How to Build a Thriving Practice Using Internet Leads and Unbundled Legal Services
Hello. Welcome, everyone. Today’s episode is going to be just an incredible conversation with an attorney that we’ve been working with for quite some time now out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Michael Greenstein. He has more experience offering unbundled legal services than probably most attorneys that we know, even tells a story about … He has a hobby for bookbinding. Back in the day, he tells a story about a lesson he learned from a woman at a flea market that got him starting offering unbundled legal services 15, 20 years ago, back before it even had a name and wasn’t known as a concept. So, we cover the gamut. We go into, from start to finish, how to offer unbundled legal services, types of options he offers, the price points, how to protect yourself when offering unbundled to make sure that you have a really good error checking system, that you’re making sure you’re not missing any details that you wouldn’t be missing in a full bundled, full representation case.
We talk about some other things as well, I mean, his diary system, how he’s running his firm and growing it, some tips for hiring new associates, business rules, strategies. I mean, the conversation really covers the gamut. So, you’re really going to enjoy the episode here. I also want to jump in here and just apologize in advance, because the sound quality on my end is not very solid. I was traveling at the time, and the connection was not very good, so there are sometimes when I’m speaking, it breaks up a little bit, but as far as we could tell, the entire call is completely audible, but the quality is not as good as perhaps we would like it to be. So, I wanted to apologize in advance for that.
But with that being said, this is an awesome episode. We’re going to jump right in the interview with Michael Greenstein, one of our provider attorneys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Below is the transcription of this episode from our Unbundled Attorney Mastermind Podcast. You can listen to the entire episode by clicking here.
Dave Aarons: I am a happy camper today. This is Dave Aarons, CEO of Unbundled Attorney, and I’m very happy to be interviewing our guest today, Mr. Michael Greenstein, who is an unbundled provider attorney out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In fact, just before the call, Michael and I were trying to figure how long it’s been since he started working with us and taking leads. I think we figured out that it was back in June of 2014, right, Mike?
Michael Greenstein: June of 2014.
Dave Aarons: All right. That’s …
Michael Greenstein: … and I’ve been here ever since.
Dave Aarons: Yup. Then, we’re recording this in January of 2016, so he’s about a good … about a month … [inaudible 00:03:05] a year and a half of experience under his belt. And from what we’ve been hearing, he’s been doing pretty great. Maybe we could do, Michael, is maybe you can start off with just sharing a little bit about your background and maybe a bit about your practice, say what makes you unique, and how we got to where we’re at now.
Michael Greenstein: Sure. Well, I was licensed at the very end of 1991, started practicing family law in any form at all in 1992, and full-time since ’95. But, I spent six years in a partnership that did not work out very well in the end. Mostly, I had disabled my own ability to engage business as part of the conditions of my entering it, simply because I was told, “Oh, they’ve got so much business. And you’re paying to get leads,” and whatnot, “Get rid of that expense.” and I did. Then six years later, they decided I wasn’t bringing in enough business, and so they got rid of me.
Spent another year working with another attorney in a highly corporatized framework that created a situation where I had been brought in for my experience and was being micromanaged, which didn’t work out very well. So, in February of 2010 with a boot print on my behind, I decided I was pretty well done with wearing anybody else’s collar, and I was going to do this on my own.
I set up an office in my home, the parlor of the house turned into dedicated office space, so that clients who came in were asked whether it was okay to have a cat on the desk. And interestingly, most of them said it was just fine.
Dave Aarons: [inaudible 00:04:50].
Michael Greenstein: So, I had taken some clients with me, but the problem is, so here I was, old in practice, young in business. I was in a situation where I was making far too much of my money from far too few clients, which is always a dangerous point. It got pretty difficult for me. I decided to try to get online. I figured I would create a situation where all roads lead to Rome, marketing wise on my website would be Rome. I paid ridiculous amounts of money that were hardly worth it to a company to set up and maintain a professional website for me. I had written some informational articles. In the meantime, I was writing additional articles and putting them on a blog, it was a WordPress blog, that was linked to the professionally prepared website.
There came a point where the money was just killing me and I realized that I was making about seven times the traffic on my blog than I was out of the professionally prepared website, so I finally said, “The heck with this. Turn the blog into a fully fledged website on its own,” and after a brief bumpy period, it’s performing very, very well.
I got involved in a couple of paper lead services. I started getting involved in Nolo first of all, and then I got a call from somebody at Family Legal Help, which turned into Unbundled, and I’m stepping down Nolo hugely and I’m stepping up Unbundled, so that gives you an indication of my experience. I can tell you for [crosstalk 00:06:37] …
Dave Aarons: Maybe you could talk …
Michael Greenstein: Go ahead.
Dave Aarons: I was going to say, maybe you could chat a little bit about what led you to the decision to continue taking leads from Unbundled Attorney, and not take them … or at least bring them down, I think is what you’re saying, from Nolo. What kind of results have you been seeing in Unbundled Attorney with their leads or our leads as opposed to theirs?
Michael Greenstein: Well, actually, before I do that, let me throw something in about why I started them in the first place and why I was an easy sell for Family Legal Help. I mean, the difficulty is when you’re young in the business, and you have no ready source, you absolutely need something coming in, and it needs to come in quick, and it needs to come in affordably without a whole lot of front-loaded money. And a paper lead service, as long as the leads are quality leads, is a perfect way for an underemployed attorney to begin ramping up a practice with a very short-term return on investment. It made all the difference in the world.
The reason that I stuck with unbundled and also stepping back on Nolo has to do with return on investment in two different ways, of money and time. I had occasion a couple of weekends ago to do an exhausting bit of data collation for my practice, where the money is coming from, where the business is coming from. It was the only disco that got me through. Thank heaven for Pandora. What I discovered is, roughly speaking, from Nolo, I received over a thousand leads in my field, in my geographic region, that netted me during the same calendar year … now I’m looking at … I want to say, 27 new clients. After labor costs, after the cost of the investment itself, I was left with a return on investment of 136%. Basically out of the entire calendar year, I profited by about $7,000. In terms of the time lost, there is an awful lot of sand for very, very few diamonds. The time lost from trying to pursue junk leads was killing me.
As far as Unbundled is concerned, I wound up with about 320 leads that brought in, after labor, after the cost of the leads themselves, about just north of $25,000. So not only did that work out to be about 190% return on investment but in terms of the time, I made 22 clients out of 320 leads as opposed to 27 clients out of over 1,000. They’re not making any more time in the day. You only get what you get. And while I’m happy to say sleep is for underachievers, I don’t necessarily want to go without it completely.
