COVID-19 Resources for Lawyers
Featured Guests
Genny Castellano

Genny Castellanos, a civil litigator and appellate lawyer, is the founder and CEO of De Novo Review, a national...

Garrick Pursley

Garrick Pursley is the CSO of De Novo Review, where he works with law firms to improve their processes...

Your Host
Christopher T. Anderson

Christopher T. Anderson has authored numerous articles and speaks on a wide range of topics, including law firm management,...

Episode Notes

While there’s expected growth in practice areas related to the pandemic, De Novo Review CEO and Founder Genny Castellanos says surges are nothing new. Rather than staff up with a permanent team, she and De Novo Review’s CSO Garrick Pursley tell host Christopher Anderson that more firms are using contract attorneys as needed.

Pursley says the shift from permanent splurge hiring to temporary surge hiring is accelerating for some because of the pandemic. While some lawyers are boning up on growth areas to meet demand, others are bringing in subject-matter experts to help them manage growth areas.

This ability to be flexible is especially critical as firms adapt to new revenue streams, new ways of acquiring clients and positioning in a fast-changing society.

Genny Castellanos is the founder and CEO of De Novo Review, and Garrick Pursley is De Novo Review’s CFO and COO.

Special thanks to our sponsors,  ScorpionLawclerk, Alert Communications and LawYaw.

Transcript

The Un-Billable Hour

Pivoting To Help People

10/28/2020

[Music]

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’ll get the information you need from expert guests and host, Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.

[Music]

Christopher Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour. I am your host, Christopher Anderson, and today’s episode is about — well, it’s about a lot of different things that seems to be the theme lately. We’re talking really about expanding your law firm’s horizons, about looking for new revenue streams, about adapting, pivoting to what is working and away from things that aren’t working. It’s about new client acquisition and sales, but really just about positioning your firm in light of the changes we’re seeing in the economy and the demands for legal services, which are still there. Like in case if there’s any doubt as a result of the changes that are going on not just because of the COVID-9 pandemic, which we’re recording this in July, so we’re still right in the thick of it. But also, the government’s and other people’s responses to it that are also affecting lots of businesses, lots of people, and of course, lots of law firms.

The title today is Pivoting To Help People, and my guests are Genny Castellanos and Garrick Pursley both of the De Novo Review, and we’ll learn more about them in a minute. But before we get started, it’s time to do a little business. I want to say thank you to the sponsors that make this show possible and for giving us the opportunity to spend this time together.

Alert Communications, if any law firm is looking for call, intake or retainer services available 24/7 by 365 just call (866) 827-5568. And Scorpion is the leading provider of marketing solutions for the legal industry with nearly 20 years of experience serving attorneys, Scorpion can help grow your practice, learn more at scorpionlegal.com. LAWCLERK, where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers, visit lawclerk.legal to learn how to increase your productivity and your profits by working with talented freelance lawyers. Lawyaw provides end-to-end document automation for solo, small and mid-sized practices. Save time and avoid mistakes with documents that you draft over and over again. Learn more at lawyaw.com.

Today’s episode of The Un-Billable Hour again is, “Pivoting To Help People.”  I am pleased to introduce my guest one more time. Genny Castellanos — actually, there will be a couple more times this time again and Garrick Pursley. Genny is a visionary combining law and a groundbreaking business model that is helping law firms across the country scale and flex with the times. She is the Founder and CEO of De Novo Review. Genny comes to this business as an experienced civil litigator and appellate lawyer. Her business is a national provider of managed attorneys aimed at supporting and helping law firms and legal departments throughout the United States to scale their law practice by providing high quality experienced attorneys for complex litigation and appellate research, drafting and courtroom work and other things.

Garrick works with Genny at De Novo Review as the Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, and is also the Director of De Novo Learning. He also worked with two federal judges in Washington, litigated also with a law firm in Dallas. He’s also even taught complex litigation, so lots of litigation talent being applied to the business of law. It gives me great pleasure once again to introduce and bring to the show Genny and Garrick. Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour.

Genny Castellanos: Thank you for having us, Chris. It’s really a pleasure and honor to be on here.

