“New Practice Area” with Alycia Kinchloe 253
Categories: Podcast

Alycia Kinchloe, is the founder of Kinchloe Law in Philadelphia, PA. Prior to founding Kinchloe Law, Alycia helped to grow a mid-size law firm from one to 140 employees during her tenure.  Alycia managed the firm for several years including hiring and training attorneys and support staff.  

Today we share her presentation, “New Practice Area” from MaxLawCon 2019.

Watch the presentation here.




Transcript: “New Practice Area” with Alycia Kinchloe

Unknown Speaker
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome, Judy show.

Becca Eberhart
In today’s episode, we’re throwing it back to a presentation from Maxwell con 2019. Alicia Kincheloe shares her presentation, new practice area. Let’s get to it.

Alycia Kinchloe
So to tell you a little bit about myself, I now am a family law attorney. But before that I was a disability attorney, how many of you have thought about changing your practice area or have done it in the last year or so. And some of the struggles you may have had are not probably just not technical struggles, but are also probably some psychological things that you’ve dealt with. So I’m going to tell you my story. I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer when I was in middle school. So I had a plan. And I’m really good with plans. They’re like, I like to know exactly what I’m supposed to do. And when I was 15. In this, I went for the summer to Philadelphia, and I got a job as a file clerk. And then when I was 16, I did it again. But that year my father got orders. He’s in the army to go to Seoul, Korea. And we my family couldn’t go this considered a hardship tour. So my entire family moved to Philadelphia and I did my last year of high school in Philly. Now because I was in advanced classes in Oklahoma, they didn’t have the classes that I needed to take in the school that I had to go into in Philly. So I had something called a work roster. And so that means that for the first three hours of my day, I went to school and the last half, I went to work. So when I got hired as a file clerk that summer when I was 16, I continued to work there in this firm, the whole year, my last year of high school, and I started at that firm, and was actually right before the firm started the gentleman that I worked for worked for his father in another practice. And then he went solo, I was his very first employee. And I worked my entire last year of high school, I went to college, and I worked there, then I worked full time and I went to law school at night for four years. And then because I like challenges, and I found myself doing a lot of management, I decided to go back to school and get an MBA. So I went to St. Joseph University, and I earned an executive MBA. And most of that was because by the time that I finished law school, I basically was running this firm, I was in charge of all the processes, I was doing some of the marketing. And I know like a lot of us say we really didn’t learn how to run a business in law school, right? Hopefully, that’s changed now with the climate changing. But at the time, I didn’t feel like I really knew what I was doing. There was a lot of gaps in what I needed to learn. So I went got the Executive MBA. And then after a couple of years of doing that, again, imagine I started at 16. I got bored. So again, I was bored, I needed another challenge. And I remember sitting down with my boss at the time, and them asking me what is it that you want to do, and told me that I could create my own job. And I told him, I wanted his job. I didn’t want to continue to help someone else build their dream. I wanted to build it for myself for my family now that I just had. And I also was bored and just doing disability. Now I love doing social security disability work. I love being an advocate. I love the people that I helped. I love the staff that I worked with. A lot of the attorneys that I that I hired that I trained now were for Social Security, they were poaching on my attorneys, and a lot of my paralegals and my assistants now work for Social Security. I like the judges that I worked with. But I couldn’t imagine that a job that I happen to get when I was 16 would be the thing that I’ll be doing for the rest of my life that was just too left up to chance. Now right before I ended up leaving, I decided to help the firm do a little bit of hedging. We saw that the climate was changing a lot with Social Security. And we needed to start to do some other practice areas to make sure the firm would stay afloat. So we started adding on some workers compensation, we added on some personal injury. And then we add on a little bit of family law, not a lot but a little bit. And I found the interest in that. And when I had that conversation with my boss, and I said I really want my job. And he basically said I’m not ready to give it up. I said, Here’s my notice, I’m going to give you 90 days notice because I had been there now for 16 years, half of my life I spent doing one area of practice. And I gave 90 days and I stayed a little bit longer because he asked me to. But I had an opportunity to start planning my own future. And what I did, I did a lot of practical things when it comes to starting your own business. I met with a lot of different attorneys, a lot of people who I knew who went solo, and were successful people who had gone solo and went back to working for a firm because I wanted to know what they didn’t like about it. Some of the things that they would tell me not to do. I met with accountants I met with basically anybody who was willing to sit down and talk to me about running a business. But what I also did was I met with some family law attorneys because I knew this was an area of interest for me. And I asked them what they thought I should do ask them about pricing. I asked him about the courts. Now I remember when I started all of this thinking about law school, and when you’re in law school, you’re doing a lot of reading, right, you’re doing a ton of reading a ton of writing. And I remember one of the instructors saying, you need to do something else besides studying for school. And me, I was working sounds like I have a lot of stuff to do anyway. But they encouraged us to do something creative, or something physical to kind of get out some of the anxiety that you were filling, some people decided to paint, some people decided to do boxing, whatever it was. And when I started my firm, I said, I’m going to take that I’m going to figure out something that I can do, that’s going to keep me from being super anxious about starting this firm and starting this new practice area. So I signed myself up, I started training for something called a Broad Street run, the brush to run is a 