On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer® Podcast, we welcome attorney Joan Wilson, Managing Partner of the all female firm of RWC, LLC. Joan received her law degree from Boston University School of Law. She is the President Elect of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and is one of 15 attorneys chosen by the Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Company (CATIC) to serve on its advisory committee.

Today, we sit down with Joan to talk about the twists and turns in her journey to law school, the strategies she employs to help her achieve her goals, as well as: 

  • The no compromises “real” way to set your firm apart
  • The big leap of faith that led to her success 
  • The 3 hidden benefits of networking (you might be missing these)
  • And more…

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

  • RWC, LLC

Transcript

Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. We believe all women lawyers deserve to be wealthy women lawyers. 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 so excited for you to meet our guest today, so let’s get started. 

Joan Reed Wilson is the managing partner of Reed Wilson Case, a 100% female owned and operated Connecticut based law firm that focuses on estate planning, elder law, probate and real estate. Joan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Lehigh University in 1992, and her law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1997, where she served as editor in chief of the American Journal of Law and Medicine. Joan is the vice president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Academy of elder law attorneys, an active member of the Elder Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and accredited with the she’s accredited with the Veterans Administration to assist clients with obtaining aid and assistant attendant sorry, benefits for long term care needs. 

She’s one of 15 attorneys in Connecticut chosen by the Connecticut attorneys title insurance company to serve on its Advisory Committee, and she is trained in elder law mediation and serves on the board of the Shoreline Eldercare Alliance. She is incredible. She does so many things. And I am so excited to talk with her today. So welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast, Joan, we’re happy you’re here. 

Joan Wilson: Thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be here. 

Davina: Great. Great. So we got we have a lot of questions for you today, because we’re going to know how you manage to keep all those balls in the air. And obviously, you are a high achieving woman. But before we jump into some of that, let’s talk about, tell me a little bit about your law firm and what your law firm does.

Joan: Sure. So the law firm is like you said, it’s 100% female. There are two attorneys, me and another attorney. And we have five staff members. So there’s seven of us total. We’re based in Middletown, Connecticut. And our main focus here is transaction transactional work, estate planning, which was, you know, the primary practice area that I started in. Elder law. So we help people figure out their long term care needs and Medicaid planning, VA planning, and probate. After someone passes, we help help their family through the probate process. And we also do real estate closings in Connecticut, we need attorneys to work on real estate closings, and that’s been going gangbusters this this particular year. So we’re very busy with that as well. So we have a dedicated paralegal for each of those practice areas and an office manager.

Davina: So you guys are really very full service. And when it comes to, particularly elder law, and the VA, and also, you know, estate planning and probate, you see you’re really providing with that all of that experience in real estate, it’s, you have a lot of expertise. And I know some bar associations don’t want that word expert, but they have a lot of expertise in this area, because you’re really providing, it’s very full service. Some times you see law firms that don’t offer that level, that depth of service.

Joan: Right. And I think it really helps that we do all those practice areas, because a lot of times there might be a real estate closing that is the house is on the market because someone has passed away. And if if the attorney only does real estate closings, and they don’t understand the probate process, there, there could be a hole in that service. So the synergy of our of our different practice areas really, really benefit us and benefit our clients because we can kind of transcend between all those different practice areas when when need be. So I’m very grateful that, you know, my practice has developed into these different practice areas, because I really feel like we can give the clients full service with respect to when they need to do a will or they need to probate something or they need to sell a piece of property. 

And really what I think one of the things that we set ourselves apart from other firms is is the depth of the elder law service that we provide to people because we really do go into what are the different types of services that people might need for long term care. So it’s more than just doing the documents and and providing the the trusts and powers of attorney. We really help people figure out what needs the loved one might have and help them get those needs served and put introduce them to different areas like assisted livings or home care agencies. So it really we kind of try to try to give the big picture because I’d rather not have have any holes in the service that the clients are getting from us.

Davina: Let me ask you this, when you started out with your firm, did you start out with that intention in mind? Did you start out full service? Or did you kind of grow into this? Was this a strategy that you planned? And then you work through it to make it, you know, happen? Or was it something sort of happened organically as you grew?

