Launching a New Practice Straight Out of Law School: Overcoming Fear, Streamlining Intake, and Improving Access to Justice by Eliminating the Upfront Retainer
We are very excited to share this interview with Lauren Kelley, who is one of our newest attorneys with Unbundled Attorney and she has a really unique story. She recently just graduated from law school about two months ago and was working for a firm that was taking leads from us, and literally the day she graduated from law school, I believe was September 29th, she immediately opened up her new practice and then started taking leads from us on October 1st. So, one or two days after she graduated from law school she opened up her own firm and immediately started taking leads and launched her own solo practice, and over the past couple months she has taken over 45 leads from us and has enrolled and retained over 20 new clients just in a little less than two months. It’s been an incredible launch story.
She’s done a great job about overcoming some of the initial fears of starting a new practice, and certainly having the leads from us has helped her to do that, but she also talks, in this episode, specifically about what it really takes to get a new practice started. And there was a lot of things that she didn’t expect or didn’t anticipate would be challenges that she’s had to overcome, and basically shares exactly what she’s had to do throughout the process to get this going. From intake to legal technology to develop a streamlined practice to learning and implementing some systems and tasks and processes that are involved in each and every case from the get-go so that she can build a higher volume and efficient firm for the long term, and really emphasizes the importance of that.
She also talks about how she has been a big proponent of access to justice and seeks to make her services more accessible and affordable for her clients, and so has basically for the most part, done away with the upfront retainer in the sense that for the majority of the cases, she has broken down each individual case into the specific tasks that are involved with each case and has set pricing for each task in the process. So she’s offering unbundled legal services or discrete task representation. She’s still offering full representation but is just billing and allowing the client to pay as they go and just do one phase at a time. So she goes into the specifics of how she does that, gives an example of a fully contested divorce and how she breaks up each phase of the process into separate billable events, and just that way the clients don’t have to come up with huge amount of money upfront, and that makes things more affordable and also, for her, equally profitable.
We talk about how she’s leveraging her time both through legal technology and by outsourcing many of the task work that she does, such as the docket preparation to a virtual assistant, to free up her time and get more done and serve a higher volume of clients and also start to earn a leveraged income where she’s earning fees for work that she may not necessarily have to be doing all herself. Really going to be a practical episode, a great resource for newer attorneys or attorneys that are in law school that is looking and seeking to start their own practice straight away. Obviously, the job market is not the same as it used to be, so this is a really great example of how to start a new practice in today’s modern age and do so very efficiently and effectively.
One final announcement, we also are really excited to release the registration for our Unbundled Attorney Mastermind Retreat. This is an event we’re going to be held in the middle of March in Denver, Colorado for active attorneys in our network only. So it’s an exclusive Mastermind event, specifically for attorneys that are working with us. So if you’re an attorney that is active in our service and would like the opportunity to meet us, our team, and also your fellow provider attorneys from all over the country, go to the website and check out the landing page for our retreat, which is at UnbundledAttorney.com/retreat. This will also be open to any attorneys that wish to come on board with our service anytime between now and March as well, So you’ll be able to connect to our community and get involved straight away. Really excited to announce that Mastermind retreat. It’s been something that we’ve had in the works for a really long time, something we’ve envisioned and hoped for and it’s finally becoming a reality so I hope you can join us in Denver.
So without further ado, let’s get into this interview with Lauren Kelley, one of our provider attorneys out of Southern Mississippi.
Dave Aarons: Hi, Lauren. Welcome to the show.
Lauren Kelley: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. This has been a bit of a challenge for us to make this interview happen, entirely my responsibility, but I’m glad that we’re going to get finally a chance to chat. It’s been just really wonderful to hear what you’ve been able to accomplish literally with us working together, technically from before you even graduated law school because you were working with another attorney as a support person for her, and then literally the day you graduated law school we started sending your clients and so forth. So it’s been a very unique journey, unique story, and I’m really looking forward to unpacking with you, so thanks for taking the time today to share how this has been going for you.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah. No problem. Yeah, it has definitely been interesting and I think you had one other guest on your show that had sort of a similar experience. I remember listening to that episode and thinking, “Oh, that’s what I’m going to do,” because he had only recently passed the bar, and I think he may have done one little job before he decided to open his own practice. I don’t remember his name but I remember thinking before I even passed the bar that’s I was going to because he had a lot of success with it. That episode kind of sold me on the whole thing I think.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, was that Andrew Burgess?
Lauren Kelley: Maybe. I don’t remember his name, I just remember he was-
Dave Aarons: Or it could’ve been Zoe Garvin.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ll have to look into that.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, there’s I think three episodes … this will be the third, but there was … none of our attorneys ever have been pretty close to brand new, if not brand new. Zoey Garvin was, I think, maybe a month or two out of law school when she started working with us and generated something like ten to 15 thousand dollars in new clients within her first month, I think it was even the first couple weeks, and we’ve been working with her for now, gosh, two years or so since that initial interview has aired, and still handles the majority of Alameda County and Contra Costa and some regions over there, and has built a really thriving practice fueled by leads. And then also Andrew Burgess, which is an episode called Launching a New Solo Practice, 65 new clients in the first 30 days or something like that, I’ll link to it in the-
Lauren Kelley: Yeah, I think it was Andrew. Yeah.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. So maybe what we’ll do is we’ll create like a three part series of launching a new solo practice and this can be one of the stories that … because there’s a lot of lawyers I think, you know, I don’t know how you got exposed to the podcast, you could share that, but I know there’s a lot of lawyers in law school that if they were aware of unbundled services lead generation and if they knew that it could come out and start a practice right away because they knew and could have confidence that they would not only be able to get the clients, but have a business model and a way to work with clients, that clients would be really receptive to and be willing to move forward with right away, it probably would give them a lot more confidence to be able to hang a shingle right out of law school.
Lauren Kelley: Right. Absolutely, I mean, and any new lawyers that are out there listening to this probably know that the job market is not necessarily what they said it would be when you decided to go to law school and take out all those loans, and that can be terrifying. I never really planned on working for a firm or trying to get a job because my grandmother already had her own little solo practice and she was ready to retire. She was just kind of like waiting for me to get done, come down, take over, and kind of do that whole thing, and she was going to guide me through the process so it wasn’t a shocker to me, but I can imagine it being a shocker to new attorneys who are getting out of law school, passing the bar, and then realizing that there’s not really any jobs out there unless they were maybe top ten of their class.
