“Maximizing the Tech You Already Have” with Chad Burton 217
Categories: Podcast

In today’s episode we’re sharing a presentation from MacLawCon 2020. That’s right, our originally scheduled MaxLawCon 2020 speaker Chad Burton presented LIVE to the Maximum Lawyer Guild community and today we share his talk: Maximizing the Tech You Already Have.

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Transcript: “Maximizing the Tech You Already Have” with Chad Burton

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 to the show.

Unknown Speaker
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2020. That’s right. Originally scheduled Max law con 2020. Speaker Chad Burton, presented live to the maximum lawyer guild community. And today we share his talk on using the tech you already have. Let’s get to it.

Chad Burton
I’m going to do a variation of the max law CON talk because the world has gone to hell since I plan the original one. And I think it makes sense to change it up. She said, My name is Chad Burton, I am with two companies modern law practice and keuro legal. Both are aimed at helping law firms in the legal industry, modernize and leverage tech best business practices, including from a consulting angle on intake. So right up the alley of this talk today, as far as the concept of leveraging tech to its fullest. This has been one of the topics that it pre global meltdown. But it’s something that is important for people to think about. So this topic of using tech to its fullest has been out there and has been front and center for a lot of people even pre being stuck in your home and trying to figure out how to work. But as you know, and you’ve gone through with your firm over the past month plus, our industry has had to figure out how the hell are we going to operate remote even though the tools have been there for a decade effectively, they haven’t been fully used. And so today, what I want to do is kind of talk about opportunities that you would have within your firm now. And then how do you leverage this time when client work may be a little slow to really set your firm up for the future. And what’s a good way to go about that from a tech perspective. So one of the things that we’ve seen talking with law firms across the country and including some of my maximum, ah, polls that I put in the Facebook group that one of the things that we’ve seen is that people are realizing that they have a lot of the tech, maybe all of the tech that they need to run a more efficient firm. But really, they’re only using a small piece of what they have, and aren’t leveraging it to its fullest. Which in groups like this, where we have, the lawyers that are part of maximum lawyer are more advanced than I think most other lawyers in the country, especially as a core group, because we’re not asking questions in the Facebook group that are super, super basic, we’re talking more advanced topics all the time. So when we think about our technology, and including folks in this, in this when I say this group, I mean maximum lawyer because I don’t know Who the hell’s watching me. So we’ll just go with that. And the royal we grew up. A lot of us have shiny object syndrome, where we want to learn about the newest and greatest technology, and think that that’s what we should be using and switch over and bounce around. That happens with a lot of us. And when we do that what happens is whatever we’re adopting just doesn’t get used to its maximum capacity, people will adopt a case management software and just use it for billing but not leverage it for document automation and task management and communicating with clients. So that happens quite a bit. And real specific example that I’ve seen, often this group has a lot of file vine fanboys and fangirls throughout the room and like, I’ve talked to so many firms that see the conversations going on in maximum lawyer and think, Well, my firms aren’t really built like I have a different type of firm family law, something else that may be filed by it’s not quite ready for it, but they see it and I want this because everybody else likes it. Ryan McKean loves file vines. So I should love it too, because who doesn’t love Ryan? And the you know, so that happens. And so we’ve seen and worked with firms that have moved to technology like that, that may not be a really good fit for them. But what they already had, what they’re trying to move away from that they were still using is just perfect for their business model. And so they’re paying for tech that’s unnecessary. So especially in this time, when we are all trying to figure out on how to tighten budgets and figure out what does the future of delete the delivery of legal services look like? I think you should simplify what you’re using from a technological perspective. So look at what you already have one of these areas that may just seem silly to this group, but it’s resonated with a lot of lawyers I’ve talked to across the country is, most small firms are either using Microsoft Office 365, or G Suite. And they’re using it for email, calendar contacts, maybe Google Chat, or meat or whatever they’re calling it this particular week, as Google reads all their products, I think they just read their chat feature. But then like, it’s not, then you have technologies included, like, for example, like Google Sheets, that is, there is an amazing database type project where you can do something like tracking leads that people maybe aren’t thinking about how to track so and the same with like Office 365, where you have Microsoft teams within it to chat and better communicate in an