Ernie Svenson, or “Ernie the Attorney” as he is affectionately called by friends, colleagues and clients, is a pioneer in taking advantage of technology to run a remote practice. Before going out on his own, he attempted to persuade his law partners of the power of innovation in technology to attract an audience of ideal clients. If fact, his law blog was one of the first—and one of a kind.
Today, Ernie the Attorney shares with his clients, and other attorneys, how the right combination of systems, automation and outsourcing can help you create your dream practice and run it from anywhere in the world.
In this episode, we discuss some of Ernie’s top technology must-haves to attract, retain and serve new clients while still enjoying the work you love. We also discuss…
- Automation tricks that can save you hours of time
- The scheduling tool every lawyer needs
- 3+ reasons you should start a podcast
- How to set up a remote office your clients will love
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm, so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Ernie Svenson and also known as Ernie the attorney. Ernie is the founder of law firm autopilot, a program that helps lawyers work less and earn more. He’s also a speaker, author, and fellow podcaster. So welcome, Ernie. I’m so happy to have you here today on the wealth woman lawyer podcast.
Ernie Svenson: Thank you for having me. I’m really excited about this.
Davina Frederick: So tell me I’m a fan I’ve been following you for a long time now I love to listen to your podcast. So tell me a give me a little bit of background though and talk to me about how your life as an attorney Me and your career attorney before you got free creative law firm autopilot sort of give me the story and lead us there.
Ernie Svenson: Yeah, sure. Um, yes, I worked in a big law firm for about 20 years after graduating from law school and clerking for a federal judge for a couple of years. And I thought this was going to be the most amazing thing in the world. You know, I was I know, nobody in my family had been a lawyer. And the idea of working in the 48th floor of a building with fancy resources and paralegals and secretaries, and it was like, I won the lottery. And it was in 1982, when I graduated No, yeah, at 95 when I graduate, and you know, things are blowing and go in firms were hiring, they’re paying top dollar. And so everything was great and had a good time.
But then, you know, once you started settling into the practice, you know, the shiny stuff didn’t seem so shiny and really, I was messing around with technology. I liked computers, I thought they can be useful and so It was kind of a hobby, but then I, the more I used them, the real more I realized like this was a pathway to efficiency. And about the time I was starting to get dis dismayed with how I practice and the practice felt bureaucratic, you know, big, firm, high billable hour high overhead, you know, people were nice, but it was just, you know, a lot more work, to do things that I thought could be done simpler and more efficiently. And of course, when you look at how they can be done on the computer, that was a big contrast. And I started being paperless because a friend of mine showed me how to scan documents. And I just did, I thought for sure, now I won the lottery for sure.
Because I was like, wait a minute, I can do all this stuff faster, better, more reliably, using a machine and why would I do that? And so I tried to evangelize this within the firm. But nobody was really listening. In fact, I mean, not everyone but one person even told me like, why would we want to be more efficient than we can’t park your clients. You know, as much as I can. That’s a little cynical. And but then around that time clients were getting pickier about their bills. And I thought, well, clients want efficiency. clients use technology. Maybe I could leave the firm and do this on my own. But I was afraid because I didn’t know how to market. But then I started a web blog in 2002, that started getting a lot of attention. And people were seeking me out and trying to hire me. I was like, wait a minute, this technology stuff is even better than I imagined. So I went out on my own started my own practice. I was afraid, you know because I wasn’t sure it was all going to work. But it did. And I was much happier. And then I started showing a few friends how I did it, because they were like, Wait, how do you do this? And then it was a few more people. It was a dozen people and I was invited to speak around the country. And it just became a full-time job, which is what I do now.
Davina: Wow. That’s amazing. That’s wonderful. Tell me what area you were practicing. And when you went out on your own what you’ve been doing.
Ernie: Yeah, I was doing the same thing. Yeah, you know, not totally. I mean, I was doing commercial litigation. You know, that could run the gamut in the big firm from antitrust cases, which is not the kind of thing you can handle by yourself. But if it was anything, you know, used to be the barrier was too many documents was a case you couldn’t handle by yourself. But once I learned how to be paperless, I didn’t need any paralegals. And I actually could do a better job once I had the systems in place and the tools to manage those documents myself, so I actually did a better job for lower cost, enjoyed it more. And, you know, as long as it was a case I can handle by myself or partner up with somebody to do which I did, you know, and that was great because I pick people based on whoever was the best attorney to handle that kind of case. Instead of like, Well, I have to use somebody that’s in the building who’s available but not necessarily the one I want to work with the most. So everything about my practice got better.
Davina: Yeah, I understand that. Have you always been a techie? I mean, are you a tech? Are you a tech guy? And you’ve always kind of been that way? Or was this something that that kind of came with time or what?