Joan: Yeah, I was just thinking that same word when you said it, it definitely grew organically. When I first started practicing, I actually was in California, and I worked at a big national firm there. And I was working for major corporations, big hospital corporations, and I hated it. It was miserable. And I was my dream job. And I was so excited to get it and, and then three months in, I realized, this is miserable, I can’t stand this. And I’ve tried to figure out why I didn’t like it. And it was really because the people I was dealing with the clients who worked at these hospitals didn’t really care what I was doing, it wasn’t their life, that it didn’t matter to them that I was writing these great bylaws and that it is didn’t really didn’t really care about it. And so I realized quickly that I needed to work on practice areas where the client was really invested and really cared about what I was doing. 

So I started volunteering at the time I was in San Francisco, this was in the late 90s. And there was a pro bono organization called the AIDS legal research services. And I would go and do wills pro bono for people who were literally on their deathbed. And they were in a in a lot of times, they were in a partnership with person they weren’t married to at the time, and their parents, their parents or their family had disowned them, a lot of times because of their lifestyle choice. And had they not been able to do a will and leave everything to their partner who was sitting by them and staying by their side. All of their assets would pass to their parents who had disowned them. So getting in there and really being able to help these people and and help them very meaningfully was meant so much to me. And I realized I need to switch practice areas, I need to do estate planning and do things that the clients really care about and, and really appreciate what I’m doing, because that’s what’s gonna fulfill me. 

So I switched to estate planning. And when I moved back to Connecticut, I had two little babies at the time, one was two and one was still in my belly, I was eight months pregnant. And I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to put in the hours that a big firm would require. So I decided to start my own law firm and estate planning was what I knew. So I’d started with estate planning. And because I grew up in this area, people would call me and they needed help with their parents or their grandparents. And so it developed into the elder law practice as well. So it just kind of grew from what I knew I enjoyed doing, and then just developed into what the clients needed as as part of that. And then the real estate came along with that, too, because I hadn’t done that in California. You didn’t use attorneys for closings in California. But when I came back here and people needed that I was able to add that in as well. 

Davina: I find a lot of times with attorneys who are involved in estate planning, they often are, you know, wind up outsourcing or referring out to other attorneys for some of the more complicated issues that may come up, like with Medicaid and with certainly with things like VA benefits and stuff like that. Is this a practice area that you’ve intentionally cultivated in a particular way? As an elder law attorney, you know, what, what are some of the things that you think you’ve done to sort of cultivate that for your practice? And, and also, kind of what made you choose to step into it because it’s a little more complicated, dealing with agencies, right, dealing with the government? Yeah, and helping people with that, right.

Joan: Well, when I when I first was practicing California, and I was strictly doing estate planning, the estate tax exemption was very low, and everybody who owned a piece of property in California had a taxable estate, so I was doing more of the complex estate tax planning there. And when I moved to Connecticut, the real estate values in Connecticut are not as high as San Francisco plus the estate tax exemptions had started going up. So I was I found that I didn’t really have the need to do all that complex estate tax planning that I was used to doing. 

So I think that’s part of the reason why I delved into the more complex Medicaid planning, because I enjoy that complex planning, but I there was no need for a very little need for it for the estate tax portion of it. So I don’t know that I intentionally said I’m going to do I want to be an elder law attorney, it kind of came to me. But as it came to me, and I started learning about it, I realized I really enjoyed that aspect of it, it, it had the more complex planning portion, which I enjoy. And it also had the time, I’m working directly with people and with families and really helping them and that is so fulfilling to me. But once I realized that I really enjoyed the elder law, one of the things I did, which I think really helped grow the businesses, I reached out to other elder care professionals. 

So rather than just network with other attorneys, or even other financial advisors, which a lot of estate planners will network with financial advisors, or CPAs, I started networking with nursing home administrators, and assisted living directors and home care agencies. And in those networks, in those circles, a lot of times I was the only lawyer. And so I became known to a lot of these places as the elder law attorney to go to because I was the only one they knew. So that was a huge benefit for me, and that I chose to do that. And and, and I thought to do that, because it’s just, you know, those people continue to come to me and refer for people to me. 

