Michael Chasin is CEO of Lexicata, a CRM and client intake software designed to help law firms and lawyers...
Christopher T. Anderson has authored numerous articles and speaks on a wide range of topics, including law firm management,...
Everybody hates those merciless sales emails that fill up your already packed inbox, but marketing via emails and phone calls is an important part of bringing clients through the door. As the owner of a legal business, what’s the best way to balance selling your services and being a lawyer? In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, host Chris Anderson talks to Michael Chasin about what lawyers should be doing to turn leads into clients. They discuss how important it is to create internal processes to handle incoming clients and provide them with the best legal experience possible in order to keep them coming back.
Michael Chasin is CEO of Lexicata, a CRM and client intake software designed to help law firms and lawyers increase client satisfaction.
The Un-Billable Hour
Lead Conversion for Attorneys
Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable. Welcome to this edition of ‘The Un-Billable Hour’, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. This is where you will get the information you need from expert guests and host Christopher Anderson here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher Anderson: Welcome to ‘The Un-Billable Hour’, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast helping attorneys achieve more success. We’re glad you can listen today on the Legal Talk Network.
I am your host, Christopher Anderson and I am an attorney with a singular passion for helping other lawyers be more successful with their law firm businesses. My team at How to MANAGE a Small Law Firm and I work directly with lawyers across the country to help them achieve success as they define it.
In ‘The Un-Billable Hour’ each month we explore an area important to growing revenues, giving you back more of your time and/or improving your professional satisfaction in one of the key areas of your business.
I start with the fundamental premise that a law firm business exists primarily to provide for the financial, personal and professional needs of you, its owner.
In this program, I have a chance to speak to you, as I do in presentations across the country about what it takes to build and operate your law firm like the business that it is. I have a chance to introduce you to a new guest each month to talk about how to make that business work for you instead of the other way around.
But before we get started today, I do want to say a thank you to our sponsors Answer1, Solo Practice University and Scorpion.
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Today’s episode of ‘The Un-Billable Hour’ is mining your clients. One of the topics I cover is marketing, and marketing is the lifeblood of any business, and particularly of law firms, that lawyers have many misconceptions about marketing and very many misuses of the very valuable things that they get out of marketing, which are of course leads.
And today’s guest is Michael Chasin. Michael is the President CEO of Lexicata, a firm that helps law firms to manage their leads from beginning, all the way to becoming clients and let me let Michael tell you a little bit more about that. So let’s get started with mining your clients. Welcome Michael.
Michael Chasin: Hi. Thanks for having me Christopher.
Christopher Anderson: First of all, I’m really bad with introductions so I made it really brief. So if you don’t mind, if you run a business called Lexicata, I think some of my listeners know about it, some of them don’t, would you just tell a little bit about what Lexicata does.
Michael Chasin: Yeah, so essentially what we are is the leader in the space when it comes to tracking your leads and managing your professional relationships. So a lot of people like to think about us is kind of like a pre-case management software, so those guys typically handle the time after a case is assigned, right actually managing the matter. Lexicata basically handles the part leading up to that case, so from the time you’re first introduced to a client, to the time that you actually retain them.
So that entire process that can sometimes be years, sometimes be hours, sometimes weeks or days, we basically manage that process and help them streamline their intake process.
Christopher Anderson: Right. Now we’re recording this at the Clio Cloud Conference, I’ve seen you at ABA TECHSHOW, I’ve seen you at lots of different conferences, and one thing we both see is when we go to these things, there are a lot of people selling marketing, right, selling pay-per-click, selling social media, selling SEO, doing things to help people get more leads and lawyers are all excited about always getting more leads. But when we were talking about what we’re going to talk about today, we were discussing how really they’re missing the point, right and that they’re wasting these valuable resources that they get.
So I wanted to start our conversation today about their pipeline, about what lawyers really should be doing with these incoming leads that most of them aren’t doing today.
