On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with Kristin Tyler, partner at Garman Turner Gordon LLP, and co-founder of LAWCLERK, where busy attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers on-demand for project work. Through her career, Kristin has worked for several firms ranging in size from large to regional to boutique. The implementation of new technologies at GTG, and the desire of Kristen and her partners to be able to access the expertise of other attorneys on occasion, ultimately led to the creation of LAWCLERK.

“There’s a need in the legal community to match up folks who need help from time to time, or even on a daily basis, with a really powerful network of freelance lawyers that do amazing work,” says Kristin.

We discuss Kristin’s experiences working with a range of differently sized firms, her catalyst for the move to a boutique firm, as well as:

  • Reasons behind the creation of LAWCLERK
  • The value you can create in your practice with LAWCLERK
  • The increase in movement toward virtual law practices, and how LAWCLERK can help
  • The advantages of being a LAWCLERK attorney
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

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 Kristin Tyler, partner at Garman Turner Gordon LLP and co-founder of LAWCLERK. LAWCLERK is where busy lawyers go to hire freelance lawyers on-demand for project work. So welcome, Kristin. I’m so happy to finally be here talking to you today.

Kristin Tyler: This is great. Thank you for having me, Davina.

Davina: Wonderful. So why don’t you start out just telling us a little bit about you so we get to know you and kind of how you, a little bit about your law career and how you became a lawyer and wound up where you are now. And then we’ll get into kind of talking about LAWCLERK or can the family of LAWCLERK after that.

How Kristin Got to This Point in Her Career

Kristin: Sounds great. So I grew up in Nebraska in a small town. Went to college there, law school there. And when I finished law school, my husband had this wild and crazy idea that we should move to Las Vegas. And so we did. That was 15 years ago, and we love it. Las Vegas is home now. And we’re both attorneys. We’ve both been blessed with great legal careers out here. my legal career has been on trust and estates. So I love working with families, working on their estate plans, building their legacy, getting to know them. And I do still have that practice. But about five years ago, exactly. 

Yeah. Wow. And it has come up on five years. I left the big firm that I was at then. I was at a pretty good-sized regional firm with about 60 lawyers. Left there was a smaller group of partners. We founded our own firm, Garman Turner Gordon. And we have just loved that experience of having our own boutique firm. And really within that, you know, my partners all do really complex bankruptcy, business obligation, that kind of stuff. So I’m very unique in that I do the estate planning work. And my practice is so much different from theirs. But I just love it.

Davina: Oh, that’s wonderful.

Kristin: Yeah. And so really, it was that whole experience of going from the much larger firm to the smaller boutique firm. And through that journey, we implemented a lot of really cool technology for our firm. But it also is what sparked the idea for this new company called LAWCLERK that is, I’d like to kind of joke that it’s my little side hustle passion project that has now really become my main gig. LAWCLERK has grown at an incredible rate over the last three years. And I think it shows that there’s a need in the legal community to match up folks who need help from time to time, or even on a daily basis with a really powerful network of freelance lawyers that do amazing work. So that’s my story in a nutshell.

Davina: Wow. Wow. So, a lot to unpack there. So first, I want to ask you just, you came from a large firm to kind of a midsize firm and then down to a boutique firm. So tell me, what do you think the experiences have been like for you each of those. Was there a catalyst to that sort of move? And what do you find different about each of those experiences? What you like about them and what are the challenges?

From Large Firm to Boutique

Kristin: Sure. Well, the cool part about being a part of the big firm is, of course, it’s, you know, pretty well-known in the community. You have a lot of lawyers from a lot of different practice areas. So if, you know, one of my estate planning clients have a need and, you know, how to maybe they own a, and this was, they had a client with a convenience store with a gas station that, of course, in Las Vegas also had slot machines. 

Gaming is everywhere. And we have some options about how are they going to be able to pass on that family business to the next generation with gaming licenses. So it’s a big firm, you know, I could walk down the hall, tap on the partner’s door that goes game law and talk it through with them and come up with a strategy to help plan for that client with that unique asset. In smaller firms, you don’t have as many areas of expertise. You have a smaller bank. 

