Guest Andrew Schierberg retired from his first career after 20 years as a police officer, investigator, and chief in Northern Kentucky. Then he asked, “What next?” With a law degree and a lifetime of working in tense situations with people during their most stressful moments, Schierberg started a law practice with a focus on helping families by specializing in elder law and estate planning.
He wrote his own business plan, shadowed established attorneys, sought educational and business development support, found shared office space with other lawyers, and developed a holistic approach that lets him to build relationships with his clients and work not only as an attorney but also as a trusted advisor.
Learn how he set up his practice, selected case management software, established a flat-fee subscription plan for his clients rather than hourly rates, and developed an understanding of the needs of both elder clients and their families as they navigate a new stage of life.
If you’re well into a first career, you might be surprised at how much your “real world experience” can translate to a solo law practice.
Got questions or ideas about solo and small practices? Drop us a line at [email protected]
- Starting a solo practice as a second career and putting your “old job” skills to work in your new venture.
- The importance of selecting the right practice management and office equipment tools, learning about marketing, and asking for help when you don’t know.
- The value of finding a niche that lets you focus your energy on the kind of law that matches your passion.
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Intro: So if I was starting today as the New Solo, I would do — the entrepreneurial aspect would be — we’re going to have to change the way they’re practicing — by becoming a leader — analyzing one after another — to help young lawyers — starting a new small firm — what it means to be fulfilled — make it easy to work with your clients — bringing authenticity — new approach, new tools, new mindset, New Solo — and it’s making that leap.
Adriana Linares: It’s time for another episode of New Solo on the Legal Talk network. Hi, everyone. I’m Adriana Linares. I’m your hostess. Before we get started, I want to thank the listener and give you a resource to listen to. First of all, Matt from California. I got your email a little bit too late and I’m very bummed out that I didn’t get to meet you in person in New Orleans but thank you so much for reaching out and thank you for the nice note. It’s really lovely to hear that New Solo is helpful in helping other attorneys launch their practices, which happens to be what we’re going to talk about today. My buddy Brian Focht, which is an attorney out there in the world that does cybersecurity and kind of a cool area of law, has a podcast that I want to tell everyone about. It’s called Fearless Paranoia and he covers egregious hacks and ways that we, as everyday people who are not IT people, can learn to run a more secure life and practice. So get your podcast search button moving to Fearless Paranoia by Brian Focht and he does that with an IT person, I think, based on the note that he sent me a while ago. Sorry it took me so long to share this with everyone, Brian and Matt, thank you again. I wish we could have met. So today, a mat like attorney by the name of Andrew Schierberg. Andrew, is it Schierberg?
Andrew Schierberg: You got it exactly.
Adriana Linares: Oh, wow, great. Well, it’s very nice to meet you. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your pearls of wisdom with listeners about how you managed to launch your solo practice as a second career. So when I learned about you, I thought it was so interesting because you were a police officer in a previous life, sort of, I don’t want to say on the opposite side of the law, but a completely different side of the law. Tell us all a little bit about that.
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah, I was a police officer for 20 years. I just retired in December of 2022. The full time law practice is brand new but, yeah, I’m lucky. I got into the system here in Kentucky when we had a 20-year pension system. So I started my career as a patrol officer. I became an investigator. I did computer forensics for a while and kind of Internet crime investigations and then became a police chief at sort of my parents’ hometown city, small agency here in northern Kentucky.
Adriana Linares: That’s amazing and I should have asked you about that too. So you’re in Kentucky. Are you in a rural? I hate that word. So are you in a rural part of Kentucky?
Andrew Schierberg: I’m not. We’re basically the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. So from the roof of my house, we have a little porch. I can see downtown Cincinnati, and my office is just about 15 minutes from there.
Adriana Linares: Oh, that’s great. Okay, so you had this career in law enforcement, and did you start that thinking, okay, I got 20 years, this pension is going to time up and I’m ready to retire, or did you think when you started you were going to be there forever, or did you have a hardcore plan?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah, no, I really did think about it. It’s funny, the pension has been a topic of discussion in recent years, and it really doesn’t exist anymore here in Kentucky. One of the things that was talked about from the politicians is, “oh, nobody really considers that.” I definitely considered it and definitely thought at 42 years old, I’d be able to start career number two. Truthfully, when I started at the police department, at first there wasn’t a fantastic culture at the department I was at. I decided to go to law school. I thought, well, you know what, “maybe this isn’t the right career for me.” I had an interest in law school at the time anyway, so I did part time law school. Chase College of Law here in Northern Kentucky has a night program which is really there’s so many attorneys I’ve talked to around here who would not be attorneys if it weren’t for that program. Nurses, other professionals, people with families, all kinds of people that have the opportunity to go because that program is here and it’s been here for a long time. But it was kind of an exit strategy at the time but the culture at the police department changed and I got moved into investigations, which I really enjoyed. By the time that was done and law school was done, I was already seven years into a 20-year career, and I thought, “let’s see where this goes and we’ll practice law when it’s done.”