Garrick Pursley: Good to be with you, Chris.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, it’s my pleasure to have both of you. Genny, just to you, since you found the De Novo Review, we talked about, you worked as a lawyer and did some litigation. Maybe you can expand on that, but talk about what from that experience brought you to want to start a business that’s become a national provider of managing attorneys to law firms all over the place, and why did you move from practicing to helping other law firms and helping lawyers connect with them?

Genny Castellanos: Well, it was around 2012 and I’m sitting in an office, a defense firm and I’m working 10 to 12-hour days, not including the commute to and from. I realized that there was a real problem with the current workforce model and the way firms were allocating their resources, people. I thought, well, there has to be a different way, there has to be a better solution. I started to look at the billable hour requirements and realizing that nobody was factoring in the unbillable time, right? The commute to and from work, the lunch time and the energy that is required to be able to show up in the courtroom and be present or do the research and writing.

(00:04:59)

One day, I was talking to a mentor of mine, who’s actually the co-founder of Subway, Fred DeLuca. I said, “Fred, I have this idea of creating a legal research and writing company, and providing a much needed solution for law firms to (1) bring more productivity to the workplace and also reduce costs and, I guess also, bring a happier workplace for lawyers working.”

Christopher Anderson: How long ago was that?

Genny Castellanos: We started in 2012 and we incorporated in 2013. Chris, when I opened the company, people looked at me with four eyes. This was pre-Uber, right? So the idea of having an Uber for law firms or a different workforce model was pretty much a shock to our legal industry, I think.

Christopher Anderson: And I think we’ll be talking too in the show about how probably more than ever now people are seeing the wisdom and need for it. Everybody’s gotten more used to hiring on a gig basis, but we’ll get there. But I want to just bring Garrick in. Also, Garrick, how long you’ve been working with De Novo and what brought you out of legal practice to this enterprise?

Garrick Pursley: Well, I’ve been with De Novo about two years, and I didn’t actually come out of practice. I came out of academia, which is an even stranger trick that you don’t see that often. I was tenured at Florida State. Before that, I did complex litigation and clerk for some judges. In my practice, we did anti-trust suits and patent abuse suits and things like that. So I had some experience with what Genny’s talking about, with what it’s like to be part of that daily go into the office, punch in, punch out. Of course, I was working about 90 to 100 hours a week there, with lots of travel. But what I found when I was a professor is that I, at least, I don’t want to speak for others, but I was giving law students advice on how to get a job. That was the advice I was given when I graduated in 2004. After the housing crisis in ’08, it started to become clear in that sort of trickle-up way that eventually academics become aware that that advice wasn’t appropriate anymore for what the market was like. When I had an opportunity to relocate to Nashville and take a step away from academia, I decided that I needed to get out and find out what the new world of law practice is like, and what it is that these students when they graduate are actually going through and what young lawyers are having to deal with.

What I discovered is that what we do at De Novo Review is really sort of the wave of the future. We provide attorneys in a world where the standard career path of, you graduate in the top 10%, you join top 100 law firm, you work there for 15 years, you make partner. That’s just not the world anymore. We provide lawyers with an opportunity to make a living and do well without having to try and conform to a model that just doesn’t fit anymore.

Christopher Anderson: Cool. All right. Let’s talk about that world, because the world of course that we’re in right now is different and changing. It seems like — I know there’s going to be some stuff that we record here, because this show probably won’t go on the air for several weeks, that things will be changed again. I mean, every couple of weeks, it seems we’re in another new world. On the show, we’ve spent a good deal of time talking already about the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on how lawyers have been able to continue helping their clients. What I want to do is like just get a brief moment of your interpretation of where we are. what you’re seeing from your vantage point since you’re in touch with law firms, you’re helping deliver services to them. From your vantage point, how the economic downturn is affecting the law firms that you deal with? But then after that, I’m going to want to change the script a little bit and really start talking about the future and the opportunities that are coming. But firstly, what are you seeing as the changes?

Genny Castellanos: We have several clients that have actually reached out to us. Some are at a complete standstill, but most of them have been really progressive-minded and forward-thinking. They’re using this time to lay the groundwork for areas of law that they’re expanding. So we have law firms that are expanding into bankruptcy, a lot of firms that are learning about business interruption and they’re preparing their workforce team and their internal structure. Now obviously, there are firms that run like a law firm, right? They run like a lawyer instead of a business. So those lawyers, I think they’re having a lot of trouble right now to be quite honest. They’re not prepared, their firms are not agile, and they’re not ready to adapt and they’re going to be faced with having to really rethink their business model and their focus.

