Elise Buie’s goal is for her entire team to work remotely 95% of the time, and she is well on her way. Buie shares with us the systems and technology she’s put in place for herself and her team, which, to date, includes three other attorneys and admin staff scattered all over the Seattle, Washington area.
She says it’s all about checklists, automation, as much as possible, and efficiency… while at the same time not losing the human connection we all need.
We also talk about how she approaches her family law work in a way that helps families not only survive, but thrive after divorce, why helping parents learn to be good co-parents is so important to her, and much more.
Tune in to discover…
- Why she can go weeks without stepping foot in the office
- The most important trait clients are looking for when hiring a lawyer
- What every remote worker needs… or they’ll be doomed to fail at their job
- The critical lessons she learned in her personal relationships that she brings to her work
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Women Lawyer podcast formerly known as the Solo to CEO podcast. It’s a new year and we have a new name. But our mission in 2020 is still very much the same, to provide thought-provoking powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm. I’m your host, Davina Frederick. I’m here today with Elise Buie, founder, and CEO of Elise Buie Family Law Group. Elise Buie, Family Law Group, is a family law firm representing clients in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, and the surrounding area.
Welcome, Elise. I’m so happy to finally have you here today on the Wealthy Women Lawyer podcast.
Elise Buie: Yeah, I’m so excited to be here. Thanks so much. It’s kind of fun to be here the day after Thanksgiving.
Davina Frederick: I know, I know you and I are recording this The day after Thanksgiving. So Black Friday and you’re up early there in Seattle. Although you’ve had plenty of time to go out and do Black Friday sales by now, though, if you wanted to. Did you get any sales this morning?
Elise Buie: No, I am definitely not a black Friday shopper anymore.
Davina: No, no, I’m not either. I’m not either. So but here’s to all those brave souls who are out who’ve already been out and gotten their big-screen TVs this morning. Good for them.
Davina: So tell me, tell me about you tell me first of all, just generally, a little bit more about your law firm. And give me an idea of kind of the size and scope of your law firm and a little bit more about the services you provide?
Elise Buie Family Law: The Origin
Elise: Sure, we are a family law firm in Seattle and I kind of think of us as having a few legs to a table. So we do Family Law work, you know, both divorce litigation, which obviously as most Family Law Attorneys know, ends up in mediation. But then we also do Collaborative Law. Washington, you know, has a Collaborative Law statute and we do a collaborative law practice. And then I personally do a lot of work as a guardian ad litem or a parenting evaluator, in those real high conflict parenting cases. And then we also work with the state through the Office of Public defense and we represent parents in dependency cases to children, you know, have been taken away due to abuse and neglect. And so those are the current legs we have in our firm and how we work in 2020. those legs are going to be changing a little because we are shifting a few things but that is how it is right now.
Davina: How many attorneys do you have working with you?
Elise: Right now there’s four of us, including myself and then you know, we admin staff, you know, like paralegal admin. And then we do work with various independent contractors. I mean, many of them I’ve been working with the firm started, but you know, they are still in that independent contractor role.
Davina: I want to come back to you and talk about kind of the way that you work. But before we do that, I think I want to touch on your journey and how you wound up in Seattle, because I do you have a very interesting story about how you weren’t. You are not originally from Seattle. I interviewed somebody. Also, this week, who is actually born and raised in Seattle, but you were not born and raised in Seattle. You are a transplant found your way there how long ago?
Elise: I came to Seattle in 2011. And now I am definitely not born and raised in Seattle. I mean, I am a New Orleans girl trying to ruin through lifting.
Davina: So tell us about your life.
Elise: Yes, I grew up and I lived in New Orleans and work there, you know, became an attorney in New Orleans, clerked for a federal judge and did insurance, defense litigation in New Orleans. And then I stepped back from the practice of law at the time. Gosh, I don’t even know I guess I had two children, was pregnant with number three, decided to stay home with my kids for a few years. And then that turned into four kids eventually. And so I was home with my children when Hurricane Katrina hit, and the kind of wrinkle to all that is my husband at the time and I were in the process or had started that process of divorce and thinking about divorce.
