Where We Can Lean In More

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Episode Description

Running your own business can often feel isolating, leaving practitioners questioning whether they’re on the right track or simply going through the motions. But fear not, in this episode, we share resources and strategies to lean into to navigate the journey.

The Solo Struggle

Solo practitioners can find themselves trapped in a silo of their own making. It’s easy to become engrossed in your cases or business, feeling disconnected from the wider legal community. Isolation is a common struggle for solo and small firm lawyers. The absence of coworkers to bounce ideas off or seek advice from can be emotionally draining.

Communities can be a lifeline for lawyers feeling isolated. We explore the different avenues available, such as bar associations, online groups, and masterminds – even creating your own. We discuss how to engage with others, even when it feels vulnerable, and why it’s worth the effort. We stress the importance of dedicating time to finding and engaging with a supportive community, both for professional growth and personal well-being.

Embracing Fresh Perspectives

We encourage lawyers to step outside their comfort zones and consider ideas from various sources and industries. Instead of dismissing new ideas outright, we discuss the value of adapting and applying these ideas to your own practice. We share the books that made a significant impact on us and our businesses. For those who prefer listening, we highlight some podcasts that are inspirational and practical. We explore the benefits of listening to entrepreneurs from various sectors and how their experiences can translate to the legal field. 

We examine how concepts like Amazon’s frictionless buying and Starbucks’ “third place” concept can be adapted to create a unique law firm experience. Being intentional about the brands and personalities you follow can offer valuable insights into effective marketing strategies.

Forging Your Own Path

Breaking away from convention can be daunting, but also incredibly rewarding. We talk about listening to your intuition and taking calculated risks to forge your own path. We emphasize the importance of celebrating even the smallest wins and how sharing these successes within your community can be uplifting. We share how the traditional narrative taught and shared by law schools and others in the profession is difficult to break away from but why it’s so important to write your own.

Join us in this episode as we explore the challenges, strategies, and mindset shifts needed for solo and small firm lawyers to thrive in an entrepreneurial landscape that’s not always easy. Whether you’re looking for a supportive community, fresh perspectives, or ways to differentiate your practice, this episode has something for every lawyer on their journey of growth.

Listen now.

Episode Resources

Ep 8: The Power of Positive Connections with Martha Knudson

Ep 3: The Importance of Being Authentic with Ryann Peyton

Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller

Profit First by Mike Michalowiz 

Mindset by Carol Dewek

More of Lauren’s Book Recommendations

Business Made Simple podcast

The Goal Digger podcast

Online Marketing Made Easy podcast 

Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast

How I Built This podcast

Gary Vee

Jessie Itzler 

Donald Miller 

Episode Transcript

Lauren: That very strong narrative of this is how you’re a lawyer and you’re not a lawyer unless you check off these boxes, whatever those boxes are from how you look to what you believe, to who you love, to how you work, I mean, all of the things. And for me, it’s like, am I not working enough?

INTRO: Welcome to a different practice. We’re your hosts, Lauren Lester, and Jess Bednarz, and we’re obsessed with all things business, well-being, and optimizing the practice of law for solo and small firm lawyers. Lauren started her solo practice right out of law school, built it from the ground up, and now works four days a week while earning well over six figures. Jess approaches the profession as a whole to identify opportunities for growth and help implement systemic improvements. We’re here to share tangible concrete tools and resources for ditching the legal profession’s antiquated approach and building a law practice optimized for growth and enjoyment. Think of this as grabbing coffee with your work besties mixed with all the stuff they didn’t teach you in law school about how to run a business. Pull up a seat, grab a cup, and get ready to be encouraged and challenged. This is a different practice.