Michael Chasin: Yeah I think you are 100% accurate, most people really spend their time trying to bring in more clients, but the fact of the matter is for most firms based on referrals, marketing, word of mouth, whoever maybe, personal connections, most people really do have enough leads in their funnel and we can talk about a little bit more what a funnel is.
Most people have enough leads in their funnel to build and grow a successful practice. The problem is most people do not have any kind of significant process and pace to manage these leads. So what ends up happening is they come in the door, they talk to the attorney and then the attorney basically says, okay, if you want to hire me, come back, and it’s pretty not sophisticated process to do that, right.
If you were in any other industry, there’s no way that you would survive as a business relying on that as your sales process. So one of the things that we really stress at Lexicata, and just generally from a consultative point of view for our attorneys is, whatever it may be using technology, using paper, using Excel, whatever system you want to use, create some sort of internal process for you, your employees in your practice to basically understand what is happening once a lead comes in, what’s going to happen, right.
Is your process different, if it’s a client who does a consult versus doesn’t do a consult, in-person versus out of office, most people just kind of fly by the seam of the pants. So I think having a process in place is the number one thing that most people do not have.
Christopher Anderson: Yeah and I think that you mentioned one thing, I haven’t heard earlier today that one of the reasons, one of the biggest reasons that clients don’t hire lawyers is they don’t call them back ever. I mean that was just unbelievable to me, but so and then what you’re talking about is they may call them back, they may speak to them once but they have no procedure for follow-up. How does a lawyer really correct for those two separate things?
Michael Chasin: So I think honestly what they have to do is do two things. One, they have to stop looking themselves solely as a lawyer and start thinking about themselves as a little bit of salespeople, right. Whether you’re providing professional services to a client or not, you still have to sell the professional services. So a lot of people miss that part and they don’t really understand that they have to look at things as salespeople.
And then I think it’s also just following up that that follow-up procedure, understanding I had someone come by our booth a couple of minutes ago, they said, I’ve been doing this for four years. I’m just starting to hit my growth phase. And they said, I need more leads or else your software isn’t that valuable to me.
I said how many leads you’re getting on a weekly basis? She said, literally 25 leads a weak. And I said, you have literally probably five times more leads than you’ll ever need with you as like a couple lawyer firm, you need to figure out what you do and I asked her what she does and she literally exactly what you just said, she basically does a consultation and says, if they want to hire me, great. If not, they come back on their own.
You mentioned the Clio Cloud Conference, a really interesting study that I would encourage every single person to go look at, if you just Google ABA Study on Client Intake. It’s really interesting about a year ago, they did a really in-depth study where they basically did like fake intakes for hundreds of firms around the country and they found out that the average response time on an email or on a message through a website or a voicemail the firm, was three days.
Christopher Anderson: Wow.
Michael Chasin: Three days, it took someone. Imagine if you walked in an Apple Store and said I want to buy a computer today and they said, I’ll call you back in three days, what would you do, you’d go to Microsoft and buy a computer that day because it’s just not worth it, right.
So I think people really need to understand that the bar is set very low, pun intended, the bar is very low in the industry when it comes to sales. All you have to do is not suck and you’ll be in good shape.
Christopher Anderson: Yeah, it’s like you don’t have to be the fastest deer in the herd, you just have to be faster than the slowest deer, right, to not get eaten.
Michael Chasin: Exactly.
Christopher Anderson: And your analogies actually, it’s worse than your analogy because in your Apple Store, they said we’ll call you back in three days. In this case, the client doesn’t know if they’re going to get a callback at all. There’s no promise, there’s no guarantee, they are just not getting the call.
So here we had the leads in the pipeline and they are not getting the calls back. Obviously, the solution there is to have a system to return calls whether it’s you, the lawyer or someone else but someone needs to be returning it.
What’s more troublesome though is what you were saying about the lawyer who was meeting with people and if they hired him, great and if they didn’t, they didn’t. And maybe they’d come back, maybe they wouldn’t. What can a lawyer — like what is the system that a lawyer should follow, when a client doesn’t hire?