Ernie: You know, it’s funny, I don’t, I don’t think of myself as a techie. And I just came back from this conference, which was for entrepreneurs. And the guy began by explaining where, you know, we’re all entrepreneurs. I was like, No, I’m not really an entrepreneur. But then I realized the definition of an entrepreneur, that’s what I am, like, there are people, you know, the end of the spectrum is bureaucrats. And then there’s the other end is entrepreneurs bureaucrats, like, yeah, let’s just keep doing it the same way nine to five, don’t ask any questions. At the other end are people who are saying, you know, I think there’s a better way to do this, and maybe I’ll do it myself. Maybe I’ll build it. And I think that’s what I am. I think technology was just a vehicle through which I expressed that desire to learn how to do things better. I didn’t say no to it. I was willing to experiment with it. But that’s true of other things in my life, and I don’t consider myself inherently obsessed with technology, the way other people that I admire are Learn from them because they are inherently obsessed about it. I’m not I just want to know how to do things better, faster, and more reliably and technology if you use it. Right. And that’s, you know, underscore user, right? allows you to do that.
Davina: Would you consider yourself to be an innovator because that’s kind of the word that comes to mind. For me, the way you described it, as I think entrepreneurs kind of are, you know, if they’re, if they’re true entrepreneurs, they’re always looking for ways to innovate and do things, you know, in a, in a different, maybe more efficient way. Like, would you talk about her way to get, especially if you’re, if it’s just you, you’re always looking for ways you can get more done in less time? You know, so that you have we’re available creative resources and stuff like that, right?
Ernie: Oh, yeah, for sure. No, I agree. Yeah, I mean, innovation is definitely the thing that I focus on, and I guess it’s just, you know, I don’t know why that’s what matters to me, but it does. I guess the people who had the biggest impact in my life, you know, as far as mentoring or people who helped me see that that was a thing you could do because, in school, I was not a good student in school, I did not like school, because that, to me was the ultimate bureaucratic, you know, the hornet’s nest. It was just like, do it this way. Don’t ask questions. And I just didn’t like doing things without knowing why they would be beneficial. And math was particularly problematic for me because it’s just a bunch of formulas and do this and don’t, you know, worry about it. But then when I got to high school, and I took physics, and there was an interesting problem, and I said, Oh, okay, well, you could use math for an interesting problem. Then I became interested and rapidly taught myself all this stuff that I was supposedly learning years before but didn’t learn. So I can learn things quickly if I care, but I don’t care about things just because they’re what I’m supposed to care about.
Davina: Right? Right. So you’re a little bit of a rebel, I guess.
Ernie: Other people Certainly pegged me like that so not an open, you know, violent, you know, Che Guevara kind of way but a quiet passive-aggressively, I guess.
Davina: Right? You don’t do things just because somebody else makes the rules and says, These are the rules you have to follow. So tell me about how you came. You said you came to do a law firm autopilot. Well, there are a couple of days that you came to do came to doing it because people were just started asking you, what are you doing? You know, you’re doing these cool things over here. What are you doing? But then also, you said that you started out blogging, and you actually started doing that while you were working for the firm still. And you’re an early blogger, you’re a pioneer in blogging. Really? Do you How long?
Ernie: Since 2002? march of 2002. Yeah, I was supposedly the fifth lawyer blogger out there.
Davina: Oh, wow. So tell me the kinds of things that sparked you to do a blog and tell me the kinds of things that you talked about and what came out of that for you?
Ernie: Well, I started blogging because I had been learning about technology and becoming paperless. And there was a fellow who was a lawyer who was in a group of, you know, an online discussion group. He came to New Orleans. And you know, he was he had a tool, test automation tool that I was using, and he said, you know, let’s go, let’s go meet each other and go to dinner, whatever. And we did. And he showed me this thing called the blog and I was like, What is this? This is crazy. And we went to a restaurant in New Orleans that, you know, was a very old school family restaurant, they only took cash they took him. It was just not the kind of restaurant that I would have ever in my life imagined at that point would have had a website. And he in his blog post about his visit to New Orleans, linked to those restaurants like wait a minute, said Mars has a website that I need to start checking out this website. stuff. More and the blog software was an easy way to do it because it eliminated the need to go get hosting and all this complexity that previously, you know, was a barrier to entry for having a website. So I said, Okay, I can try this for, you know, 30 days for free, fine, I’ll try it. And I did and I called it Ernie, the attorney because it was a magistrate who’d been a mentor to me, who had passed away at a young age and she used to call me only the attorney and I just thought, okay, whatever, I’ll just call it that. That reminds me of the show. And, and, weirdly, that became, you know, a marketing genius move, right? It was like the Mr. Magoo School of marketing, like completely blind, dumb luck. And but it attracted the attention of all kinds of people. Eventually the ABA, you know, people invited me to speak. And, you know, down the road, people are trying to hire me because they liked me. And that was the weirdest thing was like the realization that all this marketing stuff that you were supposed to do, which I just assumed, you know, I didn’t Want to do it, I didn’t understand it, it seemed like too much trouble to me to go to a bunch of networking events and meet a bunch of people, and hope that you know, 1% of them would send you business. All of a sudden, I could speak to the world and people were like begging me to take them on. It’s like, wow, this is crazy. And $40 a year, you know, this is wonderful. So
Davina: yeah, positioning yourself as an expert is so powerful and, and doing things to increase your, your visibility, and now in the social media world, it’s more important than ever. And I worked for an agency in the 90s. And we were developing websites for people. And that was a very new thing. And it and it was just it was, you know, people couldn’t understand what is this website thing I’ve got to have. And then after a while, it was like, well, I gotta have a website because they have a website. And then for you know, and everybody was doing websites and stuff and then you know, it’s been so fun to watch the evolution of web sites to blogs and more interactive features and social media and how that drives that. But one of the most powerful tools is still email marketing. And I know that’s something you’re an advocate of I am too. I talked to my clients about email marketing all the time. And I’m like, just you have this existing list of people out there who’ve done work with you. Why are you not continuing to communicate with them and remind them that you’re out there for every one of these is very powerful me, I was listening to one of your podcast episodes, and you were talking with an attorney, friend of yours? I don’t know if it has been a client or if it was a colleague. And you’re and you said that he told you he didn’t buy into the whole newsletter thing at first. You know what, you betcha. What did he say?