Lauren: Hi, y’all. Welcome back to another episode of a different practice. I don’t know if you have noticed, but being a solo or in a small law firm is freaking hard. A lot of the days, like a lot of the days, it’s hard. There are some really big wins that keep us going, and we can celebrate those. But a lot of the days we’re kind of just in the silo. I know for me, especially, like, I’m the only one. I don’t have a paralegal. I don’t have a legal assistant. I work virtually, so it’s just me a lot of the time. And that can just feel really isolating. It can feel really challenging in terms of knowing, like, am I doing this thing am I making the right call? Is this the right pivot for my business? What’s the strategy in this case? Right? The only person I have to talk to is me. And I’m a One on the Enneagram. And if you’re familiar with the Enneagram, the only other voice I hear is the critic, and she is not helpful. I don’t like her very much, but she talks too, but she’s not helpful. So we wanna talk today about helpful resources. For being a solo small firm. And some things maybe that we can lean into more that give us some more support, that give us a little bit more community around us that maybe have us reach a little bit further to grow our business to optimize the business for wellness if that’s maybe not been a priority or has taken a little bit of a back seat? So we wanna go through a few different ideas. Hopefully, these are helpful. And as always, we’d love to hear your feedback and anything that you do in your solo or small firm that makes you feel a little bit less alone, especially on those hard days.

Jess: When we first tossed around the idea of doing this particular episode, the first thing that came to mind to me is community. And this is something that just always comes to mind time and time again, but I was most recently reminded about it because the AVA Annual Meeting was in Denver. And so a lot of people were in town. This was an in-person conference. And I was signed up to go to not only a conference portion but also a reception, a dinner, all the things, all opportunities to actually and I put people in person. And I was pretty excited about it because even though I’m not a solo or small firm practitioner right now, there are days where I feel very related to because I think part of this post-pandemic era, a lot of meetings are via Zoom now, and there are good reasons for that and benefits to that. But what it means or at least one thing it means is that a lot there are a lot less opportunities to actually be meeting with and talking with people in person. And, you know, community can live a lot of different ways, but I think having community in person should be at least part of this strategy. So the power of community in connection, it’s really strong. And if you haven’t listened to our I believe it was episode eight with Martha Knudson about the power of connection. I highly recommend it because I think it’s something that is often overlooked and just not really prioritized. It’s really easy to put at the bottom of the list because sometimes doing this takes a lot of time out of our day, but it’s so important for our well-being. And so we really wanna encourage able to lean into community. However, that looks for you. And again, this can look a lot of different ways. And here are just some ideas that we have. We would love to hear anything that you’re doing to create community. And not only create community, but also prioritize it. Right? So we’re gonna give you some ideas to get started. This isn’t just check it out once, and then I’ve checked the box and I’m done.
I think community is something that you constantly need to be building and be involved with in order for it to be truly effective. So a few things that came to mind. I just mentioned one, right, a bar association. So that’s what brought it to mind to me more recently. It was so awesome just to see people in person not only to learn from them about the legal industry but just to chat with people about their challenges and the things that they’re experiencing because you really quickly learned that it’s not just you experiencing these things. But of course, it feels that way. If you’re just feeling kind of isolated and you don’t have people around you, it’s really easy to go down that path. But if you can talk to other people and you quickly learn that You know what? This is actually something they’re experiencing too. And maybe they’ll have some tips for you. And if not, maybe they can just, you know, empathize with you. And you have someone to experience those feelings with and you don’t have to experience them alone. So bar associations are a great place to consider. They’re all different levels. The American Bar Association is obviously a national-level organization and there are tons of other ones that are national. Those could be great places to start. They’re good for professional development, and again, just having other like-minded people around you. They’re state bar associations. More local bar associations, specialty bars, all kinds of bar associations, really. So if that is your jam, Check it out.
A lot of them do provide value, so that could be a really great option. There are various online groups And this could mean a lot, I think, different things too. So for example, I know there are a lot of really active Facebook groups that are attorney-focused. Not only is that a great place to pop questions into and get some help that way. But I think some of these groups meet outside of online; they do things in addition to just sharing information and messaging each other.
So perhaps they have some virtual gatherings. I think some of them have some in-person gatherings. Maybe locally or maybe it’s more once a year thing where everyone gets together across the country. So that’s a really good opportunity to meet up with people Masterlines are something that we certainly use in our incubator program and there are a lot of them out there now. If you don’t know what a mastermind is, let’s see if I can define this well enough. It’s basically a structured opportunity for like-minded people to get together to discuss and support each other towards a certain goal. And so in this setting, I would see it as, if it was a solo and small firm lawyer, perhaps it’s eight people who have committed to spending one, maybe two hours a month during, like, a set day every month. That’s all set out in advance. It’s structured. And you have an agenda for the meeting, and they’re all set up a little bit differently. Sometimes one person will have a little more time and they have an opportunity to talk a little bit about the challenge that they have and they get support from the group. Sometimes it’s a little more even where everyone gets an opportunity to share a challenge, to get support. And it’s really just whatever the goal of the group is, but it is structured and it’s a way for you to develop community with people in various practice areas and in various situations. It could also just be very business-focused. So it really could be a lot of different things. But I think what sets us apart is really the structure of it. It’s something that you can count on, it keeps you accountable, that type of thing. So that could be an option for you. And if that’s something that sounds interesting, we’d be happy to connect you with one. We could possibly create one amongst our group, or we would be happy to help you flush that out a little bit more. Maybe you can create one. That would be really cool.