Michael Chasin: So I think it kind of largely depends on practice area, right. If you’re a transactional firm, then you can do — it can be a longer sales cycle like, let me give you like two examples. Example number one would be like a criminal defense attorney, right, if you’re let’s say in a DUI case and for most states, you have to file some sort of injunction within the first 10 days to basically allow the person to keep their license.
And if they don’t do that in the first 10 days, the DMV automatically suspends their license. So there’s very much of a quick like, oh crud, I need to get this done immediately, right. So for a law firm that’s doing DUI firm, if someone does in, comes in on day three of that timeframe, they better attack hard over those next seven days and once they pass the seven days, maybe they don’t need a follow-up so much.
Christopher Anderson: Right, right.
Michael Chasin: Now if you’re doing estate planning firm, most people are like a 6-12 month sales process for that, right. It takes a long time and the person who came by the booth was actually an estate planning attorney, right. And so, for those types of people what I recommend doing is first off, acknowledging and knowing like what kind of practice area you’re dealing with and what your typical sales cycle looks like. Is it a longer or short sales cycle?
Christopher Anderson: Right.
Michael Chasin: If it’s a long sales cycle, you have to also kind of consider like what your clients want, right. Do they with the legal trends report they were talking about like Millennials and people under 35, like 60% of them want to be contacted via email or text, whereas if you’re over 50, like 80% wanted phone.
So I think having understanding how you should be attacking the leads and in what manner so I think the frequency of follow-up I think is a big thing that people should focus on. Maybe send an email once every three months or something, right, you don’t want to be too salesy, perhaps if it’s an estate planning they are just not there yet.
But I think really it comes down to them, like I said at the beginning, coming up with a procedure that works for themselves. Sometimes people are really busy and they don’t really want to grow their practice that hard, so maybe you don’t attack the sale too much, you basically only take the clients who want to come to you.
But I think the biggest thing to focus on is building a workflow in place so your employees if you have them understand what to do and what the process looks like.
Christopher Anderson: Right and then what I think is really interesting like you made it very clear, that there is no single solution for this, it’s depended on your practice areas, probably depended on the age and sophistication of your clients. It’s dependent on your geographical area. Some geos might — some people in San Francisco might expect a different approach than somebody in Des Moines. Like, you have the — the lawyer will know that, and then, so they should work to build procedures that match what they are talking about.
One thing I wanted to follow up on with that was you were talking about the follow-up for let’s say estate planning would be long, but follow-up for criminal would be short, because the shelf life goes down, but what happens when the client just makes a decision like you shouldn’t keep following up as if they say I’m not hiring you. What can people do about that? What’s a procedure that can recapture some of those leads?
Michael Chasin: So I think — I think a lot of lawyers struggle with utilizing this and like most SaaS company is like a software company like Lexicata or Clio or something like that, do a really good job of its content marketing. I think a lot of lawyers — when I when I talk about, okay, when you build out your Lexicata account you can build in some email marketing, and I get a very frequent response, which is, oh I don’t want to do marketing, I don’t want to sound salesy. But there are ways to market still provide value to the client, enhance your brand and bring them back without being salesy, right?
So for instance someone comes to Lexicata, they are not ready to use intake just because maybe they have zero volume, they literally just started their practice. So what do we do? We’re not going to try to sell them on something that they are not going to need right now, because it’s just a waste of time and we’re going to lose — they are going to lose the relationship because they are going to looking at us as just sales people.
So what we will do instead is throw them into like a drip marketing campaign solely cater to content. Three mistakes that you’re making in the intake process, five ways to grow your practice without spending more money, two things you should be doing in an intake that you’re not doing right now. Those types of things, because then when they look at it, they look at us more as consultants that really understand what their needs are and not only that but they look like we have their back.
And so for you as a lawyer as like an estate planning attorney for example, you can send them something two months in that says like, what the downfalls is of waiting too long to get your will, right. It’s a little salesy but it’s more content, or you might say like a case study of a client who waited too long or something like that.