Ernie: Well so it was I had it I discovered you know, marketing because I was sending out my blog post automated Lee through you know, something that gathered the RSS and I thought, well, that’s, you know, that’s great. I’m done. You know this is easy. I’ve automated this and, but then I started realizing there were people who were actually writing emails and, you know, being more thoughtful and saying, you know, maybe linking to their blog posts, but not just dumping their blog posts into an email. And when I started doing this, all of a sudden, my list grew. I was like, This is and people recontacting Moore’s like, oh, okay, this is, can see, I didn’t, I had never studied marketing. So then there’s around this point, I realized, like, wait a minute, maybe I better go back to the drawing board and just act like I’m a complete newbie, and not assume I know things, you know, and see what I can find out. And email marketing was like the number one low cost most powerful way and especially if you’re talking about emailing people that already know you, like you and trust you. So in other words, referral marketing by sending emails, which was super easy and powerful. So I told my friend, what I was doing. And you know, he was the fellow that we started the company together to do CLE programs and things. And so he was open mind and I figured, you know, just tell him and he’ll get it. He’s like, not That seems like it wouldn’t work. I’m like, No, Dane, trust me this works. And he said, Why? And I’m kind of lazy. I don’t even want to write an email. And I said we’ll just take your blog posts that you write for of the month and just, you know, link to them. And he goes, You think that’ll work? I’m like, trust me, it’ll work. And he did it. And then we had lunch a couple of weeks later, you know, maybe a couple months later, and I said, so Dane, how’s it going? He goes, Oh, my God. It’s the most amazing thing in the world because I send the email on Friday. By Monday, I’ve gotten a bunch of new cases. And so it became a joke. Every time we go to lunch, I needle him about it, I’d say so how’s it working? He go, okay. Okay, enough already. And one day we recorded a video and that was when I realized like, this is the low-cost powerful way to market. websites are good too, but they didn’t require more effort and people have trouble wrapping their heads around it. Everybody’s used to setting emails so that now I evangelical thing.
Davina: Yeah, also with websites so you, your websites don’t work. If you just create them and set them out, you have to drive traffic to the right, you know, you have to drive traffic to them. Whereas with email, there it is right there in your inbox. And even today, you talk to internet marketers, they’ll still tell you, it is the number one way that they get new businesses, new clients, even though I know a lot of attorneys are skeptical because I know they say to me, I’m sure they say to you the same thing. Well, I get so many emails in my inbox, and I don’t read them all. And I don’t see them all. But you know, so I just feel like I’m spamming people. That’s what I hear a lot. I’m like, You don’t understand. If somebody is looking for the kind of services you offer, you just want to be in front of their face every day. So when they hit that point where they go, Oh, wow. So you know, I have this need. I know who I’ll call because it’s just like, it’s like if you went to your weekly bi meeting with them. Yeah, your weekly meeting. So except for you don’t have to get all dressed up and drive. A couple of flowers, you know, spend all that time and take breakfast and be there every week, you’re just sending that email out. So it’s an awesome, awesome way to use technology. Tell me some of your other favorite technology tools that you really like that or you’re a big fan of for lawyers.
Ernie: Yeah, so I’m so I think there’s a lot of options out there. I guess, after you know, over a dozen years of helping lots of different kinds of lawyers with different kinds of practices all over the place. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what is like the core essential things that I can confidently recommend and have the most number of people get a benefit from because that’s, you know, that’s, I can serve more people that way. So I think about this a lot. And at first, I used to give out shiny object things like oh, this is low hanging fruit, you know, you can really get a quick win with this. And then I realized like there’s an inverse relationship between quick win easy to implement an impactful, and so not that it has to be hard. But like, I think that automating your scheduling is something that every lawyer needs to do. And I know you use acuity because that’s how we schedule this. Right? And you know, those things weren’t out there 10 years ago, maybe but now you can. You can use these tools, Acuity, Calendly, scheduling lunch, whichever one you want to use. I use acuity, you know, you use acuity and acuity is great. And so now you’re not going back and forth with scheduling stuff. That’s automating your scheduling. And, you know, takes a little while to wrap your head around how it’s exactly going to benefit you. But it is one of those things that I can guarantee every single person who uses it is going to have this major epiphany like oh my god, this is the greatest thing in the world. And then you would never go back to scheduling the old way. Once you’ve used this method.