Adriana Linares: So you’ve had your law degree for years and years before you started using it?
Andrew Schierberg: Sort of. I graduated law school ’09. I did practice part-time for a little bit after I graduated. I did some bankruptcy, consumer bankruptcy law, which was fantastic to do part-time because the creditors meetings are scheduled for like 15 minutes, and they happen during that time, they happen on time and last 15 minutes and you’re done and mostly a paperwork type practice. I think I took on two family law cases and realized that was not for me. And then I bought an old house that needed to be remodeled with my wife and in the process of that, we also found out we were having our first kid. So didn’t have time for a part-time law practice and really didn’t pick it back up until I had my eye on retirement.
Adriana Linares: That’s so interesting because did you ever feel like, I’ve forgotten so much, I’m totally out of it, or were you doing enough sort of during these fits and starts where you could keep the wheels greased? Is that a term?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah, I think it’s a term. I definitely realized I did some, and certainly I think being in law enforcement, I had interactions mostly, obviously, with criminal law.
Adriana Linares: Good point. Obviously. Yeah.
Andrew Schierberg: But I tried to keep up with it, would go to keep up my hours for my license. Kentucky is fantastic. Our bar does, basically, once a year you can get all your CLEs for free, which is fantastic. So I did that but I did have to really re-educate myself on a lot of stuff when I began the process of, okay, I’m going to start my own firm. The first question is, what am I going to do? Once I solved for that, then it was, okay, now how do I get myself up to speed on this area of law? Because it had been a while.
Adriana Linares: Okay, don’t tell me about the practice area yet because I have a couple of other backup questions. So you’re coming up on your 20 years. You’re looking to retirement. You decide you’re going to go full-bore under the practice of law. Just a silly question. Did they give you a retirement party at the police station? Does that happen?
Andrew Schierberg: They did. Yes, I had the retirement party. It was interesting leading up to that. I loved being a police officer. I think service is my motivator, and it’s at the heart of what I do. It was very strange as it was approaching it wasn’t really hitting me emotionally, and I was doing fine. We had some transition period and I announced my retirement six months before it happened. So there was some transition. But man, when I got up to give my speech at that retirement party and my family’s there, almost every chief I’d worked for was there. Yeah, I was a mess. And then they did the final call on the radio, which is, if you’ve ever seen some of those videos, it was an emotional day for me.
Adriana Linares: Well getting all riled up for you. That’s cool. Okay, so you retire, you decide you’re going to launch this practice. You have support from your wife. You’ve got three young kids?
Andrew Schierberg: Yes, three, nine, seven, and five at the time.
Adriana Linares: Okay, so this is a big deal because you’re pivoting transitioning and you’ve got a lot on your plate, so you decided to do it. Just for other listeners, what were some of the things that you considered? It doesn’t sound to me like you considered any other career because you’ve known forever that you were going to be a lawyer.
Andrew Schierberg: I really did, actually. So kind of back in 2020 is really when I started thinking about, “Okay, retirement is end of 2022. What am I going to do?” At the time, I was actually serving as not just police chief for the city where I worked, but I was also acting city administrator and so on my mind was I could parlay this into some kind of operations VP position or something like that in the corporate world. But the more I thought about things and truly part of it was discovering your podcast and a lot of others and realizing there was just such an opportunity to start my own practice, be my own boss. The mayor of the city where I worked was an entrepreneur. He had his own business and I saw his ability to kind of focus on the things he wanted to, had his main business, and he started another business and the freedom he had in his schedule. So all of those kind of things just really led me to, you know, what, I’ve got my law degree, I enjoy service. Let’s find something that I can do to be my own boss, start my own thing, hopefully grow something for me and my family.
Adriana Linares: You mentioned to me that spend time with your kids was going to be really important. I think everyone with children has that desire and that plan. So that sounded like a very important reason to be able to control your own schedule and time and the way you did things. Right?