Christopher Anderson: Well, let’s hope that some of them are listening because this is the show about law firm business. The Un-Billable Hour really helps a lot of small law firms, solo law firms and smaller law firms are our listeners. I think there’s several out there that are indeed stuck like the way you’re talking about. Let’s change the conversation a little bit. Let’s talk about what the other law firms are doing and give some ideas for these small law firms that might be feeling stuck about what they can do. What do you see as the litigation booms that are either a result of or that are just going to be fueled by the Coronavirus litigation, the Coronavirus mitigation? What do you see as litigation booms coming that law firms should be getting ready for?

(00:10:18)

Garrick Pursley: What we tend to see when there are major crises and the housing crisis is another example. Is that some lawyers are on one side of the crisis and run out of work and other lawyers are on the other side and are suddenly inundated with work more than they can do. That’s certainly what we’re going to see here too. Our researchers keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s new and growing out there, and what’s come to our attention. Some of these are going to be relatively obvious, like Genny mentioned bankruptcy. So of course, the businesses that are suffering the effects of a major catastrophic economic downturn are going to need bankruptcy assistance. I think we’re probably going to see a record number of bankruptcy filings in the weeks, months and years to come. But other things to think about that we’ve been keeping an eye on are workers claims, right? So think here about the restaurant worker in the back of the house who comes down with Coronavirus because of another infected member of the staff or the folks working in the Amazon Fulfillment Centers, where they can’t actually judging from their account of events, they can’t properly socially distance. Of course, Amazon disputes that to some extent.

Christopher Anderson: But cases like that/

Garrick Pursley: Yeah, claims by workers who because of the workplace environment are exposed to Coronavirus and become infected or exposed to an increased risk and increased danger of infection.

Christopher Anderson: Meat packing comes to mind.

Garrick Pursley: And in addition to meat packing, think of other manufacturing line type facilities where the sort of CDC guidelines for safety may not be able physically to be implemented fully. Another area that we’re keeping an eye on is university suits. You’ve got pretty much every major college and university in the country is trying to figure out what to do in the fall. Some are very tuition-revenue-driven and they just feel like they absolutely have got to open on campus learning in the fall. But the faculty are hesitant about coming back to campus. All right. For example, at Penn State, 1100 faculty members signed a letter to the administration saying, “We should have the right to choose, whether we’re going to return to a classroom environment or if because of safety concerns, we want to stay at home and teach remotely.” We’ll have to see whether that goes, where most professor contracts — and I can tell you this from personal experience don’t really give you that option, even tenured contracts.

But there’s also the students’ side, and the students are on exactly the flip side of the faculty. This is what makes this an interesting potential tension. They want the on-campus experience or else they don’t want to pay full tuition, because they think there’s a qualitative difference between going to class online and being in the classroom. So you’ll see Harvard Law School for example announced that they’re going to be a 100% online in the fall, and already, a member of their current class has sued them and it’s a class action. Because they don’t want to pay full tuition for that, Chris.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah. No, it makes sense. It’s kind of funny, a scene is coming into my brain from a movie. I don’t know if you will recall, it’s called Weird Science, where like there are three scenes actually during the course of the show, where one person leaves their big giant tape recorder to tape record the lecture so that they don’t have to be in class. Then the next scene is, the class is almost like 75% as tape recorders and lecturers talking to them. The last scene is, there’s 100 tape recorders in the audience and in fact the lecturer is also a tape recorder playing, and his kind of brings that to us.

We’re going to take a break here in just a moment. We’re talking with Genny Castellanos and Garrick Pursley of De Novo Review about the opportunities for law firms and what really business is coming down the pike that they can take advantage of, and really help people, and instead of getting stuck and not helping people, which is what we don’t want them to do. But first, let’s hear from our sponsors about how they can help you.