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah, I think that’s one of the things that is so easy to overlook or not factor in properly, is the amount of time you’re investing in your new client acquisition, because your time is valuable. That’s one of the things that attorneys get billed for, it’s by people … a lot of people who want to become attorneys, you can bill more dollars an hour. So, if you’re having to put that time in more than necessary into acquiring those clients, then that’s time that is not being invested into performing services, and obviously, those are billable hours for your firm. So, the ability to be able to bring that client in … Pardon me?
Michael Greenstein: I said especially when you grow. I mean I’m at a point now where I started out and it was just me and my cat running a law firm. Now, it is me, an administrator paralegal, who happens to be the best one I’ve ever married, plus two associate attorneys. So, the more we grow, the more my time becomes valuable for the purposes of keeping the firm operating and growing. So, a higher-quality lead becomes extremely important. So, basically I [crosstalk 00:11:18] …
Dave Aarons: Right. Absolutely. Yup. Absolutely.
Michael Greenstein: I mean, if you’ve got plenty of time for all junk leads, then anything that gets you even a dollar’s worth of profit is worthwhile. But at this point, I’m far, far past that.
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah. It has to become worthwhile so that your time invested also balances out in what you’re seeing as a return, and that’s the most important thing, I think. At a certain point, if you want to grow, you have to grow beyond what it is you’re already currently doing, which means that has to be a worthwhile investment to be investing that time, as opposed to … in other things you could be doing, like working on your blog or working on some other traffic sources as well.
Michael Greenstein: Yeah. Once you’ve gotten past the gasping phase of a new business where you’re no longer so desperate that it doesn’t matter if the client obviously can’t afford you or can’t even afford to pay a full retainer, you need that partial retainer, and so you’re willing to take the risk. But in the end, if you’re going to escalate a business, it’s about dress for the job you want, rather than the job you have even when you’re working for yourself.
Dave Aarons: That’s right. That’s a great analogy. Given that just in the last calendar year alone, do you feel that almost 1,330 leads or so, or something like that. So, you’ve certainly have developed quite a great deal of experience in fielding leads that maybe what we could do is dive into your process from when … at least we can talk about our system when a lead comes in through Unbundled Attorney. Maybe you can take us from … First of all, do you call the lead personally yourself, or do you have your administrative assistant and spouse to make that call for you? And depending on that, how long is that usually that first call? Maybe we could just start with do you make the call? How long is that first call? And what is the goal of that first call? Are you having them come in for consultation, and is that paid, or are you … and to what amount of depth do you go into on that first call, and for how long?
Michael Greenstein: Well, actually interestingly enough … and this is something else that in my experience, distinguishes Unbundled from Nolo … a lot of the Unbundled leads end up calling me first. I’ve had calls from Unbundled leads before I even got the email.
I’m generally the one who will call the leads back because I figure people want to hear from the attorney. They want to receive a prompt outreach. They want to know who they’re dealing with. I mean, the difficulty especially in a heavily competitive market like this one in an urban area, you’ve got to have an edge. You’ve got to have something that sets you apart, and I’ve had any number of prospective clients and clients tell me through the years that they really appreciate my taking the time on the phone when a lot of attorneys just want to get them into the office and get money before they even know who they’re dealing with.
So, the way I phrase it to clients is, I want to take … and I try to keep them down. I try to keep them to around 10 minutes, but I have to exercise some judgment when to bring the conversation around the money. Sometimes, you do it right away. Sometimes, you explore the situation in a little bit more depth, without creating an attorney-client relationship. Eventually, I tell clients they need to know who they’re dealing with, and I need to know what they’re dealing with. And people are very appreciative of that. I mean, there are always going to be people who are looking to call the legal warm line and pump you for as much information as they can, and you have to be conscious of it. After a while, you begin to recognize the signs.
But there comes a point during the conversation, after I’ve got a basic picture of what it is we’re dealing with, and I have a good sense of where things need to go and what the client actually needs, that’s when I’ll bring the conversation around the money. The way I generally phrase it is I’ll say, “So it sounds like you’ve got a lot … we’ve got a lot to talk about together. And unfortunately, it’s going to be a lot more than I can do either over the phone or without charging, so what I usually will do in this situation is I will schedule a meeting for the two of us to sit down face to face across a desk, and I’ve got several goals for that meeting.”
“First of all, I want to make sure that I have answered as many of your questions as can be answered at this point. And if I’m doing my job right, that’s going to include the ones you didn’t know to ask, because I do this every day and you probably never wanted to deal with this in the first place. I want to go through the law with you. I want to make sure that you’ve got a good understanding of how it applies to your situation. I think you’re going to find that it’s not especially mysterious, it’s just involved. There are a lot of it. And anything is mysterious when you’re looking outside in for the first time. But I think you’re going to find there are a lot of common sense associated with it, it’s just legislated common sense.”
“I very much want to … Is there any court papers? I want to take a look at them, make sure that I understand where the court thinks things are because that’s always going to be our square one. Finally, if you decide you want to bring us on board, and now is the time to take action, I want to come up with a very clear to-do list of action items that will give us an opportunity to hit the ground running. So let me ask you, is now the time to get us scheduled to sit down and go through this?” That’s their opportunity to say, “No, I’m not ready yet,” or, “Yes, please. Let’s do this,” or ask me additional questions which are usually one of my clues that this person is looking for free information and that’s that.
Dave Aarons: Right.
Michael Greenstein: Then, at the meeting, I give them a fixed fee. Right now, I charge $200. So, it’s a little bit of a loss leader because I’ll budget up to two hours for the meeting on the theory that I want to give them everything they need at the first meeting, come up with a clear plan of action, make sure that they know what are the moves that they shouldn’t be making, and if they’re causing their own problems, give them the information to help them stop. They get very appreciative.
Now, I’m also lucky because while I’m taking this time, I’ve got my associates billing by the hour outside of my office, so I’m the gateway. I’m much more these days practicing law firm than I am practicing law because I’ve got force multipliers [crosstalk 00:18:16] other offices. Then, at that point …
Dave Aarons: So the first step …
Michael Greenstein: Go ahead.
Dave Aarons: Go ahead.
Michael Greenstein: No, no.
Dave Aarons: Continue.
Michael Greenstein: Okay. Well, I was just going to say, and then we’ll sit down. I’ll take the time necessary to go through everything, because I want to make sure that not only do they feel like they’re in good hands, but that we’ve covered the things that need to be covered so that we’re working as a team, because I often have occasion to tell clients, “Look, you don’t drop your life off at my office the way you drop a car off at the mechanic and expect anything good to come of it. I work best in partnership.” And I’ll tell clients, “My general approach is your goals, my methods, but I want a reality check and evaluate the achievability of your goals, and I want to review my methods with you, so that if there are any problems, we experience them across the desk before we experience them across the courtroom.”