Andrew Schierberg: It was. So I’ll tell you a funny story, which is that after I retired, so January of this year, I worked the cafeteria at my kids’ school every Friday in January, and I’ve done it once a month since.
It was just something I was like, “I’m going to do this.” It’s really fun to see them in their element during the day. But yeah, part of what I did. So sort of my methodology or whatever when I was making these decisions. Once I decided, okay, I’m going to practice law, then it was like, okay, what am I going to do? First I had to narrow down that practice area for me, I knew I didn’t want to do a wide variety of things and partially to your point you mentioned before, I was seven or eight years, ten years, whatever it was, out of ten years out of law school. So I knew trying to get myself up to speed on a lot of areas of law wasn’t necessarily the most practical. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it was a podcast, maybe it was yours. There was somebody who was talking about thinking about your goals, thinking about your priorities and finding a practice area that fits with that. And so as a police officer, I thought, “well, I can do criminal defense” but then number one, you’re on the schedule of the court. That’s somebody else’s deadline and somewhere you’ve got to be and you can’t sort of schedule around that and go work at the cafeteria. thought about personal injury car accidents because I’ve been on my fair share of car accidents to sort of understand how they operate.
Adriana Linares: Sure. Again, that would have been my second guess.
Andrew Schierberg: But again, you’re looking at just court schedule and depositions and all these things that sort of are out of your control. So I took a step back, thought about my motivation being service and how I could help others. I think the answer was with me all along in finding elder law and estate plan, primarily elder law. When I grew up, my mom and dad both worked and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, particularly my grandmas. My one grandpa had died before I was born and the other one died when I was pretty young. But particularly my mom’s mom, Louise, I spent so much time with her and I just really loved and cherished that time. I thought, what a better way to sort of, I don’t know, tap into the core of what motivates me and honor her yeah than to go into this area. So that’s how I got there and also I realized that it is kind of, for the most part, a practice area that’s on a flexible schedule let’s say. There’s not too many elder law emergencies and the elder law emergencies are usually measured in days or weeks and not hours and minutes.
Adriana Linares: That’s amazing. Well, let’s take a quick break, listen to some messages from some sponsors. I’m going to come back and ask you about how you ended up deciding infrastructure whether you’re going to work from home, which sounds impossible with three children sometimes. We can get down to some of the nitty gritty in our next segment.
Adriana Linares: I was reading Clio’s Legal Trends for Solo Law Firms recently and was surprised, or maybe not so surprised to see that 52% of non-Solos are still not taking online payments. I’ve asked Joshua Lennon, Clio’s lawyer in residence, to hop on here and help me understand what could be the hold up. Hi, Josh.
Joshua Lennon: Hi, Adriana. You’re right. Solos are actually taking the lead. They are 58% more likely to be using an online payment solution and this lines up with what clients prefer, 66% of them prefer to pay for legal services online. So non-Solos are falling behind.
Adriana Linares: Well, this makes perfect sense to me even I don’t want to write checks anymore. So to learn more about how Clio can improve your payment process, be sure to download Clio’s Legal Trends for Solo Law Firms for free at clio.com/solo and that’s C-L-I-O.com/solo.
Adriana Linares: All right and we’re back. I’m here with Andrew Schierberg, who’s telling us about how he decided to launch his practice. In the first segment, we heard, finally unveiled the practice area elder law. And so, Andrew, it sounds like you had been doing some prep work, listening to some podcasts, probably doing some research. So as you sat down to launch, did you have a business plan?
Andrew Schierberg: It was a rough business plan, but I did have a business plan.
Adriana Linares: Like, you wrote it down business plan for my law firm? All cap centered, underlined?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah like a two pager. Probably wasn’t as thorough as it needed to be, but I knew going into it, I wanted it to be a holistic practice. I didn’t want to just be transactional, do some documents and kind of, for lack of a better way to put it, kick people to the curb. I really wanted to spend some time with my clients, build that relationship. From a practical standpoint, I knew I was going to need office space, just with the generation of clients that I’m helping. Many of them are okay with virtual meetings, but many more of them want in-person, face-to-face. So I did decide I needed a physical office. I tell people sometimes I feel like I kind of cheated at starting this practice because, number one, I’ve got a pension to rely on, so I don’t have the worry that so many attorneys have about just, am I going to make any money? Yes. I want to make money with my law practice, and my pension doesn’t cover everything, but I have a little cushion. I also looked out because my wife’s cousins are attorneys who had some extra space in their office. That worked out perfect, so I share space with them and another attorney that moved in right around the same time, so that’s been good. Helps with just some practical things, like when we’re signing wills and need witnesses and notaries and things like that. So physical office for me, but I do work from home sometimes. I try to be pretty flexible with my schedule, and if I look at my calendar and I don’t have client meetings that day in-person, then I’ll work from home when maybe the kids are in school. It gets real noisy when they’re not.