Davina: Yeah, you don’t go forth with emails going. What are you available now? I’m not available then where are you available? What am I not me? But you know, Attorney have so much fear around that because they have this idea that everybody’s just going to wreak havoc on their schedule,
Ernie: And that’s what I mean by wrapping your head around it. And this is where, you know, I think I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to coax attorneys across that, you know, negativity barrier that they have for trying new things. And I mean, basically, that’s, you know, my secret weapon is I’ll try anything, you know, just to see if it works, right. And if it doesn’t work, I discard it. But a lot of people have this weird feeling like you’re committing your entire life if you try something. And, you know, if you try something like this for 30 days, you’re not going to go back to doing it the old way. It’s just like when people used to say about paperless, like, why should I be paperless? I’m like, trust me when you get rid of the paper that’s driving you back or holding you back. Your no one has ever said, Oh my God, I’ve achieved paperless. You know what, I’m tired of this. I’m going to go back to that old way of being inefficient. It’s just, there’s certain kinds of efficiency that people don’t go the other direction as You know, horses, and carriages were great. But once cars came around, you don’t see people saying, you know, I’m gonna go back to the horse and carry saying it was just so so.
Davina: Yeah, can you imagine like on the interstate, you are driving down the road, you’re, you know, you really are ahead of the curve in embracing technology. And now you’re starting to see I know, I’m in some a lot of women’s lawyers, groups, lawyers, groups, I’m sure you are, too on social media, where you’re starting to see a lot of younger lawyers and my younger I mean, you know, I’m 55. So I’ve almost 75 So, you know, I mean, people in their 30s and 40s, who are really embracing just this whole concept of virtual practice, and ways to work remotely. And I remember when I decided that I was going to work remotely and I was not going to have an office where I met clients. I had an attorney say to me, I had to Several different journeys say several things. But I had an attorney that said to me, oh, your clients are not going to like that your clients are not going to like, you not having this office. Now, his agenda was he was trying to get me to rent out at a very high price an office in his building that he bought. So I knew what his agenda was. But you know, it puts that plant that little seed of fear in you and you’re already you know, experimenting and try something. But it’s amazing how many attorneys you see now doing this and it’s really working.
Ernie: Yeah, no, totally. And I had people tell me kind of the same thing, as well. But the thing about, you know, human nature is really the thing that you want me to take stock of because, and this is where I really had to step back and realize that, you know, I wanted to help people. I needed to realize what was holding them back and it wasn’t, you know, that they didn’t understand the technology that that was part of it, but it was fear of change. You know, a whole bunch of things that kick in they are just hardwired into us. And, you know, people, when you tell people, you’re going to try something new, it threatens them. This is another thing I’ve discovered, even if they aren’t going to have to participate in it. That’s the level of fear that we have hardwired into our limbic system about change. And so, you know, I, I think that’s a valid point to say, you know, you might find that clients don’t want to engage with you that way. But how do you really know that? See the problem? Everything holds us all back the most is assumptions about how other people think. Right? Like in marketing, this is like the number you know, I’m sure you know, this, like when I discovered marketing, I was like, Okay, well, okay, we’re trying to communicate a message to somebody, and we figure out what they want to hear. And we tell them in a way that resonates with them. And then they understand and you go to people and you tell them, yeah, so we’re going to try this and they go, well, that wouldn’t work because that will work on me. And I’m like, you’re not the person we’re trying to reach.
Right like You, you know, you have to figure out what your clients, how do they see the world? You know, and you should know this anyway, as a lawyer, you should we should all know this, figure out how other people see the world, and our lives will be much more effective. But if you walk around assuming that how you think is how other people think, then you know, you’re gonna have more trouble.
Davina: Right, right. And, you know, I know that. Now, obviously, this is a broad generalization, but you know, attorneys, we, we think, a certain way and what we can apply, we can apply those kinds of thoughts to cases and clients when we’re trying, we’re looking at all the sides and we’re doing your research. And we’re saying, well, let’s try this strategy, or let’s try that method. Or let’s give this advice. Let’s see, let’s push the envelope and see what we can do. But when it comes to our businesses, oftentimes we see just a lot of fear holding us back and we don’t, and it’s like we take that open mind I did research-minded brain. And we just put it on a shelf someplace that we go, Oh, I can’t, you know, I see this one thing and I go, Oh, no, I can’t do that as opposed to, well, let’s go dig into this and, and learn more about it and give it a try and see what happens, you know, and everything in it. I think it’s just because, you know, people it’s judgment, you know, people fear that they’re being on that leading edge and what people are going to say about them and what if they’re wrong? We can’t be wrong. Yeah, we’ll make an argument for it.
Ernie: But I also think it’s just like the limbic system like hardwired into our brain. The reason there’s a logical survival reason for being afraid of change, like, you know, if you try too many new things, you can kill yourself. So but that’s, you know, you’re not going to kill yourself with technology, and yet, the limbic system has that kind of thing that just drives us that way. And I found one of the things that I find really interesting to lawyers and we go to law school for three years. We’re probably Being badgered and you know, bullied by professors who tell us you know, never make any assumptions. Think different. Think outside the box question everything question. Okay, what, what do we do? The first thing we get out of law school is, Hey, you got a forum for that. Oh, it’s been around since the time of Oliver Cromwell. Sure. I’ll just copy and paste it. Right. Because it’s, yeah, it’s easy and like, so we go right into thinking inside the box and not questioning anything. And that gets you into trouble. But we keep doing it not because we’re bad lawyers, because lawyers are different. It’s because lawyers are like everybody else. Me, right. You know, you can’t be out of humans, through three years of law school training, the strong tendency to want to do things, the way everyone else is doing them and the way that they’ve been done, always forever.