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(00:15:17)

Welcome back. We’re still talking with Genny Castellanos and Garrick Pursley of De Novo Review. We’ve been talking about — you’re changing the script a little bit about from how our law firms are being impacted by the current Coronavirus pandemic to what opportunities are coming down the pike that law firms should be paying attention to. And Garrick and Genny both are seeing in their own customers from De Novo Review how some of their clients, the law firms that they work with are pivoting and getting and even more important. I loved hearing what Genny was saying, is using this time to get ready for some of the stuff that’s coming down the pike, and some aren’t. And Garrick gave us a couple of ideas, so I want to kind of continue to rip on that and ask, you should firms be considering — because you mentioned something about workers. We talked about university and faculty, we talked about people on lines in meat packing plants and other lines in Amazon. But should firms be considering about how workers’ comp and COVID-19 interact and is there an opportunity in those types of cases?

Garrick Pursley: So there is opportunity, but let me let you in on something that I don’t think everybody’s thinking about here first. I used to work with a guy at the University of Toledo, who’s one of the leading labor law experts in the country. He took a look at all the workers’ comp statutes in all the states. Most of them require that your injury be characteristic of the work environment for it to fall within a workers’ comp statute. And for most work environments, infection with a deadly pandemic virus is not actually characteristic of the risks you face on a day-to-day basis in your work environment. Think again about the dishwasher in the restaurant, right? That’s not a standard risk of being a dishwasher. Now, the obvious exclusion here is healthcare workers. If you work in a hospital. And keep in mind, if your injury doesn’t fall within workers’ comp, you can sue a civil suit, so you don’t have to deal with the administrative process and potentially limitations on recovery and so on.

In most states, there will be large classes of workers who are injured by this pandemic and don’t fall within workers’ comp statutes. There’s opportunity in two senses here, right? For your standard PI firm, personal injury firm, you can go and seek out those cases that don’t fall within workers’ comp. But if you want to get in the workers compensation business, it can be lucrative but you’ve got to do those cases in volume, right? Here is where I want to call back to something that Genny said. There’s going to be a glut of these claims in the near future. There’s not going to be enough lawyers to handle all of them, so if you want to get into workers’ comp, you can be swimming in clients. But you’ve got to either already have a workers’ comp department with the expertise in the statutory systems that you’ll deal with or you’re going to need to bring one in that’s already staffed with those attorneys and already has the work processes to handle volume. That’s how you make workers’ comp profitable.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, that’s something to dabble/

Garrick Pursley: Right. I mean, that’s exactly the kind of thing that we do at De Novo, is we give you a turnkey, new division for your firm if you want to get into something like that.

Christopher Anderson: Fantastic. That’s really cool, so you set up workers’ comp on a volume basis or the opportunity for PI lawyers who may not be thinking of infection as a personal injury, but the availability perhaps of direct remedy. Let me turn that around then, what about representing businesses? What about business liability for public exposure, how’s that going to work?

Garrick Pursley: This is a big question and it’s a complicated one. I hate to harp on this example, but because the poor restaurants are suffering. But think about that again right now, think about the front of the house, the dining room. It’s not really economically feasible for restaurants to, if you’re not wearing a mask, they kick you out, right? It doesn’t seem like we’re going to actually see that as an economic reality, plus you can still get a risk of infection even with people wearing masks. The real question is, if I go to a restaurant, sit down in the dining room, have a meal and get infected with the Coronavirus, can I sue the restaurant? That question is about the standard of care. What is the duty of the restaurant regarding safety precautions in that situation?

Now, you think about slippery floors for example, right? The business is required to exercise reasonable care to be sure that you don’t slip, fall down and break your arm or whatever it is. That’s probably the same standard that’s going to apply here, a standard of reasonable care. But what we need to know and what lawyers are going to be trying to hash out in the coming months is what counts as reasonable in this context. Is it following the CDC guidelines, is it following guidelines issued by state or municipal authorities? And what about, like we talked about earlier, sort of intrinsically dangerous situations where those guidelines can’t be followed, like an assembly line, where social distancing may not be enforceable?

(00:20:03)

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, lots of work around that. So if you represent businesses or if you want to kind of pivot a little bit too. And it’s not just restaurants like you said, it’s just like all public-facing businesses, any business that has a front of the house is going to have the public interested in possible liability for public exposure. And then of course, even businesses that don’t have front of the house, if they’re not able to maintain appropriate guidelines in the back of the house, they’re going to have the same issues.

Garrick Pursley: That’s right. Another thing to keep an eye on here is state legislative involvement. And in fact, it’s possible that we would see federal legislative involvement too to immunize businesses against this kind of liability.