People, again, they tend to be very appreciative of it because they are … You always have to remain conscious of the fact that these people are paying you money that they probably didn’t want to have to spend, and might not be able to afford, to trust you with some of the hardest things that they have ever had to experience. And it is as important for them to feel in good hands as it is to be in good hands, not only because it makes them easier to work with and to have a better likelihood of giving a good review. But if they feel like they’re in good hands, then if there is a problem, they’re more likely to turn to you before an issue escalates into a crisis than to do a game changer on their own and then expect you to clean up after them.
So, I find that it’s very worth taking the time. I find that clients tend to be much more appreciative of it, and much more responsive to it when I have to give them the bad news or the hard truths.
Dave Aarons: Yes. This is especially true when you’re … when the source of the clients that you’re speaking with is coming through a lead generation funnel that says that, they weren’t referred to you by a close family member or someone that they already trust that has a great deal of experience … so, you don’t have the same level of credibility going into that relationship than you would if they were referred by someone else, right?
So as a result of that, if you’re able to put a little bit more time on the front end to build that relationship, to build that trust like you’re talking about that … so the person feels more comfortable, feels like you’re really … you care [inaudible 00:21:05] the details, you care about the situation, you’re taking the time to fully understand what’s going on, then it gives them a great deal of confidence, and they feel a lot more comfortable into saying … with making that initial step of working with you, especially considering that it’s the first time they’ve had a chance to meet you.” I think that’s a lot of times, where a lot of lawyers make the mistake is they’re so used to getting third-party referrals, and they get into more of a lead generation, which is a little bit more cold market than perhaps just referral business, and think the same strategy can work. But in reality, when you’re taking this type of a lead, it really is important that you take that time upfront to build that relationship and build that confidence in the client [crosstalk 00:21:44].
Michael Greenstein: Thoroughly. I mean, that’s pretty well by default simply because I don’t have a history of having a strong referral base. That’s starting to change. But wherever the client came from, it matters to make them feel welcome. What I didn’t say earlier is when I first call an Unbundled lead … Bear in mind, they don’t think of themselves as a lead. They think of themselves as, “I am asking to be contacted by a lawyer.” So, what I will do is treat the call as if they intended to reach out and contact me. So, I’ll say, “Hi. This is Atty. Michael Greenstein. You reached out to me through the web looking for information on a divorce matter. I was wondering if now is a good time to talk.” In a nutshell, you’re …
Dave Aarons: That’s a perfect introduction.
Michael Greenstein: I’m sorry.
Dave Aarons: I just said that’s a perfect introduction.
Michael Greenstein: Yay. Yeah. I think if they don’t know who I am, I want to give them in a nutshell who this guy is and reinforce that they reached out to me, and here I am, let’s talk in a very colloquial way. It’s another reason for the lawyer to do it rather than to have a secretary or an administrator or a staff member take it because you’re already relationship building. Really, the strength of any practice, especially a small practice in the modern market, is going to be about relationship building, because if people begin to leave good reviews for you online, that is gold that cannot be purchased.
These days really is everything. I mean, all of us who practice law are basically just another tree in the forest. Why your tree? Who are you? What’s that all about? And recognizing where they’re coming from, how they are entering into the situation, and what they need to hear before they articulate it is going to make a huge difference, especially when they’ve got plenty of options, some of them might be less expensive than you. They already don’t have somebody to call from a referral, or they wouldn’t have reached out through the web in the first place, but they need to know you’re [crosstalk 00:24:09].
Dave Aarons: Yup. Absolutely. And that introduction you said that “Hey. This is Michael Greenstein. I’m responding to your request for assistance with a divorce matter.” [inaudible 00:24:22] they initiated a contact, and that you’re responding to their request, and “Is this a good time for you to talk? Do you have something to write with?” Then it’s like, okay, now you have their attention. Then from there, it really … that they’re initiating the initial call, they’re the ones reaching out. And like you said before, and I wanted to piggyback on that, those reviews are so important.
We have a feature on our website, or in our system, where lawyers can cultivate reviews from clients we send them that they’ve done good work for, and that can then post those on the site, because that’s an incredible amount of social proof, especially nowadays when you have websites like Amazon and eBay and so forth where people make a lot of decisions based on the reviews from other clients. If you can get those reviews, and put them live on the site on your website or in our service, put that on your profile page, it’s really going to give that client a lot more confidence in your … when they’re able to hear from … that have used your services as well.
Michael Greenstein: Yeah. And I can tell you, in terms … One of the things that I have done, and to make things easier to get reviews is I have gone to tinyurl.com. Basically, you want to make it as easy as possible for clients to do what you want them to do. Sometimes, they won’t just do it. You have to reach out to them. I mean, sometimes I will go as far as picking up the phone and saying, “Hey, I’m checking back, wanted to see how things are going. Also, I wanted to make you aware if I can convince you to do it, if you’re happy with what I did for you, I hope you’ll say some lovely things for me online, and I can send you some links.” Sometimes, they do. And sometimes, they’ll say they’ll do and not, but it’s easier if you go after them than if you just say, “I hope they will.”
Dave Aarons: Absolutely.
Michael Greenstein: Google reviews, you need five Google reviews for your stars to show up. If you do a search that comes up with map results on Google, the ones that you see stars … the difference between them and the other ones is they have five reviews or more. It’s stupid. It shouldn’t make the difference, but you know what, when everybody is a tree in the forest, anything that sets you apart is good, as long as it sets you apart in the right way. The other thing, there is a website that a lot of people might not know about. The website is reviews.birdeye.com. That’s B-I-R-D, like the flying thing, E-Y-E, like you’ve got two of them above your nose, reviews.birdeye.com.
They collate reviews. I know they draw from [Avo 00:27:12]. I know they draw from Google. I think they draw from Yelp. I’m not sure where else they draw from, but if you want to do … to find out what other people have said about you, that’s a good place to check if they … and if their reviews are good, I’ve actually put a link to my reviews on BirdEye to my website, so … with a section that says, “Don’t take my word for it. See what other people have to say about me.” You might as well use whatever marketing tools are out there.
Dave Aarons: Absolutely. To build our reputation, and especially again, when you’re working with leads and so forth, it’s really helpful for them to have that third-party validation from other people that have worked with your services.
Michael Greenstein: It’s really is a lot of people [crosstalk 00:28:04] …
Dave Aarons: Let’s switch gears a little … Pardon?
Michael Greenstein: I was just going to say, a lot of people who have called me lately who have found me online have mentioned their reviews, because of people … We’re an expensive service. People want to check us out.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, and rightfully so, too. I mean, we’re talking about … especially in family law, which is your primary area of practice.
Michael Greenstein: Correct.
Dave Aarons: It’s the right to their kids on the line, their ability to be a parent to their child so the selection of their attorney can be a critical component in their ability to not only get custody but also to afford to bring the case to fruition as well. So it’s wise for folks to take the time to make that decision. And if you can give them these reviews and give them that third-party validation, it’s going to really make their job a lot easier to choose your firm.