And so, you know, there’s pros and cons with everything. Really, to me, the biggest pro to going to a smaller boutique firm with a much different business model was, you know, the bigger firm had such a high overhead. Like, you had to work so hard, bill and collect so many hours or fees just to cover your share of the annual overhead for the firm. And that was a big number at that big firm because there’s a lot of staff, there were a lot of, you know, kind of luxuries really that I enjoyed. 

But as I started to have kids and realized, you know, gosh, if I didn’t, if I wasn’t at the bigger firm with this big-ticket price to be a part of with the overhead, you know, if I had a much lower overhead type situation, gosh, I wonder if I wouldn’t have to work quite so much I can be with my kids. So for me, that was the big win to go into the smaller shop and, you know, my clients could have cared less what firm I was working with. They wanted to work with me. I think in a lot of ways that, you know, it didn’t impact anything with my referrals. It just, you know, I was established when we made that move, and it worked out great for me and for my family.

Davina: Right, right. How many kids do you have? What are their ages?

Kristin: I have two. So Henry, my son, is eight. And then my little girl is five and she is a firecracker. She keeps us busy. So yeah.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. So definitely, yeah, definitely the age, those ages where you want to be there and be present in their lives and not be working those, you know, 80, 90, 100 hour weeks at a big firm, right?

Kristin: Exactly. Exactly.

Davina: I was just talking to a client today about that, about the different hour requirements at large firms, especially for non-partners and how intense it is. I used to work for a large firm but not as an attorney. This was before I became an attorney, and it was crazy what the life of an associate was at a firm like that. And so you see, and you see more and more women who are starting their own firms to create a culture that serves them well. And do you have, is your firm a mix of men and women in the partnership?

Kristin: Yeah, we have nine partners. It’s five women, four men. So, you know, really close to being equal. And, you know, I feel really lucky in that the group of men that we’re with has always and I mean always been supportive, treated us as equals. In fact, they, I worked with them at the larger firm. They hired me there when I was an associate. And they hired me when I was five months pregnant, if that tells you anything. 

Like, not even a blink of an eye. So supportive I actually made partner with, at that larger firm when I was, I think it was like 10 days before I had my daughter, my second pregnancy. So, you know, the, it’s never made a difference with this group of lawyers that I’ve been with. If I’m a guy or girl, it just did not matter. So I feel lucky in that regard. I know not everybody’s had that experience. 

And, you know, I think the lesson to draw there is if anyone’s listening, especially if it’s a younger attorney and associate who doesn’t feel like they’re being treated or valued that way, like, your career does not have to go that way. And you might have to make some hard decisions and, you know, find a different path. But there are definitely opportunities where you’re not going to be treated different because of your gender. So that’s a point I want to make.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s a wonderful point. I think there’s been a lot of changes to when I was, you know, my first career was in marketing before I became an attorney in law. I graduated from law school, and I was, just turned 40. But my earlier career, you know, I’m in my mid-50s now. I look back and it was a very different experience, the way men and women are treated in the workplace. 

So we definitely made a lot progress over time and there’s been a lot of changes. But I want to shift gears and I want to talk about LAWCLERK. And part of my invitation to you to be on this podcast was because I am so excited about LAWCLERK and what you guys are doing there. And I’ve recommended a lot of small attorneys to check you guys out. Small attorneys being attorneys, women law firm owners who own their own firms and they may have smaller firms, you know? 

Kristin: Thank you

Davina: And, but they’re, you’re welcome, but they’re looking to expand their resources and also maybe some of them are in positions where their lives have changed in where they are in their life. Maybe they’d like to be taken on project work and not commit full time does nothing. So tell us about LAWCLERK. And kind of give us a little peek into why you guys came up with this idea. And what was sort of missing for you was that having these attorneys down the hall that you could talk with? So tell us more about LAWCLERK and the kind of attorneys that you have working with you in LAWCLERK. 

All About LAWCLERK

Kristin: Sure. I’d love to. So I think you hit the nail on the head that, you know, a lot of emphasis that started LAWCLERK was leaving the big farm, going to the smaller boutique, wanting to still be able to tap into certain areas of expertise when you need that sort of help. And that’s one of the reasons that went into LAWCLERK. 

