Expanding Your Reach on Social Media: Facebook, Live Streaming, and the Future of Legal Tech
Today we’re going to be interviewing one of our provider attorneys, Mr. Jacob Sapochnick, out of San Diego, California. Jacob, I’ve kind of looked up to in many ways because he really has built an impressive practice that’s been largely fueled by a very impressive social media following. He’s got something like 170,000 fans on his Facebook page, tons of followers on Twitter. He’s doing live streams. He’s the owner and operator of the Enchanting Lawyer podcast where he interviews attorneys that are innovating in the industry. He’s really someone that’s embraced technology, embraced the Internet and embraced the social media platforms to a degree that has really helped fuel his growth as an immigration lawyer in the San Diego area and then all throughout the United States as well. And then second of all, he’s really embraced technology within his own practice.
He’s working with a company that’s helping automate the systems and document preparation in his immigration practice, but also leverages case management tools and has a very large firm that is, I believe, 100% on the cloud. And this has allowed him to bring his costs down, streamline his practice and also free up his time to focus on the things that are important to him most whether it be growing his practice, other business ventures that he’s involved in and really lives a lifestyle that most people would really seek after. But at the same time, while doing so, has a very thriving immigration practice out of San Diego. So it’s a really interesting conversation. We dive into all these tools, strategies for social media and the things that he sees are the trends in the industry going forward that attorneys can really take advantage of if they want to be in a good position three to five years from now. So with that, let’s get right into this conversation with Jacob Sapochnick, one of our provider attorneys out of San Diego, California.
Dave Aarons: Jacob, welcome to the show.
Jacob Sapochnick: Thanks for having me, Dave.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, really happy to have you on here and we’ve worked together for some time, got to hang out a couple of different conferences in the San Diego area and through thrive, so it’s great that we get a chance to catch up today and show them more about the practice you’ve built in San Diego.
Jacob Sapochnick: Absolutely. Always a pleasure.
Dave Aarons: Maybe what you could do is just give just a brief background on how you got your start in the practice of law, the focus of your practice and the region that you serve. So folks have a little bit of context on where you’re working from.
Jacob Sapochnick: Yes, sure. So I’m based in San Diego California, and the practice is primarily immigration. That’s what we do. It’s a niche firm where we do only one area. We are now a full-service immigration law firm, which means we do both the business side of it and the family side and a little bit of litigation in immigration. And I’m originally from Israel. So I came to the United States to pursue my LLM, which is the master’s in law, and the plan was to stay here for a year and then when I graduated I really enjoy the way attorneys are practicing in the US, which is in a more open way and in a more kind of a business savvy where you kind of become part of your client’s adventure. You become more of a partner as opposed to just an advisor in the sense that you really want to get into … you really care about what they do. I feel that in Europe it was more of, “I’m the attorney. Here’s what I tell you,” and then that’s it.
So I really enjoyed that, and I was working for a law firm for a few years and then I started my own firm in 2004, pretty much by myself and back then, to advertise we only had a few options. You had a website. Of course, Yellow Pages was strong, all the directories were very strong, you find lawyers.com, Martin and Hubbell they were pushing attorneys to advertise with them. And I think blogging just started. So we start our first legal blog in 2004 and then to me that was like the early days of social media where you have a blog and somebody can comment and you can respond. And to me, that was amazing in that I can release a piece of content and somebody will comment and I’ll be able to engage with them outside of legal consultations. And so blogging was good and I continued to do that on a consistent basis. And through blogging, we really started to get our first media coverage where we had newspapers and TV stations were calling us and saying, “I read this article and so and so, can you tell me more about this?”
And again, it was interesting to see that by just writing some stuff that it was relevant. So for example, changes in the law, new citizenship changes, new things that happened or controversial issues, and immigration, as you know, is always in the news. By writing about it, you suddenly get the attention of media. And the more you appear in the media, the more social proof you get. And that’s kind of what I realized over the years. So blogging was good and then everybody had blogs. Every attorney started to write and it was more difficult to stand out. And so we started doing videos. 2009 we started doing videos and I started doing consistent YouTube work and we’re getting a lot of the same thing. You do a video and then somebody will start commenting and you can engage with those people.