10 mile race in Philadelphia. That is crazy. But it’s from one part of the city through most of the city, and it’s a straight line. Now I hadn’t run since I ran track in high school. And I did very little of that even then. But I kind of had gotten to the point like we’re evolved to humans, we don’t need to run unless somebody’s chasing us at this point, right? Like I stopped running. But what the signing up for that race did was that it gave me a deadline, it was something that I needed to be able to do that third, a second week of May and watching the first Sunday of May. So it forced me to train. And my only goal at the time was to get through it. But as I started running, anybody who’s run long distance knows that there’s a lot of things that go into it. And there’s training and you’re not just training, if you’re doing it, right, you’re not just training, it’s a finish to finish or training to run. But you have to train to get stronger. So you’re not just running. So if you have a schedule, right, the schedule is you run one or two miles, then you rest, you run maybe two or three miles, then you rest. And then the next day you’re going to do not running, you’re going to do some core work, you got to strengthen your core. And then you have to cross train a little bit more, the ones who are not doing or thinking that it’s just about running just about finishing. But it’s not that because you’ll end up hurting yourself, and your end up not doing it right. And that’s kind of what changing a practice area is like to you’re not just learning the family law, but you’re learning a lot of the things that go around in it to make sure that you’re going to do it well. And that’s kind of what I focused on, when I started my practice, because it kind of helped me to do that. Now, again, anyone who’s run a really long time knows that that’s a long time to be inside your head. Like if you run a 12 minute mile and you have to run 10 miles, that’s two hours. For us. It’s hard to kind of sit through 1015 minutes without checking our phones, right without thinking about something else. And when I started to learn was that the more that I was running, and I could get past like one or two miles, without feeling like my legs were going to fall off, that it wasn’t no longer about my body not being able to do it. It was about my mind’s not really being able to handle it. And I had to get to a point in my head where I was able to focus enough and deal with the thoughts telling me that I couldn’t finish. The thoughts told me that this is stupid, that you don’t need to do this, you can just give up. There’s nobody forcing you to do this. Again, we’re evolved humans, we don’t need to run, like why there’s nobody chasing, why do I need to do this. But as I continued to kind of force myself to get through it, I started to feel some other things. It started to help me figure out how I can kind of endure mentally to get through a lot of challenges. And that’s kind of the thing that we think about when we start a practice area. We’re lawyers, right? When we’ve done something for a long time, we get really, really good at it. When we start something new, it’s uncomfortable to be in that place of not knowing the answer of not knowing what’s coming next, of not knowing what to expect not knowing the opposing counsel, not knowing the judges. And when you’re starting a practice. On top of that, it’s a really hard thing to do the same thing for me to do would have been to start another disability practice. I already had a book of business already had people willing to refer to me, I knew all the players I knew the game. But instead I tried to start something different. Now, when I decided to do that, I thought about how do I deal with the mental part of the psychological part of it. And I read some books on grit, I read some books on endurance, I thought about athletes, Serena and and even Beyonce, because as much as she dances, she’s an athlete. And sometimes when I’m running on a treadmill, I’m at like 23 miles and I want to stop and like Beyonce would be laughing at you right now. Serena Williams will be laughing at you right now there’s no way in the world, they would do this. And they would go do another race right afterwards. And sometimes thinking about that kind of helped me to kind of get through when to push through. So I really want to encourage you to kind of think about the fact that when you first left law school and you started that first practice area you had to learn, you did it probably on somebody else’s dollar or somebody else’s time and with some help, you need to be kind to yourself, and give yourself that space to grow when you’re in this new practice area. Now I’m gonna give you some tools for accelerating and lessening that curve a little bit. But you need to be kind with yourself because that’s the only way that you’re going to stick through it. Because it’s a really, really hard thing to be a novice when you’re a seasoned expert. When you have been practicing for 10 or 15 years and then you go into court like you for like a person who’s been out of law school for one or two years. It does don’t feel good. But again, there are some things you can do to prepare. So some technical things that you can do to prepare is study. One of my favorite scriptures is Second Timothy two and 15, which is Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed. And that’s what you need to do, you have to study, you have to study all over again. And I do this, I spend 30 minutes every day on family law. And I read every regulations, I read case law, I would tell you to do things that are not related to any case that you’re actually working on. Because that’s things that you’re going to have to research anyway. You need to spend time learning about things that may come up later, that you don’t realize are going to come up later. So you need to actually set that time aside and make sure you’re doing that and hold yourself accountable this week. Today, yesterday, I didn’t do that. That means I have an hour to make up this weekend. And I will do that. So you want to make sure you’re setting that time aside. The next thing you need to do is to write, one of the best ways to understand a concept is to have to be able to explain it to another person. And to be able to explain it to another person who’s not a lawyer really shows that you get it. So if you spend the time taking the things that you’re studying, and you turn it into something written, you will really be able to show that you grasp the concept, and then the bonuses that you get content. So then you are able to take that content, put it on your website, put it in your social media and use it. So you want to make sure that you’re spending that time writing.