We wanted to be able to connect with freelance lawyers that had certain areas of expertise when you need that help. The other big reason was any trial lawyer out there is going to tell you, there’s a certain time where you need to staff up and you just need more lawyers around to crank out work, whether it’s discovery, trial, prep, etc. And so there’s just times you need more people on your team to help you do the best job you can for your clients. 

So those combined were really the two big factors that went into the creation of LAWCLERK. Plus it was around the time of Uber was getting big Airbnb, all these different, you know, marketplace style businesses, and we kind of thought, you know, how can we have that same type of business model and disrupt legal. And that was the whole goal. So the way it works is, it’s a website. You got to lawclerk.legal. You can sign up for an account one of two ways. 

You can sign up for an account if you’re busy attorney and you want to hire some help, great. There’s no fee to sign up for that account. There’s no monthly fee. On the flip side, if you are an attorney who wants to pick up some project work, freelance once in a while or regularly, you do the same thing. You got to walk for that legal sign up, but also for the freelancer accounts. And we also have a lot of attorneys that have both accounts, especially solos. And that’s really interesting to us because you can see the ebbs and flows of their business. 

They’re busy, they’re hiring some help, things slow down, maybe you’ll see them come on and apply to do some freelance work. So it really helps lawyers on the industry on both sides of the equation, no matter which camp they fall into at that particular point in their career. They need to get some help or they are looking to get some extra work. So the cool part is no fee to be a part of it, no monthly fee. The way it works is when a busy attorney logs in, posts a project, you call a piece of work a project. 

And keep in mind this is any sort of written work. So think research projects, letters, pleadings, motions, briefs, settlement agreements, contracts, employment agreements, deed, leases, any sort of written document. Even marketing documents, and we could talk about that. But it’s all of the written work, okay? We want to free up the busy attorneys’ time from the hours and hours of drafting the written product so that they can still be the person to go to the deposition, to go to the negotiation, to appear in court. Because that’s really what the client is hiring you to do. 

And they want you, the person they hired to be there in person representing them and those instances. What we find is clients really aren’t as concerned as if their lawyer uses their discretion to hire talented and qualified freelancer to do some of the drafting work under their supervision, clients that we’ve talked to you all think it’s great because they think they’re getting a better work product. Then you have a motion for summary judgment. 

And either you don’t have time to write it, or you simply just don’t want to write it because you got 40 other things you could do and you’ve written a million motions for summary judgment over your career. So you log into your account, you post as motion for summary judgment, you’re going to post it at a flat fee price. That’s something that’s a little bit different than the traditional contract lawyer model, where, you know, an attorney hires a so-called contract lawyer to do work for them hourly. 

So and we have some advisors that are on staff and can help with the pricing if that’s any concern. You’re going to post the project at the flat the price, we’re going to send notice out to the freelancers that have experience in your area of law to let them know there’s work available and if they, you know, if they have time that week, if they say they look at the description of the work and they say, hey, yeah, I can do that and that seems like a good fair fee, awesome. 

They’re going to apply. Once they apply, the hiring attorney can see a couple of really important things. They can see that person’s resume. But they can see, you know, where they’ve worked, when they go to school, what’s their experience. They’re also going to be provided a writing sample. So, you know, especially for something like a motion for summary judgment, you want to make sure that the applicant is a concise, persuasive writer to get a feel for their writing style. 

And then last but not least, every time a freelancer completes work on our site, and they’re reviewed and rated by the attorney that they did the work for. And they don’t get to see those. And so it really leads to very candid reviews by the hiring attorneys so that you can tell how people have performed on other projects for other lawyers. So the combination of resume, the writing sample, the reviews and ratings, really makes it easy to narrow down the top couple of candidates from the application. And so once you find the best person, you’re matched up with them, they go through a built-in automated conflict check process, super easy. 

And then they get to work. And, you know, we provide a lot of tools that make it easy for attorneys to work collaboratively together in this remote working environment which is nothing new to us at LAWCLERK. All of this has done remote all the time. And so we have a number of built-in tools like document sharing, a chat feature, timekeeping, because the freelancer does still keep track of the time they spent working on that project. 

And what that allows you to do is, you know, okay, freelancer Jane Smith spent a total of 12.7 hours working on this motion for summary judgment. Great. What that allows you to do is the ethics will say that you can bill a freelancer’s time to your client at a reasonable market rate. And we have a white paper on our homepage. If anybody wants to go into a deep dive on other tools and why you can do that just go to lawclerk.legal Scroll all the way left and you’ll find that white paper on ethics and billing the freelancer’s time. 