And it’s also led to speaking engagements. And that just opens up the door. I’m I’m very passionate about educating people about what is true and what’s not. I have a blog that I call false facts Fridays, because I just feel like there’s so much misinformation out there. And that leads people down the wrong road. And so I I love to get out there and educate people and do articles and, and teach people what what the truth is, so they don’t get down the wrong road. And, you know, with Medicaid planning and long term care planning, if you make some missteps, you could really be in big trouble. In the long run.

Davina: It’s so it’s so funny that you just mentioned that because it I was just reading a post, as I was scrolling through social before this call, I was just reading a post about someone talking about a parent who was being taken advantage of an elderly parent who’s being taken advantage of by a couple of people through a telephone fraud. And the daughter can’t convince her father that these are fraudsters that he’s been wiring them money over a period of time, extended period of time. And there’s so much we’re seeing so much of this kind of proliferation of financial scams that elderly elderly people are in particular, vulnerable to falling prey to that can really deplete access. So there’s such a neat, I love your false facts Fridays. There’s such a need for, you know, starting dialogues and conversations coming from trusted sources, like attorneys who can talk about, you know, talk about things like sensitive issues with regard to family money, and that kind of thing.

Joan: Right, right. Yeah, unfortunately, everybody’s out there. And, you know, their neighbor told them to do this, or their brother in law said to do that. And, you know, they’re getting all this information from people who don’t practice this, and and then it can really cause a lot of problems.

Davina: Yeah. And I’m sure it’s a, your kind of ideal clients, are they really elderly people? Are they sort of elderly people and their children or like, who is your target market?

Joan: Really, anybody who is 18 and up, I feel like we can help, but I would say for the elder law portion, the target market is really the the adult child who is helping the parent oftentimes, because by the time the person needs Medicaid, or a nursing home, they’re not always making their own decisions, or they have an adult child who’s assisting them. So the adult child is definitely somebody who often is the first call to us, and they might try to get their parents to, to start talking about this. 

It’s a fine line with elder law, because, you know, with with, obviously, with practicing law, you have to know who your client is. And you have to be very clear on who the client is and in that case, that our elderly care is always the client. But oftentimes it is the the adult child who’s the first person to call in. So we, we have to be really clear with people that even though you might be the first call that comes in, you’re you’re not the client, you’re your parent is, of course, unless they’re incapacitated, but it’s a little, little bit of a tricky, tricky part of elder law practice.

Davina: Family dynamics, too. Anytime you’re dealing with, you know, family dynamics, and you sort of getting into family relationships, it can get a little complicated, and I know as a, as an adult child of parents who are in their 80s. You know, sometimes to having having an attorney can help help us create conversations with our parents, I mean, I’m actually I’ve actually, when I practice was an estate planning attorney, and I just all I could do is tell my parents, you need to go hire an attorney. Because my dad just couldn’t, you know, like, he I’m sorry, but he just can’t take advice for me no matter what, right?

Joan: No, I tell people all that all the time, whether you’re an attorney or not, I tell the adult child I’m like, you are always going to be their eight year old daughter, you know, they’re not gonna they’re not gonna listen to you, but but they will listen to me. I’m a third party, even though I might be younger than you, who knows. But, you know, it’s just a different dynamic. And the same with me, when when I had my own family member who needed something, they, they I was the little girl, even though this is what I do for a living. So it’s and and I tell people a lot to like, let me be the bad guy, too. I’m not, you know, I’m not necessarily going to be mean to anybody, but I can tell them, no, you can’t do this, you can’t give your money away, or else you might end up being in trouble, but, but they are not going to listen to you about it. So let me be that person who’s giving them all the news, whether it’s good or bad, and you can be the daughter or the son and and not have to worry about wearing all those hats.

Davina: I mean, I think that’s so important. Because this is such a delicate thing. I know, especially when you’re looking I know, in my parents generation, in addition to sort of the whole, you know, you’re my daughter, what do you know sort of dynamic is there’s also a generation where you didn’t discuss your financial situation. You don’t discuss money, you don’t discuss investments and what you’re going to do. And and yet you’re entering into a world where there’s a lot of complexity in those last years, you know, and you may not be equipped for that. And so it’s so important to have somebody who can be your guide through that process and explain it to you in a way that makes you feel at ease and comfortable with it. Not like something out of reach that you can’t understand.