So, yeah, I mean, it’s terrifying but it’s definitely doable but I think it would give a lot of people confidence because I think the scariest thing is that they won’t just come just because you have a sign by the road. And there’s a lot of work to opening your own practice that I had no idea about before doing it myself, but having paid clients walking through the door on the first day definitely gives you reassurance that you’re going to be able to pay the bills, you’re going to be able to be a lawyer and practice and be successful. So that’s a lot of help.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, absolutely. Maybe what we can do is chronical what you’ve had to do step by step to start your own practice and some of the things that maybe some new attorneys weren’t expecting or maybe you weren’t even expecting when you first started your practice. So maybe you can take us through what you’ve been able to accomplish in the first, you know, when was it that we started working together, Lauren?
Lauren Kelley: Well, let’s see, I got my bar results mid-September and I got license September 28th or 29th, and I think I officially had you guys bringing me in leads starting October 1st. So basically as soon as I got licensed to practice law, filed all the right paperwork, got sworn in, you guys started sending me leads pretty much right then. So it’s been about two months.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So in the last two months, I don’t know what the numbers have been for you, but maybe you could share what you do know about whatever it be number of clients you’ve brought on board or how many clients out of town we’ve sent you, you convert, or just give attorneys kind of a snapshot of what’s possible because again, we want to give lawyers confidence that they can come out of law school and have the potential possibility of being able to start a solo practice because like you said, the job market isn’t necessarily what it used to be. So, maybe you can give them an idea of what you’ve been able to accomplish just as far as a number of clients or what these first two months have been and then we can start to unpack all of the phases of the process that you’ve had to go through in order to accomplish that.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah, I think I’ve got, well, originally when I sat down, I think we’d had this podcast schedule to happen about a week ago and I wrote down, I went through and kind of looked at the conversion rate and things like that, and just raw conversion rate off of number of leads, last week the number was like 40, but I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten five new leads since then so it should be 45 leads in that sort of 60 day time frame, and actually I had two or three of those that you guys actually refunded me because they were for the wrong jurisdiction, like the clients may have lived here and put that in there as their zip code but the case that they needed help with was in a different jurisdiction.
Dave Aarons: Right.
Lauren Kelley: So taking those off the top. But basically, even with or without those, the conversion rate for me right now has been about a steady 50 percent. So every lead that I get regardless, half of them turn into a paying client and if you break it down further, actually about 80-90 percent of those that actually come in, who just make the appointment and just show up for it, turn into paying clients. So for me, the biggest challenge is just getting the appointment and getting them in the office because once they’re here it’s easy to sell them on what you offer, you know? Like, I can make this better for you. That part is always easy so as long as I can get them in the office I can usually turn them into a paying client without much trouble.
Dave Aarons: Yup. Okay. So, what I’d love to do is just start with when you first opened up your practice, what were some of the things you had to do … maybe we can take a step by step approach to what you had to get into play. I mean, I think if I recall, you might’ve implemented some practice management software, you might’ve implemented website, logo, I mean, there’s just a number of different things. Maybe we can lay those down, those different options, and then we can kind of dive into … so, if you’ve had 40-45 leads that means you’ve been able to acquire something in the neighborhood of 20 new clients within your first month or two? Paying clients?
Lauren Kelley: Right. Exactly.
Dave Aarons: So that’s a really solid, fresh launch of a new practice there, so you got that many clients already coming in the door from day one, so that’s really wonderful to hear. I’d love to unpack how you’ve been able to accomplish that, the type of options you’ve been offering, but I think a good place to start is from day one what are some of the things that you needed to do to get your practice up and running that maybe you didn’t expect or just were the steps you had to take.
Lauren Kelley: Well, I mean, there’s the general, like, they don’t teach you how to run a business thing, that I think a lot of attorneys need to kind of think about if they want to go out on their own. Law school doesn’t teach you how to run a business, doesn’t teach you about marketing and sales and website design and advertising, so unless you have a background in that kind of stuff, my suggestion would be to educate yourself, because that’s what I did for probably three months prior to actually going out on my own kind of hanging my own shingle. I did as much research as I could into practice management, software, into marketing, into what makes a good website, what makes a good whatever marketing strategy you want to implement, things like that. Because I knew that even with you guys sending me leads, a big part of it was wanting to create my own personal brand, and I think that’s also another reason why Unbundled Attorney and y’all’s service, in general, was bringing in leads.
It’s so good for a new practice because one of the hardest things to overcome that most attorneys take for granted is that they’ve got a network of clients out there already existing telling their friends about them. So, if I needed an attorney, just me as a random person, me who is an attorney, I would ask my friends, “Hey, have you ever been in this situation? And if you did, what attorney did you use?” And that’s the person that your friends recommend. That’s who you’re going to go to. So attorneys who have been in practice 20 years have all these clients out there in the world that is already doing that for them. If you’re new and you’re just starting out you don’t have that. So it’s important.
The leads help a ton with that because not only do they in and of themselves bring you paying clients, but they also refer their friends and family to you if you do a good job for them to begin with, which is all we ever want, you know? Is to do a good job for these people and have them refer their friends and family to us to continue building and growing our practice. For me, the biggest thing that I definitely underestimated the amount of work or time I’d have to put into, was creating a system of client intake because not knowing necessarily what information you need … you have a general idea of what information you need to create a plea for X, Y, Z, you know, legal matter, but actually having forms or a system in place to take that information and then make it easily accessible to you or your support staff or whomever so that you can actually draft the pleading and get things filed and have a checklist, so to speak, to guide you through this process while you’re still new is really important.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Absolutely. So you mentioned that you were, you know, for a few weeks out or even months before you graduated while practicing like you said, law school doesn’t really teach you how to run a business, that you were educating yourself on practice management, website, good design, these types of things. Do you have any recommendations for websites, resources, online coursework that you did, or books, or anything that you found was really helpful for you to get that initial education so that by the time you were ready to get started you had some knowledge under your belt that you could apply towards building out your own personal brand straight away?
Lauren Kelley: I mean, honestly I would recommend basically … I listened to a lot of podcasts because I have kind of a long commute to work every day and so for that 45 minutes there and 45 minutes home I always try to still be kind of adding to my knowledge. So podcasts are great. I listen to business podcasts, marketing podcasts, there’s actually a handful of really excellent solo practice podcasts out there that talk about just how to do and what to do and what not to do for lawyers starting out on their own. I mean, there’s a lot of really good resources out there in the podcasting arena. Also, I mean, you know-
Dave Aarons: While you’re on the subject of podcasts, do you maybe just want to give a list of the ones that you’re currently listening to? I can make a couple suggestions myself as well. Obviously, there’s our podcast, but what other ones have you found to be particularly useful?
