Six Things to Keep You Delegating Effectively w/ Jess Birken 447
Categories: Podcast

Today we’re excited to share a presentation by Jess Birken from MaxLawCon 2021! Tune in to learn more about delegating more effectively.

Jess is the former CEO & Managing Partner at Urban Birken PLLC, a boutique firm that specialized in serving the nonprofit community. She has worked with nonprofit organizations for most of her career. Before becoming a private practice attorney, she spent four years inside a national nonprofit organization, Pheasants Forever.

She worked her way through law school and had the beginnings of a promising career in criminal law after graduation. However, Jess quickly realized that going to court is depressing! In court, the toothpaste is out of the tube and you’re just trying to clean up the mess. Her colleagues reassured her that she would become callous and get used to the grim reality. But she thought that sounded like a terrible personal outcome and decided she needed to change course. 

Jess really missed the nonprofit sector. As a result, She went back to grad school and earned a Masters in Nonprofit Management. She rejoined the nonprofit sector through her work with Pheasants Forever where her role was a marriage of attorney work and federal grant management and administration. Since that time, Jess has run her own firms and is now the owner of Birken Law Office a firm designed to help nonprofits.

1:16 there are some things that suck

4:05 you know this drill

7:12 the two Bobs from corporate

10:02 why is this all worth it

14:28 in managing your inbox

17:03 it’s too weird

Watch the podcast here.




Transcript: Six Things to Keep You Delegating Effectively with Jess Birken 

Speaker 1
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2021. Keep listening to hear Jess Bergen as we share her talk six things to keep you delegating effectively. You can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Now to the episode.

Speaker 2
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum liar, podcast, podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.

