are so many of you as solos that have an office whether it’s your home office or in Liz’s case, she’s got a really wonderful space it’s and it was originally a small residence and it’s on a street that’s a little more commercial now obviously it was residential at some point. So she’s got a really nice office space and to have paper towels show up wine. Do you have the wine delivered?
Liz McCausland: I don’t that usually does get delivered but not by Amazon.
Renee Thompson: Who delivers the wine?
Liz McCausland: My good friends.
Adriana Linares: No, sometimes you got to rely on people. I was just lamenting over the weekend with a friend who’s having trouble with his dogs. So get a dog trainer and he thinks he has it all figured out and I said I don’t understand why we’re so reticent to ask for help in certain parts of our lives when we as humans have been relying on other humans to help us with delivery of mail, of milk, of everything.
Tow trucks come and take away our cars like why don’t we more openly just say okay let me get some help from some of these great party — great third-party services. So Amazon is a great good start.
Liz McCausland: Well, I will tell you I learned, I’ve worked with Renee for a lot of years. We were served on the Young Lawyers Board of Governors together and one of the things that Renee was really good at was parceling out what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses were and I think I kind of parlayed that talent that she had into looking at my own life and what are my strengths and weaknesses and remembering little things like that is not a strength.
And so, I just tried to take it off my to-do list.
Adriana Linares: You’re actually servicing a weakness.
Liz McCausland: Yes, yes.
Adriana Linares: By recognizing, and I’m the same way.
Liz McCausland: But it becomes a strength.
Adriana Linares: It does.
Renee Thompson: That’s what’s so awesome because how many times, well, I mean at least in the solo world have you thought wow, if I had just had that delivered it would already be here.
Adriana Linares: And not a paper.
Renee Thompson: Don’t have to make a Target run, don’t have to make a Staples run and you go through that process and just taking the five steps of automating that, so that it asks you if you need it.
Adriana Linares: Plus you get a discount you automate on Amazon.
Liz McCausland: Yeah you get a discount, I have an Amazon credit card, I get the points I apply those points to other items that I need, some of them fun, some of them not so fun. I have a ring doorbell that I use so that I don’t have to be in the office, I can answer the door with the doorbell. I’ve got pretty much everything automated. Even my home is automated to some extent, so that when I come home, the lights turn on when I’m close to my house, so I don’t walk into a dark house, it’s just the little things that make it a little bit more convenient to live my daily life.
Adriana Linares: I swear it’s those little life hacks. You know I have three different sets of keys for three different homes, and all of them have a top lock and a bottom lock and on the set of keys, every one of the top locks has a little rubber key thing on it, so that I don’t even have to think about which key it is goes in at the top lock and especially when my hands are full or it’s dark or it’s late, I mean it really is these little things that simplify your life.
Tell me a little bit about your love for the robots.
Liz McCausland: I love the robots.
Adriana Linares: I love the robots.
Liz McCausland: They don’t love me. They don’t love me. They think I don’t speak English when I ask them to do things.
Adriana Linares: Well, it is not your first language.
Liz McCausland: You wouldn’t think it is, but unfortunately it is. But no, everything that I can also automate through Alexa I do and so, when I do run out of something that is not normally on my purchase list, I just tell my friend Alexa to put it on the list and so that when I am shopping or out and about looking to see what errands I need to do, I can quickly look, and I kind of integrate it with Todoist which allows me also to tag things.
So if I need to make calls or if I have five minutes I can tag items that I know will only take five minutes. So when I’m sitting there for five minutes at the doctor’s office, I can actually look at my list of things that have been pending and look for what only takes five minutes and start to knock those out.
Adriana Linares: But how do you do that between Alexa and Todoist?
Liz McCausland: They integrate.
Adriana Linares: Using a zap or that’s an Alexa skill?
Liz McCausland: It’s just an Alexa skill.
Adriana Linares: Okay, so let’s talk real quick about the skill.
Liz McCausland: Well it’s a Todoist skill. It integrates with Alexa’s to-do list. And so, when I speak into Alexa, it appears on my Todoist and one of the reasons I like Todoist as well is it will also email me as much as I want, but I said it for every morning a list of my to-dos.
Renee Thompson: That’s a game changer.
Liz McCausland: Yes. So when I sit in the morning I can kind of figure out what things am I going to tackle today.
Renee Thompson: If you’re one of those people who in the middle of the night thinks of things and needs to write it down, that’s perfect, because you’re literally saying Alexa put this on the list and then in the morning it sends it to you.
Liz McCausland: And that’s exactly what I do.
Adriana Linares: You don’t turn the lights on.
Liz McCausland: No.
Adriana Linares: You might wake someone up but hey that’s okay, you’ve been 2 o’clock in the morning like Alexa, remind me to order wine in the morning.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Okay. Oh so real quick –
Renee Thompson: And bill it to Adriana.
