Are you a law firm owner who is overworked and needs more support? In this episode of the Maximum Lawyer Podcast, Tyson Mutrux discusses the crucial role of delegation in law firm management.
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Do you need help in maximizing productivity as a lawyer? In this podcast episode, Jim and Tyson talk to solopreneur Lauren Lester, who runs her own estate and family law firm, Lester Law. She shares her journey into law as a second career.
Lauren shares a few tips attorneys can use to maximize productivity. For new attorneys, it is important to identify where inefficiencies lie in the repetitive tasks. Because you are doing things over and over, it makes sense to see what is not working or how to develop a system to do that thing better so it becomes easier and faster for you. For Lauren, she uses technology as leverage to make these tasks more efficient. For those that are too busy to develop systems, it might be best to focus on the one task that either takes the longest to do or is extremely important and build something around it.
Another tip Lauren shares is how to manage a busy personal life with an equally busy business. It is really important to schedule time for yourself when you have a busy life. One thing to do is protect your time. For example, Lauren shares how a client really wanted to meet with her the following morning at 9am, but she already booked an hour 1 gym session. She responded back saying the earliest time available was 11am. Clients do not need to know your work schedule. Doing this will allow for a more structured day where you can fit in time for personal care.
A lot of attorneys struggle with the billable hour, which is charging clients a fee by the hour. You will always hear people say “They charge by the hour” or “I pay $200 for a client call with my lawyer”. For attorneys, it is important to have value based pricing. In this profession, most have worked in the industry for a long time and have a lot of experience and expertise, but do not bill clients based on that. A shift in mindset towards billing based on the value you bring to a client is needed to succeed.
In this day and age, there has been a shift in having a better work life balance. No one wants to work 80 hour weeks, feel burned out and not enjoy the money they make. Lauren provides advice on how older attorneys can work with the younger generation to learn this. The value of an employee is not the time they spend sitting at a desk, but hitting benchmarks in a time that works for them. For example, an employee may be able to accomplish a task in an hour as opposed to spending their whole work day doing it. That person should not be punished because they did their job quicker. As long as the objective for the business is being met, who cares how fast it took them to complete it.
Take a listen to learn more!
Jim's Hack: Read or listen to $100M Leads: How to Get Strangers to Want to Buy Your Stuff Alex Hormozi https://amzn.to/4998nkv
Lauren’s Tip: Tech tool called Text Expander, which allows you to create little snippets of things you are constantly writing. Whether it be closing out an email with a signature phrase or acronyms that you need to spell out, the tool allows you to get emails out faster.
Tyson Tip: Use Teleprompter when creating videos, which allows you to copy and paste text into it and then adjust the speed.
🎥 Watch the full video on YouTube here.
Speaker 1 (00:00:01) - Run your law firm the right way. The right way.
Speaker 2 (00:00:05) - This is the.
Speaker 1 (00:00:06) - Maximum Lawyer podcast. Podcast.
Speaker 2 (00:00:10) - Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson metrics. Let's partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
Speaker 3 (00:00:24) - Welcome back to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. I'm Jim Hacking.
Speaker 4 (00:00:27) - And I'm Tyson Matrix. What's up Jimbo.
Speaker 3 (00:00:31) - Tyson's laughing because I've done that intro differently every single time today when we've been recording. So I'm being a little bit silly.
Speaker 4 (00:00:37) - Yeah, I love it. Hey man, bring it. I like I like the enthusiasm. So this is this is our last podcast of the day. It's going to be a really, really good one. And we are going to introduce Lauren Lester. Lauren is a solopreneur who supports clients in Colorado through life's milestones with her estate and family law firm, Lester Law. She graduated from the University of Florida and earned her law degree from Georgia State University. Lauren is passionate about the business of law and helping lawyers build profitable practices they love. She co-founded a different practice, which develops practical resources for ditching the legal profession, antiquated approach, and optimizing your law firm for growth and enjoyment.
Speaker 4 (00:01:20) - You can learn more at a different practice. Dot com. Lauren, welcome to the show.
Speaker 5 (00:01:24) - Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.