Around that same time, we started playing with social media. Facebook mostly where I was wondering why there were not too many attorneys on Facebook. And again, everybody was saying, “Oh, Facebook is just for kids. It’s stupid. It’s just personal photos, vacation photos.” And the more I was using it to post information about what we do at the firm, not the legal stuff, but more of the humane side – birthday parties, just sharing quotes – the more following we started to get. And of course, I was using some ads here and there to promote the content, but the following really, really exploded around 2012 when we passed 50000 fans. And that’s when we start feeling the impact because we’re getting a lot of inquiries from that page and those inquiries turn into leads. And today, we have 130000 following on this page. And when we do a live video right now, and we could talk about it later, but a live video is a tool you can use if you have a Facebook page, a business page or a personal page where you can broadcast to your fans.
Every time we do a live stream, we get about 400 to 500 thousand reaches on a page of 100,000 people, which is amazing. You can’t even pay for that. So social media has definitely been an important tool for us to build our practice and continue to do today. Because, again, you can continue to do your regular advertising, but you really want to be able to build a community of people that come back and engage on a daily basis. And that’s really what social media has helped me. And we continue to do that today, release free content. And fans like that, that we give them free information, and they reward us with shares and referrals and things like that. So that’s kind of in a nutshell what I’m doing and continue to do.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. And for lawyers that maybe have not been in the space of writing blogs, being on video, social media and to them, it’s like you said, kids are on there and stuff and maybe they haven’t fully embraced the potential of social media, obviously you’ve built a massive fan base, 170,000 fans on Facebook and you’re getting a lot of traction on YouTube. How do you … what would be your … given that you’ve had some experience doing this, how would an attorney that’s looking to step into this arena start to think about how to develop a strategy and implement a strategy on social media, especially when you have lawyers that are so busy, time is of the essence for them where they can start to start building their following over time and in a way that’s going to be meaningful?
Jacob Sapochnick: Well, I think that it is important to pay attention to this because at some point it’s going to be very difficult to send out. It’s not going to be enough to pay for ads or be on Yellow Pages or just do networking. And so I think it’s important for lawyers to look at it this way. And we have to build ourselves as kind of like a mini brand. How do you do that? Well, the way you do it is, I think the easiest thing to do is just by maybe short writing or have a small blog. If there is no time to write, we started a podcast blog. We call this Ask an Immigration Lawyer, where I’ll record a short audio, five-minute audio about different questions that people ask and I have somebody transcribe those into a written format, which is good for SEOs.
So this is going to be something simple anybody can do. Just create a blog, which is less of a podcast blog where you can do, either answer questions or have the opinion of the week. You can do it once a week. Say, my opinion on personal injury, or my opinion on family law. And if you do it consistently, then suddenly people will find it and say, “Oh, this guy, he’s the one that” it can be as simple as that. Or if you want to be elaborate, you can start building a community kind of like a forum or a Facebook page where you start gathering a following, which takes a little longer. But I think the simplest thing to do is just do a simple blog where if you don’t have time to write, you just record audio once a week and have it transcribed and there you go. Once a week you have content that you are going to publish on every Monday or Tuesday. You know what I mean?
Dave Aarons: Right.
Jacob Sapochnick: But it’s simple. But if you don’t do that, then now you’re not visible. Now if somebody searches for you, then they find nothing. And that’s the worst thing that can happen. Because if somebody is going to start Googling somebody and they want to be able to find what they have done and there’s nothing out there, then it’s a little bit concerning, like, “Why aren’t they … why isn’t there anything out there in this particular professional?” Whether it’s an attorney or whoever they are.
Dave Aarons: So for you, it has really helped with people’s confidence and utilizing your services because they have so much social proof where they can Google and learn about you and you’ve got so much content out there that really helps with your credibility?
Jacob Sapochnick: Yeah. And they basically say, they always tell me, “Well, we see you everywhere. We see you on Facebook, we see you on YouTube, we see you on Google, we see you on LinkedIn.” And so that basically tells them, “Well, if he’s everywhere, then maybe he’s pretty good.” And so it helps those referrals because if somebody is searching for an attorney and they want to refer them to me, then they’ll … we have a lot of people that find us through searches and that’s been really helpful.
