Criminal defense attorney Justie Nicol rejects the buttoned-down, gray-suit approach. She talks about Taylor Swift on social media, and her pets are part of her marketing. She co-founded an almost entirely virtual firm, serving clients in multiple counties throughout Colorado.
By being herself, Justie says not only is she certain to attract her ideal clients, but she and her partner also are able to connect with them on a deeper level, thus better serving their needs.
On this podcast episode, we discuss the journey that got her to where she is today, as well as…
- The biggest pluses of running your own firm
- The key technology you need to run a virtual office
- How she make it easy for clients to hire her firm
- Her professional yet casual marketing strategy
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
- Justie’s Website
- Email Justie
- Connect with Justie on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
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 attorney Justie Nicol, founder and partner in Nicol Gersch Law Offices.
Nicol Gersch Law is a Colorado-based criminal defense firm, handling matters ranging from felony defense to sex crimes, misdemeanor cases, and juvenile law for clients throughout the northeastern part of Colorado. Welcome, Justie. I’m so happy to have you here today on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast.
Justie Nicol: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Davina: Great. So we have a lot to talk about today. I have all kinds of questions for you. But I want to get started just with you kind of giving everybody your sort of background and how you became a lawyer and why you became a lawyer and what led you to opening your own law practice.
How and Why Justie Opened Her Own Practice
Justie: I think, probably the easiest answer is I don’t take direction well. I used to be a little bit of a rebel and I really wasn’t suited for a traditional law practice, you know, in a big firm setting. I learned that, oh, gosh, early on in my law school career. And you know what, when I first wanted to be a lawyer, I was actually in about fifth grade.
I’m not quite sure what prompted it. But my parents tell me it was because we put the cigarette on trial back in fifth grade, and it was the first time they did not convict the cigarette on all counts. And I was its attorney. I got them acquitted on one. And so ever since then I wanted to be a lawyer and never wavered from it. Went straight from undergrad to law school.
I didn’t necessarily realize I wanted to be an entrepreneur until I was in probably second year of law school and doing those on-campus interviews with the big law firms. And I’m walking in from one interview room to another interview room to another interview room, like just seeing the same people sitting across the table from me every time and like, they’re just looking for somebody just to turn in and out, do the billable grunt work and move on their way, you know?
And I’m like, this is not going to be a good fit. So I ended up getting an internship that year, that first year summer with a small partnership doing criminal defense in Littleton. And it was just a married couple that was doing it and she was going out on maternity leave and they needed a little bit of help. And so I took over a lot of her duties. Not casework, obviously, it was a student practice act kind of attorney. But I got a real feel for what it was like to be in your own practice.
And then loved it and ran with it. Certainly did not have the financial support to do that right out of law school. But I went solo in 2015. And then brought in Jennifer, my partner, who’s been a friend of mine since law school together. We were actually moot court team partners 15 years ago. So I brought her in and we formed a partnership June 1 of last year. So we’re about eight months into this new venture and still crushing it. Still learning new things about each other every day.
Davina: Wow. Wow, that’s fantastic. And so have you had experience in practicing other areas? And what was it that drew you to criminal law? What is that you like about that area?
Justie: Yeah, so I actually have done a lot of different things. So after that first internship, I think I went to a medium-sized firm for the next two years, worked all through law school for second and third year and summers with the firm. And they did everything from franchise litigation to aviation law to family law. I kind of got my feet wet when I was in law school. I did some appeal clinic work in law school, which was fun.
I got to be exposed to, you know, more of like an indigent access to justice type of mindset by working in the student clinic. And then after law school, I did work comp defense because I was single and it paid. I didn’t really care for comp defense. It was very black and white. There was no room for creativity at all. And I didn’t realize it at the time, you know, I thought I wanted to be more of a business lawyer, tax lawyer, my undergrad in accounting.
But the creativity that litigation gives you is very different too. So I left that firm and went to Idaho with my husband, who graduated in 2009, 2010 with his master’s in international business and finance, right when Lehman Brothers was crashing. So we have great economic timing, like right now, you know, your firm’s eight months old and you’re in the middle of a Coronavirus pandemic. But yeah, went to Idaho and I got to do a number of different things there to make ends meet.