But, you know, this is really a game-changer for solo attorneys or for small firms to be able to get time-consuming work off their to-do list, get it done by a talented freelancer and still be able to charge that freelancer’s time to their client at a reasonable market rate and generate more revenue. I mean, that’s just huge for someone who’s working a gazillion hours killing themselves, burning the midnight oil night after night. I mean, that’s, it’s pretty powerful what it can do.

Davina: Definitely, definitely. A couple of people I spoke with have used in some unique ways. There was one attorney I spoke with, he is no longer practicing day in and day out. He’s doing something else now. And he hired somebody from LAWCLERK to help him. He was invited to give a presentation and he needed research done and kind of the presentation put together a paper, you know, that kind of thing with it. And he said, you know, I just don’t have the time, given what I’m doing now, and I haven’t been active so I hired some more to prepare all of this for me and then I was able to go and get my presentation and have the paper and everything. 

And so I thought that was a great use of it. And somebody else mentioned that it’s great to use if you have like a, you’re preparing for trial, and you want to get an idea of what the other side might argue, like you want to devil’s advocate, you might want to get an experienced litigator to take a look at what you’ve done and come back with all the holes in your arguments. So, and talk to me about some of the attorneys who has freelance attorneys because I want to get an idea of, we’re not talking about a whole bank of attorneys fresh out of law school who can’t get a job, right?

Kristin: No, no. And I think that’s often the stigma attached with freelance lawyers is oh, it’s either, you know, the new baby lawyers, or the lawyers that can’t get jobs. And the reality of who these freelancers are is, couldn’t be farther from that. So right now, we have approximately 2800 freelancers in the network. Those are lawyers on all 50 states. I’m really proud of that. Most of our lawyers have at least five years of experience. 

I would say the majority of our like, you know, like any sort of marketplace, of course, we have certain rockstar freelancers that just shine that end up getting a lot of the work because they’re so good. Those folks are definitely in the 10 plus years of practice. We’ve got lawyers who, you know, were at big law for a number of years and either got burnout or realized they weren’t going to make partner and decided to open their own firm, but they still got really high-level expertise and, you know, variety of practices or their practice areas. 

We’ve got a lot of solo attorneys all over the country that, like I said, when they get slow, they pick work through our site. We’ve got stay at home parents, military spouses, that’s a big one because, you know, military spouses get moved every two to three years on average. Most bases, and I didn’t know this, but most bases are in pretty rural areas where, you know, there’s not going to be a lot of law firms to go apply to but you got to get licensed on a lot of these states so it’s just a challenge. We’ve got law professors that come on and freelance. We’ve even got some either fully retired or semi-retired lawyers who have practiced 20 to 30 or more years. 

And you have folks that just genuinely loved the law so much, I’m pretty sure they would actually do this work for free. I don’t think the ones I’ve talked to are like, you know, I don’t really care if you pay me, I just want to brief because they love to write, they love to argue. They’re amazing writers. So the reviews on those folks are off the charts. And, you know, for someone who might be in say, their seventh year of practice to partner with a 20 plus year freelance lawyer to get that expertise, like, you’re talking about another set of eyes on your work and your theories and your arguments. That’s really cool, I think. 

Davina: Yeah, yeah. And it’s something that, you know, it’s so funny because people also have this idea that when you work in a firm that you’re automatically kind of going to get mentoring and things like that. And I’ve known a lot of attorneys who’ve worked in firms and they were very much siloed into certain tasks that they did, you know, daily, weekly, monthly, year after year, and they really didn’t get a lot of broad experience and they didn’t get the mentorship that they thought they would get and that kind of thing. 

And when people make that transition and go out and start their own practice, being able to hire a more experienced attorney to talk with you about an issue or, you know, write something about an issue for you, or do some research or anything like that and kind of gives you their comments or feedback is just, I mean, really invaluable, I think

Kristin: Yeah. We’ve even seen lawyers do things like we have one user, I think it was a guy, he put up his motion, he put up the opposing party’s opposition and he hired five different freelancers to do this, okay? He put up both documents. He said, Tell me who wins and why. And then he took those arguments into crafting his reply brief. And so he didn’t put that up to just one person, he like was polling the audience. He put it up, I think, for 100, 150 bucks. So really affordable. Five lawyers looked at it, gave their feedback and he used that to write as his reply brief. 