Michael Greenstein: Very true.
Dave Aarons: With that, let’s switch gears a little bit. Now, you’ve done the consultation into your office, maybe you could talk a little bit about … because I know you do at times offer some unbundled legal …
Michael Greenstein: I do.
Dave Aarons: … out of the maybe … Maybe you could talk a bit about those options and why you offer them in the first place, and why you’ve been open to providing that to certain clients, and how that’s worked out for you.
Michael Greenstein: Well, it’s a little strange how it came about. I’ve been offering unbundled service longer than I knew it had a name. I mean, we do have an expensive service. Whether people can afford us or not is an interesting question. What I always warn people about in advance, because I tell people, “I would rather risk losing your business than to have you give me a bunch of money and wish you’d never heard my name.” Also, I’ll tell them, “I have no illusions about what we cost and how it can add up. I’m an investment, but I’m only a good investment if I leave you better off, or considerably better off than if you hadn’t worked with me.”
I had a fellow who called me once and said, “I haven’t seen my child in six weeks. I think I’ll have enough money for your retainer in two months.” I said, “You know, right now the riskiest thing you can do is nothing at all.” I talked to someone like that about unbundled. I always make it available to them. The way I started to … and I know I’m getting off a little, but I will get back to the topic.
The best way that I have found to describe unbundled service versus traditional service is that if in traditional service you’re in a two-seater race car and you’re in the passenger seat and the professional driver is in the driver’s seat, going unbundled switches seats, so you are relying on your own reflexes, but you’ve got a professional driver sitting next to you to offer you guidance, which is a whole lot better than if that seat is empty. And if that’s what your resources permit, at least it gives you a legal team in the background that is a la carte, that you can use as you need to draft documents, review documents, and give you a sense of how best to approach the situation.
Getting back to the actual answer to your question, one of my hobbies is bookbinding. During the more difficult days of my practice where I incidentally had a whole lot more free time, I tried to sell my work at craft fairs. What I found, there was a lady who I’ve met several times who sold beaded jewelry and beaded keepsakes and other things, really nice stuff, who gave me her philosophy of successful marketing. She said, “You need something to cover all price points. The guy who wants to buy a 10 dollar bangle for his girlfriend, and the person who is looking for something really unique and special that sits on the table in splendor, and if nobody buys it, they can at least see what you’re capable of, and that will inspire them to buy even the less expensive items you produce. So, if you have a range of material on your table and something for everyone, you’re going to make more sales.”
That is exactly what made me start doing unbundled service before I knew what it was called, because it was a way that I could work with people who did not have the money for a retainer and felt confident enough or desperate enough to represent themselves, but didn’t want to do it without help, and that they could afford.
Dave Aarons: Right. So can you talk maybe a little bit about the types of options you offer? Do you do document preparation? Do you document review? Maybe talk a little bit about maybe the different price points. And then also, if you do document preparation, do you then walk them through how to file it themselves, or do you file it, [inaudible 00:33:18] file in your state …
Michael Greenstein: We do.
Dave Aarons: … did it serve the other party? Do you ever do limited appearances, for example? Maybe you can talk a little about those options and how you structure them as well.
Michael Greenstein: [crosstalk 00:33:28]. Now, I will always give clients the opportunity to either go unbundled or when they are, to upgrade to traditional representation, or if they started out having us active on the case as an advocate as well as counselor, to give them the opportunity to downgrade. When I see that finances are starting to be an issue, I will try to have that conversation with them early enough that they’re not utterly depleted, because my job, as much as I am perfectly happy to make a living addressing their issues, my job is to serve their interests, and that includes in terms of how they work with my firm.
When it comes to unbundled clients, everything always begins with the same meeting, whether they’re going to be going traditional, whether they’re going to be going unbundled. Either way, I want to sit down with them. I want to come up with a course of action. I want to give them the opportunity to make decision-making that is as informed as possible without a working crystal ball. And given that, I will draft documents as they need. We’ll check in with them as necessary. We will answer their questions. So really, they get to dial up the level of our participation at that point.
I mean, the fee per hour is the same for traditional service as unbundled service, but in both cases, since I have the advantage of having associates, one of the things I try to do in-house is to make sure that the work is being done by the person who charges the least who can still do the job to my specifications.
So, that’s another way that clients can save money because right now, I’m … my name’s on the letterhead. I’m the most expensive guy in the place. But, while I’m $225 an hour, my lowest-cost associate is 150. So, that’s another way that I can have something on the table at all prices.
Dave Aarons: You make a really good point with regard to the billable hour. A lot of attorneys assume … the only way to make really good money in the legal industry is to take really big retainers and take on big cases, right? The $5,000 upfront and so forth, and that by offering unbundled legal services, somehow they would be getting less money or it’s a cheaper alternative by offering these types of options to folks that maybe don’t have the amount of that … those large retainers upfront, but like you … that you pointed out, that whether you’re working on a case for 20 hours or two hours, those hours you’re investing in that case, is still being billed at your normal hourly rate at 225, or whichever associate’s working at it. So, that’s a billable hour, whether it’s a client you’re going to work with for 40 hours or four hours, you’re still seeing that time invested in the case. Then, obviously, there are the [inaudible 00:36:31] we can talk about in a minute of starting to look at more of a flat rate model, too.
Michael Greenstein: Yeah, but there are more to it than that. There is the fact that a client who starts out unbundled may get to a point where he or she feels out of his or her depths, and I’m like, “Okay. I’m pushing the button. I think I want you to come into this proceeding,” but also there is a utility in a diverse client base. In some ways, if you’re going to make the same money from one client or you’re going to make the money from a dozen clients who are each requiring fewer services, go for the dozen, because as I learned … and I saw it coming before it happened, and unfortunately it happened just the way I saw it coming, because let’s face it, part of our job is to evaluate risk for other people. If we can’t evaluate it for ourselves, why are we even in this business?
If you have most of your business coming from few people, it means that a huge chunk of your business can walk out of your office the moment either there is an adverse result or that person is frustrated with how things are going, or doesn’t like what you’re telling him, or any number of other things, and it can become a disaster to a small practice. So, it seems to me that more clients, each of whom are receiving fewer services, make you much more flexible, make you much more likely to weather a storm, and incidentally give you a greater referral base, because if those dozen people who need fewer services are happy with you, one of them is more likely to have a friend who will also need your services.
So, don’t underestimate the value of the little client, and decide that an unbundled [crosstalk 00:38:34] …
Dave Aarons: Well, yeah. Absolutely. I think and additionally, when you’re able to offer these unbundled options, especially with the lead generation model as we go back to earlier, where people are trying to get comfortable working with you … build that trust with the relationship, because they don’t have experience or someone to tell them that, “Hey, you’re the man to work with,” or woman in that case, that anything you can do to make it a little bit easier for them to get started in the process and start working with them and give them that opportunity to experience your services first-hand is going to make them all the more comfortable.