So I was planning to go back to my old law firm there in New Orleans. And you know, that was going to kind of be the thing, but you know, then the hurricane hit, we evacuated to Georgia. That was where my ex-husband’s family was fun. And so we kind of showed up on their doorstep in Georgia, and we lived there for a year in rural Georgia, really, in this tiny little town in Georgia, named rocky Ford. It’s in between Savannah and Augusta. And then we ended up deciding, you know, we were still obviously going to divorce but we kind of had to put it all together and be able to get ourselves back on our feet, you know because as attorneys, we couldn’t practice in other states.
I mean, my ex-husband got his license in Georgia, then we decided we would move to Minnesota. And so we did move to Minnesota and I got licensed in Minnesota opens a law firm in Minnesota and started working as a guardian ad litem there in Minnesota, you actually hired by the state to be gardening as the item so I was able to do both. And then I was there doing that. And then by that time, my ex and I decided okay, we’re stable enough, you know, now we can divorce and you know, so we did that. And, and that was going to be that. And then my current husband and I ended up Finding out, you know that we both were had gone through this to somebody I’ve known for a long time my kids do. You know, we had this down the street from us. So it’s kind of its own random story.
Davina: Wow, what a journey. What a journey. Yeah. So and, and you absolutely love Seattle?
Seattle— The Place To Be
Elise: So then we started seeing each other. He lives out here in Seattle, and I was in Minnesota. He flew out there to Minnesota, and we’ve pretty much been together ever since to then that came another relocation where, you know, we all kind of figured out what was the best plan of action. And so the kids and I moved out here to Seattle, and my ex-husband also moved out here to Seattle. And so now here we are all out here in Seattle.
Oh, Seattle’s amazing. I mean, Seattle is got so many opportunities, but it’s also I mean, I think the thing I love the most about Seattle is just the beauty of, of the Pacific Northwest. I mean, Seattle is gorgeous. And my husband and I are in the process of actually building a home kind of out from Seattle a little bit. And so, you know, it’s just in the woods and we get to overlook the we see the Olympic Mountains and Hood Canal and it is just I mean, the exquisite beauty in Seattle is really unsurpassed.
Davina: Right, right. Now, let me ask you this, is your office located in Seattle? Are you in downtown Seattle or do you have? Tell me about how your offices are set up?
Elise: Yes, we do have an office in downtown Seattle. It’s actually right downtown, like across from the downtown library, a block or two from the King County Courthouse. And if we just have one office, and we sublet, you know, there’s a whole floor of offices, because our firm is actually a remote from in the sense that every one of my attorneys, my staff, everyone has a full home office. And so none of us have to go downtown to the office. Unless we’re specifically You know, maybe going to meet somebody, or going into court and somebody might go to the office first to do something. But I mean, my goal is that we’re able to do just as much remotely as possible. And, you know, I mean, like 95% of it. And so I mean because I have a situation where I travel extensively with my husband’s work. And with my own work, I mean, I go to a lot of legal conferences or coaching programs that I go to in other parts of the country. And so I mean, I do travel a lot. And I mean, I’ll go for weeks and weeks and not step foot in the office. So I mean, our goal is remote, but we do have an office in downtown Seattle. And, you know, I’ve kind of joked that I’m going to maybe open a satellite office near where my new house is, if I want to, you know, start a branch there as well. So we’ll see what 2020 and beyond holds in that regard.
Davina: So that is really interesting. So let’s jump back to that and delve into that a little bit more about where working remotely and because I know so many women lawyers are really interested in exploring that, that the idea of a remote practice and working virtually, so to speak and having that sort of flexibility, but have questions, particularly when it comes to a practice. That may be so litigation intensive, like family law, or where they feel like they have to meet with their clients or clients want an office to go to, or clients to, like, you know, they feel like maybe clients are going to want to meet them in person or that kind of thing. So what have you found in running your practice this way? Have you found that to be the case? I mean, what have you found to be the case?