And so that’s kind of cool like that. We’ve even had people say, you know, I have this document and this kind of comes up more transactional type work, you know, I have this employment agreement from my client. We’re based in Texas, but we have this issue with an employee in Florida, and I just need to get on the phone with a Florida employment Freelancer today for like an hour and talk. Okay, fine. Like, we’ve kind of two people that way. There’s so many really creative ways that lawyers have used this to work together and get better work done for their clients.

Davina: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Because they’re so, like you mentioned, you know, the law is so vast and so detailed, and you may know your area, you know, really well in your state, but sometimes things, you’re going to come in, we all know that, like, every client that walks in the door next is some bar exam question. 

Like, when we’re taking the bar, we think, Oh, you know, you’ll never come across anything like that. And then you get in practice and you learn that every client is a bar exam question. I mean, there’s always these convoluted other issues that come in and they’re, and people are messy. You know, cases are messy. And sometimes, you know, we can’t be walking, talking encyclopedias of the law, like the general public thinks we are, right?

Kristin: Oh, for sure. 

Davina: But we can have this kind of think tank and, with a hive mind, but well, you know, like this brain that’s out there where we can go and say, hey, I want to get some other attorneys input on this, maybe because you’re an expert in this area and I’m not or you’re in the state and I’m not, or you’re in a different jurisdiction, you know, locally, so there, it sounds like there are a lot of resources there. And you said you’ve got over 2800 attorneys right now.

Kristin: The last I checked, and that was a couple weeks ago, and I know we’ve had quite an onslaught of more attorneys signing up, registering just because a lot of people have been furloughed or don’t have quite as much work as they would like the past few weeks. We’re recording this in April 2020. So we’re having more join all the time. And the great thing is because there’s no fees to sign up on either side, it’s a low barrier to entry to get people in and start connecting them.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. Why did you decide to do it with no fees to join?

LAWCLERK Pricing Model

Kristin: Well, we didn’t want, you know what we are primarily aimed at civil attorneys and small firms, and we didn’t want to have some sort of a subscription fee. That would be another line item on their monthly overhead. We’re really conscientious of attorneys’ overhead. And, you know, this is a great option, you know, working with freelancers, there’s so much more affordable, accessible way than the overhead of hiring an associate. And so we just, that was something that was important to us. And we don’t think that will be changed.

Davina: So you collect some sort of percentage?

Kristin: Yes, we take a percentage off of the flat fee project. That’s how it works, exactly. 

Davina: Okay. Okay. What and, you know, you and I talked before today’s call, we’ve talked about, you know, what’s going on now in our world and in, you know, in our country. We’re all, it’s this COVID-19 pandemic and everybody’s quarantined, on lockdown, and you’re seeing a lot more attorneys. We’ve already had been seeing a movement toward virtual law practices, right? Over the last several years. 

And now with this going on, a lot of attorneys who might never have considered a virtual practice in any sort of way, right are finding it, you know, they’re having to step into this model, even if it’s temporary, but I think we’re going to wind up seeing a lot of them realize there are a lot of advantages, even if they don’t work virtually full time, you’re probably going to start seeing people incorporate more flexibility in how they work and how they service clients. 

And you also are going to see kind of an expectation of clients to see more flexibility and attorney services. And so how do you see LAWCLERK playing a role in that if we’re kind of shifting as an industry? I mean, lawyers are so slow to shift as an industry. So it has to take something like a pandemic, probably, to make this happen. But how do you think LAWCLERK sort of playing a role in that?

Kristin: Well, sure. Well, I think, of course, one of the most obvious ways is, you know, any attorney who’s in a growth mindset and they’re growing their firm quickly and maybe until last month, they were planning to hire one associate or two associates this year, certainly what we’re going through right now may give them some level of uncertainty about wanting to take on the responsibility of hiring someone full time in that capacity. And so for those folks, my message would be, you know, don’t put that growth on pause. 