Adriana Linares: And then my Alexa immediately deletes any bills she receives from your Alexa. And let’s just talk real quick about skills, just in case. So there’s lots of robots that we like. There’s obviously Alexa and Amazon, I also have a Google Home and –
Liz McCausland: And there is Siri.
Adriana Linares: And then there’s of course Siri, right.
Renee Thompson: Is Alexa is smarter than Siri, can we just have that conversation.
Liz McCausland: I think it is, right maybe.
Adriana Linares: But they’re — neither one of them, it’s as smart as Google.
Liz McCausland: Yeah. I have Google.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Liz McCausland: But I don’t like it as much.
Adriana Linares: You are wrong try again. No, I like them all, but Google for certain things, like Google’s hilarious I’ll say, hey Google, what time does Floyd’s on Fairbanks close and Google says Floyd’s at Fairbanks closes at 6 o’clock. But Alexa does that too, but she goes an extra step.
She goes would you like to call them, and I say yes and then, Alexa calls and through Alexa while I’m doing the dishes or whatever is I’m doing, I can make the phone call talk through Alexa to make a reservation.
So I think definitely adopting the robots and learning to love them if you haven’t yet is just critical.
Let’s talk about Fancy Hands because you turned me on to Fancy Hands.
Liz McCausland: Yes, so for those listening if you’re not aware of Fancy Hands is just a virtual assistant service, and you can buy packages of service. So I think their lowest package is $29.99 and it gives you six –
Adriana Linares: Five.
Liz McCausland: So five, okay, I think it used to be six. But so, five 20 minute increments of time. So it works out to be less than I would have paid my assistant to do these tasks and so a lot of times I will ask Fancy Hands to do tasks that I wouldn’t ask my assistant but so it would fall on me. So things that I’ve asked in the past, I got my mom a Fitbit, it died. I asked them to look up what the warranty was, the next thing you know I had a new Fitbit on my doorstep as a replacement.
I’ve asked them to shop for gifts for clients who I tell them the specifications and they send me a list of ten things to choose from and I choose one obviously and they can purchase for you if you give them authorization for anything under $200, so they can order flowers, make appointments, I’ve had them do spreadsheets for me.
Adriana Linares: I have too.
Liz McCausland: Type for me. I’ve had them research. I found a cheap flight out of Baltimore, I’ve had him research what’s the connecting flight from Orlando to Baltimore that I can use my miles on this airline and they give me a list of what flight I need a book that meets those specifications.
So they can be used for anything that you don’t need, hands on in the office.
Adriana Linares: Do you use them, Renee?
Renee Thompson: I use them all the time.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. So what kind of things do you use them for?
Renee Thompson: So anything that’s not client confidential I use them for. Liz mentioned spreadsheets, I use them for spreadsheets all the time. You talk about knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, spreadsheets were never a strength for me. I knew how to do it, but the formulas took me forever and it was just not worth my time and asking my assistant to do it if it wasn’t their strength, same problem.
So now I just send it to them and it comes back all put together and it works, and it just saves that little bit of extra time, that extra stress of not having to sit there and try to figure it all out.
So it’s just — I use them quite a bit also just for retyping things or kind of making things look a certain way. I’ve actually had them help me with presentations before.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, yeah.
Renee Thompson: You know if I’ve had to give a presentation on a particular topic they’ve done research for me, they’ve helped me put it together into a PowerPoint, they’ve done imaging for that. I mean they’ve just — like I said, whatever it is that you need to do that is frankly just draining your time. Think about can you delegate it to them.
Adriana Linares: And there — it’s interesting how the service works, because it’s web — you don’t typically talk to a human, you put in your tasks either just online.
Liz McCausland: You can call, you can text or –
Adriana Linares: Or there is an app.
Liz McCausland: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Right, and you can text. So you can upload your tasks and any associated documents and they have them, they’re all in the US, the US based and they work 24/7 ish.
Liz McCausland: Yes, yes.
Adriana Linares: So basically if you put in a task on a Monday evening, there’s a chance that it’s in your Inbox by the time you get into the office on Tuesday, because they must just employ people who work from their homes at whatever hours they want and people log on and I think you can actually go on the website and it’ll show you a map of the US where Fancy Hands are currently logged in and working.
Renee Thompson: Oh that is really neat.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, so yeah, that’s been a really, really helpful.
Renee Thompson: They did all my labels for my Christmas card.
Liz McCausland: I was going to say yeah, I sent them.
Renee Thompson: Things like are just time-consuming that need to be done right, need to look good, but at the same time you don’t want your staff wasting time on it, you don’t want to waste time on it.
Adriana Linares: I feel like they’re highly trained professional admin assistants, is I think how I would put it. So that’s very good. What else do you got on your list of bag of tricks?
Liz McCausland: I’d love to pick up my phone and check, but as you know I just lost my phone.
Adriana Linares: Liz’s phone is at the bottom of Tampa Bay right now.
Renee Thompson: Liz uses Trello.
Liz McCausland: Oh yes.
Renee Thompson: So we got to talk about Trello, because I think that has so much potential especially with automation.