Dave Aarons: Can you give a little bit of context on the impact this can really have? I mean 170,000 fans, it seems like a huge number, but how often are you getting calls and how much has this been a factor in the growth of your practice over the past few years?
Jacob Sapochnick: So I have … there are a few articles that we released on this. And so I think that the difference between when you get a lead on your website, it comes to you from an ad or maybe they found you in an organic search, is that when they come to you on social media and when they send their private message and we get at least between … I think we get at least 100 of them a day. Not all of them, of course, are case related. Some of them they just want to say a good word or they want to let us know about something, but there’s quite a few of them that are kind of like leads where people say I need help with this and this and how much do you charge for this and this. And those people are people that follow you for weeks and months and then they ask a question. So it’s a little bit different than a direct lead that finds you online.
Those are people that follow you, they gain your trust and then they’ll ask you a question. I’ll give an example. We had an interesting person that was commenting on all these inspirational posts and she is a lady from Texas. And I think it was almost two months that she was commenting and saying nice words and stuff and then one day she sent a private message and she says there’s a member of my community in church that they need help with this and this and they are waiting at the border in Tijuana. They were across the border. So it’s a five-person asylum case that she referred to us after two months of following us, and that turned out to be almost $45,000 worth of business for us because these are five individuals that needed to do asylums because of that referral. And it was a very trustful referral because they didn’t even argue with them. They just wanted to hire us because she recommended them.
Do you know what I mean? But it was the person that was lurking on the side for two months and seeing what we do and then she did a referral, which to me it was very interesting because this is the power of social media. This is what you see. It’s not an immediate result. It’s something that takes over time and more and more referrals like that are really, really good leads. And I have many, many stories like that to tell you that came from our Facebook page over the years.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, absolutely. And you hit on something I think really relevant there, which is that this is a referral from a trusted family friend or family member. And even if it wasn’t, by the time someone reaches out to you on social media as opposed to search marketing, which we do a lot of where someone is just searching online generally for an attorney on a specific topic, they find a site and they reach out to you. By the time they come through a social media channel or are referred, this is someone that you already have credibility with, they trust you, they know you’re out there giving content, you’ve been giving value and great suggestions for sometimes years depending on how long they’ve been on your list. And so by the time they’re actually reaching out to connect or referring you to someone, they are already 90% of the way in your door as far as being ready to retain your services because they already know your brand and they trust it and they feel comfortable with the idea of working with you at that point.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly. So to me, this is more of like a referral source on steroids. To me, that’s what social media is. So it’s not going to replace the world of advertising perfectly, but it’s a nice addition to have. And of course, the more following you have, the more engagement you have, the more the results you are going to get from that kind of efforts.
Dave Aarons: Right, exactly.
Jacob Sapochnick: At the same time you have to be willing to put yourself out there, meaning that you have to be visible. You have to be willing to do those live streams personally. I mean, sometimes some people feel uncomfortable to do that. But yeah, of course, it definitely pays off if you’re willing to do it.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. And you talked about it earlier like building your personal brand for your firm, and as a lawyer your brand is you. I mean, you’re the one that’s providing the services right in the practice and so there is that. Maybe some attorneys have a little bit of inhibition about getting out there, but that’s really… the brand you’re building is you as the attorney being able to deliver the service, how you speak, what you focus on. And so getting that out there, getting that message out there is really key for people learning how to … learning about your practice and getting comfortable with the idea of working with you.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly.
Dave Aarons: Can you talk a bit about that? Because certainly within our company, and I think attorneys would think perhaps the same thing as well, when it comes to Facebook, for example, it seems like most people go on Facebook to connect with their friends and their family, right? Not necessarily to hear about like changes and specific advice about a specific legal topic. So can you talk about some of the strategies that you’ve developed for Facebook to keep it interesting, alive, something that people would want to connect to regularly even folks maybe that don’t even have a legal issue right now but would find things interesting? Like you talk about you post inspirational quotes and make and customize the content you’re putting out there for the Facebook audience.