Don’t, you know, reevaluate those plans for what you were hoping to achieve with your firm this year. But consider other options for staffing and getting that work done. And of course, LAWCLERK can be one of those. You know, we have a number of power users on our site who we’re an everyday part of their business model. They had flat out told us they never want to hire another associate. They’re only going to work with our freelance lawyers in that type of capacity moving forward because it’s just been a much better fit for them. But I think that is going to be one way. 

But yeah, I think you’re absolutely right that a lot of lawyers are looking at this and saying, hey, pretty awesome. And why am I driving to an office all the time when I don’t really have to get my work done? I can cut that commute out from my day. You know, do I really need this giant, you know, fancy office? Clients, I don’t think want or expect that all the time. So it’s really going to cause people to evaluate a lot of those things and the way they’re going to do business.

Davina: And if you don’t, a lot of times people have an office too, because they have when they start developing a team and having staff and having, hiring other attorneys, they have to have a place for these people to gather and to go. And now we’ve been seeing for a while, there’s this virtual assistant model, this virtual paralegal model. 

And a lot of firms are doing using virtual assistants, virtual paralegals, but then when they grow to a size where they need more attorneys, up until now, you know, a lot of lawyers are like, well, I’ve got to hire attorneys and how do I hire and manage attorneys that in our working out of their house, right? So is there another way you know, so this offers them another option, just like they use a virtual assistant and they use a virtual paralegal, they can grow their practice maybe by using virtual attorneys as well depending on, you know, their practice area.

Kristin: For sure. For sure. Absolutely.

Davina: Are there any practice areas that you guys don’t cover that you know off the top of your head?

Kristin: Right. You know, we don’t see a lot of like M&A work, mergers and acquisitions. Like that’s not 

Davina: I’m sorry, what kind of work?

Kristin: Like mergers and acquisitions, M&A. You know, that’s big law stuff. Like, we don’t see that on our site. But really, we see pretty much everything else. We’ve seen aviation law, horse racing law, maritime law. Of course, all the main consumer areas, family, bankruptcy, criminal, real estate, estate planning, probate. I mean, we see the whole gamut on the daily. So that’s really exciting that it’s such a broad array. But, you know, really just those few select areas that are pretty heavily traditionally big law type work stuff, that’s the only stuff we don’t see much of,

Davina: Have you had very many attorneys in other countries, other continents, you know, participating, or in either way, I’m looking to hire somebody or in looking to do freelance work? Because I know, you know, we’ve become such a global economy, areas like immigration and, you know, commerce around the globe, all those trademark and patent work that kind of thing. Have you seen that or are they, are we talking mostly right now in US lawyers or Canadian lawyers or?

The Freelancers of LAWCLERK 

Kristin: Right. So right now, we strictly serve US attorneys. So all of the attorneys on the platform are US licensed. That being said, I know of, I can think of two that I know that live out of the states but they are still actively us licensed. One is a guy who does immigration work. He currently works for the United Nations. I forget the exact title but he’s like in Switzerland. You know, and he does some immigration finance work, pretty cool. And he’s still got an active license, one of the states on the East Coast, I can’t remember. 

We have another guy used to be a big law attorney decided, you know, that was not the lifestyle he wanted. Just moved to Costa Rica on a whim thinking he would stay there for like a year while he figured out what he wanted to do. He started freelancing because, you know, again, was one of these guys that love the law and ended up staying in Costa Rica full time. And he freelances through our platform and then directly for a couple of other lawyers. So, but again, they’re all US-licensed, which is the key criteria.

Davina: Right, right. So it’s interesting that you said that because there’s a, I know of a number of women law firm owners who are finding ways to practice in other countries, you know, and they’re licensed here but they want to live part-time in another country for part of the year. They may want to live in Canada or they may want to live in Costa Rica. 

They may want to live in Mexico. They may want to live, you know, wherever. And, but they still are working in their law practices and their law businesses running in case in some cases, million-dollar firms or multimillion-dollar firms from, you know, a beach someplace in, you know, where it’s warm and sunny.

Kristin: Right. Talk about living the dream.