So I was doing bankruptcy and tax work. I was a contract unemployment appeals judge for the state of Idaho. And I worked for the ACLU of Idaho on a large class-action lawsuit doing private prison legislation and cruel and unusual punishment type of constitutional law, which was really enlightening. And then I came back to Colorado because our family’s all here and I did prosecution. I was a VA for almost four years in the biggest Judicial District in Colorado.
And while there, I did everything from misdemeanor traffic cases, some felonies, juvenile, I was at a juvenile prosecutor for about two years. And I really specialized in prosecuting animal crime. So I was the DA known throughout the state as DA Doolittle. I still teach on how to prosecute animal crimes. That is the only kind of criminal defense case we do not take very many of. Animal cruelty is generally a conflict for me because I do so much education for animal control officers throughout the state.
Davina: Right. Right. I was gonna say you’re such a huge animal lover that you guys actually have how many dogs in the office or around the office?
Justie: Yes, my partner has two large dogs. And I had three. We just lost one a few weeks ago.
Davina: I’m sorry.
Justie: We’re doing two. No, sorry. Yeah, he, he will be missed. But we have two dogs and a cat here at the home office. And then I routinely take mastermind calls from the back of my horse. So hashtag office horse.
Davina: So you’re a real animal lover.
Justie: Yes. Yeah.
Davina: So you were about to answer why, what it is that you love about criminal law.
The Creative Side of Law
Justie: Yeah, so criminal law actually provides me with a little bit more of a creative outlet and other types of law. I, you know, having done transactional tax and just a wide variety of different areas of practice, criminal is one of the ones where you can really get creative. Like, there’s constant change with how case law is interpreted, appeals come down on a regular basis changing the way sentencing guidelines are, you know, or appeal, change the way, you know, DUIs are handled And you get the opportunity to actually get up and meet with people.
You know, like, I tend to be a little bit of a storyteller. And so jury trials are kind of fun. You don’t get a chance to do a lot of jury trials unless you’re in, you know, a prosecution or defense kind of role, civil trials don’t happen as much. So that being said, on a criminal defense side, I still tend to negotiate more with the DAs and avoid trials more than anything else.
But it really gives me an opportunity to humanize my clients, whether that’s in front of the DA or in front of a jury. So I like it because it feels like you’re helping people. Even if you’re prosecuting, you’re helping victims. If you’re a defense attorney, I didn’t think I’d be able to make the switch, but it actually was pretty easy because these people need help, too. That’s what our system is built on. So I take a little bit of pride in that.
Davina: Yeah. And, you know, it’s interesting because a lot of people have, you know, especially if they’ve worked in the prosecutor’s office or something, I mean, I know I did for a brief bit early in my career, and, you know, you kind of think to yourself, oh, you know, I can never defend people, that kind of thing. And then when you get out and you start doing that kind of work, you find that a lot of your clients are people who just, you know, did, there are certainly those people out there who do bad things, right?
And then there are some of those clients who just do stupid things, you know, or just do something that, or maybe they did to something and they’re the wrong place at the wrong time. You know, so there is that human element to it, you know, that we get when we work, when we’re actually working with people, you know? That’s kind of a common thread throughout every practice area.
Justie: Yeah. And it’s really a giant shift from work comp, where you’re like, there’s a formula for how much you can pay out and the insurance trusters don’t care. You know, it’s a different ballpark when it’s somebody’s life on the line, whether that’s their livelihood, or social implications or whatever.
And even if they’re not going to jail or facing a capital offense. I probably won’t take a death penalty case ever. But, you know, whether you’re charged with a DUI or you’re charged with something much more serious, like it’s got long-lasting consequences for somebody. So, yeah, we’re pretty, we’re happy to call most of our clients’ friends as well. And, yes, it’s definitely a way for us to give back to our community.
Davina: Right, right. Do you find that there are a lot of women in criminal law or do you find it to be more male-dominated as far as criminal defense attorneys?
Justie: It’s definitely more male-dominated. They are younger women that are getting into it more and more. But there aren’t a whole lot of big criminal defense firms. You know, it’s mostly solo and small firms or a few attorneys together. But there are a lot of folks who, you know, I’ve been doing this for quite a long time and, you know, one of the things when we were designing our website, it was funny because I was like, we are kind of the anti old white dude firm. We’re never gonna make you come into our office and sit down across the table from us.