Jess Birkin
Alright, my timer is counting down. I was gonna do my talk like one way and I practice it that way. But then at 5am I woke up and I was like, fuck that I’m going to do a totally different way. So forgive me if I screw it up along the way. All right. So that’s me. We’re going to talk about things you can do to delegate effectively. I’m just Birkin. Follow me on Twitter, because like Brooke said, it’s a fun place to be. And if you want to get on my monthly email, I’m not a consultant. I just like lawyers and I like sharing stuff with you and being pen pals. So you can be pen pals with me. If you go to hacker practice that lawyer. Okay, so um, there’s some things that suck or can suck about being a lawyer. And this was how I felt like this little Lego guy with his little frowny face about my practice, a couple years into being a full solo. I have this like high maintenance clients, they’re calling me at all hours, stuffs just disorganized. I’m drinking out of the end of the firehose tyranny of the urgent, probably some of this sounds familiar to you, either you’ve been there or you are there, right. And I really wanted to fix that. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I left an in house gig to be partners with another woman. I did that for four years, I managed the firm. I was on my own now I have nobody to tell me what to do. I have nobody to argue with about my technology. Why was I feeling like this? And how could I fix it? I wanted to be feeling like this little guy right here. Right? I wanted to control my time, I wanted to control my schedule, I wanted to feel like I was winning. Like, I’m my own boss. So if I’m not happy, that’s my fucking ball. Right? So I’m going to tell you six of the things that I did to get things off my plate, get my life back in order and love my practice more. That’s like, my whole goal is like, we should be loving our lawyer life and not being miserable, anxiety ridden alcoholics. We have too much of that in our industry, right? So the first thing I did, and these are not necessarily in order, but I said bye to my phone calls. If you are still answering your phone every time it rings, please stop doing that. Okay, I stopped doing that a long time ago, and it has done wonders for my mental health. Also, just if you are answering your own calls, just think about like, if you need to see the cardiologist do you call the cardiology clinic and the cardiologist answers the phone? No. Would you even go to see that doctor? If they did? You’d be like What the eff is going on there? Don’t answer the phone. You don’t need to so I gave away my calls to Smith AI. I love Smith rubies. Great to have heard good things about them. Give away your phone call answering. You don’t need to be the person who answers the phone. Alright, then another thing I gave away was scheduling because scheduling is the never ending story. Okay, if you grew up in the 80s you get this reference. This is a movie. It was really great. You should check it out. But scheduling Oh, hey, Ryan met yet Max law conference. It was so great to connect. Let’s get coffee sometime. Sure. That’d be great. Jess, I’m available it on Tuesday at Two and Wednesday at 10. And Friday at three, three days go by I email Ryan back yet Wednesday at 10. Sounds good. Oh, sorry. I’m no longer available at the time I got a new client come in, you know this drill. It takes like 16 emails between you and your friend or you and opposing counsel or you and your client to nail down when you’re going to have the meeting. Just fuck that. Okay, use online scheduling. I started using online scheduling. And I will admit, I was terrified to do that. Like, what will my clients think? Oh my god. So I started using it with networking. The other lawyers and CPAs that I network with loved it. It’s super easy. And a lot of times I give like a whole hour talk about how to use online scheduling. And the one question that always comes up is, well, I can’t give clients access to my whole calendar. That sounds like chaos, but you get to control when people can schedule with you. So that’s if you want more about this. I have a whole guide about online scheduling. Email me, I’ll send it to you. It’s a life changing experience. So I got rid of my schedule. Okay, another thing I got rid of was my inbox. I delegated away my inbox to another human. She reads all of my emails, she responds to everything that she can possibly respond to. And she puts a little flag on the ones that she can’t. And I have my inbox sorted. So I only see the flagged items. Now, why do I have frozen because it is really hard to let this one go, I have a good friend in the room, who shall remain nameless. Oh, he’s volunteering out himself. John is going to delegate his inbox after this conference. Because we talked about what life changing magic it is to get out of your inbox, right? You’re in the tyranny of the urgent. And the best way you can do that is to hire it out whether it’s a trusted VA, a part time, Assistant, whatever. But you need to get out of your inbox because the top of your law license is you being a lawyer, are you acting like a firm owner, not triaging the new email that’s coming in? Another thing I let go was lead nurturing, following up with those sales leads? In my practice, I work with nonprofits. It’s a hell of a long lead cycle, like, Hey, I’m thinking about starting a nonprofit. Okay, great. Why don’t you come in for a paid consultation? Well, I got to think about that, then they come back like six months later, right. That’s just the nature of the beast that I’m working with. So that means I gotta stay top of mind, I’ve got to, you know, follow up with them, I got to check in with them because it’s a long sales cycle. So I could waste all of my time, or my staffs time doing that. And we do talk to people. But we also have delegated this way through automation by using Active Campaign where we set up a lead nurturing sequence. So after we have a human interaction with them, active campaign takes over and starts them on the lead nurturing email drip. Another thing I delegated was my intake, there’s been a whole bunch of presentations about intake, how to do it, how to delegate it, I delegated this to my wing woman, Megan, who’s like my right hand, she’s also the person who manages my inbox. You don’t want your intake process to be like the two Bob’s from corporate and in. We have people who get this reverence, I’m liking this. You just don’t want it to feel like a horrible corporate process, right? And you don’t want it to feel like a high pressured sales process. If you were in the talk at the top of the breakout sessions, sales is not something we do to people, right? So delegate that to somebody who has high empathy, and can do it well. Alright, then, the another sixth thing that I delegated was chasing client documents, people come in, they’re all hot to trot. They’re like, I’m gonna hire you. We’re gonna do this nonprofit, yes. Okay, we’re gonna do a startup. And then overnight, these clients turn it into the T 1000, from Terminator two. And somehow they are able to just like avoid every request for documents and information that I can put it them, like, they can just go through steel bars by morphing their bodies. I don’t understand it. But I know you get this if you have to collect homework from people, you have this experience, too. So how did I delegate this? Well, I have a Megan she does some of the chasing. But also I use that active campaign account that I started for the lead nurturing to send people on a drip, hey, I need your homework. We’re going to start a nonprofit, I need to know the name of the nonprofit who’s going to be on the board. What’s your Registered Office Address going to be active campaign, we’ll send them a reminder that says, hey, client, you have homework to do. It’s due in seven days. Guess what they don’t, they don’t click the link and fill it out. So two days later, they get another email that says, hey, client, still waiting on that homework from you? It’s doing four days, whatever. I can’t do math right now. I’ve automated that. delegated it away. It’s now the email that’s chasing them. Do we have to still chase people around a little bit? Yes, of course. But so much of that got delegated away.