Lauren Kelley: There’s this one Building a Law Firm, I think is the name of the podcast. It’s run by Christopher Smalls and him just kind of like coaches other law firm owners on things to do. I mean, he’s really got a ton of good information out there about Facebook marketing in particular, which a lot of attorneys are scared of, and he kind of like demystifies that and he lays it out. It’s very straightforward to me because it’s one of the things you have to overcome as a business owner, this desire to like … for me, I want to research it and I want to see all of my options and then I want to spend days thinking about all of the options so I can pick the right one, but the truth of the matter is that a lot of times you’re looking at five different options and there’s very little difference between them and sometimes the best thing to do is just pull the trigger. And if it doesn’t work, make changes later. But don’t just be inert. You’ve gotta have action. You’ve gotta take action and that kind of stuff.
So I don’t know, like I said, Building a Law Firm is one of the really good ones. I also do the New Solo, is another good one-
Dave Aarons: Yeah, with Adriana Linares. I was actually a guest on that podcast a couple months ago.
Lauren Kelley: Right. Yeah, she’s really good. I also like Gen Why Lawyer podcast, even if that’s not really on point as much anymore, there’s still a lot of good information out there and she’s definitely got some good thoughts on marketing and stuff.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, yeah, Nicole is, I met her at the Clio Cloud Conference, she’s a really wonderful woman. Unfortunately I think she’s no longer going to be with the podcast up until like maybe just the last couple weeks, so we’re not sure if it’s going to be continuing or not, but we’ll see if that one continues, but obviously they’ve got a lot of great episodes there working with Gen Why, kind of like up and coming millennial attorneys that want to be embracing new technologies and these types of philosophies. So those are some great podcast resources, I appreciate you sharing those. So let’s talk about … unless there’s anything else you wanted to throw out there as far as resources and recommendations, we can transition and start talking about intake.
Lauren Kelley: I think there was one other one, like Mastermind, Lawyer Mastermind, I don’t want to forget those two guys because they’re awesome. It’s two guys and them just … Mastermind … something with mastermind and lawyer in the name, but I would definitely recommend them as well because they’re really good.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. I’m just not sure because our podcast is called Unbundled Attorney Mastermind podcast, and I’m hoping you’re not confusing it with ours.
Lauren Kelley: No, I mean, I know you … right, I’m not confusing it with that one-
Dave Aarons: Okay, so they have one called something that includes mastermind in it as well?
Lauren Kelley: Yes. Because they run a Facebook group I think too that says that’s mastermind something in their group as well, I don’t know. Like I said, there are tons of resources out there and just a simple like pull up your podcast app and type in attorney marketing or anything like that and you’ll come up with like a bunch of very good resources.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. My friend Adam Cameras owns Legal Talk Network and I think they have something like ten or 12 different podcasts, Legal Toolkit, I mean, there’s just so many great podcasts out there so you can kind of get plugged into those. And the way you listen to podcasts, I mean, a lot of people think they have to sit down at their internet browser and turn it on and just like listen to it, but the best way to listen to a podcast, like you said, is just get a podcast app either on your iPhone, it’s built into the iPhone, or on Android you can use Google Play or Stitcher and then you can subscribe to podcasts directly through the podcast app, throw on a pair of headphones or Bluetooth headphones or something like that, or even connect it to your Bluetooth in your car and you just listen to it while you’re doing other things, you know, while you’re driving like you said, you do it on your commute.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah. It’s a really good tool, and I mean, just Googling in general, there’s so much stuff out there. You gotta take everything a little bit with a grain of salt I think, because everybody I think wants to think they have all the answers, but at the end of the day if it seems like it makes sense to you to do X, Y, Z, then maybe it does. Like I said, the worst thing you could do when you’re starting your own business is not do anything, get yourself bogged down in, “Oh, I don’t know what’s best,” and so you don’t pick anything. That’s probably the fastest way to kill a new business in my opinion from what I’ve seen so far.
Dave Aarons: Yup. Yup. There was a, I think it was General MacArthur that used to say that a good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow. So sometimes you’ve just gotta get in and get it done even if it’s not perfect. And they say that if you’re not ashamed with the very first website or product release that you probably didn’t release it soon enough, so gotta kind of just get over it and get out there and get it done.
Lauren Kelley: Exactly, and another thing that I would-
Dave Aarons: Maybe at some point, I’ll put a screenshot of our original first website, seven years ago when I first started doing lead generation, it was terrible.
Lauren Kelley: Okay. Don’t want a screenshot of mine yet. Definitely not ready for that.
Dave Aarons: Exactly. So, everyone’s gotta start somewhere. It’s just like learning how to salsa dance. You’re going to look like some kind of robot when you first get started but everyone starts there, you know, the key is to start and take it one step at a time from there. So that’s great advice. So what I’d love to do is just transition. You mentioned the importance of intake. We’ve talked a bit about that before. I’m not sure if you’re using Lexicata, that’s obviously a software that’s built for that-
Lauren Kelley: Yes, I am.
Dave Aarons: But why don’t talk about what you’ve implemented to streamline your intake process and maybe walk us through how you intake a client, if you have the client do it themselves by sending them an intake link or if you’re doing it over the phone with them and then how that maybe integrates in your systems on the back end.
Lauren Kelley: Right. Now, I do use Lexicata and they are awesome for this. I mean, far and away that is definitely my favorite thing about the practice that I’ve really set up, because I spend a lot of time setting it up and getting it right and there are so few tweaks I would probably make and will eventually make, but for now it’s definitely awesome to have and use. I basically created forms … you can create forms, templates, and things like that within Lexicata. And yes, it is time-consuming, but it is so worth it because, say I have somebody come in, they want to just get a general ID Divorce, that’s what we call it in Mississippi, but you know, just irreconcilable differences and easy divorce. So I would get them in, I will have a form in my Lexicata, I’ve already got them added to the client in my Lexicata or as a contact.
I create the matter and then I just use my forms that I’ve created that make sure that I get all the information that I need. The children’s names and birth dates, you know, the client’s names, their addresses, little things that a new attorney are not used to doing day to day. See, if you ask my grandmother, who has like I said been doing this for 25 years, she would tell you that you just get their information and to her that makes sense because she’s been doing it so long that it’s just second nature for her. Well, for us it’s not. They don’t really teach you the little procedural things in law school, no matter how practical they think they are, how much practical experience or advice they’re giving they’re just really not. Nothing beats it but practice.