Jacob Sapochnick: Right. So I think the key if you’re going to use Facebook, is definitely not to just post legal content. So we’ll post some news updates, but a lot of the content is really like quotes and inspirations stuff and then different interesting things around that. And maybe some of the live streams I’ll just open the door to people asking me any questions. So I mean a lot of people who follow the page are not necessarily people in need of the legal services we offer. And I think it’s good that it’s like that because those are the people that follow because they find it interesting that an attorney will post inspirational quotes on a daily basis. And kind of be like a motivational lawyer. You know what I mean?
That’s a little bit of a strategy here because we want to definitely keep it interesting because the less interesting the content, the fewer people are going to want to follow. And not only that, even though if you have 100,000 plus fans. If the content is not interesting nobody’s going to see it. And so it doesn’t matter how many friends you have. If the content is not visible to all the fans you have, then nobody’s going to see it. That’s why the live streaming combination with interesting content, inspirational quotes, and videos has been very helpful for us to be able to reach as many fans as we can because it’s always been a struggle. But yeah, the strategy is not to post legal content. It’s to find what the fans want and continue posting. In my case, I realized they want to see inspirational messages from me, an attorney in San Diego. That is kind of like the avatar of the customers that follow that page. They find it very interesting that an attorney somewhere in California is going to be posting these interesting, inspirational quotes and they want to know what’s going to come every day.
Dave Aarons: Right, right.
Jacob Sapochnick: That’s what I discovered that the people who follow my page want. And I continue to do that to continue to engage them because that’s what … the more people see my content, the more benefit I get from the number of fans we have. But even if you have 5000 fans, if at least half of them can see your content that’s perfect.
Dave Aarons: Yep. And one of the advantages of working in the immigration arena, obviously, is that you are in a position to potentially work with anyone in the world as long as they’re trying to gain rights to be a citizen or work or get residency in the United States. And so the fact that you can build a following nationwide in the immigration arena especially lends itself really well to being able to work with virtually anyone that is needing and is seeking these types of services, is it not?
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly, exactly. For me, because it’s a nationwide practice, it definitely helps to … Eventually, if they want to hire me in New York, they can still do it if they wanted to. Definitely. But again, if I was a state-based practice, then I would focus my efforts on that state in particular and make sure that I have as many fans as I can from that particular state or city, and that’s another strategy. In my case, I didn’t really care. And we really wanted to be focused on anywhere in the country. You know what I mean? But it is possible to narrow yourself on one particular city or state if you really want to.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Especially when you’re coming to promoting your posts your Facebook ads and such things, you can really target down where you are going to be engaging your spend on these social media platforms.
Jacob Sapochnick: Correct. Exactly. So I think for people who want to start doing this or are interested in this, I believe that choosing one platform and trying to understand it and use it will be a good starting point. Not do everything. So if somebody doesn’t feel Facebook is good for them, then they can do maybe LinkedIn. They can write articles on Linkedin every day and repurpose the ones that you put on your blog and then maybe do a small audio podcast just to be able to get more exposure on iTunes and then repurpose the content by getting a transcription. You know what I mean? So there are many things you can do, but at least do something, one thing. Don’t feel overwhelmed because you have to do everything.
Dave Aarons: And it really seems[crosstalk 00:21:06] like everything goes back to the blog, right?
Jacob Sapochnick: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think for lawyers definitely bloggers are more comfortable medium because everybody can write and then they can choose their writing schedule. Do it once a week or every other day. Whatever is comfortable for them. And again, podcasting is like what we do right now. You can interview people in your field, in your area, in your niche area. People that you want to be … let’s say if you’re a family lawyer, you can interview a psychiatrist or psychologist that could potentially refer clients to you going through counseling for divorce. You know what I mean? You become the known attorney in the field by interviewing them. An interview program has been very useful for professionals because now they’re known to be the experts and people, even their guests, will start referring people. So there are many strategies for that. It’s really about what are you willing to do and how often are you going to do it.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Okay. So let’s transition and talk a bit more about can your immigration practice. One of the things that I’ve found very interesting and very exciting, especially from a technological standpoint, is the fact that immigration services, on the whole, are standardized across the United States. Like one of the things about family law is every county, every state tends to have different procedures, you need different forms, but immigration is standardized across the nation. So can you talk about … what that does is it lends itself well to building a system that can, therefore, be automated and streamlined because a lot of the things are the same across the board where other areas have some of these challenges. So can you talk a little bit about the systems you’ve been developing maybe with SimpleCitizen and ways in which you’ve been finding more creative ways and more efficient ways to work with your clients to bring down the cost or the margin, increase the margin or lower the amount of time you need to invest into each individual or immigration matter?