So, when you’re about to start with someone and start with, let’s say, rather than them having to come up with the full retainer and go straight into traditional, or you could say, “Well, what we could do is we could start with unbundled legal services. I can draft this petition. You start out in more of a pay as you go unbundled approach,” then it’s a lower-paying threshold financially for them. It’s something that more people can attain and get started with. And it’s a lot easier for them to just say, “Yes, let’s get it started.”
Then, as [Matt East 00:39:38] was sharing in another podcast, which we have here in the podcast, a great majority of those clients that start with unbundled, that maybe couldn’t afford it upfront, or maybe just didn’t have the comfort level to be investing a greater sum to get started when they hadn’t experienced it yet, but they start with unbundled, later on, will then transition when they file the papers themselves, or proceed accordingly, and they’d be like … maybe they’re a little over their head, and from that point on, find the resources financially or make the decision at that point to retain you for representation. Has that also been your experience as well that many of the clients will go from unbundled then transition to more full representation model?
Michael Greenstein: [crosstalk 00:40:17] that is very true. I’ve had clients go the other way, too, but that is also good, because it gives me an opportunity to maintain an existing relationship, and have a very appreciative client who recognizes that he’s something other than a cash cow I’m trying to squeeze until he’s exhausted. The other thing that I tell people, by the way, that I forgot to mention, is my standard retainer is $2,000. When I’m operating on a traditional service, I will make … I have what I call a retainer level maintain policy, the idea being that at least in theory, although in practice, I’ll cut people breaks, the retainer needs to be topped off month-to-month to make sure that the fuel tank is full for the journey.
When it’s unbundled service, I’ll tell them I’ll put the retainer in half, I’ll just charge 1,000 dollar retainer, and there is no need to maintain a level, because essentially if the meter runs out, you put another coin in the meter at that point. So, it gives them another opportunity to afford me, because I have [crosstalk 00:41:23] this is an expensive service. I want to make sure that to the extent that we don’t break people … I don’t want to break people, and that we don’t have to. And to make sure that they’re making an informed decision because I always want people to know what they’re getting into with my firm, so I’ve got a separate fee agreement for unbundled service that recognizes the possibility of an upgrade. Because, as long as you don’t work into the red other than by choice, because that’s always a dangerous thing to do.
Dave Aarons: Right. Maybe we could expand a little bit is it’s how … What is your process? And from your experience, how do you determine which clients you work with on an unbundled basis versus full representation? Because there are a lot of cases that are just not going to be a fit. There are going to be a lot of clients that are not a fit too … or wouldn’t be served by working with you on an unbundled basis. So, what are some of the things that you do to identify or determine which clients that you’re open and willing to do, or which cases you’re open and willing to offer unbundled and which ones aren’t, so that you can obviously protect your liability, but also make sure that you’re offering the best option, and not overreaching certain cases?
Michael Greenstein: Well, generally, I go the opposite way, and I’ll say to the client … Let the client make that decision. I tell people, “I think of myself mainly as dealing with informed clients and protected clients, mainly because they’re usually one and the same thing.” So, once I’ve gone over it with them, unless I think that there is something that I think would be a very good idea not to go unbundled, and adoptions are pretty well at the top of the list, I want to make sure that once I’ve gone through things with them, let them make the call.
Because very often, once I described it … and I’ll use the race car analogy … they’ll say, “You know, I’m not comfortable. I know I’ve got a temper,” or, “I’m terrified. I think I need you there,” but they nevertheless appreciate that I gave them the option and that I really am thinking of them before I’m thinking of myself. I mean, to my mind, that’s what separates the professional from the nonprofessional, is whose interests are you serving? I mean, everybody has the right to be compensated for their work, but that’s not the same thing as saying that I’m going to serve myself at the expense of my clients. I’m going to serve my clients and make a living doing it. So [crosstalk 00:43:58] …
Dave Aarons: Absolutely. I’m really happy you shared that. It’s such a core philosophy that when we’re looking at evaluating which attorneys to work with and having those conversations and getting feedback from clients, what really comes through as the most important thing to fix with the client when we get feedback from them, and also in our conversations with attorneys, what is your underlying purpose? What is the underlying focus of your practice? Is it to serve your clients first, and ultimately in service of them, you benefit, or is it how can you be served by them? How can you get the most amount of money out of each case? There are all types of concerns or complaints about certain practices of attorneys that they really focus more on the money and not how to give the best option to the client.
Michael Greenstein: I mean, I’m not a monk. I want to make a lot of money doing what I do. And I’ll tell clients I have no problem making a good living doing what I do. I have a girl in college. I didn’t get into this field to be poor, but I’m also clean-shaven, although right now I’m growing a beard so I have to be careful with that one. I said, “I’m clean-shaven, so I have to look at myself in the mirror at least once daily. I have to like what I see.” So, it is not exclusive to make a good living offering a valuable service. It just, it comes down to once you’ve dealt with the business bottom line … because, look, I have to pay my people. I have to pay my mortgage. I have to pay my office rent, whether I am making money or not, but they’re not exclusive. You don’t have to choose, do I make a living, or do I serve the client? You make a living serving the client.
Dave Aarons: That’s right. And that always seems to be one of the primary reasons that we see that attorneys are starting off of these unbundled options, or at least began, it was a solution-focused approach to, how do I get this person from A to Z when this person either wants to handle parts on their own or just doesn’t have the financial resources for me to take them all the way from point A to Z? How can I still serve this client and get them through the process with the limited resources they have? Then, that’s when they start to get creative and come up with these types of unbundled approaches where they’re doing documents, preparing their written declarations, and then guiding them through the processes as fast as they can in the least amount of time so that they’re limiting the amount of financial exposure to the client.
Michael Greenstein: [crosstalk 00:46:39] …
Dave Aarons: Would you mind perhaps … Pardon?
Michael Greenstein: I said innovation matters.
Dave Aarons: Yes. Yeah, we can talk maybe a little bit about technology in a minute. Maybe what would be helpful is would you be able to give maybe like a hypothetical client, and just walk through … that elects to use more of an unbundled approach. And let’s say you’re going to be drafting documents for them, and they’re going to be filing and representing themselves, like how you navigate servicing them differently than you would if you’re working with them full representation and more of like a coaching role and walking them through it. Do you have checklists that you give them? Do you give them instruction over the phone? Do you prep them for hearings? I mean, maybe walk through a little bit that.