So there are a million ways to estate planning. Then you could go for criminal offense, like what happens if you don’t hire a lawyer in the first ten days after a DUI, it’s no longer saying hire me, it’s just saying hire a lawyer and I just happened to be the one that you’re talking to. So again, you can do a lot of content strategies.
Christopher Anderson: And I think that the key to this, like I am really shocked we were saying about the one lawyer who said well, you would say one example of somebody who might not need as many cases as they are not trying to grow fast, but leads cost money, right? Each one of these leads you should — if you don’t as much, many new clients get fewer leads, but maximize the ones you have got, right, and choose to keep the best ones, and but, if you don’t have a system — I think it’s what I’m hearing you say that you don’t know what’s happening to them at all?
Michael Chasin: Yeah, and I think a lot of people look at like — a lot of people might be listening and saying this, oh well, I don’t buy leads online, so this isn’t relevant to me, but your professional relationships and your personal relationships whoever send you leads if you do not give a 100% amazing experience to those people, even the ones that don’t hire you that affects your clout with those people.
And you know what, like if I send a lead to someone, like for instance, this happened to me about six months ago, I sent a business lead to someone who want to start a business to an attorney friend of mine. And basically I asked them two months later, I said hey, whatever happened to that person. They are like, I don’t know. I am like what do you mean you don’t know, it be like did they not hire you, he is like — well, I sent them an email and I never heard back, and I just never followed up.
And I am thinking in my head, okay, fine, maybe he wasn’t that interested, but two, you clearly didn’t — that didn’t reflect that well on me, because I basically sent someone who didn’t really care about them in the first place and was just looking for a quick buck.
So I think it’s understanding that even if you’re not buying leads online everything affects your clout in the industry, in your relationships, in your friendships, whatever it maybe, and having a process not only hurts yourself but it hurts the people who are referring things to you as well.
Christopher Anderson: Got it. So we’re going to take a break here. When we come back we’re going to talk to Michael Chasin about what to do to mine the contacts and the leads and the people that you already have, and we will be back in just a moment.
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Christopher Anderson: So we’re back with Michael Chasin of Lexicata. We have been talking about how to maximize leads by having procedures and systems in place to make sure you’re following up with them, make sure that you’re capturing them, make sure that you’re maximizing the leads that come through the funnel that you have created. We will talk about a funnel in a minute.
But what I wanted to do now is shift our conversation a little bit and talk to Michael about the leads you already have. In other words, the people who know you, like you and trust you already, who you have in your list, who you have as former clients, you have as current clients or you have as people that just know about your business. Michael, what are lawyers not doing about them?
Michael Chasin: I think lawyers are not categorizing their leads, not only their leads, but their professional relationships as well. I think a lot of people when they are in the door to Lexicata for the first time and they want to import their list of contacts, right? They usually have one of two things, either have just like that Word document with a ton of names in it which is about as worthless as it can get, or they have a spreadsheet that they have been keeping track of, which is the most common thing. I think that ABA study said something like 50% of people are not tracking leads at all, 25% are using Excel and the other 25 are using some other hodgepodge of different things.
So for the people who are using Excel or just putting it down on paper like Rolodex type of thing business cards, they have — they are not doing two things; one, they are not tracking their relationship from the perspective of how do you know them, what if your interactions been and what has happened in the past and, two, they are not tagging them in any kind of data-driven way, right?
So legal trends report is all about data and how important that is and I even wrote an article for the ABA about a year ago on how on — the number one thing that lawyers are not focusing on which is data and how it can impact their practice. So what I mean by data is not necessarily like what percentage of leads are hiring me, even though those types of things are important, I’m talking about being able to tell a computer filter my results, right?
If you want to tell Google like filter my results based on or like you go to Amazon, you’re like, I want to find shelves, you can filter based on price, you can filter based on reviews, all that type of thing, why, because they have been categorizing every single like category.
So what we allow you to do in our — in Lexicata, and you can even do this in a spreadsheet, it doesn’t matter, you will have to be using our software, but what you can do is you could basically tag people, and what a tag is, is basically a label that you can apply to someone, almost like a characteristics.