And we’re not going to scare you with what jail might be coming down the pipeline, you have to find here, hire us hire us hire us. Like, we’re not that kind of person. You know, we’re not that kind of firm. So we, you know, women generally tend to be a little bit more empathetic. And I think when we approach cases, we look not just at the individual case itself, and this is something I’ve heard from clients, both current and prospective clients was, you know, go and talk to other criminal defense attorneys.
That’s absolutely fine. We encourage you to do that. And we are not going to be the lowest price. If you’re looking for the lowest price, it’s not going to be us most likely. If you’re looking for the most compassionate or the people who are going to actually care about you, care about your case and not just plead you out and go on to the next case, earn my money and go on to the next one.
If, you know, that’s the kind of service that we’re doing. We care about, okay, what drove you to drive drunk? You know, if it’s just, you know, you were having a good time with friends, that’s fine. But a lot of times it’s self-medicating. What can we do to help with the mental health side of things? What can we do to help alleviate stress? You know, like, what’s going on in your life outside of the courtroom that led to this whole situation and what resources can we provide to you? So we look at the person, not just the problem.
Davina: Right, right. And I did, you know, your website, I did find it to be very different. It’s definitely a Colorado, got a Colorado feel to it because you have a lot of VISTAs abuse, and you have your, you know, you have your professional look on there, which also has some sort of casual photos that are or, you know, and then a personality brand, right? And you got the animals on there and the way that it’s written, it’s written in a way that’s very approachable, you know?
Justie: Yeah, most of our clients actually have about a seventh-grade reading level. So for us, it’s like, you know, the other, you know, more senior white dudes are probably not, they’re not advertising on Facebook, you know, or say things about Taylor Swift, you know? We’ve done both of those things in the last month. Our brand colors and I’m probably the last one to pick this when I was a kid, our brand colors are actually like black and pink, and gray.
And who would have ever thought, you know, we’d do a whole marketing campaign and branding scheme on pink. But it seems to work, you know, and it, every time we hand out our business cards, people are like, wow, these are really nice cards is like black and glossy and other photo on it. And we really try to meet people, you know, where they are. So with our photos being on our business cards, like not everybody can remember your name. I’m horrible with names. I have a cheat sheet when I do jury selection because I get people’s names wrong.
But if you hand something to someone with a photo on it, or you put your photo on your website, sometimes the first time that they see me will actually be in court. Like, I’ve had people hire me, within a week of their court date, I show up to court with them and I’m like, we’re ready to rock. Let’s do this. And they know exactly what I look like and approach me in the hallway, which is kind of nice because our faces are out there. You know, we’re approachable and we try, you know, to make it easy on everyone.
Davina: And I noticed you use the kind of tag on your Facebook, explore impossible. And you have this beautiful mountain view, you know, kind of in the background. I love that because it’s the difference, then, you know, I think it’s, I think one of the challenges for a lot of law firms is distinguishing themselves from other law firms.
And you tend to see a lot of the same, you know, aggressive litigator, you know, collaborative you know, whatever, you know, you don’t see that. But yours is really, it’s a different kind of thing. Explore impossible. And yet it also communicates that you’re willing to take on cases that you can, you know, that you can be creative and come up with solutions when it may feel like they are not solutions.
The Clients Do Have a Choice
Justie: Yeah, and I mean, a lot of times, you know, defendants specifically are not given a lot of choice. It’s either like plead guilty or go to trial. And so much of what we do, we’re like, Okay, if you plead guilty, this, this, this, this, this, this, this are all the consequences. Yes, you know about that. These are the other things you’ve got to think about long term. So, our specialty is really understanding all the consequences, effectively communicating those to our clients and letting them know the choice is theirs.
By way of example, you know, and in terms of the visuals that you’re referencing too, like we do that in all areas of our practice. So I made all of our giveaways. We just did a 10 page that will be up on our site this week, a 10 page how to stay out of jail free ebook for clients that’s going to be launched specifically because of Coronavirus. I did that in a couple hours this weekend. I made those graphics. We make the graphics for the blog post, but we send over to client representation too.
So our engagement letter is very welcoming as well. When we’re in trial, you know, I use a different program, not PowerPoint. It’s actually a presentation software called Prezi Online. I love it. And I just did a trial in November, actually, in end of November, early December, in front of a 30 year judge in Boulder, who has had more trials in the last year than he’s ever had in his whole career.