Davina: In fact, I’d add to that being an attorney there’s even more you’re, you’re afraid of doing things because you have the feeling that You know, this is the way it’s always been done. And there’s a long history of doing this way. And if I, if I do something, then there could be consequences. We were very aware of consequences, because what we do, and I mean, it’s one of those jobs where you feel like, I know, in my first couple of years of practicing, I was always like, afraid I was just gonna have to give that card back at any moment, you know, I was gonna make some big misstep and, and have to, you know, turn in my bar card and just be done with it. So, you know, it’s a stressful kind of job, to begin with. And then you had to that layer of running your own business, which is, you know, really nerve-racking being an entrepreneur running your own business. It really gets more complicated, you know, for people in their minds. So, you know, terror can be a terrifying thing for people, you know, ah, but we’re so fortunate to live in a time when we have some Many great technological tools available to us to allow us to have more time and money freedom than ever, you know? Yeah. Tell me some of your other favorites. I know you and I’ve talked about, we talked about TextExpander is something else I learned for actually listening to your show about the touchscreen. And tell me about that.
Tools Of The Trade
Ernie: Yeah, so that’s another one that’s hard for people to wrap their head around. Because, you know, the analogy is, it’s a macro tool, right? Like if people are familiar with that, like in word or Word Perfect. You have a macro, and usually, it’s a keyboard combination. And then something happens, it’s automatic and amazing. And, but the problem with that is, you know, that macro that that automation will only work inside of one program. What if there was a tool that will allow you to create macros, texts, expansion, forums, whatever, and have that happen anywhere. That would be better because then you’d only have to learn at once. It will work everywhere. And there are all kinds of cool things that can happen. You kind of have to see it done and see all the possibilities. And I’ve just learned that you know, lawyers have trouble wrapping their head around it. But the ones who do and the ones who start using it, it becomes another one of those things. And this for me is the acid test. Like when you learn how to use this thing, would you go back to not use it? The answer is no. Any lawyer once they get over that hump, like oh, my God, I can’t use a computer without TextExpander. And it’s simple little things. Like for example, if I need to type my email address, my little characters that I type, but if it’s my personal email address, I would type at symbol s, I hit the spacebar and then it automatically expands out to Ernie at an expensive calm. If I need to type the one for law from the autopilot. It’s at LFA and it goes Ernie, a law firm autopilots icon. If I do this, I will never make a typo in any of these email addresses. So I’ll never have somebody telling me Wait, you know, your email just didn’t work. I’m going to have a type of If I try to type it myself every time, it’s annoying, it’s drudgery. So you’re automating what would be drudgery and making it happen faster, more reliably. And that’s, you know, an email address, you can have it create. And I used to do this. When I was in my solo practice, my clients would come in and I used to dread having to send them the engagement letter, because it’s like, I had to go finish this engagement letter, and I’m going to send it to them attach its big production right? Now I just type you know, a new client and all of a sudden would spit out this thing. And then I would put in the name of the client because it would pop you know, has this level of sophistication. You put in the name of the client but in the defendant the matter. Decide how much you want to charge, put that in there, put in the retainer amount put in the paralegal not and it just spits out this multi-page document in seconds. And that gives you joy. Not Yeah, you don’t feel a burden, you feel joy, like oh my god, I accomplished a lot. And then that client feels like you gave them this really sophisticated really quickly. And that’s the power of automation, right? And lawyers are creating text all the time. That’s pretty much all we do. Right? And so why not automate as much of that as possible?
Davina: Right? Right. That’s awesome. Tell me what kind of technology you are because I know you’re always learning something new. What is something you’re playing with right now that’s new to you, that you’re trying to learn more about?
Ernie: The thing I’m trying to learn more about is something really arcane. So that you know, I went to this conference in Nashville. That’s, you know, by this company called Click Funnels, and it was all about funnel hacking. What’s interesting to me, is there a couple of lawyers there who are using it for their practice and one fellow, Sam Molly, who’s it. He does business type work in Los Angeles. And he was being honored for being the, you know, a little you know, one of the people who made a million dollars In the past year and their business using this tool, and it’s a marketing tool, and it basically allows you to, to, if you didn’t have a website, you could use Click Funnels as your website. But even if you have a website, and you want to market and you start doing any kind of online marketing, you know, there’s the thing of, Okay, let’s offer a free guide book or something and then the opt-in my email list. But if they opt-in, if I have something to sell them, I could sell it to them. And there are lawyers now out there who are creating online courses is a lawyer named Joey Vitale, who’s in the maximum lawyer group who’s super cool. And if, you know, I hold those folks up as examples of how to take an element of your practice, where you are repeatedly explaining to people, for example, something in the case of Joey Vitale, he’s a trademark lawyer. And so he has to go through this whole song and dance with a new client about why you should have a trademark for your business and he’s given this explanation thousands of times well, now he’s putting into a course. And in the course you pay for it costs, let’s say, for 95, I think is a number, then you get all these videos were, which are high production value, he’s explaining it, he’s taken a lot of extra effort, he probably this is the best explanation he’s ever given because he’s realizing he’s going to monetize it. And then he comes, he says, If you buy this course, and you want me to do it for you, which you know, you can show you how to do it. But if you want me to do it for you, I’ll apply the price of the course, against what you would pay me to do it. So you know, what a wonderful thing like you want to try to do it on your own great, you saved my butt. If you want me to do it. I won’t penalize you for having bought the course. I’ll just build it now. He doesn’t have to explain to those people. All that stuff. You’d have to explain to them anyway. So that part I find really fascinating that that’s taking place in the practice of law and that more lawyers are using it.