Speaker 3 (00:01:26) - So tell us a little bit about your history from maybe law school till up until now. Maybe introduce yourself to the people who haven't met you before.
Speaker 5 (00:01:35) - Yeah, law is a second career for me. Actually. I graduated from undergrad and spent about a decade in the web development space, so I was a project manager for a long time and then decided that I wanted to change careers. And ultimately I always wanted to own my own business and be an entrepreneur. And so I actually took a career assessment quiz on Google, because I had no idea what my entrepreneurial life would look like. And I googled, basically, what should I do with my life or my career? And stumbled across this questionnaire that told me I should either be a social worker or an attorney, and I had never thought about being an attorney. I frankly didn't feel like I fit in with attorneys.
Speaker 5 (00:02:18) - They were really aggressive. Most of them aren't very nice, but I thought, oh, well, I certainly could have my own business if I went into the law. And so I gave myself a year in law school and said, if I hate it, I'll find something else, but ended up loving it and graduated in 2015 and opened my law firm right after graduation. Having had that business background and experience, I felt pretty confident from that angle and really just surrounded myself with some mentors on the substantive side, and I've been doing it ever since. I ran a family law and estate planning practice. As you said, I do everything on a flat fee and really just trying to help folks better navigate the legal system.
Speaker 4 (00:02:59) - Yeah, I find this really interesting because a lot of times you hear attorneys trying to escape the profession, which I think is sad, but you went the other way around. And so what was that? What was that change like.
Speaker 5 (00:03:12) - To come into the legal profession as a second career? Yeah, it was more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
Speaker 5 (00:03:19) - I got to meet folks who were not the stereotypical attorney. So I think that the public, when you're not in the profession, sees Law and Order or Judge Judy and thinks all lawyers are sort of like that. We're all litigators and big personalities. And so when I went back to law school, I went part time. So I met a lot of folks who had second careers, who had families, and they were all lovely. So I really loved that community. I loved the law. I loved being a student of the law, and it really did give me the opportunity to work with clients, which I always wanted. I didn't want to be a transactional attorney and sort of just push paper all the time. I wanted to have a business that interacted with the consumer, so it really was a good fit. I certainly have had my challenges being in the real world as a professional, and have definitely come across those opposing counsels who fit that traditional narrative and stereotype. But for the most part, it's really been a great experience and I'm so glad I took the plunge.
Speaker 3 (00:04:19) - And so did you go out on your own right away? You started your firm right away. No, I.
Speaker 5 (00:04:22) - Started it right away. When I was graduating law school. I knew that ultimately that's where I wanted to go. And when I started asking folks like, should I do it right away? Should I work for another person? Should I be an associate? A lot of folks who were associates gave me the feedback that they didn't really learn how to run their own business. Being an associate, they just sort of learned how to work under someone, and that wasn't my ultimate goal. So I thought, well, I've got a business background. I'll just take the plunge and I can always go be an associate if it doesn't work out on my own, but started right out of law school on my own.
Speaker 4 (00:04:56) - So tell us a little bit more about the your other. I don't know if you're calling it a side gig or what you would call it, but was this the plan all along to have this coaching side of the business long term? Are you planning to to focus just on that? But tell us about that part of it.
Speaker 4 (00:05:13) - Yeah.
Speaker 5 (00:05:13) - So different practice grew organically as I was entering into the profession, trying to build a business that I would actually be a consumer of. I really. Is really early on that if I wanted to be a client of my own law firm, billing by the hour and not being able to give folks kind of what the price is going to be wouldn't work for me. And so I started building a business around that mindset, and I just got a lot of questions in folks who were interested in, well, how do you do that? And how do you possibly do flat fees with family law, which has all of these variables? And there's litigation. And it was really important to me to build a business that supported my lifestyle. So when I started, I didn't have them. But now I have two young kids, so I wanted to build something where I wasn't working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, that I could come and be home with them and take them to school.