So having these forms there I can either fill them in myself when the client is in the office with me or what a lot of times I do if I have a client from, like in a county 45 mins away, when they hear where I’m located I kind of here this like oh, you know? And I’ll be like, it’s fine. That’s not a problem, I will send you a form, you fill out that form, you submit it, I will get it, I will use that to draft your pleadings, we’ll go from there. And then I use Law Pay so I can say, you know, and I’ll follow up with a link where you can pay me your initial deposit. So it’s very seamless for them.
The Law Pay link is inputted in the email along with the form and it’s all just really smooth. And it took me a while to get it smooth but now that it is, people love it because they’re like, “Wow, that was so easy,” and I’m like, “I know, right? And now here are your pleadings, everything is done. We’ll have a little hearing two months from now,” and it’s over. So, yeah, people are really receptive to that and it makes my life 100 times easier.
Dave Aarons: I appreciate your comments thereon intake and there are also some other steps beyond that you kind of eluded to, or as far as the streamlining of the process beyond the intake, so is there some steps involved where that information that’s being collected in the intake forms, do you have some form of document automation on the back end that auto-populates that information from those forms directly into the documents? Either in your Clio, Practice Panther, or anything set up that way yet?
Lauren Kelley: Well, that’s definitely the goal and originally that was like so much so the goal that I was like just almost about to pull the trigger and invest in Hot Docs, which would have been about, I think it was like a 1,500 upfront cost and then like 100 and something maybe monthly to continue to use their service, but I really wanted that feature because just like you said, in my mind that’s going to be the most efficient way to handle certain cases, and so I wanted that. Then, right before I pulled the trigger I ended up kind of getting interested in virtual assistants and virtual receptionists and things like that and had a friend of mine who has been a stay at home mom for a while but is an absolutely amazingly talented, just organized worker, you know, really good, and I thought, you know, at this point I can outsource this for maybe less than it would cost me to get Hot Docs completely implemented into my practice.
So I did. I said I’m going to create my own … you know there are virtual assistant services out there, but basically at the end of the day if both the user and the other person understand what it means to be a virtual assistant then you can use that. You can implement that with anyone. So I said, “Okay, you’re basically going to act like my virtual assistant. I’m going to outsource to you document prep at a flat rate of 50 dollars per document,” because for me the least that I think I charge, yeah, the least I charge for any kind of document creation is 250. And that would be like for something very simple. So if I’m outsourcing that for 50 a document that would be 200 dollars profit for me and I wouldn’t have to worry about any other monthly subscription cost for Hot Docs or any of that other stuff.
Sorry. The phone is ringing, I don’t know why.
Dave Aarons: That’s okay. That’s alright.
Lauren Kelley: But anyway, yeah, so basically document automation is something that I think I want to implement in the practice, but it’s not something that I’m looking forward to implementing as I was initially. Because outsourcing it and still being able to maintain document automation would be nice eventually, but it’s not something I’m totally concerned about right now. I think that if you can outsource it and still maintain a profit margin, for me that’s all that is. It’s just kind of a numbers game, you know?
I want to be able to help as many people as I can by doing and offering unbundled services because I’m a big proponent of the whole access to justice thing and there are people out there I know that are working day in and day out to kind of solve this problem and bridge this gap, and they just haven’t figured out how to do that yet because I mean, that’s evident by the number of people who are out there that need help and aren’t able to afford it. But I wanted to be able to do my part. And I know that in order to sort of service this industry or this part of the population you have to be able to do it in a way that’s efficient so that you can lower your cost. And to me though, I’m not lowering my cost because I’m keeping that same … I’m making just as much as any other attorney is. I’m just being able to do it so much more efficiently than at the end of the day it’s not costing them as much as it would if someone took longer to do it. If that makes sense.
Dave Aarons: Right. Yes. Yes. Totally so. This is huge and I really want to … let’s unpack this, Laura, let’s really flush out the process because, you know, right on the bat you’re implementing … you have a virtual assistant assisting you and you’re streamlining the process, so why don’t we first start to talk about some of the unbundled service options you offer, and I would assume you’re doing most of them at a flat rate, just re-task and then people can transition to full representation of course. But, let’s unpack some of the flat rates on some of the unbundled options you offer and then what I’d like to do is maybe we can break down how you deliver it, how much time you spend on each type of issue and we can also lay down some of the each of the steps involved in getting it out the door.
So the attorneys can start to see how streamlined these unbundled services can become and how much of a leveraged income you can potentially start to earn because, like you said, it seems like access to justice … the only real way we’re going to be able to shift access to justice is we have to have a lot more lawyers delivering unbundled legal services and servicing this market place and the only way that you can attract lawyers and really make it sustainable is you have to show lawyers how they can make money doing it. And I think that’s a big misconception is that attorneys think that well, if I’m only charging 500 dollars or 1,000 dollars, well, it takes me this much time just to talk to the person, you know, there isn’t really that much money in that and in fact it’s just an incorrect assumption entirely. There’s actually great money, in fact potentially even better money as an effect of an hourly rate than just billing a client hour by hour.
So I’d really love to start with maybe you can just unpack some of the unbundled service options you offer, what you might typically charge for different types of things, and then once we have those options laid out, let’s like walk through how you go about delivering that from the initial conversation with a client to the intake to the delivery, so that attorneys can start to see how they can streamline the delivery of these services.
Lauren Kelley: Right. I mean, for me basically, I like the pay as you go sort of sales pitch I guess. I basically say there’s a certain amount, depending on the case, that I went down like I said earlier if it’s just some kind of simple document prep … oh, and just as a, I don’t know, disclaimer for everyone out there, I live and work in a very unpopulated area of south Mississippi, so these prices or any numbers that I throw out there are probably some of the lowest in the country just because of the geographical area, so don’t think that necessarily means what you could get in your area. So if I do mention anything I just want to disclaim that because, yeah, we’re in a very poor area. But that’s all the more reason to offer it and so for me like I said I do sort of a pay as you go mentality. My biggest thing was always like let’s get rid of the retainer up front because number one, I don’t even want to deal with an [inaudible 00:32:56] account I can help it. The less I have to do with that the happier I am.
It’s just it doesn’t make any sense. These people haven’t had a chance to sit around and save up for this. This is usually something that happens where they’ve gotta react. So they don’t have that kind of money just sitting away. Like I said, just getting rid of the retainer was the big thing for me. I was like, you know, there are certain places and certain things that I would probably want a retainer for, but for the majority of services, like I said, I do pay as you go. I require a little bit of the first thing, which would be, let’s just say if it was a contested divorce. I sat down one day and I wrote down every single thing that an attorney does in a contested divorce case or could possibly do in a contested divorce case, each step of the process, and then I basically wrote a number down next to the step and I said okay, this is what this step is worth, this is what this step is worth.