Adriana Linares: I just started using it.
Renee Thompson: Me too.
Adriana Linares: I know.
Renee Thompson: Because of Liz.
Adriana Linares: It is the first and I use it for a to-do list. I know you’re supposed to use it for workflow.
Liz McCausland: No, you can use it for to-dos.
Adriana Linares: You can use it whatever you want, but I’m super into it now and I use it a lot with Zaps from Zapier.
So I have it, so that in Gmail if I star an item, it puts it in my Trello Board and then I can move it. In Outlook, if I flag an item it also will take that whole email and put it on my Trello list. If I — and every board has an email address, which I like, so that you can forward any of your emails into a Trello board and then figure out where to organize it.
So I really mostly use it for a to-do list, but you were very good at using it for workflows and planning.
Liz McCausland: I use it for a lot of planning and I’m a nerd about it, so I’ve got — anytime I take a trip, I put all of the details on the trip on there.
Renee Thompson: Did you upgrade your account?
Liz McCausland: No.
Renee Thompson: So it’s just a free Trello?
Liz McCausland: Yeah, just the free Trello.
Renee Thompson: Interesting.
Liz McCausland: So I’ll take pictures of the flight information, the hotel reservations, the number for the airport pick up and transfer and then I invite anyone who’s traveling with me onto the board so that we’re not all trying to dig through our emails to find information and we’re not having to print off stuff, it’s all with us.
I also use it — I have one that I put all the things that I want to do. So –
Renee Thompson: Like a bucket list.
Liz McCausland: That’s what it’s called, it’s called My Bucket List, it’s got restaurants, it’s got movies, TV shows, when anybody says have you watched this show, I just put it on the board that next time I’m looking to spend needless hours on the couch, binge watching, I can choose from one of many things.
I keep a reading list, because I do a lot of audiobooks and so I don’t just have an audible account, I use Hoopla and one other library accounts so I can get free audiobooks as well as audible.
And then I also have a Kindle and then I also buy books. So sometimes, I don’t recall which books I’ve read or which books I’ve purchased and have and in what format they are. So I keep a board that has like ongoing reading or things I’ve read this year and then it has a little flag that says whether it was an audiobook or a physical book, so when I tried to loan it to someone or tell them about it, I can see if I have it in a loanable format.
Adriana Linares: No, I have it from a pretty good anonymous source, that if someone is vacationing with you and you have shared a Trello board and someone asks a question which could –
Liz McCausland: I say –
Adriana Linares: — put it on the Trello board, which could be answered by looking at the Trello board. It’s a demerit.
Liz McCausland: Another thing I use that I love to use is Splitwise when you’re traveling, because someone is always having to get the Uber and someone else is — if you go to a restaurant instead of splitting the checks, amongst many cards you have one person pay and then they just input it in Splitwise, at the end of the trip, it tells you, it’s just like a spreadsheet, it just keeps a running spreadsheet at the end of the trip it tells you how much you owe each person. That’s it.
Adriana Linares: Wow.
Renee Thompson: It makes things so easier.
Liz McCausland: So much easier, so much easier.
Renee Thompson: Like a robot.
Adriana Linares: Is that an app?
Liz McCausland: It’s an app, it’s called Splitwise.
Renee Thompson: Really smart especially because people travel in groups all the time.
Liz McCausland: All the time.
Adriana Linares: And especially for conferences and work and stuff.
Liz McCausland: And I hate to owe people, so I want to make sure that –
Adriana Linares: That’s funny because our anonymous source which is sitting over there quietly hates it when people owe her. So Splitwise probably helps everybody. Yeah, well let’s take just a quick break and listen to a couple of messages from some sponsors. We’ll be right back.
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Adriana Linares: Okay, and we are back. I am at the Law Office of Liz McCausland in Orlando, Florida, my dear friend Renee Thompson is here. Hi Renee.
Renee Thompson: Hi Adriana.
Adriana Linares: We are just talking about making our lives easier and using services and I think if I ever sat down and added up what I pay for some of these monthly services, I would be terrified. Okay, the next thing I want to talk about is delivery services.
So are you Shipt?
Liz McCausland: I use Instacart.
Adriana Linares: Great. Do you use any of this?
Renee Thompson: I do just pick up delivery, so I do online and go to Target and they put it in your car and you go home. So –
Liz McCausland: And you know what I love about that, if you ever use – it used to be called Ebates and it’s now some name that I am going to butcher but the Ebates, it gives you cash back –
Renee Thompson: Like Rakuten or whatever?
Liz McCausland: Rakuten, that’s what it’s called now and so that gives you cash back so you can actually do the pickup and store and it just as like getting a discount. So sometimes it’s 10% cash back, you’re going to go to the store anyway, they’ve already pulled it for you, it’s just waiting there you walk in you get it and you’ve got 10% cash back.
Renee Thompson: That’s really smart.