Davina: Yeah, that is really fascinating. That is one thing where I talk to my clients about leverage. And looking for ways, you know, it’s easy for us as an internet marketer, you know, like people who are coaching and teaching and stuff like that there are already so many existing models out there of how we can create courses and how we can take our knowledge information online. But I think that for attorneys, there’s always this sort of question of, you know, how am I How can I take what I know, and put it out there and still be within ethical guidelines, and, you know, do all that so to see some examples like Joey Metalia know, you’re talking about affordance looked up as ever, you know, stuff. And to see that there are people out there who are doing it, and they’re doing it in a way where they’re not having to create another career for themselves. They can still be attorneys. They still are lawyers, but also finding other ways to serve their clients and leverage what they know Get their time back, you know and increase their wealth.
Ernie: Yeah, totally. And it’s kind of interesting because you know when like Legal Zoom came in and avo and you know, the bar associations got all up in arms about oh my god, these people are practicing law without a license. They’re enabling people. Okay, but the problem with that is it that’s bureaucratic thinking that’s like this is it’s been done this way, we can’t change it. Instead of Well, let’s see, let’s pick it apart. Let’s think about how we can make this work for it for us, right? Like in the lawyers who thought like that are Joe Vitale, Sam LA. And what happens as a result of this, they personally control the relationship that they have with their client directly, which is what the Bar Association said, they wanted, you know, Legal Zoom or avo to do like, don’t do that referral thing where, you know, oh, okay, so here they are, they’re doing that. Right. And they’re providing more people better service explaining to them better, which of course is always appropriate. fillers, everybody’s happy. Like, why aren’t more lawyers doing this? You know, it’s not so easy. I get that, you know, like there are ethical constraints, right. But it’s not impossible.
Davina: Right? Well, especially when you consider how many lawyers are still doing free or low-cost consultations, you know, you could be you do your consultation in a course. And there you go. And then, by the time somebody’s gone through that, they just click the on a higher you button, you know, and how, how easy is that? Right. So I love that. I love that example. That’s great. Um, you have a conference coming up soon. Yeah. Tell me about that.
Ernie: Yeah, so this is a conference. When I mentioned earlier, my friend Dane when we want you to know, we love technology. And we decided we wanted something like that to be in New Orleans because people New Orleans weren’t going to tech show. So we started creating our own conference and it started with you know, learning how to get approval to UCLA. And it grew and grew and you know, went from half-day to one day today. So for the past 10 years, I guess I’ve been doing this two-day conference. It’s called Small from boot camp, which is completely unimaginative. If I were going to rename it, I would call it something like, you know, legal hackathon or hack your practice or something. But you know, it’s basically an opportunity to be in a room for two days with the best speakers, consultant people that I know. Not all of them. But you know, the ones that I know from having gotten to know who really cares about helping people more than making money, and who will help, you know, help people the most. So if I, when I put all those people into one room and then put lawyers who need their practices to be improved, magic happens. And you know, last time we did, it was 70 people and it was amazing. That was two years ago because we took a year off to you know, work on this online stuff. But we’re doing it again, this time is for 150 people. It’s going to be bigger. more exciting, we got more sponsors, sponsors are carefully vetted. I don’t allow anybody I invite the sponsors. I know the sponsors are not there to fund this event. They’re here to help provide valuable information and to network and they’re good people too. So because I don’t like events where they keep the sponsors like in a petting zoo, and you know, you, you can’t go see them. Except over there. So I so it’s just one big community and I’m, I’m trying to incubate a community online, but I also see that you have to have, you know, people meet each other. That’s better. So the folks in my online programs are coming. And yeah, it’s just going to be a blast.
Davina: Yeah. So you wouldn’t want to go to New Orleans in what may? Is that what it is?