Jacob Sapochnick: So from early on, we’ve been using case management systems. And I always encourage people to, no matter what practice you are to use. So we’ve been using is a service called MyCase, where we are able to put all our cases in and allow clients to log in. But in the recent years, I’ve developed a relationship with a company called SimpleCitizen. I became an advisor on the board of the startup, and this startup developed a software allowing … like LegalZoom, allowing people to handle their own immigration matters that are form-based only. So they start with the family side if it is marriage cases and citizenship, and what the interesting thing about that software the software is so, has the algorithm to know, based on an intake form of the client completes in the beginning, how to produce the perfect forms and saving time for the person who is preparing them and make sure they’re very accurate.
At the same time, they’re working on a software allowing the attorneys to use that to process all their immigration applications as a virtual law firm. So essentially it will replace all future case management software that we are currently using. Now, the reason I’m saying that the more software you’re able to use in your practice, the fewer people you need and the more efficient and accurate you become because everything that happens, everything that you do several amounts of times now becomes automatic. Like same questions that you have to ask all the time on the intake forms, clients that are able to log in and check their status without calling your office every day. And that’s what we’ve been using right now with the startup perfecting the process allowing us to work with individuals and with companies making the immigration process pretty much very, very seamless and very efficient in the sense that they know exactly what’s happening with their case, they’re getting the results faster because we have a software that does most of the stuff and then the attorneys are left to really work with the clients, make sure that their concerns are alleviated and of course leave them more time to deal with the more complicated issues when they arise.
And I think that’s going to be the future. I mean, I was at a legal conference in June and we were talking about the future of immigration law, which I think is going to be the future of law anyway. And in that conference, there were people from LegalZoom, the chief counsels over there, and other companies and the concern was that attorneys that are not going to embrace technology to make their practice more efficient and save money for their clients are eventually going to disappear. Because as you know, you can even form an LLC on LegalZoom without paying somebody $3000 to do it. Now, some attorneys will say well the quality of the work is not the same and all that stuff, but most people who are going to use LegalZoom it’s good enough for them. And then they may go see an attorney if there’s a problem.
So attorneys cannot continue to say these services are not good enough because the consumers don’t care. They are still going to use LegalZoom and they’re not going to go and see that lawyer who says that it is no good. And so the smart attorneys are going to say ”You know what, we understand that. Let’s invest in technology. Let’s also use online tools in our practices to say we also have online processes here so you don’t have to use LegalZoom. You can use us, almost pay the same and still have the attorney help you if you really want to.” Or use services like Unbundled Attorney that are willing to review portion of the applications. The point is that attorneys must evolve right now because technology is going to replace a lot of the things that we do as lawyers.
Dave Aarons: Absolutely. You have the emergence of the Internet trend and technology bringing down the cost and streamlining some of the tasks that took so long, having a field all those calls in the past, having to manually data enter everything into forms and that’s all becoming automated. And certainly, also you have the same shift in, at least in family law, in some other markets where a lot fewer people are in a position to plop down $5000 just to get started on a case.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly.
Dave Aarons: And so that’s the way the market is moving. In family law, we went from a third of people representing themselves back in the early 2000s to now two-thirds of people representing themselves. So literally the markets flipped on its end. So it seems like if you’re going to attract the majority of the market, then you need to find a way to serve people at a price point and an accessibility level that is much lower than maybe 10 years ago.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly. Exactly. And there are many ways that you can do it. So you can start slow by using maybe a case management software, which is very simple and then slowly adds tools to that allows you to manage your staff, allow them to access the software so everybody’s kind of working together as a team on online, which is what we’re doing in this office. Everything is kind of in the cloud. We have our emails connected to Microsoft365. We have all our files in the cloud, PointShare, we have the MyCase software, we’re using some SimpleCitizen tools right now. So basically the idea is that people feel that at any time you know what’s going on in everybody’s case and clients feel more confident that they get the best service because we have all the technology and the tools they deserve because they are paying us.
