Who is Patrick?
In 2015 Patrick Slaughter was struggling with managing his family law practice in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Most of all he was looking for a way for he and his wife Zena (who is the office manager of his firm) to get more time away from the office—so they could relax and enjoy life more.
Patrick and Zena were curious about how technology could help make their firm easier to manage, so they started surfing the web.
They found my website and bought my guidebook about how to go paperless. A few months later, Patrick and Zena came to my 2-day Small Firm Bootcamp in New Orleans.
And here’s what he had to say about that experience…
After The Bootcamp
I stayed in touch with Patrick by email, and continued to help him understand how to create a paperless practice that would streamline most of his workflows. And I recommended some cloud-based tools that would allow he and Zena to do more work away from the office.
At first they were skeptical, but they kept following my recommendations. He signed up for my online course. And he joined my private Facebook group. (exclusively for solo & small firm lawyers).
And after several months they started to see some massive improvements.
In February of 2017 he posted the following comment to the FB group…
Ok, just want to put this out there and thank Ernie and all the other folks that have helped Zena and I. A few weeks ago, we tried something different and it was really life changing.
January was probably our best month ever financially, but I was worn out and desperately needing a break. Problem was that I couldn’t imagine actually leaving town with the practice unattended. Then I thought what the heck, give it a shot.
We decided to try a “working vacation.” So we booked 10 days at Disney World (yea I know, but we love it). We headed to Florida with our laptops and thought we would see what happened.
Long story short, everything went great! We each billed about 3 hours a day in the morning before we went out to do all the fun stuff.
I was able to access all of our client files because everything is paperless and stored in the cloud.
I could dictate on my iPhone and then email it to my staff that were still working in the office. They could transcribe and send everything back for me to review. I could revise and then OK it, insert my signature and send it back to them to file.
I could return client phone calls from my iPhone using an app so it looked like the call was coming from my office, even though I told them the truth. (Still they didn’t get my cell phone number.)
We use a cloud-based practice management software program. So we could bill and keep track of calendar appointments. Zena was able to book appointments for prospective and current clients.
We even ran bills while down in Florida. Took less than an hour to process invoices and then transfer money from trust to operating accounts.Now we are having the best February we’ve ever had.
We have been so impressed with how things went that now we are looking at renting an apartment in Florida and getting away at least once a month. It was kind of hard for me to believe at first, but you really can run your practice from anywhere and be just as productive if you just invest in the right tools and take the time to set your practice up to take advantage of today’s technology.
It was nice of Patrick to share his success to the Facebook group. Obviously, it made me feel good to know that I was able to help him improve his practice in a deeply meaningful way.
But, more importantly, it helped other lawyers in the Facebook group see that working to improve your practice pays big dividends.
Not long after Patrick posted that message to Facebook, he called me up and asked if would give him one-on-one coaching.
I said, I would be happy to and so I created a special program for which he was my first student. Mostly, it involved us doing weekly or semi-weekly calls or online meetings.
Patrick was super busy juggling lots of responsibilities, but we made progress in several areas related to his operations.
1 Year Later
In February of 2018, after working with Patrick one-on-one, I asked him if he’d share his thoughts about his latest efforts.
He sent me an email with a Word document attached. Here’s what Patrick wrote…
“Ok, I have to admit that as I sit here typing this post, I’m kind of in shock. So excuse the typos or grammatical errors. Everything in our practice has pretty much changed fundamentally in the last 60 days.
Our staff consists of me, an associate, a paralegal, and my wife, Zena, who is our office manager, bookkeeper and doer of all the things.
This is my fifth-year practicing so I am still pretty new to this business. Most days I wake up just hoping to get confused on a higher plane than yesterday.
My biggest problem has been that I’ve been starting to feel overwhelmed. I was tired of coming home between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm each night. Also, I knew that I needed to get a better handle on some of our marketing efforts.