Joan: Right, right. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, it’s some, some of the rules are counter intuitive, too. So people think they’re doing the right thing. But it’s, it’s a very complex area of law. So making sure that you get the right guidance is is really, really important. 

Davina: So switching gears for a second, I want to go back to you talked about getting your dream job. So I want to go back in time to when Joan decided to go to law school. And what what the motivation was that are you one of these people that I knew from the age of x, that I wanted to be a lawyer. Or you like some other folks, and you’re like, yeah, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But law school seemed like a good idea at the time. Or somewhere in between.

Joan: I’m in the latter. I never thought that I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to Lehigh because I wanted to be an architect. I wasn’t good at it. So I quickly switched out of architecture and became an economics major, which I enjoyed those classes, but I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. And then I graduated during the Iraqi war recession. So when I graduated from college, you know, there were no jobs. So I did take a couple of years off. And, you know, I tried to get a couple of jobs here and there. I was a paralegal for a little while. And then I just decided, let me take the LSATs and see how I do. And I did. I did well, and um, so I applied for law school. And that’s how I ended up in law school. I was because there were no jobs at the time. Although my parents will probably tell you that I was really good at arguing with them growing up and they knew I was going to be a lawyer, but.

Davina: All of our parents say that to us. You were so good at arguing, yeah, that’s being a lawyer. So, so you you had a kind of a, you know, a different sort of journey to law school. And then when you were in law school where there was there something you kind of thought, you know, place you thought you were headed, you had sort of in mind this dream job? Is that kind of what you thought, this is where I’m headed when I graduate from law school? Or did you did was that a journey too?

Joan: Well, when I was in law school, I did a concentration on health law, which I just really enjoyed those courses. And I had a professor at BU who I loved and she that she was the head of the health law department, she was also the head of the journal that I was on. And so I did a concentration in health law. And a student who had graduated two years before me had also been the editor in chief of the same journal, and he did a health all concentration, and he was the one who was at this firm in San Francisco that I ended up getting the job. So I think during law school, I was looking towards this job. And, you know, I went and visited him, it was the second year and talked to him about the firm. 

And it was exactly what I thought I wanted. I just didn’t realize and I think a lot of people don’t realize when they’re in law school, what practice is going to be like, and so it was exactly what I thought I want to based on the cases that I was reading, because I thought the cases were cool. But in practice, it was didn’t meet meet my personality and my personality, I needed more of a connection with with people. I didn’t want to work for big corporations as as clients.

Davina: Yeah, I think that I think that’s so true. A lot of us have in our head some sort of vision of what it means to be an attorney based on maybe people we know, who are attorneys, or maybe something we see on television, for are a lot of us who you know, thought litigation would be look a certain way or whatever, and then you get into it. But what I love about being a licensed attorney, is that you have so many options. If you don’t like an area of practice, there are so many different ways that you can show up and be an attorney that serve people. And in for people like me who’ve moved away from and over time. And what I do now, you know, with the coaching attorneys and growing their practices, you know, I still use a lot of the skills that I developed as an attorney. In the work that I do today, that strategic thinking still serves me, you know.

Joan: What I tell a lot of people is I am so glad that I went to law school. I think everybody should go to law school. I feel like I learned too much in law school. Just learn how to think how to research like, I feel like that should be the undergrad degree people get. So if anybody ever asked me, if I, if I think they should go to law school? I say absolutely, yes. Whether you’re whether you’re going to practice or not, it’s just a great education.

Davina: Yeah, that’s what you said, it’s a great education. That’s what I think I completely changed the way I think it really sharpened my critical thinking skills. And also you realize how we sort of move through life governed by all of these laws and rules and administrative laws. And you know, how the Supreme Court works. I mean, you just learned so much about how the world works and how the country works. And it changes the way you view the world. And when you realize things and you realize that so many people don’t even understand the the system that rules their lives.

Joan: Yeah, right. And not only that, but I think now you know, with with the, the ability to get information anywhere, it’s it’s so critical to know where your what your sources, and we learn that. And I feel like we have an edge over people who never learned that because they’re they’re getting information from everywhere on the internet. And if you don’t know to really delve into and make sure that this is a primary source then you might be, you know, learning or sharing.