And I got some of my closing and he actually stopped me before I could leave the courtroom and he was like, I can’t actually say this, but I’m gonna say it anyway because your technology and the use of the technology and that presentation skill that you have is persuasive. It’s the best we’ve seen in this court. And I was blown away. Like he did it, and he made sure he did it in front of clients. We had basically what mattered, what amounted to a 30 minute not guilty verdict in that case. The visuals and how we approach everything, the client knew what was at risk. He knew his options.
He put his faith in us anyway. And it was, I mean, it was a sex offense. So it was very much like, it was one of those moments where it still chokes me up a little bit about it. So, yeah, I mean, there’s a way to approach practicing law. And if you just want to practice law and not care about people’s lives, there’s a way to do that, too. If you want to care about people’s lives and you want to take an extra step, you can do that. And I think women especially are really, really good at that. And we do it in everything we do from engagement letters all the way through trial.
Davina: Right, right. Well, that is a nice segue into my next question, which was about I know that you guys are really good at, first of all, you have a virtual service for your law practice. You cover not just Fort Collins, but you cover the northeastern part of Colorado. So, you know, is it all the way down? You have some sort of connections down in Colorado Springs, all the way down as far as that. But Bolder, Denver, all that, right?
Justie: Yep, yep. So my partner and I actually live in the Denver Metro area. I own a second company doing commercial property management for about 30 commercial tenants in Fort Collins, which is how we have a brick and mortar in Fort Collins. But 95% of what we do is online. So we are cloud-based. We have systems set up via our CRM, Zapier. We use Typeform for gathering conflict check information, we use Acuity for calendaring. We have it all set up so that everything feeds into the CRM and then our team checks up, you know, once we’ve got conflict checks cleared and everything.
But we pretty much operate in courtrooms, like you said, Colorado Springs all the way north to Nebraska, all around east, all in North Wyoming and all the way east to Nebraska. So I’m from the eastern plains. We do some key resort-type jurisdictions as well. Those are a little bit harder in winter in Colorado, but, you know, when you get used to get up to the mountains, especially when the ski resorts are open, you know, we would try.
Davina: There’s no need, you can’t provide, you can’t combine work and pleasure sometimes, right.
Justie: Right. Exactly. And we actually, you know, we’ll charge clients mileage from the closest remote office location that we have. So whether that’s my childhood home in eastern Colorado, either one of our homes in the metro area, our branch and Fort Collins or our place in Frisco. We try to keep client costs down that way too. So, yeah, we operate pretty much virtually throughout quarter if not a third of the state of Colorado and we do econferencing with clients. And
Davina: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna ask. You meet with your clients through Zoom and, or the telephone or, how you meet your clients, yeah.
An Emerging Digital Legal Landscape
Justie: So what we actually end up doing is once they’ve gone through the intake process, we tell clients, hey, listen, you’re ready to sign with us, you have to pay. Here’s the link to do that. We use Headnote. Here’s the engagement letter that you sign as well. You pay, you sign, you can do both of those things from your phone, we get noticed right away, we’re up and running within 24 hours usually. So after that, we get discovery from police departments, that sort of thing. We send the police reports over to the clients using the cloud. We use Dropbox.
And they have access to their entire client evidence file the entire time and then they also have a mitigation folder where they can upload things directly to us as the case goes on too. So at any given time, they can go and get their police reports pulled down to their file. They get real-time notification when we get new discovery in. And yes, we’ve had Zoom conferencing setup and phone conferencing setup for the life of the firm. It’s not point 15. So when you know quarantine hits, you’re like, no big deal for us.
Davina: Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. Do you have, do you use it, you mentioned the CRM. Do you use that in lieu of case manager, or do use a case management system as well or
Justie: We use a CRM in lieu of one I know a lot of people love Clio. For us, it’s just, it’s extra bloat and overhead that we don’t need. Criminal defense is
Davina: What’s the CRM?
Justie: We use Copper CRM, which integrates with Gmail. And a lot of people are like, how do you still have a Gmail address and I’m like, well, considering our clients have a seventh-grade reading level, it’s hard enough to spell my last name and Jenn’s last name. Let’s not make it harder. Let’s keep it at gmail.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. You’re just keeping it simple for your clients. I mean, that’s one of the key things with converting leads in any type of business is that path of least resistance. I mean, you want to make it super easy for your clients to be able to hire you. And the way people are nowadays, everybody’s got that phone in their pocket.
They may not have a computer, but they have that phone in their pocket. And if you make it so easy for them just to click a button and pay you and get started, and I’m sure your intake you have an intake processing. Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure that really helps a lot. So you’ve really taken advantage of technology. And you think that’s one of your keys to the success that you’ve had so far?