Michael Greenstein: Well, I mean, it’s … What I want to do first and foremost is make sure that these clients are in our system every bit as much as anyone else, because the last thing that any growing practice can afford is for things to fall between the cracks, unbundled or bundled. And one of the things that I’ve discovered as I grow is that the rules change the bigger you get because the more people are involved in your practice, the more variables there are. You can’t do everything. You can’t actively have your hand in everything. But you need an error checking system. You need to make sure that you have a diary system, that you use the diary system, and that you do not put a file away, unbundled or bundled, without having diaried a next action date, even if it is only a no-cost ping to the client saying, “Hey, just wanted to check in. No cost for the call, see how things are going, and whether there are any problems that we can address before they get bigger.”
People tend to appreciate that sort of thing. So for example, in terms of an example of an unbundled client. So here, we’ll have somebody who has a distribution of property issues and perhaps support issues, as well as divorce. It all begins with the meeting. You want to lay out a course of action, and make sure that the client is in a position to understand, first of all, his or her own power, because especially if you’re dealing with somebody who is accustomed to feeling powerless, especially if there is an opposing counsel on the other side who thinks to run roughshod over a pro se party, you want to take away the mystery. You want to explain how the game is played, in the sense that, “Look, this attorney on the other side, you’re only ever going to see game face. This person could rescue puppies and weep at a sad movie, and you’re going to see the ruffian in the courtroom.”
So we create a course of action that is calculated to best achieve their goals after reviewing their goals, which sometimes is half the battle, because if somebody’s coming into my office saying, “I want his head on a silver platter, and I want him to pay for the platter,” then that’s a good opportunity to [crosstalk 00:49:56] this person and say … warn them of what a fight on principle does.
I have a client right now who … and I’m not giving any confidential details here. We’re in the process. There is an award of support to her right now. She was living in the marital residence. The problem is, she couldn’t afford it, and she wanted to get out from under it. The problem is, it’s upside down on the mortgage. So, what we have done for her is to draft … there was a motion that we drafted, for example … and explained to her how to present it. That gave her a short cooperation from him to put it on the market, and that she could list it for sale. When she discovered that it was upside down on the mortgage, because realtors wouldn’t touch it without some authorization from the bank, she came in. She sat down, talked to us, talked to me. I went through with her what she was dealing with, how to deal with him, how to try to sell it to him. “Make sure to document what you do because the judge wants to see how you have fulfilled his order.”
Then, whatever it is she needs … Fortunately, she is very together. She’s very organized. And I always encourage clients to be organized, telling them, “Look, the more organized you are, the less organized you need to pay us to become.” Even my bundled service clients, I’ll tell them, “Look, I want to turn you into my clerk because you don’t have to pay you by the hour to do things that don’t require me or my staff to take care of. And while an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I don’t want you to use false economy, if I can find opportunities for you to do something to help yourself, then it may be the best paying job you’ve ever had in the form of the money you save.” And I emphasize that, particularly with unbundled clients.
So, I’ve got a diary system in place. I’m keeping tabs on the cases. We’ve got a system … I want to make sure to take a team approach so that anybody who calls in, anybody who picks up the phone, can at least get a rapid capsule summary of where the case is procedural, what the big issues might be right now, and what we’re expecting next, so that we can give the client an informed response.
I’m also very often going to, whenever possible, have my paralegal help out because she is $85 an hour instead of $225 an hour. When it comes to certain basic document drafting, I’m going to have her do that instead of somebody who costs more. It makes us more efficient. It makes us more cost-effective, and it still serves the client. So I don’t have a whole lot of automation. It’s still very much hands-on. It’s just a question of whose hands are on it, ours, or the clients? I don’t know if I [crosstalk 00:53:21] somewhere in there or not.
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah. I think that gave a good examples of how you work with the clients, and take into consideration their organization, walking through the pieces that are most important, make sure they understand what they’re going up against, whether it be another party’s attorney, at least, that’s the thing, so that they’re best equipped to be effective in what it is that they’re trying to do …
Michael Greenstein: [crosstalk 00:53:47].
Dave Aarons: … if they are going to be doing things on their own.
Michael Greenstein: Yeah. I try to tell clients overall, I want to make sure that they understand the judge’s perspective as much as possible, because what I’ll tell people is in the event of a dispute, the only person in the situation whose opinion really matters is the judge, because the judge is the one with the authority to make it stick. So the more you can adopt the judge’s perspective as your own, the more likely that the judge is going to look at your proposed solution as the best way for the court to carry out its own priorities, as compared to that of your ex.
I tell people all the time, “I don’t want to create a war where there doesn’t have to be one, but I want to make sure that you are not undercutting yourself.” I also have articles online that I’ll sometimes even point bundled clients toward that might give basic information. For example, I took the basic advice that I give to clients on the eve of trial and I turned it into an article that I can point people toward and say, “Hey, if you want the advice I give clients before trial and you want it for free, read that article. And if you have any questions about it, I’ll be glad to answer them.”
So, I try whenever possible to demystify it, because really fear and anxiety make people do dangerous things, and to the extent that I can’t remove the fear factor and give them permission to be nervous … because I’ll often have occasion to tell clients, “Look, if you’re not nervous, I have to ask you if you’re really paying attention, so it’s okay. Family division court judges usually are neither idiots nor jerks. What they prioritize is very clear in the law. Let’s go through it. And if you have questions, I’ll answer them. Otherwise …” If I can get them to take an overall sensible approach to their cases, where they’re forgetting every television program they ever saw, they’re leaving technicalities for criminal court, and wreck …
In Pennsylvania, there are a lot of equity in a family courtroom. So you want to make sure that you’re presenting a case, and your client is presenting a case in a way that doesn’t make the judge go, “Oh, come on,” but instead makes the judge somewhere in his or her head go, “Well, that seems reasonable to me.” As long as you’re dealing with somebody who is a composed, controlled person, who recognizes that the worst and most dangerous thing that you can bring into a courtroom is a sure and certain sense that you’re right, that person is the person who’s going to get the most out of unbundled services. The client who starts telling you about how the fix is in and starts spouting conspiracy theories, not so much.
I’ll tell people all the time, especially unbundled clients, “If you want to sound in fury, take the muffler off your car. You’re going to get all the smoke, you’re going to get all the noise, but you’re not going to get there any faster, and you are going to raise a stink,” right? Again, I don’t know if I answered your question somewhere in there, but if I didn’t, ask it again, and I’ll try and do better.
Dave Aarons: No, that’s a really good perspective to give clients going in there to really make sure … Because of a lot of times, they’re very emotionally involved in pursuing custody, especially in family law. You can’t have a more emotional [inaudible 00:57:27]. So often times, without proper coaching, they’re quick to badmouth the other party and in the best interest of the child, if they were to look at it from a more objective, logical, reasonable standpoint. So, giving them that preparation, giving them that perspective can really help them zoom out a bit and try to figure out from a less attached component … perspective, what’s really going to be the best fit for their family and for their kids.
