In today’s episode, Jim and Tyson chat with one of the founders of Law Student Connect, Jordan Gardner! They dive into the journey of how this platform came to be and what it’s all about. If you’re interested in learning more about connecting law firms with law students or anything in between, check out this week’s episode.
The first time Jordan sat across the table from his senior partner and watched him strike his time entries from a client’s bill was a defining moment in his life. Because of the compensation structure, every stroke of his pen was money Jordan wouldn’t be receiving, and time he could never get back. When he left his office, he started dreaming of a better way to hedge the risk of wasting time on tasks that clients wouldn’t pay full price for.
That’s how Law Student Connect was born. In 2019, Jordan left his job and jumped fully into creating a platform specifically for attorneys to outsource legal research, drafting, doc review, and other basic tasks to law students who were anxious to test themselves on real-world projects.
4:50 at the tail end
8:34 people-oriented person
12:13 hire entry-level law students
18:36 law students are hungry for this
23:40 work is not as routine or predictable
Jim’s Hack: Whether you join the Guild or not, owning a law firm can be isolating, so make sure you have a place to go where you can find the support you need to let go of your stress.
Jordan’s Tip: Check out the productivity app called, Text Expander. For a small monthly fee, you can type in 6 keystrokes and generate a predefined paragraph, which saves you time.
Tyson’s Tip: The DJI Mimo camera is a handheld camera that has delivered amazing results. You can control the camera remotely from your phone. They also have an app that you don’t need the camera for called, LightCut. You can take a group of videos or photos, click a button, and it will put together a promo video.
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Transcript: Law Student Connect w/ Jordan Gardner
Jim: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: Tyson, my friend, it’s good to see you. We haven’t done a show in a while. I guess, we have, but it’s always good to connect and have great guests like we have on today. I’m excited about hearing his entrepreneurial journey. And I always love it when we meet lawyers who do something beyond running a firm and sort of starting a business where they find a need.
Tyson: I do, too. I think it’s funny. You say that now but there have been times where you bitch about people starting side hustles. So, don’t tell me you’re always excited. I think you just happen to be excited by this one in particular.
Jim: That could be true.
Tyson: That’s totally true. But no, I’m excited about it, too.
So, it’s good to see you as well. I don’t know if we recorded last week. Maybe we did. I don’t remember. But maybe that’s why you feel like you’ve not seen me in a while. I don’t know.
Jim: Do you want to go ahead and introduce Jordan?
Tyson: I do. So, let’s go and get started.
I like this bio, Jordan. It starts by this. It says, “The first time I sat across the table from my senior partner and watched him strike my time entries from a client’s bill was a defining moment in my life.” So, I like that. I like how you have a bio that tells a story. But, Jordan, he is the– I guess, the founder of Law Student Connect. And we’re going to let Jordan talk about Law Student Connect, and what it is, and all that.
But before we get to that, Jordan, tell us about your journey and how you got to where you are now. And I’m assuming that that story is going to be part of your journey.
Jordan: Yes. Yes, it is. Thank you. Thanks, Tyson.
I like to tell that story because it really truly was a defining moment. It’s a hard moment. I graduated law school, went to UNLV, graduated in 2013, and started.
So, kind of at the tail end of a terrible time to start out as an attorney. A hard time to get a job. I took a job that, looking back, I probably wouldn’t recommend to many young attorneys do due to the compensation structure where it’s really, really eat what you kill, right? And it was a 50% of whatever you collect.
So, I use that story. You know, it’s a fun way to introduce myself. But, also, it’s not fun. It was a terrible time because the reality was that, at the end of any case, I sit down with a partner who was managing that case and you watched all that research time that I put in, and all the extra drafts I put in, and you’re watching him strike, strike. And that just means that’s my income. That’s my dinner. That’s my family, right? And so, that’s when I started creating this idea of Law Student Connect.
But before we get to that, I was in private practice for only a couple of years before– let’s see, I think two– two and a half years in a small firm in southern Utah, a small firm of about 10 attorneys. And I pretty quickly talked out of that to go to an in‑house counsel role which brought me up here to– I’m currently in Idaho. So, I came up here with a healthcare company and did that stint for about a year before they had me switch over to– well, and I opted to switch over to operations because that’s more where my passion lies. Rather than in the legal seat, I like to be on the business end of things. Definitely, more passionate about the business and even the business of law rather than the practice of law.