environment where you are now distributed from the rest of your team. There’s so many tools within those that you can just maximize and use that just aren’t being leveraged. The same goes with case management. As mentioned earlier, most of us have it, but it’s not being used to its full potential. So one of the things that I would suggest is that you take this time to figure out okay, are we using our case management software to its fullest potential? Are we leveraging lead tracking capabilities? Are we leveraging document automation? Are we leveraging custom fields, as well as integrations, because this still exists with the most advanced lawyers that you’re using different types of technology, but not leveraging how they can talk to one another. And there are a ton of natural integrations that exist that you can use to that are built in to the products that you can leverage. A lot of them are, quite frankly, for show, I think they they may push a piece of data over, that saves you a couple of seconds, use it anyway. But then we won’t get into this because this is maybe somebody is even covering this topic. And there’s a whole zap Athan focused on it. But it’s worth figuring out how to leverage Zapier to automate and connect your technology, I can’t stress that enough. Because if you have tools in front of you already, that will do what you want. But leveraging something like Zapier will even enhance those tools even more and get them to talk to each other and look for, for opportunities for automation. That’s all good. Just to say use it more, stop, you know, minimizing your technology. But it’s the implementation part. That’s the hard aspect of it, you can absolutely sign up for your free trial. And give it a try and half assed the use of it. It’s the implementation that matters most the end. So pre pandemic, law firms struggle with implementation, because people are busy, they have it on their to do list that they want to get, you either do it themselves, or get additional outside training or night, somebody internally to lead the charge. And then because client work was there, and now we have a situation where leads are down, the phone’s not ringing as much we are seeing generally most firms seem like their phone is ringing a little bit more. So there’s something kind of in the works, that seems this week that people are starting to think a little different and starting to pick up that phone to call for for services, but people still have time. And so most law firms, when they’re implementing technology want it to be perfect before they roll it out to their team, because they’re worried about the concept of the paralegal or the legal assistant or the not Ford technological lawyer jumping into something and not using it well. And just disregarding the technology because it’s not fully set up. That’s something that happens quite a bit. So what happens is you you end up not rolling anything out, you the I talked to at least two or three firms a week that have technology sitting there that was purchased months and months ago, but it hasn’t been implemented. Because either a it’s legacy clunky technology, they shouldn’t purchase it in the first place and it’s too hard to implement or be they just haven’t felt that they’ve can get it to its full potential so that the team will adopt it. And that’s, that has a lot of legitimate concerns in there because you’re trying to get people to use the technology to be more efficient in their work, and deliver better client service. So you don’t want to get them hung up on things like, oh, I don’t know how this feature works, I didn’t get trained enough to sort of jet. But what we’re seeing now is a, maybe a better way to do this. And this includes using what you have already, and if you are adopting new technology, is to think about how you’re using it and maybe make it a little bit easier. And I think a good way to describe this is in software development terms, there are two kind of primary schools or ways of developing software and rolling it out. One is a waterfall, waterfall method. And then the other is agile, Agile. Waterfall is when you have a tech project, and you aren’t going to roll it out until everything is done and perfect. All the features are there, all the change orders have been done, and the tech is ready to go. That’s kind of the thinking that’s talking about pre pandemic, how a lot of law firms think about rolling out tech, the other is agile, where you get your core set up, and then you roll out features and updates as they come about. And so I would suggest that you take a more agile approach nowadays, one, because your team is infinitely more flexible for change than they were a month ago, Jack Newton, I’ll butcher it. But he had some kind of quote on something he said at some point in the past month where it’s, you know, the law firms had to move, you know, five to 10 years into the future, but they had to do it in five to 10 days. And so something like that close enough, you get the point. So your people are now more flexible than they were before. And that’s a great thing. Because we also don’t know what practice looks like, three months from now, six months from now. And you can read and I’ve read way too many articles about what’s going to happen next with our apocalypse, is it going to ebb and flow spring and fall, we’re gonna have flare ups and then people we’re going to be working from home again, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. But the point is, you now have a team that has figured out how to adjust to change really quickly. And so you should