Justie: Yeah, actually, that’s one of them. And then I think the other one is always surrounding yourself with good people too. So, we have a number of folks who work with us that, you know, at this stage, we’re eight months into this new venture. They’re all independent contractors, but they care about us succeeding as a group just as much as we do. So they’re hundred percent bought in. We did when we started, we did a bunch of vision planning, like long term goal planning with me and Jenn, we figured out we were on the same page in a lot of different areas.
And then we rolled that out to our whole team. And like, we asked them to do vision planning, long term goals, you know, what are our strengths and weaknesses? What are the firm, what does the firm do different than everybody else, and better or worse than everybody else? You know, like, key differentiation.
And it was really refreshing that almost everybody is on the same page. So we’re 100% women just by accident. But with five additional staff support team members. You know, when Coronavirus hit, everybody’s on deck. So we just we’ve moved into high gear the last two weeks. And it’s been refreshing to know that we have the support of really good staff members who are self-starters and actually care about our clients as much as we do.
Like, they know what needs to be done. They go out and do it. They don’t need us to like, I mean, granted, we’re approving filings before they’re going out the door, but they’re like, hey, this client set for next week. Did you do a motion continue? No. Okay, I will do it. I’ll have it on your desk in like 10 minutes. Great. Thank you. You know, so it’s refreshing to have that sort of support. people and tech. And then the third tier, I would say would be your processes
Davina: Would be what?
Justie: Processes. You really new, pen to paper what happens, we put pen to paper. We know what happens when we have a new lead come through the door or what our process is for generating, you know, these links. We have processes in place for opening client files, closing files, we do a lot of state-paid work as well. And those are different. You know, I’ve got a contract for both alternate defense counsel throughout the quarter of the state. And then I also have a contract to help victims get permanent restraining orders because I was passionate about domestic violence.
And, you know, those contracts have specific things, you have to use different business portals. So we really narrowed down like, these are the step by step kind of things you have to do for these different kinds of cases. And we reduced it to writing, we put it in our software so everyone on the team has access to it. If somebody’s out sick, you know, you can just reference the process for this and say, like my legal assistant almost got stuck in Hawaii with the quarantine.
I was having my paralegal jump on a bunch of her tasks. And she’s like, been a while since I’ve done this. Where is it? I’m like, here’s some of the processes. And it’s super helpful for cross-training. So before we did the tech, we had to have the right processes and the right people in place to support technology working. So, so far so good.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. How do you think you, why do you think you’ve been successful in recruiting a good team? Did you, have you always been good at this? Have you had some failures before you put together this team? What kind of things have you learned?
Justie: Oh god yes. Yeah, if I got it right the first time Oh, man it’d be way different right now.
Davina: I don’t think you’re alone in that. I think it’s definitely a learning curve for people to, when you own your own business, you don’t know everything, you know? You gotta learn it. And, you know, people a lot of times people think, I’m teaching am my clients, I have workshop coming up on Monday, we’re doing it virtually, and I’m teaching leadership.
And I’ve really been doing a lot of that lately with women law firm owners because when you start growing to the point where you really are developing a team and you have to have, you have to elevate your leadership skills. The bigger your team gets, the more you need to elevate your leadership skills, right? You know, it doesn’t come naturally. Just like you didn’t learn how to be a criminal lawyer, just, you know, by waking up one day and boom, you know? You have to learn. Baby steps, right?
Justie: Yeah, that’s what traffic court’s for. If you’re gonna fail anywhere you’re gonna fail in traffic court. Yeah, I cannot agree with you more. Like the fact that, and going from solo to even just solo remote receptionist and paralegal, you know, that wasn’t terribly hard but relaunching and rebranding, bringing a partner on and bringing four new people on at once. Not necessarily at once, but over the course of six months, four to six months.
That has been, you know, kind of eye-opening. We’ve had a couple of folks that, you know, we had tried a little trial position here or there or, you know, our staff didn’t think that they would be able to stay or wanted to go back to school or something, you know, we had an intern graduate, all kinds of life happens kind of moments. What we’ve found is, people want to work with us, which is nice. And I think you find good people who want to be with you out of mutual respect.