Adriana Linares: I can’t even do that kind of math. So I use Shipt and I love Shipt, which is a grocery delivery service, but I think they also deliver from Costco, ABC, different and you use Instacart. What I love about those services is I can have things delivered to my office or I can have it delivered to my Orlando home when I’m in Orlando or I can use it in New Orleans.
So as these services just become more ubiquitous and available even I mean New Orleans took a while to get it and now that it has it I’m so happy, because I don’t have a car in New
Orleans, so having all this stuff delivered is really helpful.
Renee Thompson: And Walmart is actually experimenting with this service in three areas. The only one in Florida is going to be Vera Beach but they will not only purchase – you purchase your groceries, they will deliver them, they will put them in your fridge for you. So that’s next level how they’re going to do things.
Adriana Linares: Awesome. So can I tell a quick funny story. I had the Shipt deliverer, a Shipt shopper in New Orleans that she was so fun and funny just texting me about the groceries I don’t know that and then she kindly dropped them off and I wasn’t there and blah, blah, blah. So then somehow I just kept messaging with her and I said by the way, do you do any other sort of concierge service.
Renee Thompson: Since you are here.
Adriana Linares: And so nice and she is like no what do you mean? And I said well I only live here part-time and oftentimes I need someone to go by my apartment and water my plants so I’ve had a package delivered and I just need some help. And this lady and I have become friends and she has been helping me for almost two years that way.
And I have a friend in Orlando who’s a part-time stay-at-home mom who just wanted a little bit of money and I have her run errands for me every week because I travel a lot. I have her go to the post office, pick up drop off dry-cleaning. It’s as simple as putting a message on Facebook that says hey does, anybody know someone who has a couple of spare hours just looking to run some errands.
I think I pay a little more than I need to, I pay $20 an hour because I want them to keep helping me, but I think you could really find someone for $15, $18, $20 an hour to get all of these things off of your list.
My friend Jen that helps me here in Orlando I give her one gas tank a month also. So she really runs around for me and helps me with these dumb mundane things I don’t have time for, the limited time that I am in Orland though.
Liz McCausland: She has dropped off things here for you?
Adriana Linares: Yes, yes she’s amazing. So I think a lot of what I’m trying to say is ask for help, get help, many of us are just we’re overworked, overrun, underpaid, there’s never an empty task list. Have you ever seen it to-do list that’s completely crossed off?
Liz McCausland: No.
Renee Thompson: If you did you would be unemployed.
Liz McCausland: Yeah you are dead, you are dead. And when you say it’s as easy as going on Facebook, I have a virtual assistant who works from her home and she is actually an old secretary of mine from my old law firm.
So when I left, she stayed and then when she retired, I reached out to her about helping me and so she works from home and makes her own hours and does what I need to get done, done, but she does it often the comfort of her home and she’s retired so she’s just making a little income on the side.
There’s no obligation to come into the office, dress up – she just makes –
Adriana Linares: How do you communicate with her, like how do you give her, her to-do list?
Liz McCausland: What she does is pretty much the same all the time. She does a lot of what we call my portal work, so as I said I mediate in five different states and they all upload their documents to a portal. So she goes on the portal and checks to see if any of them need to be scheduled for mediations and she does all my mediation scheduling.
So mostly we communicate by email and from time to time we’ll pick up the phone and just talk.
Adriana Linares: So I share with Jen, my friend that helps me here in Orlando, the iPhones, we both have iPhones and you can share a note, so just in the Notes app. So I’ll either put things in there or I’ll say Siri ad pick up prescription from CVS to my Jen to-do list and there it goes. She crosses it off once she’s done it and then she just gets rid of it and I know that it’s been done. So there’s really a lot of ways to communicate with someone who isn’t in your presence all the time, speaking of which Fiverr, Upwork, Thumbtack.
Liz McCausland: I use them.
Adriana Linares: I do too. And I will tell a story real quick. I’m helping an attorney who’s leaving her big law firm, Katie, remember we don’t have to say last name, so we will say Katie and today I was talking to her and I said, have you gotten your firm logo? She goes oh my god I did. She goes and I paid are you ready what do you think I paid. I was like, I don’t know, five hundred dollars. She goes, no, I paid $25 and I have thought Fiverr and she goes, how did you know. So tell us about Fiverr.
Liz McCausland: So I use Fiverr, Fiverr a lot.
Adriana Linares: I use Fiverr for totally different reasons than Fiverr.
Liz McCausland: I use Fiverr a lot for things that, number one, I don’t know how to do. I’m not a graphic design artist, so I have used them many times to design graphics for me for either an event or I do crafting on the side. So if the friend needs a t-shirt made or something like that and I just need the design so that I can cut it on my little Cricut in my decompression time, they’re all laughing at me — then I go and I have, I have them create the design.
But then I’ve also used Fiverr for things like translating documents and my dad, I had a card made for him like a caricature of him drawings for a Father’s Day Card. So you can get anything done on there, but you do have to be careful with who you use, because I — a lot of times it is people from other countries and they may not understand some of the things that you’re asking really clearly — like I said I’d like the Georgia Peach in this logo and she had no idea what that was.
