Daily Dispatch

The Friday Five

Five Questions for Enterprising Lawyers

By | Jun.02.17 | Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Productivity, The Friday Five

Recently Attorney at Work caught up with three innovative lawyers — all speakers at this spring’s Lawyernomics conference, hosted by Avvo — for their thoughts on what it means to run a law practice like a business, the biggest bet they’ve placed on themselves, and what challenges solo and small firm lawyers face in the next five years. Plus, a few favorite apps.

Here’s advice on moving your practice forward (and on moving pianos) from Vanessa Vasquez de Lara, Ozan Varol and Jennifer Brandt.

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara

Founder and owner, Vasquez de Lara Law Group
@vvasquezesq
www.familylawprotection.com

1. What’s the biggest bet you’ve ever placed on yourself or your business?
My biggest bet was probably my move into my current office at the beginning of December. I was out of space at my last office, so I decided to take a leap and rent a space that was three times bigger and sublease to have more flexibility in my growth. Although I basically quadrupled my rent, it has been a fantastic opportunity and our firm is doing so much better for it.

2. What one thing would you tell lawyers to start implementing in their law practices tomorrow? So many lawyers act like employees instead of business owners. A law practice is, ultimately, in the business of making money. By not making sure that the management of the firm and the business organization is there, you really limit the growth and success of the firm. Taking courses that assist with learning the business — including management and marketing concepts — is what I would say to do immediately.

3. Favorite technology that small and solo law firms can benefit from? I strongly recommend practice management or case management software. You almost don’t know what you’re missing until you start using this kind of software. Personally, I use Clio … its ability to sync with so many other programs like LawPay and Gmail made it a game-changer for me with regards to billing, tracking time, money and staff.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing lawyers in the next five years?
The ability of clients to second-guess their attorney based on what they find on the internet. It used to be that attorneys and their advice were sacrosanct. Now there is so much information out there that clients think they know better, and then try to convince you their position is correct based on the information they found on Google.

5. What three apps do you use every day? For law practice purposes: Clio, MileIQ and Gmail. For non-legal purposes: Facebook and Waze.

Vanessa’s topic at Lawyernomics 2017 was “Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work: Designing Your Firm With Intention.”

Ozan Varol

Law professor and productivity coach for overwhelmed attorneys 
@ProfessorVarol
www.ozanvarol.com

Ozan Verol

1. What’s the biggest bet you’ve ever placed on yourself or your business?
When I started my “Effective Lawyer” coaching business, I pledged to spend zero dollars on marketing or advertising. There are no salespeople on my team. I don’t do “cold leads.” I have no publisher or agent working with me. Instead, I rely exclusively on referrals. Before spending any money on my services, clients set up a free 15-minute call with me to make sure that we’re a right fit and that I can deliver a positive return on their investment. Although all of this takes a lot of time on my part, I end up with much happier clients, which is my primary goal.

2. What one thing would you tell lawyers to start implementing in their law practices tomorrow? Stop moving your pianos. Here’s what I mean: Frank Sinatra’s tour schedule brought a new definition to the term “crazy.” Yet he managed to maintain his sanity and put out work that stood the test of time. He had one simple trick: He didn’t move his own pianos. He focused on his one unique ability: Singing. Everything else, he left to others.

Could Sinatra have become truly great if he were moving his own pianos, handling the lighting and staging, and hustling to sell his concert tickets? No. He focused on the essentials so he could bring out the best of himself.

Most lawyers move their own pianos. They’re so busy handling the minutiae of day-to-day life that they don’t have time to focus on the essentials and figure out the song that only they can play.

If something can be done 80 percent as well by someone else, delegate it. I use a virtual assistant on a daily basis, and I couldn’t be happier.

3. Favorite technology that small and solo law firms can benefit from? Zapier. It’s a really versatile software that works with hundreds of applications and allows you to set up “set it and forget it” automation systems. I’ve used Zapier to save small and solo law firms 20-plus hours per month.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing lawyers in the next five years?
Ours is a culture of instant gratification. Clients want instantaneous access to their lawyers and immediate responses to their questions. As a result, lawyers are finding it exceedingly difficult to focus on getting work done and building their business. Keeping clients happy while finding undistracted time to focus on the essentials is a challenge that will continue to increase in difficulty in the next five years. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to minimize these distractions.

5. What three apps do you use every day?

Trello for project management. It’s free, and in my view, it’s the best system out there for managing personal and business tasks.

Evernote. This is my external brain. It’s searchable, tagable and it can read handwriting and business cards. Everything is in one place, so things are off your mind until you need them.

Google Inbox. Google Inbox is the new version of Gmail. Here’s a free video tutorial I put together that shows how I use Google Inbox to get more done.

Ozan’s topic at Lawyernomics 2017 was “Get Your Life Back: A Playbook for a Happier, Healthier and More Effective You.”

Jennifer A. Brandt

Co-Chair, Family Law Department, Cozen O’Connor
@JenABrandt

www.cozen.com

Laura Brandt

1. What’s the biggest bet you’ve ever placed on yourself or your business? 
The biggest bet I put on myself was to develop my own book of business and not wait for someone else to give me work. This was a winning bet — otherwise, I would not have the practice I have today.

2. What one thing would you tell lawyers to start implementing in their law practices tomorrow? They must figure out a way to market that is authentic. If they force themselves to use a marketing technique that may work for someone else then chances are they will not stick with it.

3. Favorite technology that small and solo law firms can benefit from? I am in a big firm, but we were all able to choose our individual computer setups — including being able to choose a ThinkPad that we can travel with, use to work at home, and take to client meetings. Having this ability makes life so much easier.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing lawyers in the next five years? Development of online legal services will increase competition for traditional legal services — and cause traditional lawyers to reconsider how they bill for services, since many online legal services charge by the task rather than by the hour.

5. What three apps do you use every day? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jennifer’s topic at Lawyernomics 2017 was “Betting on Your Brand.”

Image ©iStockPhoto.com; speaker photos courtesy of Avvo Lawyernomics.

Sponsored Links

Recommended Reading

Comment