Ernie: Yeah, it’s an early May, May 7, and eighth, which is a Thursday, Friday, and we have a really great hotel, we changed the hotel we used to do that. The other one was, you know, nice and everything but it had a higher room rate. This one has a room rate that’s more in line with the kind of folks I’m trying to help It’s $129 a night, but it’s a super nice place and breakfast is included lunches included, we have a cocktail reception that’s included. And so it’s there’s a lot of value. It’s $850 at the current price of the early bird price, and you can barely get CLE credit, you know, for that. That probably said we are providing CLE credit as well. So how well hours of CLE credit, you know, meet a lot of people have fun in New Orleans where there’s good food, you know? Yeah, yeah, it’s a good time here to do that, too. Yeah. That sounds wonderful. So, tell me what, what exciting thing do you have planned for your future at law for autopilot? Well, that’s, you know, that’s it. Like I’m trying to be a community builder. I think the maximum lawyer guys are doing that. And that’s great. And I think that that role used to be exclusively the Bar Association role and me in great bar associations that help people But you, an individual or group of people who want to create a community can do that pretty fast. And in some ways more effectively. My focus is on the technology part, and marketing, online marketing. And I just want to bring people together so that they can all help each other because I don’t know everything. I mean, I know, I have instincts, you know, I know who are the good people, and what are the likely good options. And I can provide strategic guidance, and in some cases, you know, one specific guidance, but I feel like my best role is to take the people I’ve gotten to know and put them together and they are happy to do it. It’s not like they feel burdened, or like, Oh, that’s great, because those are, that’s how they are. But doesn’t the best people, the ones you’re like, yeah, you’re doing something to help people. I want to help people too. And we all just help people, but not everybody likes that. And that’s my, that’s the thing that I look at, I think this needs there needs to be more of this and less of that thing where it’s just transactional and opportunistic and you know, that’s Big conferences are fine, you know, to some extent, but again, I looked at the way conferences were done and I thought, I don’t know, I feel like they could be done better and that dry, dry, dry.
Davina: Yeah, big conferences to you, oftentimes you, you go with hopes to some of the larger conferences thinking, Oh, I’m going to get to really know some people and have conversations and you might have conversations with a few people here and there. But it can also be so big and overwhelming, where you just basically are gathering information, you wind up with a bag full of stuff, and then you go home and, and sort it out and see what have I got here as opposed to really making those connections and getting to know people. I think it’s always good when we can get attorneys together to talk about law firm owners to talk about the business of law, and not just about, you know, the legal there are so many resources out there for attorneys to get better at their practice and get better at knowing the law in their area and really develop that deep knowledge and, and that’s critically important, you know, to do that as well. But it can be the path of least resistance for a lot of attorneys to just focus on that. And if you have started your own business, you’ve decided you’ve made a decision then to not only be an attorney but also be a business owner and an entrepreneur. And that requires a different, different community sometimes to help you.
Working On Your Business
Ernie: You need to work on your business, it’s your thing from The E Myth, you know, you need to work on your business to grow it. And so the trick about working on your businesses, when there are all these daily distractions and competing, you know, priorities, it gets really hard to work on your business, but when you can go to a place and spend two days at a conference with other lawyers who are all there with that same mindset of they’re working on their business. That’s when the magic is happening because you’re all there helping each other and In that way, and you know, it frees you from the distractions it gives you, it gives you confidence. It gives you just all kinds of really great things happen when you come, you know, to those kinds of conferences. And also one last thing about my particular one, this is one of those things that when I first did this, people told me, this is crazy, don’t do that. And I was a little afraid, but I did it. And it was I told people to look if you sign up, and you can’t come for any reason later on, because something happens, whatever, you know, you don’t have to tell me the reason. I’ll just give you all your money back and be like, what, no way that doesn’t make any sense. People will, you know, you’ll have a bunch of requests for refunds at the last minute. I said, Well if I do that I’m just not doing something right. And the only time people ever asked for the money back, which they did was because they faced a crisis. And they were telling me and they would say thank you so much. And then they would immediately say, Well, can I apply it to next year like no, that’s not going to work because, you know, just give you the money back but I don’t Feel like if you could put it on a good conference, why don’t give people their money back? And besides, if you sell out which this will, then you’re not going to worry about it because you just go Okay, well, fine. I’ll just fill that in with somebody else. So I don’t know, I just, I just think there’s this, all this stuff can be done better. And it’s being done better by folks like the maximum warrior group. They have their own conference, which I definitely recommend people check out. That one’s in St. Louis, which is another great city. So there are people doing cool stuff. And I think it’d be great if more of them do more cool stuff. But that’s my theory on how to do it.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. No, I love that. And you gain an enormous amount of goodwill to when you, you know, look at somebody who’s in crisis and has a situation I mean,
Ernie: Yeah, right, right. I mean, you know,
Davina: Yeah, just make sense. Tell me. Let’s talk a little bit before we have to wrap up here. Let’s talk a little bit about podcasting. Because, yeah, you and I both love podcasting and I’ve been doing it for a little over a year. Now. And you’ve been doing it for how long?
Ernie: A little over a year?
Davina: Yeah, yeah. So about the same amount of time and what kinds of benefits have podcasting brought for you?
Ernie: Oh, my God, it’s, you know, it’s one of these things. And so one of the people is kind of the boot camp is his friend of mine, Mike him whose personal brand, guy and he has he had a podcast, we were in a mastermind group one time, and he was like, Look, Ernie, you know, you really should have a podcast and I’m like, I’m already blogging. I have all this other stuff. I mean, how much more is that going to benefit? He said, I’m just telling you, you know, it creates an intimate conversation. It’s just a whole different thing. And he said it’s really kind of easy to do once you set it up. And I had trouble figuring out I mean, I tried me just and I have had perfectionism about it. And then he introduced me to this fellow named Danny Asmin. Who’s now my producer was my producer. And Danny said, No, I’ll just do it for you. Here’s how much I charge, you know, X amount per month and I’m like, Okay, well, you know, and you do everything and easy, I take out all the arms and ahhs. Thank you smarter, you know, as a great, then all I have to do is blabbering to a microphone and send you the file. Yes, yep, that’s it. I’m like, Okay, I’ll try this and I wasn’t sure it would pay off. But oh my god, I mean, the people who find me through the podcast and talk to me about what they’ve learned, they connect so much faster. Which makes sense to me. Now that I realized it’s true and I think about it, but at the time for some reason, I had trouble wrapping my head.