And it was here, in Idaho, I met my co‑founder. Pitched him on the idea towards the end of 2018. And we both jumped ship from our current jobs the following March and said, “Let’s do this full time and try and build something here.” So, then, we jumped into Law Student Connect.
Jim: So, I always love to think about that day before you left your old job and then the day that you started your new job. I always ask our guests about that. So, talk to us about what that last day was like. And then, you have this idea. How do you start implementing?
Jordan: Our day, for sure. My co‑founder is much more entrepreneurial. He’s an attorney but has had a lot more entrepreneurial experiences and I asked him the question, “How long am I going to feel undervalued, you know, in my current– in all the jobs that I had had up till then?” And he said, “As long as you let them undervalue you.” And that was kind of a defining point as well that I decided, “Yeah. I’ve got to strike it out on my own.”
I’m kind of a control freak. I like to be in the driver’s seat. I don’t like to be an employee as much. And that was kind of the– I guess, the straw– or the statement that broke the camel’s back, that sent me over the edge to say, “You know what? Let’s do this. Let’s take a risk.” And, thankfully, I was in a position where I could take a risk. I mean, that’s a big part of it. My wife has a pretty steady income that allowed me to step back and chase a dream for a while, so.
And then, the day after, is like you’re going into the wild west, trying to figure out, trying to carve out a plan of, “Okay. How are we going to do this? How are we going to fund this? What does it look like?” And those early days, what we thought it was going to look like is not what it looks like now. That’s fair.
Tyson: Jordan, I’m really curious. If you compare practicing law to running this startup, give me the differences and the similarities between the two.
Jordan: So, what I struggled with, in law practice, I’m a pretty people‑oriented person. I was surprised– and this is probably the nature, you know, of being a young attorney as well, but I was a bit surprised at the lack of human involvement that I had, right? And that was actually very hard on me. You know, it was really go in and sit in front of your computer for 10 hours a day, in an environment that felt like you’re working in a library.
So, that’s how I’m going to paint that picture compared to, you know, what I’m doing now. I have a lot more free rein to– what I really enjoyed doing about– what I am doing now with Law Student Connect is connecting with attorneys and law students, right? I take time to have calls with law students and offer some guidance where I can. And I find a lot of satisfaction out of that.
I love meeting with attorneys for feedback. I’ve done that for the last– really, made that a focus over the last probably eight months is meeting with some of our users, finding out they like, finding out what the practice is about, and seeing how we can help come up with some solutions for maybe some of the problems that they’re having. And that kind of problem solving, I appreciate a lot more. And even though the lifecycle of building out an app is quite long, I would still say that the fruits of your labor are often realized quicker than they can be in practicing law, right, because sometimes that can drag on for an awful long time and the immediate satisfaction is hard to come by.
Jim: I think it’s funny that you started your career in Las Vegas where our friends, Talitha and Kristin, started Law Clerk Legal. And I’m just wondering if you guys have knife fights when you’re going down the Strip?
Jordan: No. That’s– yeah, that’s– it’s really interesting because when I started– if I go back through their history, we were starting at the same– kind of the same time. I started– so, like, I worked with a design company, and registered the domain and everything in 2015. And I think that’s when they were starting theirs as well but neither of us really picked up steam. I think, if I looked fairly recently, that they kind of really launched 2019. And I’m not sure if that’s accurate or not. I think I had seen that previously.
And I had put this– when I took the in‑house counsel job, I put this on the shelf and left it for a few years until I pitched to my co‑founder. And it’s interesting to see where they are now. And I often kick myself for not staying with it.
But I don’t see LawClerk.Legal as a competitor. I see that as a bit of, if you’re looking for outsourced, high‑skilled labor, I still send people that direction. I say, you know, “Don’t come to me for a law student. This is where they’re trying to learn, cut their teeth, and you have an opportunity to help mentor. That’s where you need to be if what you’re looking for is, you know, a nuanced water law issue or something like that.” And even beyond that, right? There is a limit. There is a limit to what I feel comfortable with law students doing that’s still a bit higher than what most attorneys feel comfortable with law students doing.