Adriana Linares: Right. Do you have an assistant?
Andrew Schierberg: I don’t.
Adriana Linares: Tell us more.
Andrew Schierberg: So I’m hiring right now.
Adriana Linares: Okay.
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah, actually, I have a really, I think, awesome candidate who I’m probably going to hire next week. So I do have somebody on my team. I mentioned before practicing holistically. When I was doing my research to start the practice, I discovered something called the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association. It was started by Tim Takacs. He’s out of Nashville. Hendersonville, Tennessee, suburbs of Nashville. Tim started this way of practicing years ago, but essentially my first hire was actually a care coordinator. So when we work with our clients, we don’t just do will trust, power of attorney, things like that. We do those things. But Suzanne, my care coordinator, actually helps them to whether they need to find a new place to live if they’re moving from maybe their home, assisted living or a nursing home.
Adriana Linares: No kidding, like, you are a trusted advisor from A to Z.
Andrew Schierberg: That’s our goal. Our relationships go on for a year, so we stay with our clients for a full year from when they sign up, and they have a renewal option at the end of that year. Most of the time, the renewal more is to do with Suzanne’s work than my work, but they have access to us for as long as they want.
Adriana Linares: So do you have a subscription plan?
Andrew Schierberg: It’s essentially a subscription plan, so it’s flat fee for that first year and then there’s a renewal flat fee every year if they want to continue on.
Adriana Linares: How did you decide to go with that angle instead of the typical hourly rate or –?
Andrew Schierberg: Honestly, it was two things. Number one, I think flat fee just works better for people. It works better for the firm, works better for the clients. The sort of subscription part of that is just part of what the way that the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association and the way all the firms that are members work.
Adriana Linares: Very cool.
Andrew Schierberg: Because there really is value in that trusted advisor sticking with our clients. They’re going through something. Most of the families we work with are going through something they’ve never gone through in their life and it’s confusing. It’s overwhelming. You have adult caregiver children who have full-time jobs that are trying to manage how do I know to trust this assisted living facility? How do I know what’s going on with mom when she’s there? What questions do I ask? All those kind of things that are not really the legal questions, but we want to be that sort of one stop shop for them.
Adriana Linares: Tell me the name of the organization again.
Andrew Schierberg: Life Care Planning Law Firms Association, LCPLFA.
Adriana Linares: So when you learned about that organization, obviously from a website, but then just curious, did you travel to any seminars, webinars, conferences and just get so fired up learning how this was a successful model? I always want to encourage people to get out and go to conferences because I think they can be so helpful. Was it something like that or did you do everything online?
Andrew Schierberg: No, it started online. They have a video series that when you become a member. It’s kind of the first intro so I did the video series. I will say I regret not going to the conference that first year. I should have gone to the conference that first year. It would have set me up, I think for just a better start to things had I done that. I did go this year and this year they did like an unprogrammed so it was all sort of user generated sessions.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, those are hard to put together.
Andrew Schierberg: They did a great job with it. Some sessions were better attended than others. But the cool thing was too that sessions could sort of happen on the fly. So we’d be talking about stuff and they’re like “hey, this issues come up, so we’re going to do a session on that this afternoon.” I met tons of contacts there. I met Tim Takacs who’s the guy who sort of started this all, which really led to just a good relationship, I think. I actually was just on Monday and Tuesday this week, myself and my care coordinator spent the two days at their firm in Nashville just shadowing them and seeing how they operate. It was awesome, awesome experience.
Adriana Linares: You are a lifelong learner. I can tell you’re one of these. I sit next to one of those all day. Okay, so you’ve got your law firm, you’ve got a good model.
You decide to get an office, which I think is a tough choice for people a lot of times today because it’s an overhead cost that some people don’t want to spend. But you made the right decision on that, sounds like. What about your infrastructure as far as technology ology? Are you a Mac? Are you a PC? What kind of software did you end up getting?