Dave Aarons: Right. Can you talk about … maybe sharing a little bit more about the actual process that when you’re having a new client come in the office, some of the things that you’re able to now have them do because of this technology and how that cuts down on some of the costs and allows you either to, like you said, build up a bigger margin or offer a lower flat rate or lower price point that’s going to be more attractive to the current market?
Jacob Sapochnick: Right. So for example, every client that comes to the office they have to fill a short intake form. That intake form is entered into the current MyCase system where we have all the information. So let’s say if they want to start a marriage case. We already have a bank of information on their initial intake. It’s already in the system. So it’s already populated into the forms and then there’s less back and forth with the clients. Also, any documents that we require from them in the initial request, they can scan and upload to the system or just email them to a secure email if they don’t have an ability to upload. And so you only have to ask things once as opposed to before we have to go back and forth back and forth. “Did you give us the birth certificate?” Do you know what I mean? So those things really save a lot of time of communication between the paralegals and the clients because they only do it once.
They know that they have to upload certain documents otherwise they can’t move forward in the file, And until they upload this, they cannot continue with providing more documents. So this way it saves a lot of time. “Did they give us the birth certificate or not? If they did when did they give it to us?” This way, in the beginning, we collect everything and they know that they have to do it. And this way, the only thing left to be done is just to deal with the missing information and the forms. And that’s been really helpful for us to save time and effort between the paralegals. They don’t have to copy and ask the client several times. The other thing is the follow-up. So clients usually call all the time to ask the status of the case and that takes a lot of time as well. But now that some of them are able to log into to their own cases, they can see what’s happening live because there’s a progress report in each portal. So they know that half of the forms have been completed but the other ones have not been completed because they’re missing documents. So they’re just going to go and provide those documents and then call to figure out what’s going on.
That’s been also a time saver for us because they don’t have to call and say, “What’s going on in my case,” because they can see it by logging into the portal. So things like that and we continue to improve that. Some of these business cases, there are certain steps that they have to follow. Whether the employer is waiting on documents or the employees is waiting on documents, they can get updates automatically through the emails every time something happens; a step or an action. Again, those things are continuing to be improved as we see … we get feedback from our clients and we get feedback from the staff to make sure that things are just more and more efficient. I think the fact that we are able to put everything on the cloud has also been very useful because we can find things much faster right now. We don’t have to go to a physical file, we can just search for it in the system and find documents. That’s been really a time saver and email them directly from the system to people without going to scan it and copy it and send it.
So things like that definitely have been saving a lot of time and effort. And of course, the systems in the office. Everything has a system, how do you do this. How do you file this case? How do you answer the phone? How do you update the clients? We’re trying to continue to improve our systems all the time and everybody at the office kind of understands that. You’ve been to the office, you’ve seen how the team works kind of we have a very bonded team. Everybody knows that they have to kind of support each other. They do it because they care and not because they’re forced to do it. We’re trying to kind of instill that kind of philosophy. If we care about our employees, they should be caring about their clients. So we try to care about the employees first and then they’ll care about the clients, as opposed to not being nice to the people who work for us and then expect them to be nice to the clients. Never going to work.
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah. It has to be kind of like a top-down philosophy that then lends itself to the way they treat their clients.
Jacob Sapochnick: Right. Make sure that we accommodate them if they need days off or everybody gets rewarded for what they do. And then I know by doing that, they’ll definitely be nice to the clients because they feel appreciated by me and the other management at the office.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, I think underlying all this is a different way to think about the practice of law more as the entrepreneur and as a business owner building a business system as opposed to some of the self-employed that has to be the one to do every task in the process. I mean, so many attorneys that are smaller firms that are sole practitioners, they have their hands on the wheel for every single task that they feel like if it’s going to get done, it needs to get done themselves. Whereas this type of system really lends itself well to scaling a business, to be able to reach out to a lot of people and also, of course, bring the cost down to be able to reach into the marketplace that people are needing. Certainly we have a lot of lawyers in the family law arena providing unbundled legal services and when they start thinking in this way, it’s incredible how the implementation of these technologies and thinking about systems and standard operating procedures can really start to bring … can really start to streamline the process so that every single system becomes more efficient, takes less time and either can increase those margins so lawyers become a lot more profitable or can bring the cost down so they’re more attractive in the market and they can differentiate themselves.