Running Your Own Practice
Elise: I mean, I have been really surprised to have to tell you at people willingness to, to not come down and meet you and it some of it could be Seattle centric in the sense of Seattle has that extensive traffic, and it’s just getting worse and worse by the day. So nobody wants to go anywhere. They don’t have to, because they’re going to get stuck in a big traffic jam. Seattle also has very tech-savvy people, obviously, you know, with the headquarters of Microsoft and Amazon and, you know, all kinds of very high-end tech people. So they’re all about efficiencies and, you know, anything we can do to be efficient.
And so absolutely, I do have some clients that I will go down and meet in the office, you know if they ask, and if it’s something that, you know, matters to them, often, they might have to wait a while for that to happen, because you know, I could be in Tasmania for three weeks, and so I wouldn’t be able to be there. I always offer the option for them to meet with me via zoom, or whatever other video conferencing program they might be comfortable with. And I do that all the time, with clients, and that seems to be just fine. And so I mean, for me personally, I have not found the virtual practice to be a hindrance to us ever, actually. And if anything, I find that the clients are really appreciative that we’re able to do otherwise. I mean, I had a client one time, I almost hate to admit this, but she was having it was a collaborative case.
So you know, you think non-litigation, it’s, you know, everything’s going to kind of work out fine as she was really struggling and really having trouble all kinds of different troubles and just was really in a bad spot. And so when I was talking to her, I said, Well, why don’t I come to you? And so I literally went to her house, I mean, showed up with, you know, some Starbucks Chai, and she was there in our PJs and we sat at our kitchen table. And really, it was the best place for her like she had, she had to come downtown to my office. That probably would have actually, it wouldn’t No help resolve the case at all. And it was really interesting. And I thought, you know, just the fact that I am virtual allows me to kind of think outside the box, you know, to think I mean, it didn’t matter to me whether I drove to downtown Seattle or Bellevue, I mean, I’m going to be in the same amount of traffic. And if I could meet my client emotionally where she needed to be met, I mean, that was the highest goal I could meet at the time.
Davina: Right. So, it really is a whole different philosophy and way of thinking about your business.
Elise: Well, and I guess it is, in the sense of, except I’ve always done it. I don’t know otherwise. I mean, I kind of was a student of Ernie, the attorney, he, you know, runs I don’t remember the name of his if he has a name, and he’ll probably not be happy at me that I don’t remember this. But a long time ago, you know, he actually used to clerk in federal court in New Orleans with a different judge than me, but I mean, at the same time, I did so as that tells you He has been somebody that I’ve known and look to. But you know, he was very early on in the starting of a paperless practice and, you know, moving things into kind of the 21st century. And so I mean, I’ve always had a paperless practice. I mean, even when I started in Minnesota years ago, and so, you know, everything I do, we think about, you know, how can we make this more efficient?
And I mean, don’t get me wrong, we have so far to go. I mean, I do not mean at all to say we’ve got it all under control, because we don’t, I mean, 2020, for me is going to be the year of further automation and efficiency. I mean, that’s kind of my focus for next year. And so, you know, there’s so much to learn. I mean, I am learning literally minute by minute. I feel like I mean, I’m going to a conference in January, just on Zapier alone, and for all I know I say long maybe it’s the eighth year, I mean, but just you know, learning all the technology And understanding like how to put it all together, and how to make my clients experience be as positive and seamless and efficient, but as warm as possible is one of my really high goals.