Speaker 5 (00:06:04) - So I only work four days a week right now. So I would just get a lot of questions of like, how do you do that? How is that practically possible and how do you earn money? And so my business partner and I would get in these conversations with folks, and at the time she was running a legal incubator up in Chicago. So she was also around a lot of attorneys who were trying to build a practice that looked a little bit different than the traditional model. So it really started organically with getting a lot of questions and saying, well, let's just put some resources out for folks who maybe want to practice differently and build a law firm that was optimized for growth and enjoyment and really supported their wellbeing. So that's really where it started. It's about four years now that we've been doing it. We've offered a lot of different resources, including the pricing toolkit, which helps folks incorporate value based pricing into their law firms. But it really has just been an answer to all of the questions that I've gotten over the years.
Speaker 3 (00:07:01) - What is your favorite thing about running the law firm, and what is your least favorite thing about running the law firm?
Speaker 5 (00:07:05) - My favorite thing is certainly the autonomy and freedom that I have. I like the creativity of it. I like being able to pivot. I really love the entrepreneurship of it. So I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of books just about business. And I like being able to say, wow, that's a really cool idea that they're doing in this plumbing business that I heard about on a podcast. How can I incorporate that into my law firm and don't feel like I need to run that up the poll or get approval from anybody. So I like being able to have that freedom and autonomy over my time and my business. My least favorite part is actually opposing counsel most of the time. So I actually shifted a couple of years ago to the services that I provide today to get away from some of that. Certainly in family law especially, it can be pretty toxic and volatile and conflict ridden.
Speaker 5 (00:07:56) - So that was really the worst part for me. That took a pretty big toll on just my mental health and well-being. And so again, the use of the good part of being able to pivot to address that issue and pivot the business where I wasn't having to engage as much with that type of negativity, but still being able to serve clients through that space.
Speaker 4 (00:08:17) - So I want to get back to something you said previously, and you said that basically other people were asking you, hey, how were you able to do this? So what are some pointers you have to solo attorneys or attorneys just starting out to help them really just capitalize on their productivity and really get things started on the right foot.
Speaker 5 (00:08:37) - Yeah, I am a literal solo. I don't have a paralegal, I don't have a legal assistant. And so for me, tech has been my right and left arms and legs. I mean, I really run the law firm through tech and try and make it as efficient as possible. So in the beginning, that was just a slow transition.
Speaker 5 (00:08:58) - I didn't get all of the technology at once. I didn't have the revenue coming in to support it. But I would say for anyone starting out really trying to identify where those inefficiencies are or those tasks that you're doing ten times a day, whether or not they take 20s is an opportunity to be able to use some technology to either remove that, automate it, make it so that it takes one second, or you just don't even have to think about it. That has really transformed my practice and including value based pricing and all of the flat fees, like the more efficient I can be while still delivering quality service to the client only increases my profit margin. And so that only makes the business grow.
Speaker 3 (00:09:38) - What do lawyers get wrong on that? I mean, we have a lot of people that say, I'm too busy handling these cases to build out the systems. I mean, it seems to me like you sort of began with the end in mind and said, this is what I want to design, and then made sure that you didn't get overwhelmed with cases so that you would have the time to build that out.
Speaker 5 (00:09:56) - Exactly. Yeah, there was definitely a balance there. I had the fortune in the beginning of not having a lot of clients. So certainly somebody who has a thriving practice, it's going to be a lot more challenging. But even now I would run into that issue where it is running on all cylinders. And for me, it's just identifying what the big task is. If I need to create document automation or something, that's going to be a pretty good investment in time and really blocking out time in my calendar to say. You know, every week I can dedicate an hour to this and it's going to be Thursdays from 4 to 5 and really protecting that at all costs, and then slowly chipping away at it so that it's less overwhelming as a big task. That also does get done slowly but surely.
Speaker 4 (00:10:39) - I mean, I just my mind is blown whenever we have someone that's on, that's a true solo because it's I mean, it just to me, it just seems so hard to do. But kudos to you.
Speaker 4 (00:10:49) - That's that's fantastic. I'm glad you're able to leverage the tech and everything. Some of that it's kind of been on my mind lately is just how personal life and business life bleeds into each other. So how do you what's your tips to people on managing that?