Speaker 4
Running your own practice can be scary whether you’re worried about where the next case will come from. Feeling like you’re losing control of your growing firm are frustrated from being out of touch with everyone working under your license, the stress can be overwhelming. We will show you how to turn that fear into the driving force of clarity, focus, stability and confidence. That eliminates the roller coaster of guilt ridden second guessing and mistake making to get you off that hamster wheel for good.

Tyson Mutrux
Maximum lawyer and minimum time is a step by step playbook that shows you how to identify what your firm needs and how to proactively get it at every stage of the game. You’re prepped and excited for the inevitable growth that will follow name the lifestyle that you want and we’ll show you how to become a maximum lawyer and minimum time. Find out more by going to maximum forward slash course.

Jess Birkin
Now, this is where the talk goes off the rails because I’ve decided to do something else. Why is it This all worth it. Why do we wait? Like we’re every talk, this whole conference is about delegating and being efficient. Why does that matter? Why should you do this? Well, what I realized at 5am, the benefit of delegating all of these things, was it, this magically freed me up to actually be a firm owner, I got my time back. And I got to be the Twitter person worth a follow, because actually had time to do the firm owner things that I needed to do. And I actually accidentally became some sort of national expert about nonprofit law, because I was able to actually go create the content that you’re supposed to be creating, to work on the metadata tags, or whatever million he was talking about. I, I got to do those things, because I delegated all this other stuff away. And it freed me up to be the firm owner. And that freed me up to become just Birkin, that is all over Twitter and doing all the things. So I just want to impress upon you. That’s why, right? Because we can all sit here and tell you all the ways you should delegate and all the things you should do, and you should hire this VA, but like, why are we doing that, so that we can actually get the other stuff done that as firm owners we’re needing to do, there’s just not more time in the day, right. And the other upside to this is, as some of my friends in the room know, I’ve been like wearing sunglasses at this conference, because I got like three head injuries in a row this spring, which means I have this whacked out post concussion syndrome. And I actually can’t even work a whole day anymore. So now I’ve delegated away so much stuff that even when I am like half dead inside and can’t actually look at my computer, my firm is still alive, my firm is still cooking along and I’m the only lawyer there I am a solo with a couple of staff members. That is the magic of the delegation. And that is why it’s important that you do that. Also, you should buy Long Term Disability Insurance. But I just like that really, I think is the most important nugget here. Because we all know we should write we all know we should do these things. But like I just want you to see like this is a living example of like, why the delegation matters and what it can do for you because I am objectively not the smartest nonprofit attorney in my state or in the nation. But I get referrals from all over the place, because people think that I am. So that’s what it can do for you. Right. I’m ending a little early unless folks have questions. Yes. Okay. In the back. Juste. Oh, great question. So the question is, on the drip campaign for the client homework, how do you get them out of that, like so that they’re not just getting reminder emails forever? The answer is Active Campaign is smart enough that when they click the link in the email that says complete your homework, Active Campaign knows that they’ve accomplished the goal, and it stops the sequence. So if they’re a really good client, and they click it immediately, they get no reminders. Yes, right here. Yeah. So the question is my fellow solo, here’s like, I am drowning in the legal work. But I’ve done a lot of delegating. How do I deal with the legal work? So I’m right where you are. And because my head doesn’t work all day. Now, I’m sort of like, I gotta hire an associate. Now, I don’t know what to do. What I have done up to this point, because I will like, avoid hiring a human. Like, I will go to lengths, like I will teach myself new software, I don’t want to hire more staff. Right. That’s been my goal. I’ve been using law clerk dot legal. And there’s