Davina: Right, right. I love that. I love that combination of efficiency, but warms with warms, you know,
Elise: Oh, I think it’s critical. I mean, I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I get like, these automated forms, and you know, fill this out and fill this out, it just feels so impersonal and I understand the efficiency behind it. So I do appreciate that. But I love it when I get a form or get something that has personality and warmth and it kind of exudes personal connection. I mean, there’s an attorney I know Joey Vitaly, who does an amazing job of turning his automation into warm to Communication, even though it’s automated, and I love that, and I think it’s really important because I know, you know, we’re all moving towards being more automated and more efficient. But I mean, I truly think the personal touch and the personal feelings people get when they’re around each other. I mean, that is what drives decision making and what drives hiring an attorney or what drives trusting an attorney. And I think that when your clients can feel your authentic self, whether that’s you feeling warm, or maybe it’s you really giving them the straight talk, you know, one of those really blunt conversations. I think your clients really appreciate that. And that is what builds that trust needed to have those attorney-client relationships.
Davina: Right, right. So one thing that I found was interesting in that conversation you and I had had earlier in earlier times You talked about, you have when you’re talking about your attorneys being at different locations, and I think other people will find is interesting. You actually, you have attorneys in different locations. But one of the things that you have when you talk about being systematic, you do have a systematic approach to it. And one of the ways you do this in each of your attorneys has the same setup. And you’re you have a tech person, your tech guy, who actually goes to each of them, and gets them set up with their system. So tell us about that. Because I think a lot of times when people talk about you having remote employees and setting them up or whatever, they maybe don’t think of it, think it through that. They don’t think it through like they would if they were if they had them all in the same office, right?
Elise: Yeah, no, I think you’re exactly right. And we do We, I mean, we just have we have a checklist, you know of what everybody needs. Like I just recently hired a new attorney we’re starting actually a different leg to our practice and 2020 doing estate planning. And so that attorney you know, the tech guy is actually meeting with her on Monday and there’s a list of equipment that that person gets and I mean even all that is done virtually, I mean, it’s kind of, you know, this funny system but I mean, I buy the particular computer they get that gets shipped to my tech guy, you know, he then sets up all the software on the computer at his home, he is also virtual, he set up everything, gets it already and then he scheduled an appointment it goes out to the new attorneys home, and he will make sure that you know, all the internet integration works well that her speed of internet works well, but there’s nothing we need to do in that regard. You know that the computer is set up a scanner is set up.
I mean, we do provide a printer even though You know, I definitely am not a big fan of printing things, but I do provide a printer, but then some people do like to read things, you know, by hand and hold the paper and, and so and then they have whatever equipment, you know, if they want a standing desk or sitting desk, you know, those kind of things. And obviously, I let each person choose, you know, some of those things so that they’re most comfortable. But the equipment that’s provided is all the same. And then he goes and sets it all up and make sure everything works well. And then he’s also available at any time, you know, obviously, within his schedule, but he can just take over any of our computer screens from afar and fix anything or walk us through anything. And it just makes it nice to have this one point person who does everything.
And so then when anybody has a problem, they reach out to him and on the computer, you know, all this, the hardware, he knows what it is like it’s all systematized and organized. So He needs to make some changes, he can do it and he can do it across the board. He also keeps up with the age of all the technology. So, you know, there’s a few of us who are getting me probably the most, whose computers getting old. And so he’ll reach out to me and be like, you know, at least your computer is six years old, you know, do you want to upgrade, you know, are you having any problems or what’s going on with it? And I mean, I’m not right now.
So I’m like, No, I’m good. Go to the next person and, you know, upgrade their stuff. So it makes it I think, really good. And then I have an admin company, Sondra, she owns a company named pursue containers which are again a virtual thing that she’s here in Seattle. And she then buys everything like she’s in charge of, you know, she’ll get the list for the new employee and she just gets everything shipped appropriately the computer to the IT guy, you know, the paper to the attorneys home. So she just handles all that and then she checks in with us monthly to on supplies to make sure what we need and so she gets supplies order to everybody’s home, and our office downtown. Like if there’s anything we need there, she’ll have that done.
Davina: What I wanted to ask you is, I imagine that when you’re hiring people when you’re putting together your team, that this is really a real selling point for you when you’re cultivating your team.