Michael Greenstein: I try, whenever possible, to give them the perspective of the judge and reassure them that a custody case, for example … that any case, it is not about who shouts the loudest. It is not about who whispers the last. And that judges generally don’t want to get involved in the soap opera of things. Black and white perspective is not going to help you because the judge doesn’t share it.
What I’ll usually have occasion to do, especially with unbundled clients is … I had occasion early in my career to work as an arbitrator in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh. Any young attorney without a lot of experience in the early 1990s who wanted to make $125 cash for a morning’s work could sign up as an arbitrator, because of cases that at the time were … civil cases worth less than $25,000 didn’t go in front of a judge or a judge and a jury, they went in front of a panel of three attorneys serving as arbitrators. What I’ll tell clients is, “Having attorneys practicing me really changed my perspective, because you figure out what’s going on very, very quickly.”
There was an Allegheny County permanent Family Court hearing officer who must’ve had the world’s smartest cat, because whenever I would say something that was probably pretty obvious, she would say to me, “My cat knows that.” So, it just emphasized that you don’t have to stand up and shout, “She’s lying, your Honor,” especially if they’re representing themselves, that the court is going to be more impressed by you giving the other side the opportunity to speak. And they’ll be listening every bit as much when you do. But that it’s not about judges are stupid, and if you don’t shout her down every single time she talks, well, the judge might believe this lying wench of an ex.
Sometimes, you can’t protect people from themselves, but the more you can demystify it … and they say a good lawyer knows the law, and a great lawyer knows the judge. Whenever I can, I try to be a great lawyer for people.
Dave Aarons: Right. Okay.
Michael Greenstein: I mean, it’s not a perfect system. And the fact is, look, if you’re driving the race car on your own, the sudden move, you’ve got only your own reflexes, but that’s one of the reasons why past a certain point in a case, people will often bring us in.
Dave Aarons: Right. Okay. Great. So maybe, just switch gears one more time.
Michael Greenstein: Sure.
Dave Aarons: One of the things that … in most recent [inaudible 01:00:39], for better or for worse, and certainly more likely for better, your practice has been growing, and you’ve been bringing on more associates in the line of taking on leads and bringing on more clients. What are the types of … I think you mentioned the diary, and I think you have a backend technology. What are some of the systems that you use to be effective when you start dealing with a higher volume of clients to be able to track where they’re at? I think in my case, it’s when using the technology.
Michael Greenstein: Yeah. I use MyCase.
Dave Aarons: What kinds of systems do you use?
Michael Greenstein: Well, actually, the system that is most important … As soon as you’ve got associates working with you, the system that’s most important is the interpersonal relationships from the workflow in the office. One of the reasons that I take … use the first meeting as an opportunity to go through everything with the client is, I want to make sure that since I can’t handle every case alone … and delegation does not come naturally to me … I want to make sure that anybody in my office who is picking up that file can start with the initial notes, take a look at the basics, and take a look at the to-do list so that we know exactly what is being expected of us for the client’s benefit, and it gives us a benchmark to see whether things are done or whether things are not done.
Occasionally, my associates, God bless them, they pried work out of my cold, dead hand in order to make sure that it gets done, because I used to have a thing that, my senior associate started referring to as the drawer of doom, which is wherever I put stuff when I needed it off my desk but didn’t want it too far out of my sight, and things wound up getting buried in there.
So instead … and we’re transitioning to this now. One of the things that bringing our second associate on and growing after Christmas … because things always start up again after Christmas … that’s when I started to say, “All right, we need a good tickler system.” MyCase offers one, but there are other software packages out there that do it too. Clio is one of them. Rocket Lawyer is another. I don’t know as much about them, because I obviously went with MyCase, but any kind of a management system that lets you diary the dates that are important, the things that have to happen with reasonable specificity, and then put the file away, because the same senior associate who identified the drawer of doom started having the office of doom.
It doesn’t take a whole lot for clients to feel that you’re not being responsive, or God help, you’re missing deadlines. Use the diary system. Make sure that there is somebody there whose job is to make sure that things don’t slip through the cracks. Actually, a lot of that isn’t even me, it’s my wife acting as administrator because she’s got more time in the day while I’m busy developing the new clients and making sure that we’re setting strategies, addressing issues. And by the way, I never bill for two things. I never bill to talk about billing with a client, because that’s just kind of disgusting, and I never bill … and I make sure that they’re aware of this. And I will never bill to talk about either issue with my staff or issues about how the case is being handled.
I’ll also very often throw in freebies so that they can get a call from the guy whose name is on the letterhead making sure that they’re being taken care of, and there is no charge for the call. But the diary system is the foundation of it, making sure that calls get returned, making sure that issues get addressed, making sure that correspondence is returned. And it’s hard. I mean, any practitioner whose practice is growing knows how easily things can slip through the cracks. So, that’s one of the reasons that getting a good workflow in the office … One of the things that I’ve started to do that we never had to do before, was to assign a responsible associate for individual cases that it’s up to them in part to be the ones to make sure that if everybody is waiting for somebody to do something, they’re the somebody being waited for, just to remove the ambiguity.
I mean, we have a very [crosstalk 01:05:06] relationship here. Everybody talks. One of the things that I think sets us apart is I’m not leaving my associates to sink. Because I mean, client service begins in the office, which is why I’m focusing on this as a partial answer to your question. I brought my associates in offering them mentorship. It costs you a little bit of time, and it pays dividends over and over and over again. My senior associate came to me two years … three … I think licensed for just about maybe two and a half years. She had done some family law on her own. Her work product was good, but she was very, very inexperienced. I told her, “I want to see you succeed. I want to see your career grow. I want to see you make a lot of money with me. I want to make a lot of money off of you too. If you have a question, if you’re asking me the same question for the fifth time, ask it, because the clients need that level of service.” And it has paid dividends.
My senior associate said she’s talked to some of her colleagues who are terrified … from her law school year … who are terrified to go to motions court because the partner handed them a motion, said, “Here. Present this.” They’ve never even met the client. They know nothing about the case.
I encountered one young attorney in motions court. When the judge asked what she charged by the hour for an award of counsel fees, the lady didn’t even know. They didn’t even tell her what they were charging for her. I figure I want people who are coming with me to succeed, to be of tremendous value to my clients, and to be so happy working here that my training doesn’t walk out the door, and it gives me something else that I could never buy. They care. They give a damn. When a client calls, they want to help. It makes all the difference in the world. When you’re marketing, you want … Your best sales force are satisfied clients.
Dave Aarons: Right. Exactly. They’re ambassadors for your practice.