Davina: Even the memes that I share on Facebook, I’ve got so many attorney friends that I can’t get away with sharing me that you know, is really going to get lost in somebody’s feed shortly if it’s not, if there’s an error in it saying has been attributed. I’m like, having to defend my whole stupid meme that I share from somebody’s page at five o’clock in the morning when I rolled over and grabbed my phone, right? We believe in that we believe in you know, considering your source before you start putting stuff out there. So talk to me, I want to talk about your law practice and the growth of your law practice because it is super impressive to look at. You know, the team that you’ve created. This is an all female team and you’ve got another attorney and an office manager and paralegal got a couple of paralegals. And the marketing director, and we probably have what four or five paralegals? So you have quite a substantial team. What year did you start your firm?

Joan: 2003 is when I moved back to Connecticut, and I started my own firm. And at the time, like I said, I had two little kids. So it was very part time when I started, and I and I had the benefit of being married at the time, and my husband had a job that was able to sustain us. So I wasn’t, you know, under pressure to make a lot of money from day one. So I was really able to grow it slowly. And I started off really two days a week when I very first started. And I was working out of an office in my home, so that I could keep my overhead low. And I just, I had lived in a very small town and took out an ad in the local little newsletter that went out to everybody. It was a newsletter that was put out by the chamber of the town. And so it literally was mailed to every single mailbox in the town. 

And that ad was what started the phone calls ringing and the calls coming in so I could start working on my plan and the other. The other benefit I had was I had worked in a state planning firm in California for five years before that. So I had developed a process and documents that I could use. So I kind of had that background behind me. So I was able to just start generating clients from there. There’s one funny story that happened when I was growing this firm. And I had that that small home office and my little two year old was was there one day, and there was a client that or potential client who had been calling, and we kept playing phone tag, because I was only there the two days a week. 

And I saw that the call was coming in for the third time when she was trying to reach me. And so I I said to my daughter just be quiet for five minutes, mommy needs to take a phone call. So I picked up the phone. And I answered and we started talking and I’m getting her information so I can start working on her estate plan. And my daughter walked into the other room which had another extension from the phone and she picked it up. And she went Buzz Lightyear to the rescue. I was like, mortified. I’m sure my face turned bright red and and I was just silent for a second with the, with the client on the other line. And she just started laughing. And I just started laughing. 

And I and i thought this is the type of client that I need. I need somebody to realize that I’m a real person, that I have other obligations besides the clients, and I need them to be okay with that. And that was, it was such an important part of my, that my journey and it was at the very beginning because I realized at that time that I wasn’t going to compromise who I was or, or my family to grow this business and, and I wanted to make sure that the clients knew that, you know, I’m a real person. And they can’t just expect me to, to not have any kids and or not have any background noise or not be not be able to get in touch with them at certain times, because I have other obligations. 

Davina: Love that story. I think I think we have so many women now who are coming up in you know, they’re starting their own firms. And with the pandemic happening, and a lot of people having to work from home, it’s really taken what working moms have been dealing with for years, and made it a much more acceptable kind of thing. But at that time, you know, I can understand especially you coming from corporate from a corporate environment, feeling like okay, I need to, you know, present this, you know, I’m serious, and this is a serious office and design, you know, working out of the back bedroom or whatever it is right. And but I think that you sharing that experience shows the value of really showing up as who you truly are and how attractive that is to clients. It’s more than it’s even goes beyond them being accepting of that as it becomes actually something where people feel like hmm, I can really trust her she’s a real person. You know?

Joan: Yeah, and I think you know, there there is, you know, sometimes as as a female attorney, I feel like I’m either not taken as seriously and or I’m expected to do things for less money than then a man would charge and you know, there’s there’s definitely hurdles for for female attorneys I feel to to get over. And so to really own this is who I am. And this is what I’m going to do and realize that your your time is valuable. And what you’re doing is valuable, even though your child might be sitting in the next room over is, is really important for everybody and to not feel like they have to hide who they are or what what else they have going on in their life. Right. And like you said, I think, I think that is it is a little bit easier now with with everybody having been working at home, and maybe that’s more accepted right now. 