Speaker 5 (00:11:03) - I'm really I'm a really strong advocate for my own time and it's really hard. It was really hard and still is sometimes hard. But I say try and say no more than I say yes. And so it's really important to me, for example, to get some exercise or go to the gym every morning. And so after I dropped my kids off, I have an hour at the gym. And there's certainly have been times where a client has said, I really need to chat or I really need to get this thing done, and it would be very easy to go, well, I technically don't have any work tomorrow at 930, so I guess I'll squeeze you in and outside a true emergency, which I certainly would handle a bit differently.
Speaker 5 (00:11:43) - I really just say, you know, the first availability I have is ten, 30 or 11, and they don't need to know that. The reason is because I'm going to go to the gym and work out so that I can serve them as well as I can, but it's really protecting that time and identifying what is important to me during the week to have time for and blocking out time for that, and not letting the requests that come in every day take that up.
Speaker 3 (00:12:08) - You're listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. Our guest today, attorney Lauren Lester. She's a true solo. Lauren, what do you think has been a key to your success as far as do you feel like you're growing? Do you feel like you're right where you want to be? Have you said to yourself, I need this many cases and that's what I want? You seem to be very disciplined. Like the saying no more than yes, I like that a lot. Have you sort of predicted your growth and set what you want it to happen, and then just sort of be happy with that? Or how how do you deal with the number of cases that you have each month? Yeah.
Speaker 5 (00:12:40) - So the first couple of years I was not great at this, probably starting in 2019, I read prophet first by Mike Michaelides. It's just to try and get a better sense of my finances, and that certainly helped me do that. But really, what it started was put in motion, being able to know exactly what the revenue is likely to be and know what levers I can pull if I need to slow down or if I want to ramp up. So at this point, my numbers can tell me how many consultations I need to have in a month. I know what the average sale is going to be, and I know what my target revenue is. And so it's really easy for me to say, oh, I haven't quite made it this month. It's the 15th. If I just open up four more spots in the next two weeks, I know that the numbers are typically going to work out based on history. So at this point, yes, it's pretty easy for me to set a revenue goal.
Speaker 5 (00:13:34) - I've exceeded my goal for this year as of yesterday. So now I've hit a new goal for 2023, and it's really just because the train is in a pretty good space and the mechanism for it. I've been able to use data to make those decisions and know historically, if I pull this lever or add these consults, that I'm going to get the results that I'm looking for.
Speaker 4 (00:13:58) - So I want to get your thoughts on something, because we have we have a lot of people that just want to be, you know, small firm lawyers. And that's fine. We have people. Stage one, stage two, stage three Jim and I talk about that and sometimes people want to be stage three, stage four, stage five lawyers. So they want to have the big the big law firms. From a profitability standpoint. Have you seen any trends when it comes to profitability for a stage one lawyer that's like a true solo versus like a stage three lawyer where they've got several people underneath them? Because I do wonder about that sometimes because I think if you do optimize things, you could make a lot of profit if it's just you, you know, like you really could because you don't have the overhead.
Speaker 4 (00:14:34) - But have you have you ever dug into that to see where where maybe the cutoff is?
Speaker 5 (00:14:39) - It's something I've definitely been flirting with and certainly have got a lot of questions of like, wow, it's going so great, aren't you going to grow? My initial inclination was, no, I'm happy being on my own, not having any employees, but I do see the opportunity there and the opportunity to take the model and to be able to either kind of franchise it with some others or bring in some associates to run under the same system. So I haven't done it personally, but I know that my business partner, in her experience with running the legal incubator up in Chicago, did work with attorneys who were also started out small, who used a flat fee and who built teams out. And we're still able to be very successful doing that. So. I think there is a way to do it. I think there's a way to systematize it and to still use data. I just personally haven't dug into that, but definitely flirting with the idea.
Speaker 3 (00:15:32) - When you meet with lawyers who are sort of frustrated with where they're at, and they like the sort of lifestyle that you've built for yourself, how do you set about deconstructing what they have with them and sort of getting them on the right path?
Speaker 6 (00:15:44) - It really for.