take advantage of that, you should take advantage of the idea that maybe you didn’t your case, manifest software stuck to before, and you’re implementing something new. And you took advantage of whatever Corona coupon codes that were out there and signed up for something. And now you know what, maybe a three months rollout, you want to start using it right away. And so your team, I think would be is more primed now to do that than they were pre going well, because they’ve just really have had to have that mindset shift. So getting started with technology now is going to be a lot easier for you. So we recommend kind of rolling things out as gradual as possible. As you are looking at the technology and figuring out how to simplify it. Another area that we’re seeing that firms are spending a lot of time on now is building out processes and procedures. Obviously, there’s different mindsets as to how you can go about the pandemic, you can just say, Look, we don’t have any clients where I’m going to watch Netflix for the next three months. And when the phone starts ringing, again, I’ll think about it. Most of us are thinking about what does our business look like going forward and take it or taking the opportunity to build what they’ve been missing over maybe months or years. And that includes, obviously, the idea of using the tech that we just talked about whether adopting new technology or using what you’ve got. The other is what we’re seeing is an opportunity for people to spend more time with their team, which sounds fascinating because you’re remote. And we’ve been suggesting and recommending to firms that you need to pay way more attention to your people than maybe you were before. And that means daily stand ups where you know, you can share information. What’s the status of your PPP application, take questions or comments for people how they’re doing and ask them like what are the struggles that you’re having? What barriers do you have to getting your work done? And that comes in lots of different flavors and often it can be technology or process oriented. So it’s spending the time with people and then getting them one on one on Zoom or your other favorite video conference tool, and let them just share how they’re feeling. Because we know a lot of people are currently may seem okay on the surface, but they’re really struggling with what it means to work remote, got a lawyer friend has been practicing for 45 years that like, I feel like I get like a daily text that’s like a cry for help, because it’s never worked for how before, and it’s going insane. And so paying attention to your people and helping them with challenges. So in this, this is ties to the tech piece, because as you know, a lot of your team is now that they’re working at home with maybe a spouse who’s working from home, children in the house, and everybody’s there. And now you’re trying to do video conferences like this, with somebody screaming in the background, or people walking by now people are interacting more on chat tools than they were before because that’s now the watercooler and not everybody is one getting the tools and using them to their full potential. I’m still starting on a lot of video conferences off with, you do need to unmute yourself on Zoom. And we’re now like a month into it. And people are still even my mom has learned how to use Zoom and my 12 year old and they have same thing. And so like everybody’s having the you do need to unmute yourself on Zoom, people are still struggling with this stuff. So you can’t assume that you said Hey, where are you using these tools, and you know, do a little bit of training and assume that they’re going to be okay with so in a lot of people don’t like to speak up about it, especially in group settings. So that’s where one on ones are really helpful right now, to be able to get that kind of feedback from people, this is also a really good opportunity to leverage your team and bring them into part of the process for implementing technology. Oftentimes, as a law firm owners, we look at an issue regarding technology, whether it’s what we have already, or you’re adopting new technology, and mull it over and think about it and make decisions on it. And then rollout, whatever it is a theme that happens often is that lawyers will like make some decisions over the weekend. And then Monday morning, just blast the team and say, Hey, new tech, we’re using it starting now. And using your team to help roll out and leverage technology more is great, because they’re going to have some time on their hands. And it’s going to invest them in the concept more. So depending upon the size of your team, you can establish little working committees to roll it out this way, it’s also not on you. And the opportunity there is to really engage them and create ownership and the process. And it’s especially important now when people are sitting at home and struggling with all this stuff. And maybe their job is cut in half because there’s only so much they can do. And so give them other stuff to do. Especially if you’re paying them, you might as well you want you want that loan forgiveness at the end of this. So you’re already paying them. So how bring them into the process and so full of expanding that technology, but also working on processes and procedures. That’s another kind of last part of this is that this is a great time to think about not just what tech you’re using, and how you’re using it, but documenting it how you want people to go about it. And it’s always on people’s lists, we need to like think about the processes and procedures. And