Andrew Schierberg: You know what I feel like every time I answer a question, I’m like, “this has a backstory.” I am typically a Mac person. I’ve had Macs my whole life, and I just think they’re awesome and reliable and last forever, whatever. In my journey to my current practice management software, which is my case, I took a trip through Action Step, which their plugin did not work on Mac. So I made the switch to I have Microsoft Surface. We all have Surface laptops. The laptop, not the tablet. I’m happy with it. The Windows machines have been great, and I particularly like the Surface line, but it was an adjustment. Also, Suzanne and I would say this if she was here, but Suzanne, technology is not her strong suit, and she’d never worked on Mac. So when I gave her a Mac, initially, she was like, “what is this thing?” So I thought, let’s stick with the familiar. Just going to be more efficient for us all.
Adriana Linares: So when people call me and they want to switch usually from a PC to a Mac, which you did the opposite. Interestingly, my boyfriend did the same thing. He was a huge Mac lover, but he wanted software that was really optimized for PCs. Anyway, all that to say, I never encourage making the switch unless you have the time to train yourself, or it’s really hard. People say, I just had a call a couple of days ago with somebody who said, “I almost got a Mac.” I said, “Oh, let me guess, because your college student said, get a Mac, they’re easier”. And she was like, “Exactly”. I said, “
I know”, and she said she’s so glad she didn’t because it would have been hard.
Okay, so you decided to go with PCs and Actionstep didn’t work out. You went with my case. And then I’m really impressed with the improvements that my case or the additions that my case has made to their software lately with accounting built in and stuff. So you’re happy with my case?
Andrew Schierberg: I am, yeah. And you know what truly drew me there was they do have some sort of lead management built in.
Adriana Linares: Um-hmm. They do.
Andrew Schierberg: Now, which it is enough for me right now. As I grow, I’ll probably have to look towards something a little more robust, but for now, it works. And it’s a reasonable subscription to get that all included. The Actionstep thing, the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association, there’s a firm that’s made a plugin for that that has sort of built in workflows, and they did a fantastic job with that. I kind of thought, like, well, I can get a leg up and buy this plugin. And what I found is, having not created those workflows myself, they were someone else’s. They didn’t work for me. They were also designed for a little bit larger firm.
Adriana Linares: Got you.
Andrew Schierberg: Anyway, so I reconsidered, and I’ve been happy with my case (00:22:56) for now.
Adriana Linares: That’s great. I think it’s important for people to hear that. It’s okay to change your mind about your technology or your software and leave one and go to another.
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah. I’m glad I made the decision early. That was helpful. I didn’t have a lot of data that needed to be migrated over, but yeah, I think the whole idea of sunk cost and well, I’ve already spent all this time on this, I’m just going to stick with it. Just not good.
Adriana Linares: Not good. Well, great. What other important pieces of technology services, programs have you gotten into that you would suggest others consider as well?
Andrew Schierberg: One of the things that I have to think about being a really small office right now is just efficiency. So I use ElderCounsel for drafting, and recently I think they’re a newer company. There’s a company, it’s called DecisionVault that has client intake forms, basically, and it interfaces with my case and with ElderCounsel. So now, for my clients who are fine with technology, I can email them a questionnaire. My sort of intake process is they get this emailed questionnaire along with my Calendly link. So I ask them to fill out the questionnaire, submit that, and then schedule your follow up appointment. So just fewer touch points lets me not have to answer the phone as much.
And then once they move from being a potential client to a client, I can import their information very quickly from DecisionVault into my case, an ElderCounsel and I have to retype things and worry about typos and just that data entry time, that’s been pretty important to me. TextExpander has been phenomenal.
Adriana Linares: A living dye (00:24:28).
Andrew Schierberg: Oh my gosh.
Adriana Linares: I’s my writer dye.
Andrew Schierberg: And I think my tip on that is something like that can seem like really overwhelming you’re like, “I’ve got to write all these clauses, I’ve got to do all this stuff”. I’m doing it as I go. So anytime that I come across something where I’m like, I feel like I’m typing this a lot, I stop myself, I open up TextExpander, I create a snippet and then I use it. And to me, that’s a good way to just build it kind of as you’re going.
Adriana Linares: Yeah. I totally agree. If you’re new here and you’ve not heard me expound the virtues of TextExpander, it’s basically a text expansion library where you can drop your most frequently typed terms, abbreviations, paragraphs, clauses, certificates of service.