So, so far, no. There’s been no knife fights. Nothing like that. And, so far, I don’t feel like we’re in that same competitive space.
Also, that’s not necessarily our goal. Our goal is not to be a marketplace as the end game. That’s kind of the fuel that drives our other mission of helping to redefine and change the way that we hire entry‑level law students. We use the marketplace as sort of fuel to get feedback, get performance data, and keep law students interested in coming back to see what other job prospects that are out there.
Tyson: So, let’s talk a little bit more about Law Student Connect though. Tell people about the platform, how they get access to it, how students get access to it. Tell us what people do. Tell us about all that.
So, Law Student Connect. What we’re hoping to be is the easiest way to work with law students remotely, right? So, it is an online platform. Access it. You don’t have to download an app from the App Store. Access it at www. or– skip the www, just type in lawstudentconnect.com and you’ll get there.
But it is basically an online marketplace, at this point, for attorneys to outsource work to law students. It takes less than five minutes for an attorney to get on, to create an account, and, subject to our approval, we’ll go through and verify the attorney’s status – active status, and then post a project, right?
And those projects, typically, we’re seeing a lot lately, of things like blog posts, things like complaint filings. Definitely research, obviously research. That’s kind of the bread and butter for a law student.
Some of the interesting ones are, we get a few attorneys who will post saying, “Hey, I don’t know much about this practice area or this type of business, can you give me a one‑page summary of the rules around this, operating this business in this state?” Or something like that, right?
Another one. I’m helping an immigration attorney, right now, trying to come up with– you know, he’s just starting out. So, how can we utilize law students to help sort of babysit the process of document collection, right, so that he’s not on the phone every few days saying, “Hey, where are these documents at? I can’t move forward if you don’t give these to me.” Well, I’ve got a hundred law students that want that kind of practical experience, you know. And while that’s the worst part of your day, that might be the most interesting part of their day, right?
So, we’re seeing a lot of those kinds of projects. And, also, just kind of document review. Our largest project just came through which was review 18,000 emails over the course of a month. And if you’re looking for big law experience, there it is. There’s your first year of big law experience. You won’t get a better project.
Tyson: So, Jordan, is there a funnel? I mean, do you have like a funnel where these people could be potential hires for these law firms?
Jordan: That’s the goal. Yeah, absolutely. That’s the goal.
And, right now, I’ve pulled back on that a little bit because we’ve got to hit a critical mass of law students before we open up that job board. I launched the job board and this project board at the same and we just weren’t getting enough applicants on the job posts that were out there because, you know, at 250, at 500 students, you’d think, “Well, spread across 50 states, that’s not too many law students per area – geographical area.” So, when you really– unless you’re looking for remote work.
But if it’s an in‑office job, we just weren’t seeing that kind of traction yet so I pulled that off of the platform with the idea that let’s get to a critical mass of students – and I’ve set some arbitrary goals of what that is, and we will reopen that. But that is the goal. And we saw it happen yesterday, actually. I met with a student a month ago, had a really niched goal. She’s a 1L, hopes to get into health law policy. And I told her that’s hard to carve out as a 1L student, even as a 3L student, you’re just, you know, there is a path that you have to follow.
But I was able to go through our list and say, “Okay, who’s in our platform that’s a health law attorney?” We were able to track someone that hadn’t posted any projects yet. I said, hey. I reached out and told him, “I’ve got this student who would really like to get in here. I see that’s kind of on the tangents of what you’re doing.” And he ended up posting a project. I checked in with him yesterday. And she’s now interviewing for a summer associate position there as a 1L which is fantastic, right, because that’s where her career aspirations are taking her.
But she’s also– I think she’s based– I can’t remember where she’s based but she hopes to go to DC and that’s pretty far outside of her career services’ geographical domain, and that’s kind of where we can step in and say, “Look, let’s erase the geographical boundaries that limits your career services and let’s connect you with attorneys where you want to go back to practice, regardless of whether you’re at school.”
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Jim: You’re listening to the Maximum Lawyer Podcast. Our guest today is Jordan Gardner, one of the founders of Law Student Connect.