let’s get those documented. And they never happen because people just use it. Now is the time to do it and get that documented. Use something like there’s so many options out there. But Tetra is one that’s a pretty good tool. I like documenting processes and procedures on Trello creating a card for each little topic. And so there but may or make it as simple as a Google Doc or a Word doc, whatever. It’s there. So just it’s a great time to think about that and to document that. To Elise, you asked about Microsoft Teams, do I have thoughts on it? One every time I say I think I’m saying Microsoft teens, which is weird, but that’s it. That’s my issue. My thought on it is I’ve and to be clear, my use of it has been pretty limited. I’m using it with one of our intake clients that use it for communication and just started doing it recently. And I’m only using it on mobile because I really only use mobile devices. I’ve been underwhelmed by that mobile interface. At this point. I like Microsoft iOS app. So the clear I love outlook on my iPhone and iPad. But teams are spelt a little underwhelming. Most people that are using it, like it. And if you have Office 365, you’re already paying for it. I like Slack personally, and we use that I like the integrations, the opportunities that are there, but it’s going to be an additional cost. And you know, teams that you have 365 It’s already something that you’ve paid for. And most firms that use it seem to like it at this point. So that’s those are my my team’s thoughts at this juncture. Let’s go back to the automation and integration piece. A lot of people jump into automation too early, I used to be one of those people where you adopt some technology. And it’s like, oh, you can automate whatever it is you’re doing through this tech with workflows and things. And so I used to jump into that, what I would suggest now is, as you are more fully using this technology, the opportunity is to go manual for a bit, think about the what’s the best workflow that you had, I know, one area that is prime for this is the intake arena, because intake is something that if I, if you asked me like two years ago, what I, you know, be super engaged with intake, I was told, you know, that sounds awful. It’s important, but I like now it’s just, you know, living and breathing it all the time to figure out what’s the best way to optimize intake for firms. And it’s a, it’s an area where there’s lots of opportunity for automation, but you need to get your processes down first. And that means from like the second, the phone rings that were that email lead comes in, how does that all get processed through the consultation and the hiring. So we look at intake from really from your marketing messaging, how your firm is establishing credibility out in the marketplace first, and then all the way through to the concept of getting hired, getting the engagement letter signed, and getting that retainer payment. And so there’s lots of opportunities for adopting software that is going to allow you to automate that process. And a lot of it’s built into existing tools that are there. But you just need to think about what those processes are first, instead of just setting up, you know, oh, look, I can zap that information from here to there. Well, if it doesn’t make sense where it’s landing, then it’s not that helpful. It may feel cool that you’ve zapped a new Facebook Messenger chat to something. But if it’s not useful, where it landed, then why are you doing so just make sure that you’ve tried it out manually first, and feel good about that. And then build out the automation, whether that’s in something like law, Maddix, or Clio grow, or built into your Case Manager software, like file vine. Or if you are thinking about this from the standpoint of look, I don’t want to overly complicate things. There’s nothing wrong with just using something like Google Sheets to, you know, especially in that intake part where you’re thinking about tracking information and manually documenting what you need before you jump into automation. There really is nothing wrong with just a solid spreadsheet that’s there. And it may start off basic. But Google Sheets is one of those tools that allows you to push data into it and extract data, either through existing integrations or through something like Zapier, but you can use it manually First, figure out where that data should come from and where it should go, and then set up the automation from there. I like especially now when we are tightening belts, and or actually the opposite of that if you’re sitting at home eating as much as I am so not not worrying about elastic waistbands. But we want to think about as we’re tightening budgets, what can we cut out and what can we simplify. And so I think looking at your existing tools, and looking at using more simple technology is going to serve you well both now but also as you come out of this. I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s be have questions. I would love to know how your teams are doing being remote. And what do you what’s the like? What do you feel like is the thing that you’ve been missing most? Or were missing most when you went remote, that you realize was like, Oh, this was not in our arsenal that we needed before. And maybe you’re still trying to figure that out and solve problems. So if there’s any problems you’re trying to solve right now fine. Are those off and we can talk through

Unknown Speaker
it. Okay, so at least commented, she said, my team loves remote, cuz she’s always remote. But they’re sad about not seeing each other.