But I’ll say I also just store things in there that maybe I don’t use all the time, but I use enough that I would have ended up going back to an email or another contract to find. So I actually use it even as a rarely used but I know where it is storage location.
Two quick things that I wanted, I wrote down real quick while you were talking because I didn’t want to interrupt you, and I’m an interrupter. I like the way you try to reduce administrative touch points. You just said “We wanted to reduce touch points”, but you don’t do that by having someone like a care coordinator and you’re hiring an assistant to make sure that the important touch points are not just overseen. It sounds like you have found a balance between where to use technology to make things more efficient for everyone, but you also recognize the importance of that human touch and creating those relationships with your clients.
Andrew Schierberg: I think it’s critical. As you said, there are certain things that just shouldn’t be automated. And those things, we want that personal touch. Our clients, especially many of our clients who are older, really appreciate that. That’s really critical to them. But yeah, on the other stuff we got to be efficient.
Adriana Linares: And there are certain things where there shouldn’t be human involvement too much, and that’s like creating an appointment. So you use Calendly and then the last thing I just wanted to mention is kind of Calendly wise in my case is did you purposefully or did you just accidentally pick and find programs that integrate with each other? Because that’s obviously something I always tell everybody to do, is everything needs to talk to the other things that you’re using. So between a Calendly, in my case, not Docketwise, DecisionVault. So are you finding that creating those interlocking points software that integrates with itself is just tell everybody how important that is? That’s what I’m trying to —
Andrew Schierberg: Oh yeah. It’s huge because, again, you think about it’s, not a ton of time, I guess, in each individual case. But when you add it up across cases, the fact that I can send a client a questionnaire, they can fill that information out. And I instantly now have that in my drafting software. And in my case, that’s huge for us. And it’s not just for me, but for instance, with DecisionVault and Elder Law, we have contact with a lot of our clients, adult children, and sometimes we need to reach out to them. Well, if they put their information in DecisionVault, it goes into my case. Now my care coordinator has it right away without having to say, “Hey, how do I get a hold of their kid?” We just — the time and the efficiency and it truly ends up allowing us to serve our clients better.
Adriana Linares: I love it. Well, let’s take a last break from our sponsors. Going to come back. I’m going to ask you about lessons learned. And I also want to know, do you feel that having had that first career made you a smarter entrepreneur in launching this law firm. We’ll be right back. I’m going to ask you about that.
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Okay. We’re back with Andrew. And Andrew, the last couple of things I want to ask you about. So you had this first career, and I love talking to people who are using the law practice as a second career. Do you think having had all that real life experience made you a smarter entrepreneur in launching your law firm or was it just different? I mean, you had some experience speckled in there, but how did that encourage you or affect your decision making? And how does it still affect you now, just a couple of years later?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah. I think it helped. The police chief time in particular, I had a budget. I had a staff of 15. I had experience of managing things even though the taxpayers were compelled to pay my salary. The rest it I had to manage a budget. I had to pick software and all that kind of stuff.
Adriana Linares: Oh, yes. So you had all the right background?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah, that really helped. And I’ll tell you, off of the business side, just onto this area of practice, as a police officer, you deal with death fair amount. And it makes it a lot easier to have those conversations with families. I’ve been the person to literally be the first person to tell a family that their loved one has died. And when you’ve done that, talking about the things that you need to do to plan for that, I think it has a little more authority for one. But I also am just not afraid to have those conversations because I know how important they are. So, yeah, that career has helped in numerous ways.
Adriana Linares: Gosh, it sure sounds like it. That’s pretty interesting. So what were some mistakes that you’ve made? Certainly, you didn’t do everything perfectly.
Andrew Schierberg: No, I have not. I think for one was practice management. I think if I’d have settled on something on my case or whatever a little earlier that made more sense for me, that would have been smart. Right now, I will tell you that not hiring this legal assistant sooner is a mistake. I should have really started that process about a month earlier than I did because I’ve gotten a little behind on work. And so there’s the stress of being behind and trying to get someone hired and then the stress of thinking, I’ve got to get that person trained. So I think that would be a big thing.
Adriana Linares: Wait, can I ask you, when did you decide or how did you figure out it was the time to hire someone?
Andrew Schierberg: I started to look at what I was doing and I’ll tell you, I can think of the thing that did it for me was I was preparing —
Adriana Linares: The actual straw?
