Hey there, I’m Ernie…
a lawyer whose naive goal upon emerging from law school was to become a well-paid lawyer in a big shot law firm, handling all kinds of complex litigation matters.
I worked hard and managed to make partner in a prestigious New Orleans firm. I assumed this achievement would make me happy but it didn’t.
Instead, I was miserable —because I found myself stressed out, overworked, underappreciated, and completely demoralized.
Worst of all, I felt powerless to change this situation.
But then I discovered how to use technology to create a completely paperless practice. That allowed me to get more of my work done, more quickly, more easily and with less stress.
So I left the big firm and started my own tech-enabled practice, which was smooth-running, highly profitable, and truly enjoyable.
I hated seeing fellow lawyers trapped in misery, so I started showing them how to transform their practices like I did mine.
At first, it was one or two folks, then a dozen and eventually hundreds. I reached these lawyers easily because I had a popular weblog called “Ernie the Attorney,” which was the fifth lawyer-blog when I launched it in 2002.
Lawyer groups around the country invited me to speak at their conferences. I appeared on a bunch of legal podcasts and wrote a few books. All of this expanded my reach and led to me creating a fully-online business called LawFirm Autopilot, where I now do full-time coaching and consulting for solo and small firm lawyers.
And best of all?
I wound up happier than I could have ever imagined back when I was working at that overly bureaucratic big firm.
So how do I help lawyers?
But, many lawyers say my best advice is contained in the weekly emails that I send out privately (aka my “inner sanctum”).
You can sign up to get those emails here.
My best advice about technology
Below are some of my most popular articles about how to use technology effectively in a law practice..
- Information alone is useless (a vital insight that too few people understand)
- How a Paperless Law Practice Can Help You (ABA article)
- How to use free online “billboards” to market your practice (blog post)
- You must understand the tradeoffs of using technology (blog post)
- Doing high-level “knowledge work” versus low-level drudgery (YouTube video)
At this point, maybe you’re wondering exactly how I learned to use technology.
And, here’s my answer…
How I Started Using Technology in My Practice
When I was first trying to figure out how to use technology in my practice I was a partner in a big law firm handling complex commercial litigation matters.
No one at the firm cared about technology (surprise, surprise!). They didn’t care much about efficiency either (since that meant fewer billable hours).
But, in the late 1990’s, our corporate clients started getting pickier about their bills. It was obvious that the clients cared about efficiency.
It was also clear that computers were starting to enable new kinds of mind-boggling efficiency (via automation etc.).
It dawned on me that this kind of efficiency was not only good for clients. It was also good for lawyers—especially ones like me who wanted to practice in a more enjoyable way.
Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t convince my partners to embrace technology so I decided to leave and go out on my own. Naturally, I was afraid I’d fail and have to return to a big firm practice to make the money I was used to making.
But my fears turned out to be misplaced.
Using technology, I built a practice that succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.
I developed a paperless practice that allowed me to handle those complex business cases completely by myself (i.e. no secretaries or paralegals).
Because all of my documents were stored digitally on my laptop…
I was able to work from anywhere, such as small coffee shops, airplanes cruising at 30,000 feet, and sailboats bobbing in shallow waters near small islands nestled in the Caribbean Sea.
Yeah, it was pretty cool.
I used affordable automation and outsourcing to reduce my overhead in crazy ways.
I got a steady flow of great clients using a $40 website that turbocharged my referral marketing system. All of which allowed me to confidently turn away any prospective clients who were high-maintenance or who seemed troublesome in even the slightest way.
I had more free time and my life was completely flexible—I could work as much as I wanted when I wanted and where I wanted.
That’s my definition of a blissful practice. A veritable dream come true.
The Key Element
Now, let’s be realistic: technology alone isn’t a silver bullet.
The real key to transforming your practice isn’t machinery or software.
It’s actually people. Mostly, ones who’ll help you make better decisions about how to use technology to build a better practice.
I didn’t get the support I needed at my big firm so I had to leave —to find it elsewhere. And, so here’s…
My Best Advice
Find people who truly understand your aspirations, and —more importantly— who’ve proven they can help you build the kind of practice you truly want.
And…if you’re looking for that kind of help, here’s the first step you should take.