But for a long time that that wasn’t in there was this, you felt like you had to have this this persona up in order to say, oh, you know, I’m as good as that, that other male attorney or you know, the attorney who, who doesn’t have the kids in the next room. But you know, in that, it’s really, that’s really been one of the ways that I’ve grown my business is I present myself that to like, like that to clients. And so I think I attract those types of clients, I hear a lot from a lot of clients that come in as we chose you because you’re a female, or because you’re an all female, firm, and they thought that they would get a different sort of service from a female firm and more hands on and nurturing and, and maybe they’re right, and maybe they’re wrong, but you know, that they that’s why they chose us. And, and I feel like we are attracting those types of clients, because those are the types of people that we want to work with.

Davina: Right? You know, I think it’s, it’s a really interesting shift that’s occurring, you know, in our, in our culture, we’re starting to see, you know, women have been leading the way on this concept that we can do our jobs and also be family people, you know, be, you know, show our human side right. Now, I think that’s giving permission to men as well, to do that. Because in a patriarchy, you know, a society that the patriarchy, you know, there is there is a certain way that things have been done from a cultural standpoint, and men couldn’t show that they had a, you know, the wife takes care of the home and hearth and that kind of thing, right? 

Throughout history. And that’s the law for business is particularly very traditional, in the way that it’s been structured because of the demand of time that is required. And so I think that one thing that has been so delightful to me is to see, through the years, how more and more women have gone to law school and come out and start at their own firms and made their own way and done things their way in a way that works for them. And people were able to observe and see, yes, you can be a business owner and have a good team and provide good service and still have a life that you enjoy. That is where you feel present with loved ones, you know.

Joan: Yeah. Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s It has also allowed them the men to do the same thing. And I think it’s great that, you know, that everybody is now more allowed to, to show who they really are. And put up this persona of, you know, I’m only I’m only here as a business person, and I don’t do anything else, you know? 

Davina: Yeah, right. Right, if you’re entirely to serve you, day and night, which is what clients still like to think about attorneys, regardless. But let’s talk about your growth of your team and how it started and how it’s going. So what, what was it like hiring the first employees and what was it like hiring the attorney? Was that different for you than hiring staff was? And kind of at what pace did you do that?

Joan: Well, the first employee was scary. It was really scary to take that leap. I, after I started my firm here, I did connect with a financial planner. And she and I ended up buying a building together to have our offices. And she had a couple of employees, she had been in business for longer than I had. And she was really the one that encouraged me to to hire somebody and encouraged me that it could really leverage my time better. And so I started very slowly, I hired somebody who was close to retirement age, she had been a paralegal for most of her career. But she was just looking for something part time which was perfect for me because I was still part time. And I realized very quickly how much it could help me because then I could spend more time either marketing and developing the client base or working on on the legal documents while while she took care of more of the administrative things. So she was with me for about three years. 

And then the attorney who works with me came on after that. And the great thing about her was she had already worked at a firm, so I didn’t have to train her. And that’s definitely one of my, one of my shortcomings is one of the things I’m not very good at his training people. So for her to come on, and have already had her training, and she knew what to do. She’s, she’s a probate and Medicaid attorney, was just ideal for me. So that was another leap of faith, okay, I’m going to hire somebody. And let’s hope the clients come, it’s kind of like Field of Dreams. Every time I hired somebody, it was like, if I hire them, the clients will come and they did, which, which has, it’s really worked out well for me. But I can’t say that, you know, I’ve been particularly methodical about it. 

And just, I have a sense, I guess, when I need to bring on somebody else. But our most recent hire was another person who’s in was she was a mom, who had gotten just gotten divorced. And she, she wanted something part time. So hiring on the part time, I think, is one of the easier things to do for people who are on the fence about whether they should hire somebody or not. If you can find somebody who’s interested just in a part time job, then obviously, you’re not biting off a huge amount of overhead. And, and you might not have to worry about paying for benefits or anything like that. 

So that has been a great addition to our team to have a part time person, the biggest leap of faith I took was probably about a year ago. And I was looking for a receptionist, and I put an ad out on indeed, and I got about 100 resumes, this was kind of in the middle of the beginning of the pandemic. So I released through all those resumes, and I found about 10 people that I wanted to interview. And two of them were really great. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t figure out what to do, because I wanted to hire both of them. And so that’s when I developed the marketing director position, which I wasn’t intending to do. I was it was a leap of faith, that was kind of a last minute decision. 