Adriana Linares: So a peach named Georgia.
Liz McCausland: A peach she didn’t know.
Renee Thompson: It was not the Georgia peach.
Liz McCausland: It was, I just wanted a peach in the logo and so that took some back and forth but — if you vet them well, which clearly I didn’t vet that well on that one but if you –
Adriana Linares: Lesson learned.
Liz McCausland: Lesson learned. If you vet them well you shouldn’t have those problems.
Adriana Linares: I think our anonymous source in the corner here had her logo designed for her cottage business on Fiverr and it’s like fiverr.com. And I think it started because originally everything was $5 on there but of course the service –
Renee Thompson: Now it’s $5 increments.
Liz McCausland: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: Fiverr 10, 15 —
Renee Thompson: That’s the extra R.
Adriana Linares: So great. So Fiverr is good for graphic design creative work, crafty work and then Upwork, which I use all the time, is really good for heavy-duty administrative work. So if you have — let’s say you go to a conference and come back with 200 business cards and scan them all, I have someone on Upwork that I have been using now for about a year that does that sort of just data entry for me, and this is so terrible – $3 an hour. I can’t even handle it. I pay her five. I’m like let me pay you five.
Renee Thompson: Yeah.
Adriana Linares: How could I ever pay anyone three and then I envision her saying to her husband, there’s this crazy American that wants to pay me $5 an hour, but I mean I can’t imagine not paying her $5 an hour and she gets the work done overnight, because she’s overseas and it’s been really great. So I love Upwork for administrative work and you can do get sophisticated.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: It help on there too. I’m giving a very simple data entry example, but —
Liz McCausland: And I use Thumbtack for any kind of professional services. So I know there are other — some attorneys who actually are on Thumbtack but I don’t, I don’t use it for anything legal, I always use it for professional services like we used them once because we needed a photographer, we’ve also — I have also used them to mount a TV onto a wall, to do some various repairs.
Adriana Linares: Yep, I had my house pressure washed for $99. Yes it’s a small house.
Renee Thompson: But it’s still amazing.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, yeah. So Thumbtack is really more like local humans that are — that do home repairs, delivery, house cleaning and that sort of stuff.
Liz McCausland: And when you post they, basically they bid or they give you what their services are in their price range and so it’s a way of finding out who they are and then you can interview them and decide who you want to end up with.
Adriana Linares: And don’t the two of you use Facebook’s Marketplace a lot?
Renee Thompson: I do.
Liz McCausland: I have.
Renee Thompson: Yeah I do. Facebook Marketplace is really good for local things. So if I needed an extra chair for the office or if I need a bookshelf or just something and you can go on there and put in a search and see if anyone in the local area has what you need.
Adriana Linares: Is it like a Craigslist like a –
Renee Thompson: It is, but you can actually see it and you know you’re not dealing with just a written document. I mean it’s a true picture and it has all of the information about whatever it is. It’s like a big flea market online in some ways. So but you can put in the area that you want to get it and you can find some really neat things. Like my mom was a real China buff. So she had a particular pattern that she was always looking for. So I used to go on there and try to find the particular pattern, somebody else was getting rid of a set or whatnot and then you could find it on there and even if it was in Orlando or somewhere else the next time I went through I could stop and pick up whatever I needed.
So they have some unique things like that, that if you follow it, you can definitely, definitely do well, especially for office furniture.
Adriana Linares: Well great. Well let’s take another quick break and listen to a couple of messages from some sponsors and then we will come back and talk about more technology tools and services maybe focus on some stuff that helps us run our businesses better.
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Adriana Linares: All right and we are back. We’ve had a lot of good ideas and some fun chit chat with Renee and Liz about the services that we use to help make our lives easier.
So I thought we would talk a little bit more about some of the technology that we use especially when running your solo practices. I know you’re both practice management users that use Clio.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Renee takes it to an extra level and uses NetDocuments, Liz McCausland.
Liz McCausland: I know.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Liz McCausland: But I have a good reason because I have that virtual assistant to use the Office 365 as we’re both in the same document at the same time.
Adriana Linares: If listeners could see my face.
Liz McCausland: I know, I know, I know. I am sorry NetDocuments. I know you’re awesome.
Adriana Linares: I Just don’t understand how you manage your documents without it. All right, so let’s talk about some other things, like you’re a big fan of the Password Manager.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Which one do you use?
Liz McCausland: I use RoboForm and I’ll tell you why I chose that one.
Adriana Linares: Oh good. I would like to hear.
Liz McCausland: Yeah. So one of the reasons I chose it, I use it obviously because I have so many different ways that I work a lot remotely. So, so many different ways that I access websites etcetera and so it helps me to keep all the passwords, but because I do have a virtual assistant, I also share a document with her because you can give people permissions for certain documents. I don’t want her having the password to my life but I do want her to have passwords to the things that we both have to be in because many of them require us to change the password every 60-90 days.