Christopher Anderson: Sure. Yeah.

Garrick Pursley: So let me give you one example. Wisconsin passed a statute recently immunizing hospitals, clinics and manufacturers of personal protective equipment against liability for infection. That’s pretty limited, but there’s a big push on in a lot of state houses and on Capitol Hill to get broader immunity legislation passed, to keep businesses from having to get sort of like the second sucker punch after the big punch they’ve taken from all the closures. So that’s something to keep an eye on.

Christopher Anderson: Sure. That makes a lot of sense. What about the other one, the kind of the thing that you said that kind of perked my ears up, is when you were talking about Harvard, you said the word class action I just I kind of chuckled to myself a little bit, because it’s a law class and it’s class action. And of course, you teach your Harvard students too well and here they are already jumping on a class action lawsuit against the university. But surely, we’re going to be seeing other classes that are arising because there’s a lot of — to use a term of art, but because this is the business of law but similarly situated people. Is there an opportunity for law firm businesses to take advantage of to really move into the space, to keep helping people by looking at class actions that are rising as a result of the pandemic?

Garrick Pursley: Sure. The Harvard thing is almost just too perfect to be true. Isn’t it almost too perfect to sort of encapsulation of what’s going on to be real. Let me mention three areas, where I think we’re going to see a boom in class litigation. By the way, the ABA a month ago predicted that there was going to be a boom in class litigation over the Coronavirus. And since then, dozens of class suits have been filed. So two areas we’ve already discussed are worker suits and university suits. So the worker suit class actions that you likely will see will be the ones against large companies, Walmart and Amazon here would be prototypical examples. We know that both of those companies are perennial targets for class litigation, but you’re going to have just like you said, an enormous number of similarly situated workers. If it turns out that infection by Coronavirus doesn’t fall within workers’ comp statutes, then the door is open for them to join together as a class and sue the Walmart for whatever their view is regarding whether the safety procedures were inadequate and in what ways they were inadequate.

University suits, you’ll see a couple of different kinds. Lt’s leave aside the faculty for the moment. Imagine the University of Miami undergraduate students who paid their on-campus gym access, and dining hall fees in the spring semester, that’s straightforward common injury to a large group of students if the university is refusing to refund those fees, because they were unable to access those facilities while the university was shut down. We will see that kind of thing. But I want to mention one other thing, which is business interruption insurance.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah. I was about to ask you like with all this because — we’re talking about how the businesses that are operating are being exposed. But of course, we’re also dealing with huge amounts of businesses that aren’t operating that either can’t operate, that started operating again. And I mean, like this breaks your heart, like to see all the restaurants with the reopenings that happened, they kind of got re-geared up, they got their places cleaned, deep deep cleaned. Then two weeks later, sorry, we’re closed again. Their business is getting interrupted. What’s the opportunity there for law firms to help with business interruption and to work on that business interruption insurance angle?

Garrick Pursley: It’s kind of an odd thing because normally, this would be a niche subject business interaction insurance. But I mean, it is front and center now and it’s a huge area of potential growth for law firms that want to get involved. So let me talk about class action treatment first and then I want to just mention a couple of trends that we’re seeing when it comes to business interruption claim. Usually, an insurance dispute is very specific, it’s normally a state law issue and it’s about what your policy says and what happened to you and it’s figured out on a case-by-case basis. Other things that are relevant or what did the adjuster look at when they decided whether it was covered not, so it’s very individuated usually.

(00:25:01)

But this is a unique situation for any number of reasons, but among them this. Massive numbers of businesses were shut down across the economy due to a single incident, right? The landing on American soil of the Coronavirus and the subsequent shutdown orders issued by governments covering a large geographic and economic territory. You can already see where I’m going with this, right? There’s going to be big clusters of similarly situated businesses, and all you have to do if you’re an enterprising class action-minded lawyer is go out and find 500 restaurants all of whom had a standard — Travelers for example business interruption policy. Then all of a sudden, what seems to be an individual inquiry is the same for everybody because they’ve all got the same policy language, the loss was caused to all of them by exactly the same thing. It seems like class action treatment would in fact be appropriate in those circumstances.