Elise: I think so, I mean, you know, I think for some people, it’s a downside. I mean, some people, you know, have trouble with self motivation, and they get distracted at home, and they really need that social environment of the office. I mean, I am a real student of personality testing and a various things. So when I put together a team, I mean, I’m very strategic, I guess in in that and I really look at people’s personalities, how are they going to work together? Do they have that sufficient work ethic and self maturity where they’re going to be able to do it on because it can be distracting. But to be fair, I mean, I think part of the joy from working at home is, it’s okay if you’re distracted some and you go to the laundry and throw you dinner in the crockpot and, you know, color with your child, you know, for an hour. I mean, you can do your work them later. I mean, I don’t care when the work gets done, obviously. I mean, there are deadlines that we all follow. And that’s obviously something we can’t a workaround.
But as far as getting the work done, I mean, I have attorney to wake up super early like I do. I mean, one of my attorneys, she and I meet every Thursday morning at 6am on the phone, like that’s just when it works for both of us, her daughters are still asleep. And it’s before my day really get started. So it’s kind of perfect. And, you know, so we can do those kind of weird things that but it works around all of our schedules. And so, I mean, I think it’s a huge selling point. And here in Seattle. I mean, I was actually interviewing Just on Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving and just the thought of not having to get in our car and drive, you know, an hour to work. She’s like, oh my, that’s so unbelievably, I mean, huge to get that extra hour back into your life. And my time silly, but I mean, I think we all give us an extra hour to.
And it just, I mean for me this, it has been this the key ingredient to letting me live the life I want, you know, to be able to. I mean, I spent three weeks in Australia just recently and I worked much as the time I was there, my husband would go to these meetings all day in my office, you know, we always plan in advance where I’m going to be the time zone and whatever. I mean, my office is really good at navigating time zone differences. And they just schedule appointments for me when I’m because I do a lot of work in supporting vital so I’m interviewing people which can all be done on the phone and so we just set up back to back interviews, during whatever time zone is appropriate, you know, for Seattle. And, and then I can also write reports when I’m overseas or wherever I am. So it works out great for me. And it allows us all to keep doing our work. And, and I can also go, you know, visit Hobart, which I wouldn’t be able to do if I was, you know, stuck to a desk in a location.
Davina: So my, my question is, do you do very much do you do very many family law trials?
Elise: Our firm does? Yes. I mean, we definitely try not to do a huge amount in the sense of I mean, we, I personally, I shouldn’t speak for anyone else. I am not a fan of Family Law trials as far as actually helping families. And I feel like if we’ve ended up in a trial, we’ve probably failed somewhere. I mean, I think that the damage that gets done to families and trials is is kind of profound, but I understand your question is more towards a person Practice, but so yes, I mean, we just had a trial recently very recently and, you know, one of my attorneys did that trial. I did not. I do have to go testify a fair amount actually in Gardena cases.
I’m actually scheduled to testify this upcoming week in a guardian ad litem case. And so you know, I would just have to be in town them and so it’s something that I’m and I guess all places have this where we found notices of unavailability, and like, right now we’re in November of 2019. And I have all my notices of unavailability out through, I want to say March 2021. So, you know, when I get hired in a case, the attorneys know, upfront what days I’m available and what days I’m not in a fair trial conflict. We just agreed to continue them to a week that I will be in Seattle. And so that’s how we handle that issue.
Davina: Yeah, that’s what I was curious about. I think that’s a question that a lot of it Attorneys with litigation practices would have, you know, and, and in family law, a lot of times, you know, a lot of people perceive it as a litigation practice, you know, and I know there’s different philosophies for different different firms have different sort of philosophies. And now you do a lot of collaborative work, probably a lot of alternate alternative dispute resolution kind of stuff. Absolutely. You know, so that and in particular, I know, philosophically you have a strong belief that, you know, if you can, if you can, as much as you can resolve without going to trial, the better off it’s going your you know, your kit, your clients are going to be right, the whole family’s going to be.