And if you’re can find those people, don’t ever let them go first of all, but finding them to your point is sometimes hard. Sometimes easy, like our intern just cold-called me, well, cold emailed me with a copy of her resume, I was like, I’m interested in whatever you have to offer or to put me in touch with somebody and I was like, I read a resume. I was like, holy cow. She’s like mini me. I gotta have a phone call with her. So I picked up the phone and call this, called her and she’s like an invaluable member of our team now.
And it’s just, you know, it’s those kind of things that fall into your lap where you’re like, I’m never letting her go. Other times it’s been, is this right, is this person, the right person for this position? So right people, right seat, you know? A lot of people have heard that phrase. It’s an ongoing challenge. And my, from my perspective, I grew up playing team sports. So I was volleyball, softball in the summer, baseball, I played with the boys for four years of high school.
My high school was small If we didn’t have a softball team, so I did multiple sports. Basketball, rodeoed with my horse in the summer as well. So I never stopped. But in 90% of that time, I’m a team member. And that’s what I still am. Even though I’m leading, I’m still very much part of the team. So one of the things that we have is we do Zoom meetings every other week, at 6:30 in the morning, dear god, it’s so early. We have a small child. 6:30 in the morning because a couple of our folks actually have other full-time jobs that they start at eight.
So they do a Zoom meeting with us and we check in with everybody. You know, what was your personal best news for the week? What was your work best news for the week? What issues are you having? And what is your plan for the week? And then, you know, we’ll do things like the vision planning or I’ll make everybody go and take a personality test and send me their personality results. Yeah, I’m surprised how many actual integrators we have, and no visionary besides myself. So, I guess that’s good.
Davina: Well, that’s definitely your job is to be the visionary.
Justie: Right. Yeah. And then also, you know, when we come away from that, we always come back and circle back around. Okay, these are the issues that I heard you say. How can I help support you? And it’s not just a one-way street. They’re not just supporting us, we are supporting them. And that’s why we did the personal vision planning too, is so we know what their personal goals are, and anything we can do to help with that, we’re going to do that.
Davina: Right. Right. So what kind of, what do you think your biggest challenges have been in growing your firm so far?
The Biggest Challenges Jusite Has Faced In Her Practice
Justie: I think probably, you know, the biggest challenge is always going to be stability for us. Criminal defense tends to be on again off again in terms of making the phone ring. We’ve got a pretty good marketing plan in place, and, you know, good support for the website and everything. It’s hard when so many of us, you know, we don’t have a physical office. So Jenn and I are here locally but, our bookkeeper is as well. She’s across town. Our paralegal is further south. Our legal assistant, you know, is in Arizona. Our intern is in Fort Collins, so for us like physical and network, in-person networking events.
Jenn and I both have kids. Jenn, just coming back from maternity leave like right now, she just had a baby in January. So stability in caseload and making sure that not everybody is getting overwork, if not underworked at different times, like there will be leaner times than others, but making sure that everybody has a valid, oh, I’m sorry. Everybody has a manageable caseload is probably the hardest thing for us. Some of that is because Jenn was on maternity leave for three months and then as soon as she came back from maternity leave, Coronavirus.
Davina: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And that’s really affected everyone, you know, in their, in business and, you know, in your life period, right? It’s caused that chaos, but, what do you think are some of the lessons that you’ve learned that maybe you can share to make their path a little bit easier for those who are kind of coming along behind you in the process?
Justie: I think, yeah, possibly the best piece of advice is just to be flexible. A lot of us were taught how to practice law and there’s only one right way or whatever. There’s not only one right way. There are at least 30 different ways that are all going to get the same job done. So that’s part of it. I also really emphasize working wherever and whenever with our team. Some people are more productive in early in the morning.
Like our legal assistant, I have 30 emails from her by 6 am this morning, and I’m like, first of all, the time change in Arizona, I know it’s like 4 am your time. But if you think better at that time, that’s fine. Do your work then, you know? So I kind of do the same thing where I’m in court and, you know, I’m looking over at another attorney and he’s like, what are you doing? While we’re waiting for a case to be called, you know, and I’m like, I’m responding to about three different needs telling him I need to fill out the intake form and billing for my time right now.
And he’s like, I’m playing Angry Birds. So working wherever benefits us definitely. And working efficiently as well. So taking advantage of when you work best, then using your personal productivity tips to really capitalize on what time you do have. You know, being a mom and being a one doesn’t teach you time management, nothing will.