Adriana Linares: Right.
Liz McCausland: And so rather than always having to email in an unsecure format to her and tell her I changed the password, I can just share that RoboForm with her, make the change on the RoboForm and she sees it, if she keeps gets locked out she can look at it and say oh we had to change the password.
Adriana Linares: Do you use a business account for that?
Liz McCausland: I do.
Adriana Linares: A team account, okay. So —
Liz McCausland: I do, and then it wasn’t that much and I’ll tell you —
Adriana Linares: It’s $19 a year for a regular.
Liz McCausland: Yeah, it really and I’ll tell you the main reason I got that account was because I wanted to change — I wanted to save documents in case of my death that had what my accounts are for my relatives to know that about. Renee and I hope to open a business and I saved all of the websites etcetera and if I pass, I want her to have that information and be able to enter into that that account and make it hers and everything else and so that was the main reason because RoboForm allowed me to share specific documents with specific people.
Adriana Linares: You mean specific passwords.
Liz McCausland: Well the document itself. So I can share a whole folder of information with Renee.
Renee Thompson: No comprende.
Liz McCausland: So I can get –
Adriana Linares: Where’s the folder?
Liz McCausland: It’s in RoboForm. So –
Adriana Linares: Oh like one of those safe notes, is that what you mean.
Liz McCausland: Yes, yes.
Adriana Linares: Oh okay, okay.
Liz McCausland: So I can share a safe note with her that tells her all the information and same with my family.
Renee Thompson: I was like where, whole document, what’s this.
Adriana Linares: Okay. No, you’re right. So RoboForm and we’ll talk about RoboForm, but if you use LastPass or 1Pass or Dashlane, they’re all in the same family and they’re all going to do the same thing, but you might not realize they have some advanced features. Do you use?
Renee Thompson: RoboForm?
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Renee Thompson: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Do you use RoboForm?
Renee Thompson: Yes.
Adriana Linares: So that’s funny. That’s the one I use too. It allows me to save my credit cards in there, safe notes, all of my mom’s passwords, so that, and Henry’s password, so yeah, it does a lot more than just store your password, it saves credit cards, safe notes, bookmarks and it’s — it works across all your browsers and on all your devices.
Renee Thompson: That’s why I got it.
Liz McCausland: That’s it, yeah.
Renee Thompson: That’s why I got it.
Adriana Linares: And they are all the same. So whether you use RoboForm or one of its competitors, just make sure you’re using all of its features. Before if you get – oh go.
Liz McCausland: And if someone whose mom was arrested, arrested and held when you have that happen and you’re trying to figure out someone’s life and bills and accounts and everything else, having a document like that is invaluable.
Adriana Linares: So how many times have I texted you and the anonymous person in the room, my master password. So I have a master password which we all do and you know I trust obviously my dearest friends and my mom and my boyfriend with it, which so that if I — if something happens to me whether I’m incapacitated or I actually die, they have that one password. I hope, hopefully among seven people somebody has written it down.
Liz McCausland: It’s saved –
Adriana Linares: Somewhere.
Liz McCausland: On my phone in the ocean.
Adriana Linares: So that somebody can go to RoboForm and look up my insurance and my banks and my credit cards. Jesus, people help me.
Liz McCausland: I’m sure it’s backed up.
Adriana Linares: I’m sure it’s backed up somewhere. Liz, tell us real quick. You recently went on a trip to Italy, okay and normally you work on your iPad.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: And you called me up and said, I want something more than the iPad, but not bigger than the iPad and you wanted to be able to use — I mean like ask for the world and you will get it, Liz McCausland, and you wanted to be able to use two screens, because we all agree that two screens –
Renee Thompson: It’s preferred.
Adriana Linares: Is way –
Renee Thompson: If not necessary.
Liz McCausland: And much more productive and I know everything has split screen now, but I am much more productive with two screens.
Renee Thompson: It’s not the same.
Adriana Linares: No, two screens doesn’t work, even if they’re tiny screens.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Okay so talk about what you did, after a consult.
Liz McCausland: So I obviously consulted with the expert Adriana Linares, and I ended up getting a Surface Go, not the Pro.
Adriana Linares: Right.
Liz McCausland: Because for me the Go was a better size. It’s small and portable and it has cellular.
Adriana Linares: It’s the same size as a standard iPad, and a third the price of a full blown Surface.
Liz McCausland: Exactly, and because it has the cellular, I can use it anywhere and so I bought it also because all of my documents, et cetera, are in Office 365 and since I was going to be gone in Italy, I wanted to be able to check on my office, check my work from there and so I now have the Surface and I still bring my iPad, because one thing is I know I’m a sucker if I don’t want to do something, I will find anything to do but that.
So I’ll go on social media or I’ll shop, so my Surface just has work.
Adriana Linares: Social work just sucks my life away.
Liz McCausland: Exactly. So I just have my work on my Surface, but my iPad is for everything fun and then when I’m working I will connect my iPad to my Surface using Duet and then I have two screens because you can drag and drop just like you were in the Office with two screens.