Andrew Schierberg: It was the actual straw. So I was sitting down one day and I was preparing draft estate planning documents to mail out to a client and just the process of downloading them from ElderCounsel, getting the formatting right, which isn’t a huge amount of time, printing them, putting them in an envelope, printing the postage. And I looked down and like 45minutes of my day had gone by. I’m like, I don’t need to be doing this because to be honest, I haven’t done a great job with social media content and that kind of stuff. I need to be doing that more. I could have been using that time for that. There’s so many different things I could have been using that time for and I just thought, okay.
And then the other thing is, I’m not great at taking notes in my meetings with clients, and I thought it’d be nice to have somebody else there where I can sort of have the eye contact, the relationship, and express the empathy I want to show to my clients without my face buried in my iPad, taking some notes. So combination of things, but I realized it was time. And truthfully, there’s so much advice that I’ve heard through your podcast and others of hire. The only way you’re going to grow and build your firm is to hire because there’s only so much you can do as one person. So yeah, I think all of that sort of made me say it’s time, it’s past time, let’s get this done.
Adriana Linares: So a couple of times you said like your podcast and others and I think you are hesitant to mention other podcasts, but I love hearing and I know my listeners do too about other resources that were helpful to you. Can you think of any others that you would recommend attorneys starting a new law practice or even trying to make their old law practice better should listen to?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah. I think start with yours. And that’s truly it is. I’m not saying that just because I’m here right now.
Adriana Linares: No, it’s an obvious first choice.
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah, yours is really where I did start and what got me down the road on the business side of law. I think the Maximum Lawyer podcast has been a really huge for me and just being a better business owner and probably a lot about niching down there too. I think that message is repeated on yours and theirs. I’ve listened to Ernie Spencer’s podcast, which is now the 80/20 principal law entrepreneur. It’s an estate planning attorney out of Maryland. Lunch Hour legal marketing. I know you’ve had Connie and Gee eon your show before and it hasn’t just helped in terms of what’s said on the podcast, but it’s led to me hiring others too. You had Peggy Gruenke from CPN Legal. She’s in my backyard and I didn’t even know they existed until I heard about it on the podcast and I hired them to set up my QuickBooks and help me through some of that kind of stuff.
So I think listening to a good variety of things is awesome. Most people have some kind of commute or some downtime and that’s what I did. I mean, literally, I started — I listened to yours. As a chief of a small police agency. Not all of my time was in the office. I went out patrolling. So as I was patrolling, I’d have new solo playing as I rooming around the streets.
Adriana Linares: No kidding. That’s cool.
Andrew Schierberg: You soak it all in. It was funny. I was thinking about things as I prepared for today, and I was trying to think of, like, is there one thing I can say that I got from this podcast or any podcast? And I think because I just made such a habit of listening and just learning and trying to learn, it’s all kind of mixed together as to where I learned it. I just know that it’s the backbone of what I’m doing now.
Adriana Linares: Oh, that’s awesome.
Andrew Schierberg: It’s so awesome that you all are so generous with your time and bring on these guests and share your wisdom, because for someone like me, I had the base. But man, I’ve learned so much.
Adriana Linares: That’s wonderful to hear. And I would hope that maybe messages were consistent across experts talking so that we’re all saying, you have to have practice management doesn’t matter which one, find one. So that’s pretty cool. So I said to you, what did you not do right? You said a couple of things. What would you say two or three things to someone launching that is just total wins? Like, you can’t go wrong if you do these things.
Andrew Schierberg: I think the first thing, and you hear this all the time, is finding a niche I just can’t imagine, and trying to practice door law or whatever you want to call it, my mind is not made that way. And in fact, after I went to the recent conference with the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association, I’m seriously considering taking estate planning out of my name and just focusing on Elder Law. I’ll do some estate planning if it comes along, but I’m thinking about niching down even further.
One of the things I think is important too, is reach out for help when you need it, and don’t be afraid to reach out to vendors. I recently realized I was doing my own GoogleAds, so my pay per click was all me. And I thought I was spending not a ton of money, but I thought I should make sure I’m spending this wisely. So I reached out to a couple of different agencies. One of them AttorneySync — I’ll throw it out there if it’s okay. I’ll throw it out there.
Adriana Linares: Yes, please.
Andrew Schierberg: But they do some subscription.
Adriana Linares: That’s Gyi’s company. I had Gyi on — let me just say real quick, Gyi was the January episode, I think, of New Solo, and we talked about the importance of GoogleMy Business, which is now Google Business Profiles. But yes, definitely mentioned names. It’s okay, so you reached out to Gyi and his people at AttorneySync.