As a former professor, I always like to think about the reasons for legal structures, and one of the reasons to have class actions in the first place is to level the playing field between the plaintiff side and the defense side. And in this situation where you’ve got the Mom and Pop Restaurant that’s family owned versus Travelers Insurance or whatever it might be, that’s a pretty big disparity and power where — and that’s exactly what the class action device is supposed to come in and help with.

Two other trends quickly to mention on business interruption though. First, what you might expect insurance companies to be telling their brokers right now is deny, deny, deny, deny every claim, okay? It’s sort of the stereotype about insurance companies, right? They always say no the first time. That is happening with some. But interestingly, some of them in the broker publications that we read are taking a more sort of wait and see approach. Well, this is a unique situation, and there’s probably going to be litigation, and there might be legislation and things could change. Tell your policy holders file their claims even if they don’t think they’re covered, and I think that’s fascinating and definitely something to keep an eye on.

The other trend and this is a more litigation focused trend. Most of these policies require physical damage to the property, okay, to trigger coverage. And there’s a question because it’s a virus and nobody’s building, it’s burning down. Is there physical damage. But they also tend to cover you if you experience physical loss of the business, all right. Initially, back in February, March when people were exploring these coverage issues. They were focused on, well, the virus is a physical thing, it gets on surfaces, let’s characterize that as physical damage. But the focus now is shifting more towards looking at the fact that people who are subject to these closure orders are losing the ability to operate their business for a chunk of time. If anybody listening is already digging into these cases, that’s probably a trend you’re seeing, but it’s certainly something strategically to keep an eye on as well.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What I like to do here is ask you about how — because this sounds fascinating, like a huge opportunity to help a lot of people, a lot like you said lots of small Mom and Pop businesses, whether they’d be restaurants or others, and how small law firms are also being affected can help with that. But before we do that, I do want to hear a word from our sponsors, but when we come back, I’m going to be asking you about how smaller firms can manage these kind of large volume types cases and continue to stay in business themselves. But first, a word from our sponsors.

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(00:29:56)

We’re speaking with Genny Castellanos, she’s the CEO and Founder of De Novo Review and Garrick Pursley, who’s the Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Marketing Officer of De Nova Review. We’ve been talking to like really fascinating conversation about the opportunities for law firms that are actually being created by the virus, and by the business’ interactions and people’s interactions with the viruses and the pandemic. When we left for the break, we were talking about the possible class actions to do with first party insurance, really with people needing to make claims on business interruption insurance. That’s where we kind of left it. I said when we came back with all the things you’re talking about, Garrick and Genny, they really sound fascinating, kind of get my juices going but a lot of it sounds like maybe that a small law firm would be afraid to tackle some of this. So can we talk a little bit about how firms can manage these kind of larger volume, larger big picture cases and get in on something that helps people but also helps continue their law firm.

Genny Castellanos: Definitely, Chris. We actually work with a lot of small law firms that have a local footprint. So our clients have actually been reaching out to us and asking us, what should we do. So every firm is handling it differently and it also is very subject matter specific, right? So is this a family law firm, is this a commercial litigation law firm or are they property insurance? What we’re seeing is, property insurance firms are taking the opportunity to add business interruption insurance as an additional area of law that they’re covering and they’re adding it to their website. And other firms are reaching out to marketing companies and casting a very wide net and seeing what they bring in. And of course now, that’s first talking about getting the cases in the door, and we see that right now. That’s where everybody’s focused.

What’s going to happen is, when all these cases are signed up. the firms are either going to do two things. They have to rush to train their teams and we’re seeing a lot of attendance in our general learning series where firms want to get educated on business interruption insurance. They want to get educated on bankruptcy. They’re getting in those CLE credits. Then we have other firms that are like, “Listen, we’re going to keep our task force really focused to what they know and we’re going to go ahead and bring an outside task force to to manage this new caseload coming in.” It’s interesting because the ABA Journal has highlighted the need for search staffing in several articles. I was reading one in 2005 and I’m going to quote it, it says, “Welcome to the end of splurge and the reality of search.” And I think that’s what business-minded firms are doing.

Christopher Anderson: What does that mean, the end of splurge?