Adriana Linares: And Duet is an app. Do you remember what you paid for it?
Liz McCausland: It’s an app. At the time that I got it, it was actually free.
Renee Thompson: Oh.
Liz McCausland: I have — in terms of automation, I have if this than that, and I asked it to tell me if when apps went on special for free.
Renee Thompson: I got it on special too through that same process.
Adriana Linares: Oh you did?
Renee Thompson: Yeah, I did. I think I paid like $5 for it through that.
Adriana Linares: So do you use your iPad and like Surface as well?
Renee Thompson: I do.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Renee Thompson: For Duet.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Renee Thompson: You can also use your cell phone. I mean you don’t — if you don’t have your iPad with you, because I don’t always carry my iPad, I normally have my Surface with me.
Liz McCausland: Yeah, you can use a phone or you can use a laptop, desktop, any anything.
Renee Thompson: Any monitor, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Any platform.
Liz McCausland: Any monitor, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Do you remember what you paid for your Surface Go?
Liz McCausland: I just got it, but it was under a thousand dollars I know that.
Adriana Linares: Oh for sure.
Liz McCausland: That was with the — that was –
Adriana Linares: With the keyboard.
Liz McCausland: With the keyboard and the pen and you know.
Adriana Linares: So you got everything?
Liz McCausland: I got everything.
Adriana Linares: I think it start at $399 or $499, then the keyboard is 100 and then the pen is –
Liz McCausland: Right.
Adriana Linares: You can get an off-market pen, but the Pen’s price is $60. Okay. So for less than $1000 you got a full-blown Windows device that was lightweight, you can use as a tablet if you need, but it’s the same size as your iPad and you were able to travel with both of them.
Liz McCausland: And I did, yes.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Liz McCausland: And then taking a train from Rome to Tuscany, I just did my work on the train.
Adriana Linares: So hard being Liz McCausland.
Liz McCausland: It is.
Adriana Linares: I wanted to ask you Renee, do you know if Melanie still uses Rent the Runway?
Renee Thompson: She does.
Adriana Linares: Okay. So this is we’re going to switch real quick, because I didn’t want to not mention that for, for those –
Renee Thompson: She uses it on mostly formal occasions now. She used to use it, she used to use it almost daily.
Adriana Linares: Let’s talk about it.
Renee Thompson: So –
Adriana Linares: Because I think any lady listeners will appreciate this tip.
Renee Thompson: So Rent the Runway has — you have the ability to basically rent clothes through the app and they will send you high-ends, really nice, even Couture clothes that you can rent for a very limited amount of money. So those things you may wear once if it’s a formal dress and you’re probably not going to wear it again anyway, so it really works well, especially if you need it in a formal setting.
Adriana Linares: And she has them delivered to her hotel where she’s going to special event sometimes and then so it delivers to the hotel.
Renee Thompson: Yes.
Adriana Linares: And then I think she ships it right back out from the hotel after she’s worn it if I remember correctly.
Renee Thompson: Yes, if you’re traveling they will ship it to wherever you want and give you the garment bag to return it as well, because they do all the dry-cleaning and everything that goes with that. So I mean unless you’re in a place that has a Rent the Runway stores like Chicago or DC, where you actually want to go in and try on what is you’re renting, maybe it’s a really special occasion and they will do a fitting for you at those stores if you really are the kind of person who needs hands-on, but if not, if you — once you figure out which styles and which designers work for you, you pay a fraction of the cost to be able to wear those items.
And like I said, put it in a bag and send it back right from wherever you’re at.
Adriana Linares: Right.
Liz McCausland: And they have an unlimited now if you really think you’re going to use it a lot, they have it in unlimited that you pay a monthly fee.
Adriana Linares: I pay monthly for Stitch Fix, which I like.
Renee Thompson: Oh is that a styling service, is that where they send you clothes to buy?
Adriana Linares: Yeah. It is.
Liz McCausland: Le Tote is kind of like Rent the Runway for everyday clothes.
Adriana Linares: Le Tote, okay, got it. So I use Stitch Fix and I get to keep the clothes if I want at a discount price.
Liz McCausland: Yeah, and Amazon does the same.
Adriana Linares: And our anonymous source just noted that apparently Ann Taylor LOFT is starting a delivery service. So for even for clothes. I’ll tell you I never want to leave my house or apartment or office. I mean –
Liz McCausland: You really don’t have to.
Adriana Linares: I can’t stand going into retail stores anymore like to walk into a mall is absolute torture for me.
Renee Thompson: It’s the parking, it’s the hassle that goes along with dragging your bags around.
Adriana Linares: Freezing air-conditioning.
Renee Thompson: I mean that’s what grocery shopping has become for me, I mean all that lugging of everything, that’s why I love the pickup delivery option. So –
Adriana Linares: You know, I will tell you right now if you’re looking to save money, and you go through a grocery store the way I do like an octopus, just pulling things off the shelves.