Jacob Sapochnick: I agree. I mean I think it’s … a law firm at the end of the day is a business and even if you think you can do your work and it’s going to be a 10, if somebody else can do it as an 8 I don’t think anybody is going to be concerned about that as long as it’s done almost as perfect as needed.
Dave Aarons: Well, right. And you can create systems to ensure … I mean what we’re talking about here is tasks being done. Whereas as an attorney and as you’re working with your firm, you’re overseeing the actual what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. But as far as the implementation, a lot of these things are just duplicatable tasks that you can start to automate or streamline so they’re not having to be repeated like you discussed before. So I mean, do you really feel… I think that’s probably an argument for a lot of people as well when you start to streamline these things, the quality of the service goes down. When it doesn’t seem like that’s really actually the case. It’s really just automating the things that are more monotonous or repetitive, is it not?
Jacob Sapochnick: Right, right. Exactly. I agree. And I think that it’s going to become almost a necessity to do it because otherwise you can’t … it seems like a race in a way. You can’t get ahead unless you have a system that is working.
Dave Aarons: Yap, and you talked about it earlier. Even with just blogging, you were blogging but then everyone started doing content. So then you need to be one step ahead. Then you evolved to doing videos on YouTube and starting commenting on there and then people started getting on YouTube, maybe the attraction wasn’t there, so you started live streaming. And so being on the cutting edge and going to these conferences is really what kind of can keep you up to speed on where you need to be and thinking forward to where these trends are going so that you can be in a position to be well-positioned and be first in the market and to capitalize on them as well.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, of course, that’s a good idea as well for people to try to see what others are doing, not necessarily in the legal field, and they get some ideas like going to these conferences and just learning or looking at what’s happening in social media or in business and trying to apply what will be good for you, for your business and just try it. If it doesn’t work, you can always try something different. But whatever you do, try to do something that is different than your competitors because otherwise, you’re just going to … you’re running against yourself.
Dave Aarons: Right, yap. And then the final thing I wanted to ask you about and then we can wrap it up, I really appreciate you jumping on and sharing kind of how –
Jacob Sapochnick: Of course.
Dave Aarons: You’ve built the empire down in San Diego, I did get a chance to meet your … come into your firm, meet a lot of the attorneys. But when you first started out, you were a solo practitioner. You were doing all the work yourself. Obviously, you’ve built this firm over time. Can you talk a little bit about how you made that transition from being a solo practitioner to bringing on your first associate attorneys and some of the things that you’ve developed over time? Of course, the technology and cloud-based and you said things that are really relevant, but generally speaking how you were able to evolve the firm and what are the things that really made the difference for you in those early stages.
Jacob Sapochnick: So I think early on I had decided that I wanted to not be a solo and have people that will assist and continue to grow the business. So I believe that I was able to actually hire the first attorney to work at the office even before I was really able to fully pay them. And what I mean by that is that sometimes people feel that when they have enough cash coming in, they can start hiring. For me, it was more of a once I am able to at least pay something for somebody to help, I’m able to free myself to be able to bring more business. And this is really what I did because I felt kind of like a freedom to think and engage with clients while somebody else is actually producing the work.