So, that’s kind of the guideline that I use with my clients when they come in. I say, “Okay, this is everything that’s going to have to happen in your case to get it from start to finish and these are the prices of each part of that process. Some of them are time sensitive, but some of them aren’t. So depending on how quickly you want to get through this process, how quickly you can come up with these figures, then that’s how we go,” and they’re really receptive to that. I mean, they’re basically receptive to anything that doesn’t include them having to throw down three or five grand, you know?
Dave Aarons: Right.
Lauren Kelley: On that day, so …
Dave Aarons: Yeah, absolutely, so you’ve been doing, let’s say pay as you go, so you kind of … I really love this. This is exactly what Anthony Sanders shared on his episode Try It Before You Buy It, kind of a pay as you-
Lauren Kelley: Right.
Dave Aarons: It was a Roma strategy, something or other, but he was basically talking about all the different unbundled options he offers and what he did was exactly what you said, he took down, let’s say contested divorce, wrote down every single task that would be involved … this is a great suggestion … and then each task you set up a specific price to get that out the door, and it could just be a flat rate for each thing, and then wherever the person is at, you focus on delivering that next step first and then go step by step from there-
Lauren Kelley: Right. Exactly. And some people are wanting to start the process themselves and a lot of times when you’re playing defense, they don’t have as much control of the timeframe, but they also just need some reassurance. So like I said, it depends on the situation, but yeah, I definitely wrote down everything, wrote down a price for each thing, and then … you know, depending on the client I don’t necessarily share the overall, like the whole list, like the price list, but I give them a general idea of how much I think the representation will cost and the big selling point is that hey, guess what? You don’t have to give me that figure today or before I even start helping you. You know? Give me this, I’ll do step one. Give me this, I’ll do step two.
So basically I am getting paid before I do the work and that way … because I know a lot of lawyers out there are like, “Oh. Well, I’m not going to get paid,” and so I do get paid before I do the work, I just do it in a step by step basis. Also, that helps you with not only being able to tell them, hey, you don’t have to put down this huge retainer and you don’t have to deal with your IOLTA account and all of the accounting that goes along with that, but it’s just more effective in actually signing clients because I can’t tell you how many clients tell me like, “Wow. You’re the first person that I’ve talked to that hasn’t demanded or asked for whatever, quoted me 2,500 to get started.”
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah. Exactly. So, do you want to talk about some of them, like, initial segments of, let’s say a contested divorce or example case, where you’ve broken that up and maybe an example fee structure? We’ve heard this disclaimer that obviously it’s southern Mississippi, but you know, you’ve been doing really well with these rates anyway, so if people feel like they need to be charging more, you might want to try charging less and see how they respond to that. But maybe you could talk about just a couple different what an example of a different segment might be and what they might pay to start that, and then let’s sort of talk about how you can go about delivering it.
Lauren Kelley: Right. Well, I mean, for drafting services, like I said, I usually start at a baseline 250. If I think this case is going to be more complicated or if, for example, somebody wants to start a case and I know that they’re going to want or that the case is just going to require discovery being done as well, I can go ahead and do that in the drafting of the complaint stage of the process, but I also require more down for that. But let’s just say there’s no initial discovery with the complaint, I would just say 250 for the complaint, another 50 for drafting the summonses that go with the complaint, and then they have their basic filing fee, which down here is about 148 in some courts 153 in other courts.
And then you have a process server fee, which depending on your process server might be 50 might be 100, and so that right there, those four little kinds of micro steps are all part of the process of getting the actual case filed and started. And it’s actually kind of one step, but like I said, I broke it down. That way they can see the actual individual fees because I don’t consider the filing fee as part of my attorney fee, but I do want them to understand that’s something that is coming out of their pocket, you know? So I have it all broken down for them like that and then we’ll get into whether or not they want to have discovery done in their case, whether it’s necessary or not because in every case it’s not necessary, but in some cases it is, especially if you don’t know what the other side knows and things like that.
So if they want to do discovery I usually have two separate charges for that. Either an initial charge like if I’m the one initiating the discovery process and then a different charge if they counter discovery with doing discovery against me, you know what I mean? So I have to answer. But it’s because everybody knows discovery is kind of a process, so that’s one of the higher things that they would probably have to pay for and it would be 500 if I was initiating it and 500 if I was answering. So, if the other side does request it as well, it would end up costing them a total of 1,000. And then there are individual motions that can be filed depending on whether or not they want the motions to be filed and there’s a drafting fee for drafting the motions, but there’s also an appearance fee for appearing for a hearing if one is required because of the motion. And then there’s also the individual fee that goes along with attending the preliminary hearing and the actual trial.
Dave Aarons: Okay. And the way it’s structured in Mississippi, are these unlimited appearances or are you on a full representation or do you … what is your limited scope retainer agreement look like or is it not a limited scope agreement it’s just you’re breaking up the full service into a pay as you go parts?
Lauren Kelley: Right, well what I just kind of explained was more of the this is the full representation but in pieces part. Now, I have had people come and call me and say, “Hey, you know, I have this hearing two days from now, can you come?” And of course, I’m like, “Two days from now? Well, probably should’ve called sooner,” but if I can or whatever I will if that’s what they need, and that’s for just a limited appearance and I usually charge 500 for that. That’s almost basically like I’m going in blind, I don’t really know what’s happening in the case and I’m not planning on being the attorney for the rest of the case, so I do have a limited scope retainer agreement and me also …
I listened to the one podcast you had about the attorney who wrote the letters to the judges … because I think I’m pretty much the only attorney around here that are doing this, so I wasn’t really sure how the judges would handle it, but so far I haven’t really had much of an issue, but instead of doing the letters and letting the whole court system and letting all of the chancellors know how I was going to be handling things, I kind of just said I’m going to make it clear with the client that this is the only thing I’m doing and that she releases me or he releases me from any further representation after I do whatever it is that they want and then I just do my withdrawal of council thing with the other side and with the court, and everybody kind of gets on the same page.