Liz McCausland: It’s true, you save money by using the service.
Adriana Linares: You save money by using these delivery services. One more that I just want to mention, because I am thinking about Melanie, which we should actually give her a shout out for her business, our friend Melanie Griffin.
Renee Thompson: She runs Spread Your Sunshine.
Adriana Linares: Is it spreadyoursunshine.com?
Renee Thompson: I believe so.
Adriana Linares: She is really neat, but doesn’t she also use Dryver, because she doesn’t like driving herself places?
Renee Thompson: Yes, she does.
Adriana Linares: I won’t – I haven’t had occasion to use it. But I did sign up. So it’s Dryver.
Liz McCausland: Right. But she very much was like you. She found one she liked from Dryver and then started hiring him all the time.
Renee Thompson: Yes, she used that. There is a designated driver service where she lives.
Liz McCausland: BeMyDD.
Renee Thompson: Yeah. Where if you go out one evening and you want them to actually come get your car and take it back, they will do that as well. So there’s lots of services that can help you.
Adriana Linares: Well my Shipt Shopper also became my driver to and from the airport. So —
Renee Thompson: But it makes sense. I mean if you are a professional solo practitioner at your hourly rate and you are driving somewhere –
Adriana Linares: And you’re married and you have kids and you’ve got family, I mean how do you not figure out how to employ all of these great services and tools I just, I hope we’ve inspired.
Liz McCausland: And you really can’t do them affordably though.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Liz McCausland: You know like there are ways you should save money with them, for one not going shopping yourself.
Adriana Linares: For sure not going to the grocery store.
Liz McCausland: And time.
Adriana Linares: Or to the mall where I’d go crazy, Shipt sends I mean — what did I just say.
Renee Thompson: Stitch Fix.
Adriana Linares: Stitch Fix sends a shipment, I just turned it to every other month though, because I don’t need that much new clothes, but it really does save me money.
If I go into a store and they’re having a sale, I am going to forget about it.
Liz McCausland: Well, and time is money. So it saves a lot of time as well.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. Well ladies, this has been really great and really fun and I absolutely appreciate your time and your willingness to share all of your resources, and the way you all run your busy-busy practices. If anyone wants to find, friend or follow you, let them know how they can do that. Renee?
Renee Thompson: You can find me on pretty much every social media platform, but if you’re on Twitter I am @legallyrenee, on LinkedIn, Renee Thompson.
Adriana Linares: Renee congratulations on being a name, the Fastcase 50.
Liz McCausland: Yes, congratulations.
Renee Thompson: Oh thank you. I am very excited about that.
Adriana Linares: Renee, everyone’s big fans of Fastcase and what an honor that is that you recognize as a leader in technology. Good job Renee.
Renee Thompson: Thank you.
Adriana Linares: And Liz, well you’re just retired from all that now.
Liz McCausland: Yeah without a phone I don’t have anything.
Adriana Linares: No you’ve got nothing. Why don’t you tell everybody how they can find, friend or follow you, if they are interested in learning more or asking you some questions about — oh and wait let’s say one more thing mediation training.
Liz McCausland: Yes.
Adriana Linares: Let’s talk about that real quick.
Liz McCausland: Okay.
Renee Thompson: So Liz and I are starting an endeavor where we’re actually becoming mediation trainers and starting our own company. So we will actually be training mediators all over the state of Florida very shortly.
Adriana Linares: That is so cool.
Renee Thompson: Yeah we’re very excited.
Adriana Linares: Well good, well when that gets out there, we’ll make sure and boost your awareness. What boots the awareness of your awesome endeavor? Liz?
Liz McCausland: And we have some other things that will be coming soon so we’ll have to tell you those when they happen.
Adriana Linares: We’re all just a bunch of busy little entrepreneurs.
Renee Thompson: It makes life fun, that’s what makes life fun.
Adriana Linares: It doesn’t. It’s really great when you can do it with good friends.
Renee Thompson: Absolutely.
Adriana Linares: Thank you guys. Liz, don’t forget to tell us where we can find, friend, follow or stalk you?
Liz McCausland: Well I’m on Twitter, but I don’t know my name I think it’s @LizMcCausland.
Renee Thompson: I think it’s just her name was.
Adriana Linares: Don’t you have an automation, do you have an automation for this?
Liz McCausland: I do but I don’t have my phone anymore so it’s @LizMcCausland, I’m also on Facebook and I am on Instagram, I’m what my law school professor used to call me so Elfosbee.
Adriana Linares: Cute little pet name. Well thanks everyone for listening to another episode of New Solo on Legal Talk Network.
If you like what you’ve heard today, we’d love for you to share the episodes, subscribe, rate us on iTunes and remember you’re 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.
Liz McCausland shares some of the professional and personal services she uses to improve both her work life and her personal life.
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Renee and Phil Stackhouse discuss their individual careers and delve into how they manage their personal lives as a couple and as parents.
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