Elise: Absolutely, I mean, I think if we, yes, absolutely. I think we lawyers tend to often cause further conflicts for families that we work with, by either, you know, filing decorative nations in court that has a lot of really vitriolic hyperbole. And you know, they say a lot of things that really probably shouldn’t be out in a public record, all in the name of winning emotion or winning, you know, something in trial. I think we forget sometimes how things can deteriorate in their co-parenting relationship and how much how important that relationship is to the future of those children’s psychological well being.
And so I work really, really hard to help the parents that I work with, see the importance of that relationship and understand the dynamics of what they might be winning in court versus what they might be doing to harm their co-parenting relationship and or their children and really trying to put their children’s interests first ahead of winning. And so, you know, I mean, obviously, I have a strong bent towards all the child related issues just because of my experience and expertise. As a guardian ad litem our parenting evaluation And I tried to impart all that to the people I work with, so that at least they are thinking along the lines of what is in the best interest of my child, and really asking that question in every litigation kind of strategy, they’re considering that they’re not they don’t operate in a vacuum that they very much are. They operate symbiotically, and you need to think about them together.
Davina Frederick And so this is something this is actually something that you have lived personally as well. I mean, this is an experience where you, you, you walk your talk in your own personal life as well because you have an ex-husband, that you, you know, and children with from that marriage and have co-parented and live walk that talk.
Elise: Oh, absolutely. I mean, yeah. So I have an ex-husband who lives here in Seattle, but didn’t always live here in Seattle. I mean, to the point Were when we bought a home in Seattle. I mean, we bought a home big enough that he could come in and stay in it. And we left and went and stayed. We owned a second home. And we went and stayed somewhere else. And he could come and stay here, you know, with the kids and still does. I mean, we, when I’m traveling, which is a lot. I mean, in September in October, I mean, I was gone for probably six weeks, and I have a 17-year-old left at home. He’s our youngest. So you know, we’re at the end of this, but my ex comes and stays in my home the whole time and stays with my son, our son and you know, is here doing whatever.
And he even I mean, recently we had a change in our travel where I ended up taking my 17-year-old on a bunch of college visits. And so my current husband and I went off to Colorado to do that. And my ex-husband came into our home and cared for all the pets. We have five pets. So, you know he stayed here while we were gone. And yeah, so it’s something that. I mean, I think it’s critical. I mean, I was just yesterday I was yesterday was Thanksgiving. I mean, I had five of our six kids were a blended family with six children. So five were here. And so my four, you know, we’re going in and out, like from my house, they were leaving, they’re like, Okay, well, I’m gonna go hang out with dad and take the dog. And we’re going to go to the dog park for a few hours, and then that kid would come home and then other kids like, Oh, yeah, I just texted Daddy’s gonna pick me up and we’re going to run go to lunch together. And then you know, so like, that’s just the way it goes.
Davina: Right. Right. So because the family continues, even after my marriage ends.
Elise: Absolutely. And I mean, it’s so critical for the kids well being. I mean, I can’t. I mean, I really can’t say enough of how important it is for the children’s psychological health, to have co-parents that can work together and in function together. I mean, probably one of the most interesting things that happened just yesterday, my daughter who worked on the, and this is not that politically, but she works on Mayor Pete’s presidential campaign. And he is actually coming to Seattle in December. And so she was like, Oh, I really want you all to go and listen to him. She’s like, he’s really so inspirational when he talks. She’s like, every time I hear one of his speeches, I’m really inspired. And she’s like, so for Christmas, I’m buying you all tickets to this, you know, events in December. And she’s like, and I’m buying them for debt too. And she’s like, so I’m sure you’ll be fine with that. Like, of course, we’ll be fine with that. And I thought, you know, I mean, how nice that a child can even think she’s trying to share something that feels inspirational to her. And she’s trying to share it with her mom, her dad and her stepdad. And I thought, okay, that’s a win for co parenting.
Davina: Right, right. And this is so this has become such a central part of your life, this sort of message and everything like that. You You you actually have plans to, you know, to teach this and to go, I know that you have some some aspirations to teach this kind of as a separate and apart from your law firm, right? Have you got like, half? You can you share any of that, or do you want to talk about? Yeah.