But I saw in this person, you know what I needed for somebody to take on my marketing, which I had been doing myself. And I knew that if I hired somebody else to do it, then I could lighten up my load to again, be developing more clients and working on the legal documents. And that it’s it’s worked out well. Every time I hire somebody, it seems to work out well for us, because I can just use more of my time to to get more clients to come in. So I would encourage everybody who’s on the fence about it to to do it. And if they’re concerned about having the overhead of a full time person, maybe seeing if you can get somebody that’s that’s would be willing to take on a part time. But I think it it usually works out for for the best.

Davina: Right. So let me ask you this. Before we wrap up, I have a couple questions. One is what would you say has been your biggest challenge in scaling your law firm?

Joan: Trying to have a control over my schedule has is probably the biggest challenge. Because I often say that I wish I could clone myself. Because I have a lot of things that I want to do and just not enough time to do everything. And kind of figure out with keep keeping the schedule so that I’m not taking in too many new appointments, and not giving myself the time to actually do the work that those appointments generate.

Davina: Balancing really that sort of rainmaking part and the attorney part and the running of the firm part. All of that.

Joan: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I’m not I’m not I don’t get into all of the the detailed numbers and all that I know a lot of a lot of firms will, will have all the figures of how many calls they had come in and how many became clients and and all that. And I I’ve never really done that. I’m just trying to make sure that we are able to help everybody who calls and then also have enough time to actually do the work. Figuring out how to limit my, the appointment schedule is always a challenge.

Davina: Right. And then my other question for you is, what lesson do you think you’ve learned that you would advise if we could, if we could leave somebody with a gold nugget to learn from your experience about something. What would you share with other women law firm owners who may be behind you on the growth journey?

Joan: I think a lesson that I’ve learned more recently that I wish I had learned sooner is your time is valuable. Don’t give in to people who try to pressure you to just give them that free free phone call, or they just have a casual question. And so you should, should talk to them for free. And part of the way that I avoid that is having a receptionist. I think people who don’t have someone else answering the phone and up getting caught a lot, giving away a lot of free advice. Because if you answer the phone and you start talking to somebody and they ask you questions, and you want to help them, you might go down that road, you might go a little too far down the road before you realize, oh, I should really be signing this client up. So get a receptionist, I guess is my take away.

Davina: That gatekeeper. That gatekeeper is important, right. So yeah, I, I have so enjoyed our conversation, and I’m so happy to finally get a chance to talk with you. I know we had a couple of reschedules. And so I’m glad to be able to catch you today. So tell us how we can connect with you. If we want to work and we find out about your law firm. And you know, where can we follow you if you’re on social? You let us know.

Joan: Yeah, so we we have a website. It’s reedwilsoncase.com. It’s r e e d w i l s o n c a s e .com. That’s where the articles are and the blog. And then since hiring the marketing director, she’s also set up Instagram, which is reedwilsoncase. And we also have a Facebook page, which is under reedwilsoncase and I think Twitter.

Davina: Very good. Thank you, Joan. I’ve so enjoyed our conversation. Thanks so much for being here today. 

Joan: All right, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. This was fun.

Davina: We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. If you have we invite you to leave us a review on your preferred podcast platform. The more five star reviews we have the more women law firm owners will be able to positively impact. Your thoughts and opinions are so important to us. If you are a woman law firm owner who wants to scale your law firm to a million dollars or more in gross annual revenue and do it in a way that’s sustainable and feels good to you, then we invite you to join us in the Wealthy Woman Lawyer League. 

The league is a community of highly intelligent, goal oriented and driven women law firm owners who are excited to support one another on their journeys to becoming wealthy women lawyers. We’ll be sharing so much in the league in the coming year, including these elusive million dollar law firm framework that until now, I’ve only shared with my private one to one clients. For more information and to join us go now to www.wealthywomanlawyer.com/league. That’s www.wealthywomanlawyer.com/league. League is spelled l e a g u e. We look forward to seeing you soon in the league.