Davina: Yeah, yeah. There, I listen, I know a few who are doing it and I love it. I love it. And it doesn’t work for everybody. You know, just like a virtual model doesn’t work for everybody. There’s some people, they want different things in their lives. But no matter whether you have a traditional brick and mortar law firm, or you’re working virtually or whatever, you still, it’s a great resource because you can find somebody, you know, we always have those needs sometimes where we like really just need to pick another lawyers brain, you know? 

Even at that level, knowing that there’s that resource out there. And so many attorneys who are doing that. What do you do when you get, have you had situations where you’ve had attorneys who didn’t perform? Either hiring attorneys who didn’t do what they say they were going to do or freelance attorneys who didn’t say what they were going to do, and how do you handle something like that?

Kristin: Sure. Great question. So, of course, working with thousands of lawyers all over the country, things are gonna happen. There’s gonna be disagreements or, you know, life happens. We have a freelancer a couple years ago in the winter, he was in Minnesota, fell on ice, had a concussion, was in the hospital three days. You know, the attorney couldn’t get hold of him, we couldn’t get a hold of him, you know, medical emergency. Life happened. So what we’ve got to give people peace of mind on that is some data and the guarantees. 

So we have a rating scale, like I mentioned, on every single project to either exceeded expectations, met expectations or did not meet expectations. We get that did not meet expectations on less than 1% of projects. So it’s really limited and we’re really proud of that. Because we’ve got such a great track record, we offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee on every single project. So if you get work product that isn’t what you wanted or something goes wrong, you know, medical emergency, we’re going to get your money back to you. 

And on top of that, assuming there’s still time, we’re going to hustle and get a different freelancer who, you know, have really gotten to know, to come in and get that work done for you. Sometimes even at our cost. So we really try to always do right by our hiring attorneys to make it right for them. And there’s very limited situations where things don’t go the way we hoped. But yeah, we’re encouraged by the facts, but so far, the track record has been really strong on success stories.

Davina: That’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. And you haven’t had any situations where somebody’s disappointed by the work products?

Kristin: Yes. Yeah, of course, again, you know, a lot of that goes back to the hiring attorney didn’t take the time to really set clear expectations for the scope of work. You know, they don’t have a very detailed description. Also, I mean, I hate to point it back on the hiring attorney, but a lot of times attorneys wait to the last minute. 

So they’re trying to push a freelancer who they’ve never worked with before to write this magic, you know, perfect motion in only a day when, you know, if they would have delegated it with a couple more extra days on top of that, it would be better. So, you know, that’s the other situation where we really see problems with people come on and try to do a rush project with a freelancer they’ve never worked with before. It’s just not a good pattern.

Davina: Yeah, well, they probably get disappointed that the person doesn’t think exactly the way they do. Which, you know, that’s just the, you know, that’s the way we are sometimes. We think, Oh, you know, it’s so clear in my head. I don’t understand how someone else just know them.

Kristin: We remind the attorneys all the time, you know, our freelancers are incredible, but they’re not mind readers. You need to really take the time at the onset to give really clear instructions, directions. And also, understand your own expectations. If you expect to get a product back 100% perfect ready for you to sign and file with the court, like, that’s unrealistic. What we tell folks is if you get a draft document that’s 80 to 85% of the way done, that’s a home run. 

That’s great. That’s what you should be getting. You should expect to still spend a decent amount of time to review it, edit it, add additional facts that maybe only you and your client know from, you know, all the meanings you’ve had together. But don’t expect to get something 100%. It’s just, that’s not realistic. And so we work a lot with the attorneys to manage their own expectations as well.

Davina: So you have a process and guidelines and people that the hiring attorneys can talk with about how to create better specs for what it is they’re looking for, right? And how to work with a freelance lawyer.

Kristin: Exactly. So we, that’s one of the things I love to talk about. So when you have a new attorney on the hiring attorney site, when they sign up, they are matched up with what we call a dedicated walk work advisor. The advisor is really like a concierge. They are there to hold the attorney’s hand, guide them through the flat fee pricing, guide them through selecting the right freelancer, you know, help them along the way through their first project, especially until they get a hang of it. 

And then the advice is, there are to, if things start to go wrong, if, you know, they can’t get ahold of freelancer or something they can help spot check that. But you have this dedicated LAWCLERK advisor is going to work hand in hand with any attorney to help guide them. And the other really cool part of that is, you know, our advisors work with, each advisor works with a couple hundred lawyers all over the US. 