I’m wondering, Jordan, what’s your biggest pain point? Is it finding lawyers to be sort of mentor and employers? Is it to find qualified law students? I mean, most law students I knew– when I was in law school, like this would’ve been beyond me. And I was always looking for like a local job. So, what kind of an education do you have to do for law students? And what’s your biggest headache?
Jordan: Yeah. So, law students, they’re hungry for this. So, we don’t have a problem getting law students. And I get several law students signing up a day.
The attorneys is definitely the pain point. And that’s just FaceTime. Really, getting that FaceTime is tough. And I get it. I was in that. Every time somebody walked into my office, I was thinking, “This is a point to I’ll never get back,” you know, soon as somebody opens their mouth. And so, I understand that. And we’re trying to overcome that.
I’m super hopeful, actually, for the feature that we are currently hyper focused on is adding a legal assistant sub user. And why I’m so excited for that because, if I can create this sub user account that can go in and post a project subject to that attorney’s approval, so say that attorney just gets an email that says, “Hey, this project’s ready for you to approve.” Log‑in and approve and let that legal assistant kind of manage that creation as well as selecting the candidate. Then, I think, that’s going to be game changing because what we’re going to do is offer a weekly webinar training, the legal assistants, how to do it, how to use the system.
So, if I can say, “Hey, Jim, Tyson, I know you don’t got time for this. However, we’ve got a weekly training here. I’d love to train one of your legal assistants. Let them sit through this and see if it’d be right for your firm and see if you can find any value in it.” So, I’m hopeful that little features like that will really be game changing in getting some attorney involvement.
Tyson: So, I’m really fascinated by this– the whole idea, this whole concept. I think it’s a great idea. And this is something that I don’t think would have worked 10 years ago. I think it’d work now.
But have you had any pushback from law students because they maybe want to have that line item on their resume? Like, I worked for this firm, for this internship. Are you getting any pushback for things like that?
Jordan: No. And that’s kind of– you’re touching on something that’s been a bit of a surprise for me. A lot of our law students already have that internship. This is what they’re doing on top of it, right?
So, as I’ve sought some feedback, some of our students– or a lot of our students are only hoping for one to 10 hours a month, you know, because they’re either waiting for a clerkship to start or an internship to start, or this is what they’re doing, say, on the weekends, or even just during the school year.
So, it kind of plays a different role on the resume line item. But what role that does play is that we’re really helping them create – what am I trying to think of? Writing samples, right? Writing samples of various types of work that you probably wouldn’t– you may not get, but also in its unedited form, right?
As you get onto the platform, you’ll see, we collect testimonials from the attorneys. So, we’re almost trying to replace– not replace but to maybe supplement the reference letter with, now, a quick, short testimonial from a hundred attorneys, right? If I can get a Google review of a law student from a hundred different people, there’s some value there. And that’s kind of the resume line items that we’re trying to be.
Jim: So, what do lawyers need to know about using your service? Like, what can we do? I mean, our listeners are all law firm owners, right? So, we’re your sweet spot? We’re your target market. Make the pitch, best you can, for why people should think about this. How does it benefit the law firm owners?
Jordan: Yeah. So, what I really think the sweet spot is when you’re in those inflection points, where you’re not sure if you’re ready to grow. You’re not sure if you’re ready to make that hire, right, or maybe you’re starting out, right, and you need that extra bandwidth. You need some time. You need something that’s probably a little more skilled than what you might find outsourcing overseas, right?
I use this example. I was talking to a firm out of Arizona that needed some blog articles written and their frustration– and it’s been my frustration in the past, when I’ve sought blog articles from international writers, that sometimes it takes them three different drafts, right? The draft that they gave you back, the draft that you had to redo, and the draft that whoever’s approving it has to redo. So, what you get out of a law student is someone that is in the subject matter in a very intense way that can probably offer some insights, offer some writing, that you’re going to see exceeds that skill level than what you might find overseas.
Now, I don’t want to say that blog writing is our specialty. And that’s not what we are focused on. But, going back to the question, where does this fit? If you need five hours, 10 hours, 20 hours, that doesn’t quite justify making a hire over the course of a month. I mean, 5, 10, 15, 20 hours over the course of a month. And maybe that work is not as routine or as predictable as you feel comfortable with making a hire, this is a way that you can say I want to get some quality work on an on‑demand basis from a law student who’s also looking– you know, maybe their goal is not to work for you either, maybe their goal is just to gain some experience in the practice area, or just to gain some experience in general. That’s where I see this fitting is, if you’ve got a need of 1 to 20 hours a month, we would love to talk to you.