Unknown Speaker
And that’s where like, the excessive video conferencing, ignoring social distance, I’m just kidding. Based on Facebook, that will make people upset the that sort of excessive communication is so important now, and it just, it just matters that and the more you can do the face to face, the better in the because that’s not going to go away. And even, you know, yeah, at least your team has been remote from day one. But it’s different. There’s an absolute different feeling between voluntary remote work and forced remote work. And I’ve been doing basically mobile work myself for a decade, and different capacities. And it feels different now, like, because it’s forced, and I also can’t just go somewhere else, you know, in work, like, if I want to hop to a Starbucks and work, you know, some afternoon to change of scenery, that’s gone. And so a lot of this just blows. And so the best thing you can do is just communicate as much as humanly possible with people. And maybe whether on teams or slack, just create channels for silliness. Even if that’s not your thing, just give people an outlet. Now one firm that uses WhatsApp and for a lot of communication, and it’s mostly dog pictures and things they’re eating, but they’ve been doing that for years. But it matters more now. I was talking with a lawyer the other day, they she’s in charge of the COVID 19, Slack channel for her firm, where it’s just absurd pandemic jokes. And so that’s how they’re coping with it on that front. But so I think one way to do this, from a structural standpoint, besides the chat aspect is do that daily standup, it will feel burdensome, but maybe set it for like 839 in the morning, it’s not something that you have to spend a lot of time on it, make it 1015 minutes, just check in, give the team a chance to vent, give them updates. I love like, the whole radical candor, concept within leadership is so important right now, because people aren’t as productive as they used to be. So you need to figure out how to make them more productive and tell them Yeah, you get some kind of pass maybe. But you need to just stay on your people. And the aspect of how things are going with the firm is something that’s super important. So if you have some kind of update, like a lot of people’s, you know, SBA application is just stuck. And then your team is going to see excessive news coverage today that the the money’s gone. And so that’s going to freak a lot of people out. And so just let them know where they are. And just tell them that, you know, they just need to know that they are working hard to help them and keep them you know, and you care about them. And listen, I’m not the touchy feely type person, but you have no option here. You just have to do this and suck it up and go to where people are right now. Because it’s so hard for them. And so but the more updates you can give them on what’s happening, the better. So daily stand ups, weekly team meetings that are structured one on ones, and depending upon the size of your team, maybe you’re doing all the one on ones or if you have some kind of management structure, then you delegate that out, but make sure you’re meeting with your leadership team as well. So there’s a question here about connecting phone with the CRM, somebody calls their phone number auto populates the CRM, and then make some notes in the CRM about the call. Any recommendations? You can it? I think it’s gonna depend on your phone system. But I would look at phone systems that are tied to Zapier where you could zap information from Voice over Internet, the system into your CRM, if it allows for that. There are some like natural integrations like I know that Vonage integrates with Clio, I don’t think it’s the greatest integration in the world but it does push contacts in so you can get them into your workflow that’s in the Clio manage, I don’t think it goes into creative grow. So you have to look at that. I think it might be on the Manage side.

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