Becca Eberhart
Hey, guys, it’s Becca here. I’m sure you’ve heard Jim and Tyson mentioned the guild on the podcast and in the Facebook group. That’s because we’re seeing some really exciting things happening with guild members and their businesses. The Guild is this perfect mix of a community group coaching and a mastermind. Inside you’ll gain support, tap into a network of connections, and continue learning a common theme among successful entrepreneurs. There are so many benefits inside the guild, including weekly live events and discounts to all maximum lawyer events, head over to maximum forward slash the guild, check out all of the benefits and watch a few testimonials from current members. Investing in a community is like the self care of business ownership. Being in a community with other people who get it is crucial when you’re creating a rock solid foundation to build your business on one that’s strong enough to withstand setbacks, transitions and growth. So head to maximum and click on the guild page to join us. Now let’s get back to the episode.

Alycia Kinchloe
The next thing you want to do is join some organizations that are specific to the new practice area. So if you’re going to attend, maybe a committee meeting for family law do that, you’re going to get to learn the players. And this is a good way to lessen the curve. Because when you get inside those little rooms where it’s just practitioners, then you get all the stories, you know, the opposing counsel that are jerks, like we heard about the other day, you’re going to understand some things about the judges their nuances, you’re going to understand like that Judge no is really crazy. It’s not just you. And it’s not that you just don’t know anything. Those are the things that you need to learn. last about three weeks ago, I went to a bar association meeting for the custody committee. Again, this is Philadelphia, there were eight people in that custody committee meeting, eight. And what we discussed was a new bill that had just been proposed, that’s going to completely rewrite the custody statute and completely rewrite it. But there were eight people in that room. But what happens is that when we’re sitting there, and we’re talking about editing it and sending our comments up, I’m one of those eight people that get to do that. I’m also one of those eight people that get to advocate for the way that my clients feel about how this might affect them. And I’m also one of those eight people that gets to understand this. And when I went back to my office and talk to some of the lawyers who practice family law, and I told them, they had no clue about this thing coming down, or any clue that this was something that could possibly happen. If you put yourselves in those rooms, when you can get like that advanced knowledge. It gives you a leg up, join it and of court. Same thing. We have a family law and of court where is Judge family law judges, and family law attorneys, we have dinner, everybody’s a little bit loose, we have a couple of drinks. And then we talk about specific issues, we present certain things. And we’re sitting I’m sitting next to the judges that I that I go before and talking about how they look at these cases, that’s invaluable. And it’s worth $300. And I can see all the credit on top of it and dinner and a drink. Like though that’s something that’s worth you doing seeking out this information and finding it you need to do continuing legal education classes and not just for the credits that you’re going to get. for us. I have to do 12 credits every year. But what I did was I started buying the books. And then when I realized and go to the library and just check out the books, I started doing that instead. And then I will buy those books and add in my resources. But you need to start to do the Consumer Legal Education classes to help yourself become more of a deep dive expert in the area that you want to be in. Now aside from learning those things, another thing you can do is turn on Google alerts for things that are specific to your new area of practice. So I have Google alert set up for custody for divorce. It’s Pacific salmon, state custody divorce and child support. So for me every day, I get an alert about something that may have come up that it might be interesting. And then what that does is it helps me to kind of stay on top of something that might be new, and also allows me to curate content for my clients, for my potential clients for my family. And that’s a good way to kind of show that you know that. And when you’re the one putting that out, people will begin to see, hey, why is Alicia posting so much about family law and not about disability anymore, and that puts you on their radar. Now you need to build your network up again, your network has now needs to change just a little bit. Everyone who knew you during your previous practice area needs to learn that you’re doing something else, but you need to find new people. So just as you took the time to establish that previous network, you need to take the time to establish this one. So think about the people who are one or two people away from your new clients that you want to have. So for me, we’re in disability world, it may have been medical professionals, it may have been personal injury attorneys. Now it may be therapists, it may be estate attorneys, you want to take the time to kind of build up that networking, and get in the rooms with those people where you’re the only type of attorney or maybe even the only attorney in the room. So again, with the PTA stuff, most of the time, I’m the only attorney there. So whether it’s family law or disability, they’re going to come to me and ask me questions. And if I can’t help them, I can direct them to someone else. But if you get into some places where you’re the only attorney that really, really helps, you’re the only family law attorney that really, really helps you. But you need to rebuild that network. But you can’t forget your