Elise: Well, I mean, it’s in its infancy, but I am definitely looking to kind of turn teaching co-parenting skills. I mean, really, from, you know, a to z, including, I mean, just everything like how do we email each other, you know, what kind of phone calls can we have? How do you do that in a way that you’re not getting each other off to fight? I mean, creating templates around things and really helping people learn the skills needed to co-parent successfully. I mean, because we have to do it, whether we get along or not. And most of us, I mean, we get divorced for a reason. I mean, my ex and I are not close in the sense Like, we want to sit around and be friends.
I mean, you know, there, there were real reasons why we divorced. And, but, but those reasons need to be put behind my children’s health. I mean, truly their, their mental and physical health depends on me putting those differences second in line to their interest. And, and I think that the more people can understand the importance of that, the more they do it, I guess I have a very optimistic I feel like many people once they’re, they’re educated on what happens to children and the true damage of a child being in the middle of this conflict. Most parents very much love their children and they want to do what’s right for them. And so when they learn how their behavior is harming them, they will try to make changes and make improvements in their co-parenting relationship.
I mean, I’ve seen some horrendously continue Sexual families turn it around in a way that nobody could have predicted before. But with the right education and the right support, where they both can feel hurt, because most of the time, you know, parents, they each have real beef with each other. And oftentimes, each side has validity. And each side has a lack of validity, you know, in all things. I mean, it’s just rarely one person who’s the problem. And, and I think that if people feel heard and feel supported, and then are provided solutions, where we’re looking at strength based parenting, and strength-based co-parenting rather than pointing out their fault, I mean, parents can come together. I mean, I call it the CEOs of teen childlike, turn off their spouse, brain and let’s look at each other as business partners, trying to maximize this child. And I mean, that is what all parents truly desire. So helping them get to that place is, you know, probably my calling in the world is, you know, trying to help parents get to that place where they can focus on their children’s best interests together as co CEOs and really working to each other’s strengths. Because each person does have parenting strengths, even the worst on the surface kind of parents, you can find some parenting strength.
Davina: That sounds like an exciting new venture for you in 2020. We’ll have to watch and see how that unfolds for you in the coming year. Because I’m sure you’ve got some big plans around that. So in the meantime, before we wrap up here, we’re getting close to the hour before we wrap up. Can you share with us some of the sorts of some of the biggest challenges you’ve had in the kind of growing your practice? is in Seattle. Once you move there and kind of getting established, and some of the lessons that you’ve learned, maybe some things you might have done differently if you had to do over.
Elise: We, when I think about doing over, I would say the thing that I made the largest mistake on was not putting systems in place from day one, you know, thinking that, oh, I’ll have time to do it later. That was just absolute faulty thinking on my part. I mean, I had more time to do things when I was at, you know, day one. I mean, then now, I mean, now I have like, less than, you know, time. I mean, my schedule is beyond absurd. And, and I think that putting in systems in midstream is, you know, not ideal, and obviously, many of us do it. I mean, I don’t mean You know, attack us who are you know, Mitch James just in places. But I think the more you can put in place in the more a person can realize how important a system is.
And I got real. I mean, unfortunate, you know, we had one of these unfortunate situations occur where I had an attorney, go out on medical, emergency medical leave. And I literally was just given such a short amount of time to get up to speed on what her cases were. And she was a litigator. So I mean, we’re looking at 30 Family Law litigation cases. And that was when I mean, it was that day, I realized, we need to use Clio better, we need to maximize this product. And so I reached out to Melanie Leonard, I mean, literally like that afternoon, and I was like, okay, you are going to be my new best friend and my Clio guru. And we are going to learn as a firm to use Clio as a shared brain where if somebody does go out, you know, we can all just look Right, and Clio and be like, Okay, what is the next step we need to take, in this case? What has happened up until today?