So they can think about other attorneys in their network that they’re working with and how they’re succeeding with LAWCLERK and give you advice based on that to hopefully set you up for success. And I think that’s just one of the most powerful things that we offer that you get that partner and your advisor to work with you with a freelancer so definitely, I like that.

Davina: Yeah, that’s wonderful. Now I know that you guys, you started this business because you had, you’re working with your friends that you started your boutique firm with. And it was one of the things that you missed, that you all missed was having that think tank and that access to researchers and associates and just other lawyers in different practice areas that you could walk down the hall and ask. So are, do you find that you have been using this LAWCLERK as well? Do you guys use LAWCLERK?

Kristin: We do. And in fact, we use it so heavily that in all of our data, we filter out all of the work just from our law firm because we don’t want to do it. But we do. I see someone from our law firm post on there at least once a day, and it’s gotten us through some big litigations that we’ve had with, actually, big New York firms where, you know, we’re going up against hundreds of lawyers with our little 16, lawyer firm. 

And we use them to, you know, come in and do document review, writing motions, and all sorts of countless things that we haven’t really added headcount at our firm because we’ve been using these freelance lawyers instead, in order to help keep our overhead low. And, you know, actually, we ran out of offices too. Like, actual rooms where a lawyer can sit and work. 

So that was another big factor as well. You know, we’re kind of out of space. And do we really want to hire someone else full time? Or can we leverage the freelancers for those instances where we need extra help? So it’s been great to have our law firm as our own test kitchen of sorts to get, you know, the kinks worked out of the system, but we still use it all the time. It’s become an integrated part of our business model.

Davina: Right, right. It probably is, it really enhances your experience as an attorney to be able to work with such a variety of other lawyers too. You know, when you’re in a firm is particularly a small firm, you get to see those same folks over and over again. And when you’re kind of expanding your business in this way, you probably really meet some interesting people and interesting attorneys and build relationships all over the country.

Kristin: You do. It’s been so great to meet the different freelancers, get to know them and see the world from their perspective and their take on different legal issues. So it’s eye-opening.

Davina: Right. Well, it’s it has been wonderful talking with you today about LAWCLERK. And I’ve really been wanting to get you on so we could record this and share it with our audience of women law firm owners, because I know so many of them will, probably don’t know about it and would really love to take advantage of it either as a hiring attorney, or maybe even kind of to expand their own business by doing some work with you guys as freelance attorneys. 

Kristin: Sure, sure. Davina, if it would be okay, I’d love to give your listeners a rebate code and offer code if they want to try us out and sign with us today. And let’s do, I was debating, what if we do, Davina 2020. So it would DAVINA 2020. And what that will do is, that’s for the hiring attorney. So, you sign up for your account, no cost for that. If you post a project of $300 or more, I’m going to send you $100 Amazon gift card, okay? That will be the incentive and a thank you for trying us out and spending this time with us on the podcast today.

Davina: Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I know that they love that and it’s really generous of you guys to do that. So we appreciate it. Tell us where we can find out more about LAWCLERK, and if people want to connect with you, where they can connect with you? Is the best place LinkedIn or is it, you know, Instagram or emailing you? Or, so tell us that.

Kristin: Yeah, absolutely. So for the company, you know, the best way to find us as lawclerk.legal. That’s the website. Of course, we’re on all the big social channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. We’ve got a great YouTube channel if you go to youtube.com/lawclerk, we have a ton of tutorials there to help you get up and going and answer a lot of questions. We also have an Instagram account for the company and that’s the place where we have fun. That was very little business. It’s a lot of fun. We have this unofficial, official mascot, which is our little squeezy shark that we handle all the conferences that we go to. 

And so we call him Sharky and he’s got his own Instagram. It’s @sharkontherun. And we have a lot of fun there. So, but for me personally, if you have questions, if you have feedback, probably the best way to connect with me would be either LinkedIn or email. It’s [email protected]l. And happy to answer any questions that your listeners have and help them get up and hopefully running with us.

Davina: Wonderful. Well, thanks again for being here and I’ve had a lot of fun and I really appreciate it.

Kristin: My pleasure. Thank you, Davina.