Tyson: Love it. Good stuff. I’ve already signed up so I’m looking forward to trying it out. So–
Jordan: Nice. I heard a notification going off in my ear. And so, I thought that might be you.
Tyson: Nice. Very cool.
So, Jordan, if people have questions about the service, how do they get in touch with you?
Jordan: You can find me just about anywhere. I’m in the Facebook group. But if you get in on the website or on the app at lawstudentconnect.com, you’ll see a little chat icon that goes directly to me as well. And full website. To get started, try lawstudentconnect.com.
Tyson: Very good.
We do need to wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to join us in the big Facebook group. There’s a lot of great activity going on.
If you want a more high‑level conversation go to maxlawguild.com. Remember to get your tickets to MaxLawCon2022. Go to MaxLawCon2022.com. And, as you’re listening to the rest of this episode, please give us a five‑star review. It helps us spread the love.
Jimmy, what’s your hack of the week?
Jim: This weekend, in The Guild, one of our members expressed how she’s been stressed out since the start of the year and everybody chimed in with great tips and ideas and ways to sort of lessen that stress. And they range from meditation to exercise – all these great things.
And I bring that up because, whether you join The Guild or not, owning a law firm is a very isolated process. And it’s the situation where no one else in your firm really knows what you’re going through. So, whether you join The Guild or some other place, make sure that you have the support that you need to let that steam out.
I’m sure that the person who posted that felt much better not just from the wonderful suggestions that she got from the other Guild members, but also just from the simple act of putting it down onto, you know, the Facebook post. So, I think there’s just great value in having a team of people that understand what you’re going through and to have that release.
Tyson: Excellent stuff. I think it’s great advice, Jimbo.
Jordan, we always ask our guests to give a tip or a hack. Do you have a tip or hack for us?
Jordan: Yes. I have been obsessed, in the last two weeks, over text expander. If you’re not familiar with text expander or maybe you are. Maybe this has already been a previous suggestion. But for about $2 a month, it’s a little app, you type in six keystrokes and populate a full paragraph – predefined paragraph of whatever you want. So, I use that a lot lately.
Tyson: Excellent. Very good.
So, my tip– I don’t know if I have it here. I thought I had it on my desk but I don’t. I know I’ve talked about it in The Guild. I don’t think I’ve talked about it on the podcast but I’m going to give you. If I have, I’ve got another bonus that goes with this as well.
So, I bought this DJI Mimo. It’s a camera. So, it’s this handheld camera. So, if you’re on video, you can actually see it. So, it’s this little handheld camera. And if you’re listening to the podcast, just search DJI Mimo.
It’s an amazing handheld camera. It’s got a built‑in joystick. It is amazing. You can control the camera from your phone, remotely. So, from their phone app, you can actually remotely control the camera. It’s amazing.
But they’ve got this additional app that goes with it that you don’t even need the camera for. It’s called LightCut. So, L‑I‑G‑H‑T‑C‑U‑The, that you can take a group of videos or photos, and then just click a button, and it will cut together a like promo video for you. Like just with one click. You don’t have to do anything else. It’ll add the music. It’ll add. It has some built‑in text. You can add text if you want. But it really is cool.
So, if you shot like a pretty long video, you can actually put these videos together. It’ll splice it together and create a promo video for you for the beginning of the video. It’s really, really cool.
Or, if you want like a social media promo video for promoting something, it’s really awesome. So, it’s fantastic. So, I really, really recommend it. It’s called LightCut.
All right, Jordan. Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. I think this is a great idea. I wish you the best of luck.
Jordan: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Jim: Thanks, Jordan.
And just one last tip for everybody who’s listening. I just Googled Law School Connect. And be careful because it wants to suggest Connecticut. So just make sure that you click Law School Connect and not Connecticut.
Tyson: That’s good advice, yeah. So, be careful. Just type in lawschoolconnect.com.
Jim: Thanks, Jordan.
Tyson: So, thanks, Jordan. Appreciate it.
Jordan: Thank you. Bye.
Tyson: See you, bud.