Dave Aarons: Yup. Exactly. That episode was with Thomas King, Delivering Unbundled Legal Services Safely and Ethically: Guidelines For Retainer Agreements, Limited Appearances, and Being Proactive with Traditional Courts. All of these podcast episodes, these resources, I will link into the show notes, the description of the podcast on our website UnbundledAttorney.com/podcast so that those of you that are listening can go check out these episodes. So I appreciate your thoughts on that you haven’t found it, up until now, to be necessary to have those types of steps. Thomas works in northern New Jersey and New York and so he has had those challenges and had to implement some things, some steps involved in order to inform the courts that he is, in fact, limiting the scope and just doing a limited appearance, and so depending on the local jurisdiction you’re working in, whether it be Texas or some of the more conservative states, you may want to follow some of the guidelines that Thomas suggests, but there’s also a lot of jurisdictions across the country where limited appearances hasn’t been an issue at all and it sounds like that’s been the case for you in Mississippi so far.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah. And it’s not that it’s not an issue, I just don’t think I’ve drawn any attention to it. You know, attorneys around here, and I’m not trying to blanket all attorneys in this area, but I think attorneys around here generally speaking only withdraw because they aren’t getting paid any more or they’ve lost touch with their client or things like this that usually there’s no real contest about. Everybody understands that as long as you’re on the other page with the other attorney and with the judge in the case, then no matter what the withdrawal is about, it’s usually okay as long as you follow the proper procedure. Although I am going to eventually kind of like more give the court an idea of what I’m doing and that way there’s less, I guess, formalities that I have to follow like I am now.
I just haven’t gotten around to crafting that letter yet and how to approach it, but that’s definitely in my future because I just want them to know that I’m not trying to be, you know, not forthcoming with the court, I just want them to know that I’m trying to help people who otherwise would be clogging up the system trying to do it on their own. You know?
Dave Aarons: Yes, and this is what Forest Monsen, who is the founder of Unbundled Legal Services and has been an advocate for unbundling all across the United States for two decades now, talks about. It’s actually the judges that have convinced him that limited appearances should be part and parcel to offering and delivering unbundled legal services because the judges believe that the client is in a much better position and it makes it a lot easier for them as judges to help that client if they have an attorney that’s able to make an appearance, even if that attorney hasn’t been involved in the case from start to finish, you know, the attorneys understand the procedure, they understand how forms need to be filed, they understand when to speak and when not to speak.
I mean, just basic things that I think a lot of attorneys could easily take for granted or maybe you just have to watch … any attorney that’s been practicing for any period of time says seed pro se litigants coming in with a box of receipts and saying these are all my receipts. So it’s just basic procedural things that clients just don’t understand because they’ve never done it before. You know, obviously they’re going to be a lot more comfortable and things are going to go a lot smoothly and it’s going to help the courts who are backlogged with pro se litigants since the marketplace has shifted as such that now there are now two thirds of folks finally pro se, if we have attorneys that are able to help these folks on a limited basis either with prepping documents or making these limited appearances.
Lauren Kelley: Right. I mean, even legal coaching, which is something that I offer, people just haven’t really taken me up on the offer too much because at the end of the day they are scared to do it themselves, and they only are doing it themselves because they are being forced to. So, I mean, I have offered it, but generally they’ll be like, “No, I’ll pay you the 500 to come,” because they like the fact that I already do the unbundling and so they’re more receptive to letting me do it for them, but I do think that if people just had somebody to tell them what to expect and how to behave, what side of the room to sit on, things like that, would give them a little bit more piece of mind and the whole thing is to just …
If you ever go down to, like, we have chancery court here, that’s what our family court is called, if you ever go down to the chancery courthouse and just sit there for any length of time during the docket call, you will see dozens of pro se litigants and that’s crazy because you’ll also hear the judge say that, “This is the fourth time I’ve seen you, and you still haven’t figured out how to serve process on the defendant even though he keeps showing up and waving his objection,” and the judge is sitting here like, “Oh, jeez,” but he’s trying to help but he can’t help and it’s just very convoluted system.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Anyone that hasn’t gone through it before, these are all the things that they’re not going to understand how to do and you see these people struggling with this every day. So, certainly it’s in the best interest of the clients, the judges are supporting it, it’s just there’s not a whole lot of attorneys yet that have implemented it, but with limited appearances aside, you’re also just offering full representation and then just having them pay for the appearance individually and then drafting and so forth. So, whether it’s a limited appearance or just they’re paying for the appearance, they’re still paying for one segment at a time.
So now that you’ve laid out some of the options, such as drafting, you know, discovery, motions, appearances, all being discreet tasks, but also part of a full representation suite, but just from a billing standpoint, they’re billed in segments, which makes it a lot more affordable and palpable for the average person, like you said earlier on, really keyly is that these are people that are in a reactive state that haven’t had years to save up money to finally pursue this divorce or go after custody or someone has probably just left the state with a child or there’s a change of circumstances and they’re reacting and trying to get their things in a row, so it really helps them with being able to fit it into their budget, you know, week by week, month by month, by breaking it up into segments.
Well I’d love if you could talk about also, is just, so let’s just take drafting or let’s just take, you know, appearances it’s obviously your time, you gotta go in there, it’s you, but there’s also … with the drafting components and the motions and responses and discovery, there’s a lot of systems you mentioned earlier that you can streamline. So, can you just walk us through like from the standpoint of you’re talking to the client?
You explain how that works, and then you’re going to start with drafting. How does, at this point, that flow go from the intake, the enrollment, the credit card, down to okay, so now you’ve secured the client, you’ve got the retainer agreement, the next task is you need to get the forms. You’ve got a virtual assistant involved, you just walk us through for new attorneys that haven’t experienced these streamlines, you know, each step in that process so they can start to implement this on their own.
Lauren Kelley: Right. So once I’ve got them, they agreed to hire me to do X, Y, Z, whether it be draft or, you know, whatnot. When I’m ready to get that started for them, let’s say it’s an ID divorce, and they’ve signed the retainer agreement, which I’ve also got in Lexicata so I can send that out in an email with an engagement letter with a link to pay their down payment on through Law Pay, so all that is kind of like one big step. Once I get that back that they’ve signed through Hello Sign, I think is what Lexicata uses, and they’ve paid the money and I’ve gotten everything, then I basically forward that email to my client or to my virtual receptionist, letting her know that this particular client has signed on, and then telling her what the case is. So, I usually just say you know, irreconcilable differences with children or without children, with X, Y, Z kind of like things, and then she goes in and starts the checklist within Lexicata that starts with sending them these forms that are appropriate for whatever their case may be.
So then they fill out the forms, she gets that information, she drafts the pleading, and then sends me notification that hey, those pleadings are done, I go in, I review them, make sure everything is right or sometimes the clients aren’t cooperative or they go into the form and they don’t … I ask for a city and a state, they give me just the state, so sometimes it’s a little bit more of a, “Hey. Didn’t answer this correctly,” or whatever, but for the most part, if you’ve created your form to be specific enough and you stress the importance of filling out the form with the clients.