Speaker 5 (00:15:45) - Me, a lot starts with pricing. I think a lot of the trouble attorneys have and the mental health and wellbeing crisis that we have in the profession stems a lot back to the billable hour and the requirements of that of folks who have really high billable requirements, or people who have been in the profession for some time and are not being rewarded with their expertise because it takes them less time to do things. But that's not going to be reflective in their billing the way that they would want to. It's not generating them more revenue. So I think that mindset shift, there's a different way to bill and to practice in terms of providing value to the client, which is what consumers really are buying. They don't buy our time getting folks to kind of wrap their heads around that and embrace that is a good I have found it's a good starting point because it just shifts everything in terms of being business folks first who provide legal services versus lawyers who happen to have a business.
Speaker 5 (00:16:44) - So even just that small change, when I work with folks, once they can get on board with kind of selling value and value based pricing, that really tends to flow into all the other areas in terms of efficiency and how they market and what type of clients that they want, and so they can start to really rebuild their practice or build it from the ground up if they're just starting.
Speaker 4 (00:17:05) - So and I'm on your website and you will offer the pricing toolkit, which I think is a cool, cool thing. And it's got things like selling what clients are buying a deep dive into value and moving from cost based pricing to value based pricing and mindset shift and all that. I think it's I think it's an interesting concept. I really like it. So do you want to talk a little bit more about that? Yeah.
Speaker 5 (00:17:24) - So that was in partnership with Chicago Bar Foundation. So Jessica and I wrote that together. Just providing attorneys with a free resource and exactly a four step process on how to incorporate value based pricing into their practice so that they actually had a model.
Speaker 5 (00:17:41) - It wasn't theoretical, it wasn't esoteric. They could actually plug it into their business. So we talk a lot about value, which is not talked about enough in the legal profession. Any other service industry or industry in general sells value. We hear it as consumers everywhere else. So really trying to incorporate that into what lawyers are doing and then using that to ultimately determine the price that matches what the market values and puts a number on that, and then to see if it works for the business, to make sure that it's profitable versus the old approach of I've been practicing X number of years and the attorney down the street charges this, so I guess I'll charge that, which has very little to do with the business and certainly nothing to do with the consumer. So we wanted to provide a really practical resource that attorneys could use for free that allows them to dive more into that if they were interested in value based pricing.
Speaker 7 (00:18:32) - Shifting gears just a little bit.
Speaker 3 (00:18:33) - Do you have any advice for people that are employing associates, sort of of your generation that might want to have more of that lifestyle and not want to be working 80 hours a week? Do you have any advice for people that own law firms that are trying to work with people like that?
Speaker 5 (00:18:50) - Yeah, I think understanding what is important to them, and it typically is not sort of being tied to a desk and having more of an incorporation of their work into their life and trying to build a business around that.
Speaker 5 (00:19:04) - Can I just keep coming back to value? And that that associate brings a lot of value to the legal services they provide the consumer, but also to the business itself, really focusing on that value versus the time that they're spending. I read a great book years and years ago that really kind of underscores all of this idea, which is results only work environment row, which talks about that the value of employees is not the time they spend, you know, somebody sitting at a desk for eight hours who doesn't produce based on the benchmarks is not as valuable as an employee who gets their benchmarks hit and does everything that the company is expecting. But maybe they do it in four hours and so they shouldn't be punished for being able to do it quicker, as long as whatever their objectives are for the business as an employee are met. So I think that same kind of philosophy really helps with the younger generations who do value more of that work life balance or blend or however they want to call it. So really being clear with them on these are your objectives as an associate, and it's not based on the time that you spend.
Speaker 5 (00:20:06) - It's based on other metrics, whatever those might be for the firm. And then being really clear with the associate on that so that they can achieve those.
Speaker 4 (00:20:15) - Very good stuff. All right, Lauren, we are up against the time. So we want to be respectful of your time. We are going to start to wrap things up before. Before we do that, though, if people want to reach out to you, if they're interested in a different practice, how do they reach out to you?
Speaker 5 (00:20:29) - Yeah. So you can find us on our website, which is a different practice. You can also email us at hello at a different practice or connect with us on LinkedIn.
Speaker 4 (00:20:38) - I like that, I like we have we care at MF intercom I really like hello. That's that's a really good one. I may steal that one. That's that's awesome.
Speaker 5 (00:20:45) - Please do.
Speaker 3 (00:20:47) - That's that's the hack of the week.