Michael Greenstein: Exactly. So … and look, you’re going to get bad reviews. Some people, you can’t help, no matter what you try to do, because they’re coming in with expectations that are absolutely unreasonable, or the first setback and they decide, “Oh my God, this guy’s got no clue.” That’s always going to happen. And the bigger you grow, the more certainty there is that it’s going to happen, because let’s face it, if you play Russian roulette long enough, sooner or later the bullet is going to fire. When you’re dealing with the general public, it’s inevitable. I’ve got some bad reviews online. I hate them, but I try to be constructive about it.
So MyCase … So, just to recap. The diary system is tremendously important. Follow-up is important. One of the things that I want to make sure of moving forward is that any file that is active doesn’t go more than 30 days without something happening, even if it’s only a ping to the client. Say, “Hi there. We’re still here. Any developments? No news is good news. Great. Carry-on. You need us, we’re here.” Other than that …
Dave Aarons: Oh, this is …
Michael Greenstein: Go ahead.
Dave Aarons: Well, I was just going to say, I mean, this has been just an incredible call. I mean, it’s no surprise to any of us why we’re getting such good feedback from the clients we send you and why they’ve been so happy with your services and that you’re doing so well with the leads that we’re sending by offering these types of options, and certainly with the philosophy you bring to serving these clients’ needs. I know we’re coming up to about an hour here on the call, so maybe what we could do, just ask maybe one final question. Is there anything you would like to suggest or maybe one final piece of advice either for being effective at offering unbundled legal services or working with leads that maybe attorneys that would be brand new to this or don’t have the experience that you do could benefit from a broad perspective?
Michael Greenstein: Well, actually, I’ll offer two as fast as I can. First one is a variation of what we’ve talked about, which is work on service. Try to innovate in ways that larger firms don’t. One of my philosophies in business that has worked out pretty well for me is that there are a lot of what I think of as dinosaur law firms out there where they got their business, not through direct marketing, not through lead services, or the web, but because the senior partner is the president of the local country club, and he golfs with rich people who will turn to him and recommend other people to him. But when it comes down to that, no matter how … Sooner or later, dinosaurs get bigger and bigger and bigger. Then, something comes along and eats their eggs, and it’s very small, and it becomes very successful. That’s what I have been trying to be.
The second thing is part and parcel of that is that you have to have a good website because there are a lot of junk. If you pretend to be a prospective client looking for information, looking to educate yourself and see who’s out there, you’re going to discover very quickly that you’re going to be flooded with ad copy. People are going to want you to fill out forms. If you call the firm, you’re not going to get a human being, or you’re going to get a secretary wanting to make an appointment for fee, when all you want to do is just get some orientation and find something useful, and maybe then you’ll be ready to hire an attorney and you’ll know who to look for.
So a highly user-friendly website that does not have an artificial, we’re going to cram in as many searchable buzzwords as possible to boost you in the rankings until the thing looks like … looks like anything but a useful tool. What we do as attorneys is to create tools for others to use. It might be an unbundled client, it might be a judge, it might even be an opposing counsel who you want to buy into your position for the purpose of settlement. In this particular instance, the tool you’re making is for the use of people who don’t need you yet or have just discovered that they need you, and that means real, organic, informational content, user-friendly interface. Don’t try to cram it so full that it’s like a Halloween bag that’s bursting from candy, or a car so covered in bumper stickers that there is no message because they try to be all messages.
Be real. If anybody wants to see my version of that, feel free to take a look at my website. It is greensteinfamilylaw.com, green like the color, stein like a big mug of beer. And at the all articles tab, you’ll find my library index. The website performs extremely well, and the best part is it costs me no more than $50 a year, because I built it on a WordPress.com blog platform, which also means I left comments open, subject to moderation, which means other people add content for me when they ask questions of an informational nature that I can answer. So, it becomes important, because the person who gets the unbundled lead who is thinking of giving you a call is first going to check you out. They want to know you are. You have to sell yourself before you can sell your services. And if they like what they see, maybe you don’t have to call them. Maybe they’ll pick up the telephone because it does happen. It happens to me.
Dave Aarons: Right.
Michael Greenstein: I talked fast. I hope I didn’t talk too fast.
Dave Aarons: Listen, this has been incredible, Michael. I want to just thank you for taking the time and jumping on here. This has been a very enlightening call. I’m sure those that partake and listen are going to get a lot of value from it. I just really appreciate what you’re doing at the [inaudible 01:13:30] for the clients that you’ve been working with, and the office that you’ve been providing them, because there are a lot of folks that have come to you that most of the firms … that you’ve been able to serve, that most of the firms would turn away.
That’s why when you talk about the small things that are eating those dinosaur eggs, those are the clients that are representing about two-thirds of the current marketplace. We’ve had a real shift, especially since 2008 and the emergence of the market. Those that are able to find ways to serve that ever-growing marketplace are certainly going to thrive in this next age as opposed to the dinosaur attorneys that have been a little bit more inflexible and don’t have the types of payment options are going to be a little bit more … a little bit more of their eggs get eaten.
I want to thank you for everything you’re doing, and leading the path for us, offering unbundled services and finding great solutions for meeting people’s needs financially and legally.
Michael Greenstein: Very good. Thank you. I appreciate what you’re offering. It certainly made a difference in my practice.
Dave Aarons: All right.
Michael Greenstein: All right.
Dave Aarons: Okay. Well, we’ll keep it coming. Thanks again for joining us on the call. For those of you [inaudible 01:14:36], feel free to check out the podcast on iTunes. You can leave a rating, subscribe to the podcast [inaudible 01:14:44] get an email anytime one comes out and of course share it with those that you feel could benefit as well. So, thanks again, Michael, for joining us on the call today. We’ll talk to you real soon again.
Michael Greenstein: Very good. Thank you.
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Episode 5: How to Build a Thriving Practice Using Internet Leads and Unbundled Legal Services
In this episode we interview provider attorney Michael Greenstein.
Michael walks us through the process he has developed using internet leads to help build his practice. He also reveals the secrets to the success he has had with unbundled legal services over many years including specifics on how to deliver these options to clients.
- The step by step process for calling leads and converting them into paying clients
- The importance of getting positive reviews from your clients, and how to leverage them
- How offering unbundled legal services helps convert more clients, and attract more referrals
- How having more clients paying for less hours helps to reduce risk and increase your cash flow
- An easy way to explain the value of unbundled legal services to your clients
- Examples of unbundled legal service options, and typical price points for each
- How to ethically limit the scope of your involvement in a case, and set proper expectations for your clients
- Building reliable systems that support a growing practice with new staff members and associates
- And much more
If you are enjoying this podcast be sure to subscribe to receive each new episode as it becomes available.
For more information about Unbundled Attorney and how our Lead Generation services can help grow your practice, visit: https://www.unbundledattorney.com?t=podcast