Then like I said, she drafts the pleading, I review, you know, ten-15 minutes depending on the document, and make any changes that are necessary, the client comes in, I have them review it, make sure it lays out exactly how they want it to go down with all the standard stuff in there and then if they’re satisfied, sign it, notarize it, file it, everything gets done. I mean, honestly, it can be within two days.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. Exactly. So, just a couple things to unpack briefly there, so you get the retainer agreement, that’s obviously powered by Lexicata and Law Pay where it’s just a clickable link where the person just like clicks the link, views the PDF, and then signs digitally right from their mobile device or their laptop, like on the go, super easy to just click the button in the email that you send them that says sign the retainer agreement. The same thing is true with the credit card authorization, it’s a click with their finger just kind of sign in their mobile device or their tablet, it’s done, that’s streamlined. Then they’ve enrolled at that point, you collect the payment information, they’re signed up, they signed a retain agreement, you then send an email to your assistant, okay these are the things that are done. She creates the checklist in Lexicata, the forms then go out so then there’s an email to the client that says please complete these forms, which is basically like a form that they fill out then that information is going to go directly into the documents that are going to be drafted for them, correct?
Lauren Kelley: Right. We only need to know certain things, specific things that we need to be able to draft the whether it be divorce papers or whatever. We need to know property division questions. We need to have children’s names, birth dates, that kind of stuff, their information, everybody’s contact information, and then depending on your state, there may be certain little quirky things that you need to ask them about or you need to tell them about. So one thing for example, whether or not you have to disclose your financial assets between spouses during a divorce is part of our rules. So I go over this with the clients individually when they come in to review their papers to make sure that they understand it, but also on our forms, you can have a checkbox that just says like yes, I agree, I’ve read and understood this, and that’s part of that.
So, you can get really creative with the forms and like I said, I didn’t imagine it would take as long as it did for me to initially set it up when I started my practice, but it’s worth spending the time to get that set up and perfect for you to where everything in that form is exactly all the information that you need and you know that it comes directly from your client. Because you can print that out, I mean, you can keep it in your electronic files and in your Lexicata always, but you can also print that out, keep it in your paper file and you know, if anything happens, if they say, “Oh, I didn’t say that,” “Oh, yes you did, here’s the form,” you know? And clearly everything is right there and so it’s just a nice bit of redundancy and stuff that you can keep on file forever and you can use to draft your pleadings, you can use to make changes, and it’s just really efficient and they love it.
I mean, if your clients are even remotely … they don’t have to be tech savvy at all, but I mean, enough to fill out a form. And if they can do that and send it to me at 11 o’clock at night they feel like their kind of communicating with me. They feel like I’m getting it done and like I said, once I get the form in it’s an hour turn around time and that’s from my assistant and it’s 15 minutes review time for me and I send them an email saying, “Hey, your pleadings are ready, come in and sign them.”
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah, exactly. So, as soon as those forms are completed it automatically gets added … I think you’re using Lexicata at this point still, or are you in your practice management software at this point? Have you integrated into Clio or are you still working within Lexicata?
Lauren Kelley: No, I mean, I tried Clio and I felt like, not that Lexicata could do what Clio could do, but I’m using, for my virtual assistant and I, we’re using OneDrive for Business to keep that file synced-
Dave Aarons: What’s it called?
Lauren Kelley: OneDrive, just regular OneDrive for Business.
Dave Aarons: OneDrive, okay, yeah, Google OneDrive, sure.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). And so that’s kind of like our file management system to a certain extent. So, even though I think that there definitely is a place for Clio and maybe when I get a little bit more, I don’t know, busy or expanded I guess, there might be a better time for it, but right now I haven’t used it. I just use my OneDrive to take my files … oh, and I also have a virtual receptionist and I use Acuity Scheduling so this is something else I recommend. I know it seems crazy to spend money on somebody to answer your phones when you’re just starting out and the phone doesn’t even seem to be ringing that much, but I use Smith.AI and they only charge per call, unlike Ruby Receptionist where it’s like a minute thing.
If you have a lower call volume but maybe, clients that like to talk a lot, that will kill your day, that will kill your productivity and if you can schedule a time to call them back then you can really limit the amount of time that you spend on the phone, and you can be so much more productive. So, I would definitely recommend looking into virtual receptionists because for the most part, just having the phone ring and interrupt your train of thought is so detrimental to the number of things you can do in a day. That’s definitely one of the best things I’ve probably invested in so far.
Dave Aarons: Yup. You said Smith.AI? S-M-I-T-H. A-I?
Lauren Kelley: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dave Aarons: Yup. Then again, we’ll add all these resources to the show notes in the description on the website so you guys can all check that out and use those links to get to these sites.
Lauren Kelley: Then I just use my Acuity Scheduling, which is the calendar thing that I use on my website for people who want to book a consult with me or a phone call with me. So, I have that setup and then Smith.AI integrates with that. They also integrate with Lexicata, which is amazing. Anytime someone calls me I have Smith.AI set up to never forward any calls to me except for from the courthouse, so like court staff and other attorneys. So, other than that, like clients that are current clients and stuff or even clients that are just prospective clients, they have to schedule an appointment with me or a return phone call. Now, the only thing is though, with the leads I don’t do this. The leads have my personal line because if they’re reaching out to me before I have a chance to reach out to them, they’re really interested, that’s definitely going to be a call I want to get. So, it’s more for the people on my website who find me through Google and things like that.
Dave Aarons: Yes. Yeah, critical point there, you know, is that you want to make sure you’re still making the personal contact and outreach to the leads as they come in real time yourself, if possible or at minimum having a one of your staff members just setting the appointment if you just can’t make that call yourself but that’s still ideal, but from that point forward and for any other sources of traffic, having these virtual steps just to book the appointments right out on the calendar for you, it really frees you up to focus on high-value tasks and delivering services. And when we look at the streamline you’re billing 250 to 500 for each of these tasks, but most these things are done electronically, the clients filling out the forms themselves and then delivering to you and then your assistant, so just walk us through the economics briefing.
Let’s say it’s a 500 dollar motion, how much time are you personally putting in yourself? Obviously you have to do the enrollment call, so that’s maybe 15 to 30 minutes or so, then they do the intake and so forth themselves, and then it hands over to the receptionist, they do that, so really, your time is the initial call and then meeting with the clients to do the signing, correct?