old network, they need to know that you’re doing something different. How many people have had somebody refer a case of somebody else who say they hire somebody else, because they didn’t know that you did XYZ. And that’s your fault, right? Is your fault, but they didn’t know that this is what you do. And part of that is because you’re not telling them. So you need to take the time to tell them. One way you can do that is by finding the intersection between what you used to do and what you’re doing now. So for example, for disability work, because I did it for like 20 years, I understand how disability payments work, I understand SSI payments, I understand SSD I payments, I understand auxilary benefits, I understand retirement benefits. I also now because I’m a family law attorney, I understand how they affect child support, and spousal support, and equitable division of property. And I can talk about that. And sometimes I can talk about that a little bit better than family law attorneys can talk about it when it comes to support. So then I can take that I can leverage that intersection, and be able to write about that and then send that out to my own network, send it out to my new network. And now my own network is really seeing that, okay, well, Alicia is doing something a little bit different. And she really kind of knows what she’s talking about. And that helps you to kind of build on that. And what it also does is that it gives you confidence, because you already know you’re really good at whatever it is you were doing. Now you’re being able to take that expertise and build on that. So you can kind of stand out a little bit, it’ll give you a little bit more confidence. So find the intersection because almost every practice of law intersects in some way, even maybe small with another area of practice. So take that, use that and leverage it. When you’re ready, start speaking, get in front of people and start talking about it. Start small, we heard about that start small, and start building up your confidence and speaking about it. And the more that you do that, the more you’re going to find, yeah, kind of got this like I’m okay. And it just helps you to be able to build up that confidence. One of the last things I want to talk about is finding a unique way to deliver content. And this is going to help you stand out. So what I started doing, when I first started my practice, after I got really kind of comfortable in what I was doing, I started giving workshops. So as a family law attorney, my primary focus is on fathers. I hope fathers because I felt like they were underserved. And that kind of links back to what I was doing before as a disability advocate. Now I’m an advocate for dads. So it kind of fits right and kind of what I’m used to doing. I found that there was there were a lot of fathers who did not understand the process, listen to the people who are calling you understand what their pain points are. And when you get that you can kind of figure out how to help them and how to talk to that community. So I really felt like people just said, I don’t even know what to expect. I’m afraid. Men don’t get treated fairly. Everybody gives the mom everything. The default is the mom. But that’s not the law in our state. There is no presumption that one parent is supposed to have custody over another parent. But a lot of fathers didn’t know that. So what I decided to do, because I saw this kind of running rampant is that I would give a workshop. So I did a workshop, the very first one. I had 20 people and I provided lunch, it was completely free. I didn’t expect anything, just ask them to come in. I use a co working space, again provided them lunch and I gave them the custody statutes. I gave them the support statutes. And I talked about it with them. I ran through with them. I told him what the process was like. I told him what to expect. I told him what the timelines were like. And now let them ask question Since, and that was all I asked for them, 100% of the men that came to that workshop, either hire me a consultant with me afterwards 100% And then they refer other people to me. So now this is something that I do every June, I’m doing one at the end of this month. But because I was doing these workshops, and because I was talking about it on social media, one of the councilmen in my area reached out to me and said, Hey, can you do this workshop in my district is so badly needed, my the guys in my district need something like this. So he’s sponsoring this workshop this month. And again, a fabulous way for you to be able to stand out, and I become known. So this now I’ve been doing family law for about five years. But there’s people at family court know me, Councilman are taking notice, other people are noticing me as the go to lawyer for fathers in an area where that is highly concentrated. And that’s what you kind of need to be able to do. But a lot of it, you just have to understand this psychological, you’re just gonna have to take that time a little bit and build yourself back up, build back up that practice area, but you can do it. So with regard to the brushy run, I made it my first race. My goal is to get 10 I’ve done it three times so far. I had to take off once because my sister decided to graduate college or something. And I decided, you know, important for me to go. And then this unfortunately, this last year, I got hurt and I was on crutches. But my goal is still to complete 10 brushy runs because the what I’m getting is understanding that it’s not a sprint, of course, because you’re not sprinting to, you know, two hours or 10 miles, but it’s a marathon. And then just what I’m getting by understanding what I need to do to get better to win to get through. It’s helping me so much in my business. And that’s what you need to look at. So you need to make sure you’re doing all those things to get better and just understand you can do it. Thank you.

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