Davina: Right, right. Right. Well, there you go there and but you tried it, you didn’t let that stop you and that for me, it was the same I had. I had a business advisor for quite a while tell me I really start podcasting. Emily. Really, really do people you know, are people really listening to a podcast ever? And then, of course, you know, being in the podcasting world now. There are so many lawyers who are podcasting and a, and you’re seeing a lot of law you know, podcasts out there and I listened to, you know, all my list as many as I can possibly Listen to me, you know, it’s not enough. time of the day, read all the books I’ve ever read and listened to all the podcasts I listened to, but and it’s, it’s been, you know, go back How long you been in the business, how long you been an attorney, how long you been? Your marketing or whatever, you listen to other podcasts and you always learn something like, oh, thank you to write that down. I need to make a note of that, or that was really cool, or I had thought of it that way. And so I I really, I really enjoyed it a lot. And, of course, the conversations that you get to have with people is fun as a podcaster. Yeah, you know, because then you get to have conversations with some really fun people early. I finally get to put my journalism degree to use. Right, right. Yeah. You know, I mean, is that been your experience early?
Ernie: Good. Yeah. People is it expand your network, you manage your network getting, you know, people have reached out to me to try to be on the podcast and if I said yes, More than I would have expanded my network, but I guess I haven’t accepted those invitations as much. But I did have somebody who listened to my podcast and like the email referral marketing thing. And she reached out and said, I’m doing this and it’s really beneficial. And so let’s talk. We talked on the phone, I said, Oh, wait a second. You need to be a guest on the podcast. And her name is Erica Pero. I betcha she listens to this podcast. And, and we just recorded it’s going to go live in a couple of weeks. And that’s an example of Yeah, I wouldn’t have met her and, you know, allowed her to share her story, which I think helps other people learn so I’m just I guess that’s going to happen more often now. Yeah, yeah. Do it for a year, but that’s,
Davina: yeah, for sure. I think you people at first don’t know what it’s all about. And they hear a few and they’re like, I don’t know. But then as time goes along, people start getting more excited about it and things like that. I for me, it’s been wonderful because I have so many social connections on social media. And one of the things that are, you know, the hat where it has its limitation is when you’ve got thousands of people you’re connected to How well do you get to know people, right? You see my an algorithm, select who’s in your feed and that kind of thing. And so what’s wonderful for me because I’ve connected so many women, law firm owners, attorneys, is that and you know, mine is a wealthy woman lawyer. So I do focus on women. But what has been wonderful for me is to be able to really get to know those people and have an excuse or reason to say, hey, let’s have a conversation. You know, and I think about four attorneys, how powerful that could be if they could find a subject, you know, that they could talk about in a way that they could talk about it in a way that makes them feel comfortable, how powerful that could be for the business.
Ernie: Will you connected me up through your podcasts, this is the thing about social media if you started using it You start to experience what happens to you connected me back up with somebody that had clerked in federal court with me at least buoy you know. So at least clerk, same building as me for a different judge. And then, you know, I heard that she was on your podcast and that should mention me and so I listened. I was like, oh, wow, I hadn’t talked to I haven’t talked to Elise in a long time. Because I felt like I was having a conversation with her through you know what she was doing in her practice, like, Oh my god, that’s so cool with Elise is doing that’s wonderful, you know, but I wouldn’t have known that. Had it not been for your podcast, and I got to hear it in the perfect way, which was a conversation.
Davina: Right, right. And she’s just, she’s a wonderful podcast goes to because she’s just so delightful. She’s so delightful, to begin with. And then also, she’s a seeker you know, she’s always seeking knowledge and information. And it’s fun to go on that journey with her to talk about those types of things. If you are curious. Um, I did as I know you are and I, it’s really fun to have conversations with other people who are like that, because then you get to go on that journey with them and, and discuss things, you know, that are just, you know, rattling around in your head, these ideas that you have and stuff. So she was a great guest, and she actually is one who turned me on to your podcast as well. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So I really appreciate you being here today. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about how we can find out more information about you and the upcoming conference and all that kind of stuff.
Ernie: I’m super easy to find. If you want to find out more about me, I just google Ernie attorney or earning, you’ll find my main website. And that’ll get you started. I have, you know, a great 10-page compendium of my best tech tips. And if you get that, you know, you’ll be on the email list. You’ll hear about all the stuff I’m doing. But you can also go to the law firm autopilot website and that has the link to the boot camp under live events menu option at the top there. And yeah, man, we’d love to have anybody there who is interested in coming to New Orleans and hanging out with some fun, folks. And you know this early bird discount pricing and anything we can do to make it easier for you to come, just let us know. We’re here to help.
Davina: You have to go. I Love New Orleans.
Ernie: Yeah, I’ll send you a link and give you some special bonuses and stuff to show you
Davina: How terrific. He needs to be fabulous. Well thank you so much for being here and I really appreciate it and I really enjoyed it today for a lot of fun. Great conversation.
Ernie: Thank you so much.