Lauren Kelley: Pretty much. Right. For the most part of just about anything other than … I mean, I do a little more hand holding when they want to basically retain me for the full case, but even on a pay as you go kind of service I try to like I said, do a little more hand-holding there, but for the most part if it’s a one time thing, whether it be a motion drafted or an appearance, anything like that, I try to limit … I mean, it’s basically just the initial call to consult with them and then maybe like an appointment. Sometimes not even an appointment. I mean, I have handled entire cases without seeing my client, so that’s very cool and very possible. It just depends on their willingness to do it and for me, the biggest factor is usually how far away they are.
So sometimes they just don’t want to drive and I’m like, “This is something very simple,” and especially if I’m not going to be the one filing for them, like if they’re going to be the ones, they just need somebody to draft it for them and they’re fine with representing themselves pro se, then I can like totally get the whole thing done for 500 dollars and 15 minutes of my time. So, those are actually very high-profit margins for very limited amounts of work on my part.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, I mean, that’s about 2,000 an hour for effective hourly rate of 15 minutes, [crosstalk 00:59:05] but that would be the most ideal case scenario, of course, but even if it was 500 an hour, 400 dollars an hour, I mean, this is really the myth we gotta bust, you know, unbundled legal services-
Lauren Kelley: Right, exactly.
Dave Aarons: It’s not worth the money. You know, you’re not going to make any money doing unbundled. This is not true. Lawyers make way more money because it’s the market, it’s what people really are receptive to. So many people are getting turned away like you said by all these attorneys that are offering quoting 2,500 dollars and up. There’s a huge number of clients that are looking for attorneys that are willing to work with them on this basis, so just the fact you’re offering pay as you go is great, but then if you could also combine that with this streamlining and utilizing technology the way that your doing right now, not only can you work with more clients just because you’re being more flexible and offering it as a pay as you go instead of a huge upfront retainer in every case, now all of a sudden you’re also streamlining the workflow so that each flat rate task, each flat rate segment can be streamlined and you can start to increase your effective hourly rate on each segment as well.
Lauren Kelley: Exactly.
Dave Aarons: Awesome. Well, I really want to thank you again for coming on the show and really just breaking this down one step at a time and giving a lot of confidence and hope for newer attorneys that are coming out of law school and even those that are in law school right now that are looking at the job market and are nervous about how they’re going to be able to start their own practice, the nuts, and bolts and the suggestions and ideas on how they can make this transition seamlessly.
We’re certainly available as a company to support attorneys in being able to do that and integrating all these different technological solutions that are now available as a modern day new lawyer coming out of law school to be able to effectively deliver these types of unbundled services very profitably to a market that is wide open and very excited and would be very happy to be able to work with an attorney such as yourself that’s willing to offer these options. So, I thank you for all the work that you’re doing and your commitment to access to justice and shifting that affordability gap and working with us towards that in the years to come.
Lauren Kelley: Yeah. Absolutely. No, it’s been a pleasure and thanks for having me.
Dave Aarons: Absolutely. So, for everyone else that’s listening, again, we’ll have all these resources, it’s been a resource-rich episode, so we will link all these podcast episodes, podcasts, technological resources, you can research right in the show notes and on the blog. Every episode we now transcribe on our blog. You go to UnbundledAttorney.com/blog or just click the blog link at UnbundledAttorney.com and you can see a transcription of every single podcast episode we’ve ever done and all the links live as we talk about them throughout the transcription, we’ll usually link right out from each segment of the conversation, so you can read the transcriptions or you can just check out the resource links on the podcast portion of our website. So, with that, we appreciate you tuning in every couple weeks for each new episode, implementing these new options in your practice because together we can certainly shift the tides in affordability legal services in this country. So, thanks so much for your participation and we will see you all in the next episode.
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Episode 46: Launching a New Practice Straight Out of Law School: Overcoming Fear, Streamlining Intake, and Improving Access to Justice by Eliminating the Upfront Retainer
Lauren Kelley started her own practice two days after graduating law school. Fueled by Unbundled Attorney leads, Lauren acquired over 20 new paying clients in her first two months. During this period, she also built systems to streamline her intake and enrollment process. Today, she joins the show to walk us through what every new lawyer can expect when launching a new practice. We also discuss how Lauren has almost completely eliminated the need to charge an upfront retainer. She describes how making her services affordable and accessible for clients also makes them more profitable for her.
To read a complete transcript of this interview, click here
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Some fears attorneys face when starting a new practice and how to overcome them
- How lead generation services like Unbundled Attorney can be extremely valuable when launching a new practice
- A walk through of steps involved in starting your new practice including marketing, sales, and online branding
- A list of the podcasts and resources Lauren recommends to attorneys who are considering starting their own practice
- The unexpected challenge Lauren faced when launching her practice and how she overcame it
- The value of taking time to build a streamlined and systematized intake process
- How to create leveraged income by outsourcing document preparation to a virtual assistant
- The value of taking time to quantify the different phases involved with each type of case, and breaking them up into “micro-steps” that can be billed separately
- How Lauren has eliminated the need to collect upfront retainers by allowing her clients to “pay-as-they-go”
- Advice and guidelines for offering limited appearances, and billing for appearances as a separate discrete task
- Why judges and courts are supportive of attorneys that are willing to offer limited appearances and unbundled services
- A walk through of the streamlined process Lauren developed from consult, to intake, to enrollment, to document preparation, to filing, court appearances, and beyond
- Why Lauren uses virtual receptionists to calendar her appointments, answer calls, and follow up with clients
- And much more...
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Unbundled Attorney Mastermind Retreat
- Podcast Episode 23 with Andrew Burgess: Launching a New Solo Practice: From Law School Graduate to 65 New Paying Clients in 3 Months
- Podcast Episode 14 with Zoe Garvin: Building a Law Practice from Home: Virtual Offices, Legal Tech, and Enrolling Clients Over the Phone
- Building a Law Firm Podcast
- New Solo Podcast - Legal Talk Network
- Podcast Interview with Dave Aarons on New Solo Podcast
- Gen Why Lawyer Podcast
- Podcast Episode 40 with Anthony Saunders: The “Try It Before You Buy It” Enrollment Strategy: A Unique Sales Approach That Could Skyrocket Your Lead Conversion Rate
- Podcast Episode 41 with Thomas King: Delivering Unbundled Services Safely and Ethically: Guidelines for Retainer Agreements, Limited Appearances, and Being Proactive with Traditional Courts
- Microsoft One Drive
- Acuity Scheduling
- Smith.ai Call Answering Service
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For more information about Unbundled Attorney and how our Lead Generation services help grow your practice, visit: https://www.unbundledattorney.com