Andrew Schierberg: And the great thing was they were able to do some project based work. So I wasn’t spending enough on my Google pay per click right now to hire them to manage it monthly, but they were able to go through it and say, “Hey, you should make these changes to make it more effective. CPN, when I hired them, it wasn’t like I’m not on an ongoing basis with them right now. It was set up my QuickBooks, make sure that I hired them after I’ve been practicing part time for a bit, make sure what I did already is okay and let me know what I need to do moving forward.
So I think don’t be afraid to reach out. You might find out that somebody’s not a good fit, but you might find that there is a company that is a good fit for you. And that’s what I’ve found managing your schedule, that’s the thing I’m trying to learn now. I need to make sure that I have days. It’s easy with Calendly to just be like, just follow my link and you got to make sure you set that up really well. I’m going to start doing a day that’s protected for just work. So I’m not going to allow client meetings on Thursdays. I think, moving forward, just so I can get the drafting done, focus on personal development, catch up on the email lists that come in and all the things I need to learn and keep an eye on. So I think those are the big things for me. I mean, leveraging technology effectively, we’ve kind oftalked about that, but I think that’s huge.
Adriana Linares: Well, that’s what I’m all about. But one more thing I want to ask you before I let you go because you just reminded me of it. The name of your law firm is?
Andrew Schierberg: Stages, Elder Law and Estate Planning.
Adriana Linares: Okay. So number one, your state allows you to have a type of name that isn’t just your last name because your last name is not Stages.
Andrew Schierberg: Yes, they no longer disallow it. They don’t explicitly allow it anywhere, but they got rid of the explicit language and the ethics rules that disallowed it.
Adriana Linares: So I think that’s a great tip right there, which is figure out what your state allows or doesn’t necessarily disallow. And if you want to have a creative law firm name, you might be able to. And then I kind of think I understand why it’s called Stages, but do you want to explain to us how you got to that name?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah. The tagline was your lawyer for life’s important stages. I think we’re going to change that a little bit again after that last conference. We’re going to change it to be like your Advocates for Life’s Important Stages because it’s not with your lawyer. It’s your whole team that we have here. And my last name is hard to spell. So instead of having to do Schierberg Law, very smart Stages, I have Stages Law as my website, so a very short website, the Dot Law, confuses people every once in a while, but honestly, it really hasn’t been that big of a deal.
Adriana Linares: And people are going to get more familiar with it. But I love the Dot Laws. I don’t think you have to have it, but if it’s available and I think they’re a little more expensive, I just think it makes it I always say make it easy to remember. Make it easy to spell. I think I’ve told the story about an attorney who had a hard to spell last name.
And environmental law, which is sorry – environmental is hard for anybody to spell. And so did not take our advice when I said — we said this was me and Liz were helping him, my partner Liz. And anyway, a couple weeks later he came back. He goes, you were right, I should have gone with something shorter and easier to spell. So I think that’s always really important. Awesome. Well, Andrew Schierberg, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story and helping everyone out. I know listeners very much appreciate hearing from other attorneys who have successfully launched. So it’s stages.law to learn about you and your website. Do you have any social media sites or any other resources you want to make sure and share with everybody in case they want to reach out?
Andrew Schierberg: Yeah. I am on Facebook. I’m on Twitter. I’m not really active on there. I’m on LinkedIn under my name, but Stages is also on LinkedIn as well.
Adriana Linares: And your last name is spelled S-C-H-I-E-R-B-E-R-G? In case anyone wants to google you. Andrew, thank you so much. And thank you so much for your public service all those years. I can’t imagine how challenging and hard that must have been at times, but it sounds like it was a really integral part of not just who you are today, but the business that you’re building today. And that’s really cool. Thank you.
Andrew Schierberg: Thank you, and thank you so much for having me today, but also for everything you do with this podcast. I really, sincerely appreciate it.
Adriana Linares: I appreciate that. It means a lot. Well, everyone, thanks for listening to another episode of New Solo. I hope you found it as inspirational as I did and that you’re going to be back next month for another episode. If you like what you’ve heard today, make sure you share New Solo with other attorneys who might find it interesting. And if you’ve got a minute, open up your iPod no, sorry, your iPad or your iPhone and give us a five-star rating on Apple podcast. It really helps. See you next time.