Who is all you know, who are all the people. And we use Clio just for basic things like, you know, people, knowing all the people like all the contacts and billing, but we did not maximize things like tasks, and task lists and notes. But now we’ve gotten much better. And like I said, Before, we have ways to go. And I’m always trying to learn more about, you know, maximizing our efficiencies in our automation. But I think that was the biggest, the biggest lesson I have learned was, the more information you can have somewhere written down outside of your own head and outside of your key employees says, the better I mean, everything is going to go better. And so we’ve been working as a firm on creating an operations manual, and everyone’s been assigned, you know, different tasks, of doing things and we need to go over that and work develop checklists. And, I mean, it’s been a pretty big process, you know, creating that, getting those systems in place. And again, it’s not complete. I mean, you know, every day, I feel pretty overwhelmed. Like, I have so much to do. But isn’t, I mean, I think that’s part of just running a business. I don’t think I’m ever going to get to the end. It’s kind of like laundry with six kids. It if I try always knocks on the floor.
Davina: Well, you know, when you have big ambitions and you keep, you know, moving the goalposts on that too, right? Because that’s, that is the beautiful thing about it is that you achieve and then you have more desire for something, something new and something else. And exciting part about it, you can, you can keep wanting to create, create something else. I mean, our desire to create something doesn’t end. Once we’ve, you know, once we’ve created that last thing that we desired, you know?
Elise: It’s amazing. No, I mean, I think the more you create and see success. Now, I have to say, though, I mean, with every success I’ve seen, I mean, there is a long line of failures that I have, you know, done wrong, fallen flat, you know, had to learn from I mean, I’m kind of a huge fan of failure, like, cuz I’m like, oh, okay, that didn’t work. Let me try this now. And I feel like I learned so much from my failure, which is lucky because I do it all the time. So you know it, it helps. But I think it when you hit that goalpost, it’s amazing to me sometimes, how much almost energy like, I mean, it sounds kind of weird, but like, you know, inside yourself, you have this opening of, Oh, well, I could do this now. And it really opens up your mind to even be more creative and come up with something else. I mean, I feel like I’m constantly thinking of things and doing things. I mean, I drive my staff bananas. Because I’m like, guess what, guys, this but I thought today and they’re just like oh no, here she is again with one of her ideas.
Davina: But that’s what keeps life so interesting.
Elise: Absolutely. Well, yesterday I woke up on Thanksgiving with my whole idea around wellness like I was trying to think about what was I really grateful for and what and so I literally woke my husband up and I was like, I’m starting a wellness initiative. I was like, I’m going to email everyone right now she’s like, you know, Lisa, this is Thanksgiving, but not much, but just to let them know how much I appreciate them. But I was like, I need them to understand. I want them to have good self-care. And so I started this little wellness initiative yesterday.
As people are like shoving pie into their now either like you wouldn’t hear about right now.
Davina: Well, at least I really appreciate you being here today. And it’s been so fun to talk with you on this day after Thanksgiving. And tell us how we can find out more about you and your firm. And everything you’re up to. Where can we find you on the interwebs?
Elise: Sure, I mean, you can just go to like Elise Buie Family Law Group, you know, Google that and that, that’s the farm and I mean, anybody can email me I mean, I definitely respond to my email so if anybody has any specific questions or you know wants to know something, you can email me at [email protected] Law.com, and I’d be happy to, to respond or answer any questions and I love meeting other attorneys. You know, I think that is one thing, the more we connect and the more we learn from each I mean, we just help each other so much.
I mean, I am the queen of reaching out to people who are ahead of me in their journey and just being like, Hi, I don’t know you, but I know you do kind of a kick-ass job. So I need to know all these things from you. And I just, I mean, I’ve taken more attorneys out to lunch who I’ve never laid eyes on before. But I want I wanted to meet them and learn from them. And so I think the more we connect and learn, the better we all are.
Davina: Great. That’s great advice. I totally agree with you. Thanks so much, again for being here. I really enjoyed our tab this morning as always, so I thank you for being here. It’s been wonderful to talk to you.
Elise: Yeah, you too. Thanks a lot and I hope you enjoy your day.