Davina: Right, right. I’ll talk with you, you know, after the three-year-old has been home with you for a few weeks. We’ll revisit the time management thing when you’re all quarantined in the house together for weeks. That’s a big challenge that a lot of women law firm owners are facing right now. And, well, parents in general, is, you know, how do we, it’s either going to strengthen marriages or it’s going to make the divorce lawyers very, very busy in a few months.
Justie: Yeah, and we, you know, we do our best to support other women and moms, just about any way that we can. You know, and if there’s anything, you know, like being a mom and having my son home with me, you know, if there’s anything it’s taught me, it’s that really being a person first and a lawyer later is better. And your clients can relate to that. So, you know, you’re not going to be fake, you’re not going to be perfect all the time. My dogs bark during consults on my phone call, and I’m just like, hey, the postman is here, give it a minute.
Or, you know, like kids running in the background in the Zoom conference calls. It’s, the new normal now, but that’s been my life for five years. And it seems kind of nice too that everybody kind of has a little bit of a reset with it. Like it’s okay to be human. Lawyers especially. Like, we’re not perfect. If clients expect perfect, hh, boy. You don’t want that person as a client anyway.
Davina: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That’s a red flag. Well, and, you know, we’re, it’s no longer the, practicing law no longer has to be about wearing that blue wool suit. And, you know, everybody looking alike and dressing up in suits for work. And, you know, there’s a, there’s definitely a different way to do it. And I think the, I think people are not only accepting of that, but appreciative of that, because now we do feel more approachable, you know?
Justie: Yep. And that, I’ll give you a little story right on point, you know, like I was, in my last year of prosecution work, I think the last two years of prosecution work when I was in Arapahoe county here, I was in the DA’s office that prosecuted James Holmes for the theater shooting. So I would go into docket in that same security line. And, you know, I’m looking around at everyone in there, whether they be reporters, you know, the prosecution team, the defense team, you name it, you’d see a gray suit at most definitely.
If you’ve got blue, it’s like the pinstripe navy kind. Women are all wearing the skirt suit, you know, and like this is what is expected in these high profile cases. And it’s almost like a disservice too because here I am walking into the docket. Granted, I’m not in trial, but I’m wearing like plaid pants and a leather shirt. And I’m looking around at these other lawyers and the VA team and I’m like, I do not belong here. I’m like, these are not my people.
And I left the DA’s office, and I went to my first like, big CLE that had a bunch of the criminal defense attorneys that I was usually opposite. Couple of them come up to me and they were like, yeah, we knew you weren’t a lifer. We could always just tell that you are not going to be the man forever. But like that’s the flexibility that also running your own firm gives you. So now that quirky side of me, you know, like, I can go out and use that artistic brain and really pour it into designing a website, doing our social media marketing plan, you know, like writing a 10-page ebook over the weekend.
And oh my god, I love it. Like, the firm management side of things and the marketing resources like, this has given me an outlet like, just practicing law never could. Now, I will also caution that I do a lot of our accounting, and even though I have an accounting degree, I have not enjoyed that nearly as much.
Davina: Yeah, that, you definitely have to find what it is that you love to do and do that. And I love how you said, these aren’t my people and I think it’s a wonderful situation to be in when we can go and create our own business and create our own community and our own tribe and attract our own people that way, you know? And build a life that we love. Being a lawyer, practicing law doesn’t have to look like what somebody else’s idea of it is. So I love that. I love that about your story. So tell us how we can find out more about you and your practice. Where can we connect with you?
Justie: Any social media platform. There’s only one Justie. So it’s JUSTIE. You can find me on Twitter at JUSTIE the number four and the word justice so justie4justice. That’s also coincidentally my email address. But you spell out the word for so JUSTIE4JUSTICE@gmail.com. If anybody has any questions, I’m an open book, open resource anytime.
Happy to anybody. You can also check out our website at nicolgerschlaw.com. So it’s NICOLGERSCHLAW.com. We’re pretty active in the blogging and legal tech community. And, of course, you can always search Twitter or Facebook for hashtag office horse or office dog and find us through our hashtags as well.
Davina: Wonderful, wonderful. Well, it’s been such a pleasure talking with you and I really enjoyed it. And I thank you so much for being here.
Justie: Of course. I love doing podcasts and I really appreciate the invite. I’m so glad I got a chance to meet with you a little bit more.
Davina: Yay. All right. Well, thank you so much.