So for instance, I might say Christopher Anderson, he is a legal tech, might be a tag, or I might tag him as coach or consultant or something like that, or I might take a lawyer and tag them with their practice areas, because what can I do with that then I can filter based on practice areas or type of person.
So when someone comes to my practice and says, hey, I want to be referred to a criminal defense attorney I don’t have to try to think off the top my head, well who do I know that’s a criminal defense attorney and then I look kind of like befuddled like, oh wait, you don’t know a criminal — I can search and I can look for the people who sent me leads and all that type of thing.
Same thing with clients, right, when you’re talking about leads you can categorize people, right. So if like that person, let’s go back to that example that 25 a week lead person. They have got over the course of the year, they are getting like a thousand leads. Let’s say they have a really slow month in the month of August, because a lot of people don’t do wills during the summer or whatever I think is what it is. Now what do they do with that two weeks of kind of biz-dev time that they have.
Well, they can basically just throw a dart at the wall on their list of contacts and decide who to go after or they can — if they’ve been categorizing and tagging correctly they can go after. For instance, if you tag people as hot lead or high-value or VIP, you’ll be able to filter down your list and say show me all the people who are currently leads, who are hot leads, who have been in the system for less than three months.
So having that data is really important to be able to filter down and understand who the most important people are in your list.
Christopher Anderson: Yeah, because otherwise your choices are basically all, none or random, right. But this gives you ability to reach out and build an audience of people you actually want to reach.
Michael Chasin: And then the second part is like I was saying earlier is really like tracking the relationship from like note-taking, right, and again you can do this in a spreadsheet if you really want. I don’t condone it because most people leave spreadsheets to come to something like Lexicata or Clio. But you got to be keeping track of what you talked about right.
If you met a client this happens to us all the time. Someone comes to Lexicata, says, hey, I want to purchase your software. I’m a criminal defense attorney in Michigan with four employees and this that and the other. They’re not ready to buy today. Nine months later they call me back, oh hey this is you know Max Schwartz. Oh Max, what’s up? I don’t know who this person is? I don’t remember them I’ve had a hundred leads between now, but I pull it up in my CRM and I see, Oh Max like how’s everything in Michigan? It has been crazy, humidity summer. Oh you remember. No I don’t remember but they don’t have to know that, right.
So having that tracking of relationship, oh hey how’s your kid? They are probably what three now? Oh yeah, great memory. My kid just turned three last week. You know it kind of makes that relationship really fresh and makes those cold leads, warmer leads after.
Christopher Anderson: Yeah and one thing I mean — I’ve tried believe me. I’ve tried this in a spreadsheet and what goes wrong for me in a spreadsheet is, the spreadsheet has got one line per customer. Now if I’ve talked to them five times, I can’t keep five dates and five notes right and, or I can but it gets really, really messy and that’s how where I think as good CRM tool where you get that database instead of a flat spreadsheet format.
Michael Chasin: And think about it from a collaborative standpoint too, right. Like a spreadsheet works if you’re working as a solo by yourself, but if you’re working a solo by yourself you probably have aspirations to hire a receptionist or an assistant. Once that happens you might grow and now you need a second lawyer and then what happens after that, then you’re like okay now I have eight people using a spreadsheet that can only be edited one at a time and then it’s like how are they going to know, it’s just — it gets a mess, and most people come in with this crazy spreadsheet, they’re like, can I import this? You’re like yeah, but you’re going to lose some data because you just haven’t been doing it right from the start.
Christopher Anderson: All right. Well so we’re going to take another quick break here, and when we come back I want to talk with Michael about sequences, about how to use sequences to reach out to these targeted groups of clients that we just talked about. How you built — you grab a segment of the people you know and then what do you do with them? We will come back and we’ll talk about that.