And that was kind of like a shift when I was able to do it because when I did that within months I was able to pay them what I was supposed to pay them and still pay myself. And then I was able to bring in another person on because I did have the time to think and free myself to do the activities that I’m good at, which is marketing and building the business. And so I think that moment where you are hiring somebody before you can pay them is really important because you need to do at that point and not when you are actually able to afford. Because at that point you say, “Well, I’ll wait a little bit more. I’ll wait a little bit more,” and it doesn’t happen. You kind of can sink into a cushion where you just continue to be a solo. The transition happens the moment where you can’t really afford but you doing it because you know you can do some other things that are more beneficial for your business. And I think that’s really the key and it continues to happen even today.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, absolutely. It’s really easy to look at each task go, “Well, I could be performing this and making X number of dollars per hour whereas if someone else does that I’m only making X minus a certain amount,” but it’s important to remember that once you get these other tasks off your plate that that frees up your time to then do the things that are your fastball, are your skill set that can then grow the firm even further. And so there’s that gained opportunity to grow the firm that comes out of the fact that you don’t have to be focusing on other specific tasks, that I think is really where the opportunity lies as far as growing a firm and also growing the overall profitability of the business is when you start thinking about how you can be focusing your things on really the things that move the needle in the business and not necessarily the task day to day that maybe you might make a lot of money if you do it yourself but ultimately you’re not building the business to a point where you can scale and serve more clients as a result.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly. Exactly. So I think that’s kind of the premise behind what I’ve done and continue to do today is the fact that you decide you want to become a firm because you do one thing well and somebody else can do other things, and together you do it better as a team.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. And it seems like you’ve got to a point, Jacob … I mean we were at conferences quite a bit, you’re traveling quite a lot and the firm seems to continue to operate. So it’s pretty amazing where you can get to a point because obviously, you’re working in your firm very diligently, but you also have the freedom to be able to have the lifestyle and focus on other projects that are important to you as well, it seems like, right?
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly. Exactly. That’s the whole point. Because then you know that now you can go and it will continue to work and you can either focus on being a way to a vacation or to market or to build some other businesses that will help the firm too. And as you know, I started a coffee shop and co-working space in the last two years that was as a result of my ability to do this.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. And you got your podcast, Enchanting Lawyer podcast, as well. So these are all businesses and other opportunities, the co-working space and things that you’re interested in, that if you were there pounding the pavement in your firm, they just would never become possible.
Jacob Sapochnick: Absolutely. Because you know how time is valuable for everybody.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. And then, of course, building SimpleCitizen and automating your business. I mean, you can really look at it from a CEO, COO operations standpoint where you can start automating the business system and look at it from someone that’s outside of the procedures and not something that’s stuck in the day to day minutiae. So I can just … it just seems like it really lends itself well to building something that can be taking things to the next level overall.
Jacob Sapochnick: Exactly. Exactly. And we’ll continue to like I said, look for new ideas and innovations to either build up businesses and also improve the quality of the work and, of course, our relationship with our clients.
Dave Aarons: Absolutely. Well, listen, Jacob, I really thank you again for coming on board and sharing so openly the strategies you developed for social media, automation, and technology. These are certain things that the legal system, I wouldn’t say it’s a little bit behind on, but attorneys … like you said, if you really want to be a force in the coming three, four, five, ten years, these are the trends that are really necessary for your attorneys to be embracing. So I really thank you for kind of setting that as a vision, as an intention and inspiring other lawyers to do the same so they can be part of serving the folks that are going to be a part of this new generation in the coming years.
Jacob Sapochnick: Thanks, Dave, for having me. It was a pleasure. Absolutely.
Dave Aarons: All right. So with that, we’ll go ahead and wrap up. And to everyone else that’s been listening to the podcast, we thank you for participating and we will see you all the next episode. Thanks so much.
What did you think of the interview? Do you have any questions or comments for Dave Aarons or for our guest Jacob Sapochnick?
Leave your comments or questions below and we’ll ask them to respond to you directly!
Episode 12: Expanding Your Reach on Social Media: Facebook, Live Streaming, and the Future of Legal Tech
In this episode we interview provider attorney, Jacob Sapochnick, who shares how he built a huge following on social media, including over 130,000 fans on his Facebook page. He describes how leveraging legal tech platforms and cloud computing helped automate and streamline his practice. Jacob shares valuable insights on why it is critically important for firms to leverage legal technology in order to stay competitive.
- The strategies Jacob successfully used to build a massive following on Facebook, and how he employed social media to grow his business
- How cloud computing and practice management software helped automate and streamline important aspects of his practice
- Jacob’s insight into the future of legal technology, and why he believes firms must embrace technology in order to stay ahead of the competition over the next 3-5 years
- How he leveraged YouTube and live streaming to 10X the reach of his online content
- How a podcast can help generate leads and build brand awareness
- And much more
If you are enjoying this podcast, be sure to subscribe and receive each new episode as it is published.
For more information about Unbundled Attorney and how our Lead Generation services help grow your practice, visit: https://www.unbundledattorney.com?t=podcast