Hey there, I’m Ernie…
…a New Orleans lawyer who went from burned out to blissful—by creating a simpler and more enjoyable way of practicing law.
How did this happen, exactly? Well, it probably started with…
For most of my life I’ve been obsessed with trying to figure out how things work.
At some point I realized that the most important things to figure out are how people think, act, and make decisions.
Like most of us, I started out with a lot of flawed assumptions about how people think, act and make decisions.
When I was young I assumed all adults were rational beings who made good decisions.
But, as I observed people closely (especially my parents during their divorce), I realized that adults are often irrational, and they often make bad decisions.
When I entered the practice of law I was older but still naïve. I assumed well-educated lawyers, whose minds were trained to think logically at a high-level, would be rational and make good decisions.
But the more I practiced, the more I realized that this was another bad assumption.
Judges were often irrational, and lawyers were often irrational. And they often made poor decisions.
What I finally realized was this…
Human nature (i.e. irrationality) is deeply embedded in all of us, and it’s hard to escape from.
Human nature is the root of all conflict, and most bad decisions. And yet, despite our deep-seated nature, we’ve had incredible scientific breakthroughs, and developed a lot of amazing technology.
Like computers, software, the internet, and smartphones for example.
I believe it’s wise to embrace technology. That seems like a good decision to me.
If you can leverage technology you can improve your life in amazing ways. You can even improve your law practice too.
I know because I used technology to dramatically improve my practice. And while it was sometimes tricky to figure out exactly how to use technology in my law practice, I didn’t mind.
Like I said, I like figuring things out.
But, as much as I like figuring things out for myself, I discovered that I enjoy helping others figure things out even more.
And that led me to eventually figuring out the most important thing in life. Which is…
It’s incredibly difficult for people to overcome deep-seated assumptions.
For example, not everyone sees the wisdom in trying to leverage the power of technology.
Not even well-educated lawyers who are trained to think critically about high-level problems. So, even though I like helping other people, I finally had to accept that many lawyers just don’t grasp the vast potential of technology.
So I don’t bother trying to help them.
Instead, I focus on the few who grasp that technology can be incredibly useful. If you use it effectively.
So, if had to say exactly what it is that I do now, it’s this…
I help good lawyers make better decisions about how they use technology…
That’s my obsession now.
So how do I help?
For over a decade, through these resources, I’ve helped hundreds of lawyers with all kinds of practices, all over the world. Which has been tremendously satisfying.
Many of those 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.
When you do, I’ll give you my Top Technology Resources for Lawyers (it’s a PDF download).
My general 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)
- You must understand the tradeoffs of using technology (blog post)
At this point, maybe you’re wondering exactly how I learned to use technology.
And if so, 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 which 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.