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Christopher Anderson: All right. We’re back with Michael Chasin of Lexicata, and we have been talking about how to maximize leads, both new leads coming in and the leads that already exist in your business and now I wanted to sort of wrap it up. I talked with Michael about — all right, we’ve segmented them, we’ve marked them, we’ve tagged them, we have them in a database now what do we do with them. And we were talking — I was suggesting that we talk about what is a sequence and how do you manage a funnel with these sequences?
Michael Chasin: Yeah. So I think — so sequencing or like creating workflows, or checklists for yourself a lot of firms have like checklists on a piece of paper at least in their head. I think before you talk about that you have to talk about like establishing what a funnel is right? So in most traditional industries they call it like a marketing funnel or a sales funnel.
Basically, obviously most people know what a funnel looks like, right, large, large cylinder at the top that kind of funnels down into one single point, right. So depending on what kind of practice you have, you want a really big funnel at the top or a smaller funnel, right. If you’re an employment firm, there is a lot of crappy cases at the top of the funnel that you don’t want entering, so maybe you siphon them off quickly versus criminal-defense, you’ll pretty much take most cases, right.
So setting up this like, what I call like the workflows or what your processes is there’s almost like the plastic casing around the funnel, right. Where do you wanted to look? Do you want it to push down and what happens at each stage as they move down the funnel?
So stage number one is typically going to be something like just gathering the very basic information, right. I just need to collect contact information and make sure I have something to follow up with, right. That’s the first thing that anyone should do. Hi! What’s your name? Max Schwartz. Okay Max, what can I help you with? I need help with this. Okay let me take down your email and your phone number just in case we get disconnected or whatever. So now you have their contact information, now they have entered the funnel.
Now at that point you can do a couple things, right. You can schedule a consultation, you can send them an intake form depending on how many people you want in the funnel. But I think that it goes back to that how extensive your funnel is, really depends on that practice area driven, right.
So the estate planning firm should have a really extensive funnel and then also keeping in mind that there can be deviations from this funnel like this decision tree, right, do they hire, do they not? If yes then this, if no then that. Right you’re almost doing your own like version of like coding, right. So figuring out that part. Now I think —
Christopher Anderson: But so basically what you say is like the funnel has some exit points which might enter a different funnel depending what’s happening.
Michael Chasin: Exactly. Right, so especially like in Lexicata, you can build like mini workflows like at stage one and two of the funnel this is what my workflow looks like and if they go to 2A then I go 3A through 5A versus 3B through 5B if they go to A versus B on the funnel.
So creating like those sequences and most firms don’t really think that through. Like what happens if they fall out at this part? Like what happens most staff members don’t know those things. So I think one of the big things that a lot of law firms can do to really maximize their conversion rate as people move through that funnel is email automation kind of talking about, sending them content and just keeping in a loop and this could be something really simple that you can set up with a click in Lexicata or if you want to do like a mass email or even if you want to do a manual follow-up you can, but just having that constant touch point throughout the process I think is really important to keeping that relationship fresh and making them trust you and want to hire you long term.
Christopher Anderson: Michael, I feel like we could go on for hours, but we can’t because we’re at the end of our time and this wraps up this edition of ‘The Un-Billable Hour’, the Law Business Advisory Podcast. My guest today has been Michael Chasin. Now Michael people are going to want to know more, so can you give out some contact information how they could reach out to you, learn more about this topic.
Michael Chasin: Yeah. So you can just go — obviously if you’re interested in Lexicata, you can just go to lexicata.com. I’d strongly encourage again content driven right. I strongly encourage everyone to go to blog.lexicata.com, we have really awesome content on there written by lawyers like very curated content, that will be really helpful to not only give you the basics but you can get like more advanced as time goes on.
Christopher Anderson: Are you on Twitter as well?
Michael Chasin: I’m on Twitter @Lexicata or Michael E. Chasin.
Christopher Anderson: Fantastic. And this is Christopher Anderson and I look forward to seeing you next month with another great guest as we learn more about topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you.
Outro: 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.
Thanks for listening to ‘The Un-Billable Hour’, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. Join us again for the next edition, right here with Legal Talk Network.
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