Genny Castellanos: Well, I think splurging, right, the traditional business model from law firms were to bring associates and train them and incur the cost of the training and keep them for several years even though they weren’t necessarily on partnership track. And then what happens after three to five years, they leave the firm and now they’ve got to start all over. So let’s stop splurging and really focus on a search taskforce that’s really going to be targeted in this particular area of law.

Christopher Anderson: Okay. So being more flexible and just keeping a core team on that. Is that something that even the smaller law firms can do that, can really bring in to be able to staff up for instance, to be able to manage a class action like this, how will that work.

Genny Castellanos: Most definitely, what we see law firms doing and what we work with them is, they might bring on an off-counsel relationship through our network of attorneys. They might bring a co-counsel to actually spearhead and be the first or second trial attorney on their case. They just start off by signing up the cases and then structuring the attorney team based on the relationship with the client and what the particular matter needs.

Christopher Anderson: Does this work with all these different practices we’ve been talking about? Like can a law firm surge family law? Can a law firm surge bankruptcy? Can they surge —

Genny Castellanos: That’s a really good question, Chris. And there’s some areas of law that really lends itself to delegation and outsourcing. Those are the ones and obviously, it depends on the procedure that the firm has already developed. Some firms don’t have the workflow process in place, but let’s identify some areas that really lends itself. So right now, De Novo has a coverage team and a writing team and they’re managing 150 personal injury cases in their litigation department. The attorney has completely offloaded that department, so that’s one particular area of law. Another area of law is property insurance and business interruption insurance. Why? You have to interpret the coverage opinion and provide an opinion on whether there’s coverage and the viability of the lawsuit. It doesn’t really depend that much on the client, it’s really policy-driven.

Family law is a little bit trickier I think, to be quite honest. Family law is very factually intensive, it requires a high touch relationship with your client. But the appeals in that area of law is very —

Christopher Anderson: Oh, sure, yeah. That makes more sense. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So listen, as we come to the end of the show, we’ve been talking about a lot of these changes and opportunities that are coming. The last thing I wanted to ask is kind of, get your crystal ball out and what about what’s changing now is becoming permanent, like what are going to be some of the permanent or at least semi-permanent effects that we’re going to be dealing with for a long time after the pandemic moves into the history books?

Cristopher Anderson: See, I love this issue because I feel like finding the future is here. The law firms were traditionally minded and very resistant to change, have had no choice but to embrace and take on technology and different workforce models. Attorneys that thought that it was impossible to work from home are now conducting trials and depositions from a Zoom session. So I think what we’re going to see here that’s going to remain permanent to the legal field is embracing technology, embracing unique workforce models. We might even see that networking turns into virtual networking instead of going and flying across the country to Vegas to network. So I’m excited about that. I’ll miss Vegas, but —

Garrick Pursley: I miss Vegas too.

Christopher Anderson: But yeah, maybe Vegas will figure out how to come back as well. Well, that’s super. Listen, we’ve covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time and I think there’s a good chance that some of our listeners heads are spinning around and around. So if they want to follow up with you, touch base with you, learn more about what we’ve been talking about, ask questions about something they missed or didn’t quite understand Garrick, Genny, how can they get in touch with your business, with you guys to follow up?

Genny Castellanos: Well, first of all, our email is [email protected]. The company line is 305-925-00229. Our website is www.denovoreview.com, just like the standard review on appeal.

Genny Castellanos: Let me mention this too. If you want to connect with us on Facebook, De Novo Learning has a Facebook group. That’s facebook.com/group/denovolearning, which is all one word. And if you ping us with a request to join there, we have a news feed that is constantly populated with things about the issues that we’ve discussed today and a lot of other stuff too.

Christopher Anderson: Thanks, Garrick and thank you, Genny. All right. That wraps up this edition of The Un-Billable Hour. I thank everybody for listening. Our guests today have been Genny Castellanos, she’s the CEO and Founder of De Novo Review and Garrick Pursley, De Novo Review’s Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. And they gave you great ways to get in touch with them should you have any other questions. Of course, 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 a law firm business that works for you.

Remember that you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us and we will see you again soon. Everybody, stay safe and be good.

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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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Episode Details
Published: October 27, 2020
Podcast: Un-Billable Hour
Category: COVID-19 , Practice Management
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Un-Billable Hour
Un-Billable Hour

Best practices regarding your marketing, time management, and all the things outside of your client responsibilities.

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