incredible talent available in that pool of people that are on there. I charge flat fees. So it’s easy for me to say I’m willing to pay x for this project. And that still leaves me a margin. If you’re an hourly Biller, you just figure out okay, this is what I’m going to build this person’s hours out at, it works brilliantly. So that’s a great midway step. There was another hand in the back. Yeah. So if I understand your question, Bill, and correct me if I don’t, do I have a system for the intake person to make notes about what’s important? Oh, in managing your inbox, how do you teach that person? What is important and what is not important? Yeah, so I don’t have a documented system. But what my experience was, is here comes this 24 year old who’s not a lawyer doesn’t know anything, you know, other than they’re a competent person in the world that I’ve hired. So she’s going to read every email and try and figure out what to do with it. And basically, at first, that’s a pretty slow process, you’re gonna pay the tuition. So at the end of the day, or like maybe a couple of designated times during the day, we would, you know, get on the phone or sit down together. And she would say, Okay, there’s this email from so and so is, you know, this seems urgent, is it really? How do I know, this email? Am I can I respond to this? I don’t really know what I should do with that. And basically over time, I taught her and taught her. And then if it was something like, is this a two second answer? Can you just tell me the answer? I would say, Yep. Tell the client, you spoke to me. And I said this, right. So over time, she built up a knowledge. And then it’s like that number of flagged emails gets smaller and smaller because her competence grows and grows. You got to pay that tuition. Now. Can you document it in Tetro a little bit? Yeah, but there’s just so much that’s a judgment call on the fly. I think you just have to pay the tuition with that person. Other. Yes, right here. Oh, I love that question. The question was, how long did it take you? So many times, I’ll give a CLE. And people just are like, there’s too many things. I can’t do it. You’re a weirdo. I didn’t start doing all these things at one time. This is like, six things of probably 150 things. But those are six big ones. Right? And that’s probably over the course of a two year period, let’s say, you know, I first I gave away my calls. Then I hired Megan and gave her my inbox. You know, like, these are not like, well, I just go home tomorrow and like, do all the things. It takes time. So give yourself time. But keep you gotta keep moving to you can’t just forget about it. Right. There was another hand. Yeah, the question is what online scheduling program do you use? I use acuity scheduling. Microsoft Office has a baked in one, I think it’s trash, but it is free. If you have 365. Calendly is another popular one. Personally, I don’t like the user interface on that one. It’s it’s too weird. And I just want to see calendar. acuity scheduling is amazing. It’s super flexible. It’s reasonably priced. And you can add, you can have your account include staff, just like a hair salon, you got to book with your person, you can have more than you on the account, which I like. What else? I thought I saw another hand over here somewhere. Okay, well, I’ll give you because I have a minute and 36 seconds. So I can give you my bonus tip, which was I like my law firm is kind of like a Frankenstein machine. So our friend from blue shark was talking about like having a system and building things. And this is kind of like when you stitch it all together. This is basically my workflow and my CRM and these are like the tools that I have used to stitch everything together, right. So those lead nurturing the lead nurturing comes in, they deal with Active Campaign consults, get scheduled acuity scheduling, they fill out an intake form that’s on jot form, client homework happens on jot form to following up. We do it live through our email, but we also do it over active campaign, we open a file, we have an intake form, client homework, again, gotta get the documentation using a jot form. They don’t hire me, that’s fine. They go back onto the Active Campaign because I’ve got a monthly Hello email that will they’ll get forever until they unsubscribe. And then I do all my social media through co schedule. All right, so that’s me. Get at me on Twitter. Let’s be pen pals. Let’s hang out. I love meeting new lawyers and talking about our practices and how we can improve. So thanks for having me.

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