Hey there, I’m Ernie...
a guy whose goal upon emerging from law school back in 1985 was to become a well-paid lawyer who worked on complex litigation matters.
In 1987, (after a two-year federal clerkship), I joined a prestigious New Orleans firm, where I worked hard and managed to become a full partner in just six years. I thought this achievement would make me happy but it didn't.
Instead, I was miserable —because I found myself overworked, underappreciated, and completely demoralized. And, of course, totally stressed out.
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 my work done more quickly, more easily, and with less stress.
So I left the big firm and started my own tech-powered practice. A solo firm that was smooth-running, highly profitable, and truly enjoyable.
Fellow lawyers noticed my bliss and asked me to help them "connect the tech dots" in their practices. So I showed them.
At first, it was one or two folks, then a dozen and eventually hundreds. The word started spreading like wildfire across the country.
This happened because I had created a weblog called “Ernie the Attorney.” (apparently it 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 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.
Best of all?
I wound up happier than I could have ever imagined back when I was a partner at the big firm —mired in misery, and buried in bureaucracy.
I mean, look at me now!
So how do I help lawyers?
And yet, many lawyers say my best advice is in this free PDF Guide to Working Smarter (as well as the free email lessons I send after you download the guide).
You can get the "Working Smarter Guide" here if you're interested.
Oh, and this is helpful too...
Below are some of my popular articles about harnessing the power of technology...
- Leveraging technology = $4,667 per hour
- Simple, effective marketing strategies for solo & small firm lawyers
- How a paperless practice will make your life a LOT easier (an ABA article)
- How to use free online billboards to get more great clients
At this point, maybe you're wondering just exactly how I learned to "connect the tech dots."
And if so, here's the answer...
How I Learned to LeverageTechnology
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.