In a month Ernie helped me to streamline our intake process We implemented a call back schedule to make sure we are staying on top of the folks that call us. Our client engagement has increased, netting us between 3-4 new clients each month. Best of all, I’m not having to do it!
Next Ernie had me start working on an email drip campaign for our potential divorce clients. I expected the email thing would be good, I didn’t expect the results to be this good.
We just kind of typed out a series of emails about stuff I would tell a prospective client they should do to help win their case, and set a schedule for the emails to go out. Then, whenever a prospect calls we get their email address and put them into the system.
Everything else is automatic.
I was a little concerned about people not wanting to give us their email address. Turns out it wasn’t that big of a deal. Pretty much everybody was happy to give it to us. Now we are at the point that if someone doesn’t want to give us their email, we tell them we can’t work with them because of the way we use technology in our office.
The email campaign has also been a hit.
We are getting lots of responses from the emails. Some folks want to sign up just based on the emails even though I haven’t spoken with them!
Blows my mind.
Now this is the part where things get weird. Because our available appointment time was getting pretty booked, I started offering to just send folks fee agreements via an electronic signature feature in Lexicata.
People jumped at the opportunity.
I didn’t think I would really be using this process that much because it just kind of offends my antiquated sense of what should happen. How dare these people not think that I was important enough to have to have a face to face sit down with in order to make sure I was the right attorney for them!
Well I was wrong.
The part of this whole thing that is earth shattering to me is that now the only real reason I have to be anywhere near my office is so that I can make court appearances. We can absolutely practice and run our business from anywhere in the world.
I still have a hard time believing what I just typed. What does all this mean in a practical sense for us?
Well, I just hired another attorney because we need the help. We are bringing in new clients at a much higher rate than before. In January we signed up 15 new clients where before we were averaging 7-9.
My wife Zena and I just leased an apartment in Florida where we intend to spend at least a week each month (maybe more). We hate the cold that comes with winters, and we are HUGE Disney fans…but I digress.
More importantly, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting my life back!
I did not believe that any of this stuff was really even possible. We aren’t super techies or anything like that.
Some of this stuff that you can do over the Internet just didn’t seem like it would lend itself to the practice of law. But, if you give it a chance, it is amazing just what can be accomplished.
Folks today are just different. They would rather not have to drive to an office downtown and pay to park just to meet with an attorney. They are comfortable with electronic transactions for everything including hiring a lawyer.
It is just now dawning on me that if we embrace this technology we can harness its ability to change our lives too. We don’t have to be stuck in an office. We don’t have to work crazy hours. We can actually have a personal life.
If this is what can be accomplished in 2-3 months, Lord I don’t know what else is coming down the block.
Patrick and Zena came to my 2-day workshop in August of 2018 and worked on improving their firm’s marketing.
(There were 9 other attorneys there, and you can watch this video to get a sense of what the workshop was about).
Anyway, I asked Patrick to record a video to talk more about the progress he made…
Patrick & Zena – Most Recent Video
Patrick is a shining example of what can happen if you work strategically to improve your practice.
(And by they way, did you catch that he’s only in his fifth year of practicing law?)
Look, you too can have a practice like Patrick’s,
Believe it or not, the key to success starts with nothing more than curiosity about practicing law in a new way, and a desire to improve.
The Bottom Line
From working with hundreds of lawyers like Patrick I’ve seen the common challenges that they face. And I’ve learned the best ways of helping them overcome those challenges.
Building any kind of successful business is hard, but the business of running a law firm is especially challenging. And figuring it out on your own is even more difficult (and often bewildering).
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. I can help you just as I’ve helped many other lawyers.
So, if you’re ready for me to help you then here’s what to do.
Check out my LawFirm Co-Pilot program if you want ongoing guidance (i.e. the kind of guidance I gave Patrick).
If you’d rather just have a roadmap that you can follow on your own, check out my LawFirm Autopilot course.
Either way, I’ll look forward to helping you as much as I can.