Speaker 4 (00:20:48) - Yeah I really like that. Hello. It's just nice and friendly. All right. So we're going to wrap things up before I do.
Speaker 4 (00:20:54) - Just remind everyone to join us in the big Facebook group search Maximum Lawyer and you'll be able to find us. Also join us on YouTube. Subscribe. You'll be able to get our video content there. And if you want to join us in the guild, go to Max Law Guild. While you're listening to the rest of this episode and hearing our tips and hacks. If you don't mind leaving us a five star review, we would greatly appreciate it, because help spread the love to other law firm owners and other attorneys. All right, Jimmy, what is your hack of the week?
Speaker 3 (00:21:22) - A hack of mine in an earlier episode is to read or listen to Alex Ramsay's book on $100 Million Leads. But the concept that I want to share with you for my hack of the week comes straight from that book and from Alex. And, you know, as a professional services provider, we've often struggled with this idea of how do we create scarcity or how do we talk about scarcity, so that people might have a sense of urgency in signing up.
Speaker 3 (00:21:45) - And he explains it in chapter four of the book. And it's it's really sort of mind blowing. He said. You know, you have a capacity your your firm or your business has the capacity to handle X amount of cases. And he said too many lawyers or too many business owners don't explicitly say what that limit is. And what you could say is, if you know that you can handle 80 cases a month, that you could know that's 20 cases a week, you can actually say, we only have space to take on 20 or 2 or three cases a week. So instead of hiding that and maybe even fudging it, if you're not really being true to what you think your bandwidth actually is, that once you know what your bandwidth actually is, that you can sort of put that in your marketing and say, hey, we can only take on five new personal injury cases a month, and once we hit our five for the month, you're going to have to wait till the next month. So it's sort of a nice way that's authentic and not cheesy.
Speaker 3 (00:22:41) - Hey, everything will go by Friday at 5:00. You know, it's not like that. It's something that's legit and it's transparent and it's honest. And I think it's it's brilliant really.
Speaker 4 (00:22:52) - I like it on the audiobook. Does he read the audiobook? Yeah. Oh, nice. Okay, cool. I have to check it out. That's I'm excited. All right Lauren. So we always ask our guest to give a tip or hack of the week what you got for us.
Speaker 5 (00:23:05) - So one of my favorite tech tools that I probably use 50 times a day is Text Expander. It just allows me to create little snippets to put in text that I constantly am writing. So like I talked about before, all of those little inefficiencies where even just writing out acronyms, which we use in legal all the time, but the client doesn't understand or ending emails with. Let me know if you have any questions. I've just created little snippets to be able to easily insert those across all different platforms, from email to web browser to different applications.
Speaker 5 (00:23:40) - And I don't know what I would do without text expander. It saves me so much time.
Speaker 8 (00:23:45) - I love it, very good.
Speaker 4 (00:23:46) - There are several people that have mentioned Text Expander and Ryan. I think Ryan McKean is like one of those people that is just he just loves text expander, but very cool. All right. For my tip of the week, I have been with my videos actually having a script a little bit more scripted, not 100% stick to the script, but I do have more of a script nowadays. And even whenever I'm doing our first podcast, I like to have that little bit there and it scrolls and I found one that actually works pretty well. You have to pay for it. But it's, it's the I, I know that there's an Apple one or a one for map for Mac, but I don't know about for PCs, but it's called just called teleprompter as all it's called. And the price is minimal. I don't remember exactly what it is. It's minimal, but it is pretty handy.
Speaker 4 (00:24:29) - It's it's it's very simple. Copy and paste the text and boom, it's in there and it's pretty easy to use and it scrolls. You can change the speeds. You can do a lot of different things with it, but I do like it quite a bit. Teleprompter. All right Lauren, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it. I got a lot of good information and just really enjoy enjoy it. And thank you for sharing. Absolutely.
Speaker 5 (00:24:50) - Thanks to both of you. I had a great time.
Speaker 3 (00:24:52) - Thanks, Lauren.
Speaker 2 (00:24:55) - Thanks for listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. Stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content go to Maximum lawyer.com. Have a great week and catch you next time.
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