Another thing is just cold-calling some people, so I certainly have people reach out to me on LinkedIn because they’re interested in something I’m working on. Maybe they’re interested in the pricing toolkit, what have you, and they’re just like, I’d really love to learn more about this particular resource. I’d love to learn more about you and the work that you’re doing. Can we set up a time to either Zoom chat if they’re not close by. Sometimes, can we grab coffee? Because they’re just right here in Denver. That is a great way to start reaching out to people and building community And when we say community, you know, it doesn’t need to be hundreds of people. It could be very small. Right? It could be people just here and there. I feel like in my community, I certainly have groups of people who maybe are like sub-communities, but I also just have individuals who I regularly meet up with maybe once a month or once a quarter. Just to kinda, like, check-in and see how things are going, both in their work life and their personal life, and it’s just so rewarding. And so if you don’t currently have those people, if you see someone present or maybe you see someone post something interesting online, it’s a great opportunity to reach out to them. And I will say nine times out of ten that person is going to accept your invitation to connect and they’re gonna be excited about it. So I know that could seem like a scary thing to do, but really challenge yourself to lean into that fear and just put yourself out there and I think you’re gonna find it really, really rewarding. So I think that’s a really good option. And then, of course, we here at A Different Practice are a community. Hopefully, you’ve already included us in your community groups but we are also a space and a community where we connect, and get good ideas from. And like I said, we’re open to your ideas. If the mastermind is something that would be a benefit to this community, we are open to creating resources like that. But we just wanna make sure that they’re responsive to the needs and interests of the group. So please consider us in this list of communities as well. What about you, Lauren? How do you build community?

Lauren: I really use the safe reach out of, like, an email. That’s how I usually start, like, oh, that person posted something or I saw them present. I do not have the personality to just like go walk up to them. That sounds terrifying to me. If you do, like, please give me some of your magic sauce, but that doesn’t work for me.
I have definitely in the past sent out many an email of, hey, I saw you present. I really liked what you had to say on this thing, you know, would you be interested in grabbing some coffee? I’ve met some of my closest colleagues that way, but just by reaching out because I saw them somewhere or maybe I did happen to go to an event and certainly didn’t talk a lot to a lot of people, but maybe just sort of notice to them and heard what they had to say in a conversation. So that really is my safe way. It doesn’t it I lean into it. It’s still scary to me even writing an email. But like you said, it has such a powerful impact and I feel like I can do that comfortably uncomfortably enough or I’m still terrified, but it’s worked out. And, like, I always tell myself worst case, what are they gonna say? Like, no, I’m busy. Like, okay. Then that probably wasn’t the right person for me to connect with. It’s okay I’m not gonna connect with everybody. And the other thing I think is really important that I have to intentionally a priority is continuing to follow-up. So I think your point was really great, Jess. Like, yeah, you can have coffee once, and it probably will help. And especially if you get into, like, oh, that happened to you. What happened to me? Well, like, I’m not alone. But if it just sort of dies after that, it doesn’t have the same impact and kind of long-term help to support well-being and to support that feeling of community. And so I’ve really, in the last couple of months, made it an intention. Okay. I gotta reach out to this person to go for coffee again. And it’s actually on my to-do list because that’s the only way I’m ever going to remember and, b, do it because I’ll come up with the excuse, like, they’re probably busy. Like, they don’t wanna you know, I don’t wanna interrupt them. Like, I’m not gonna I’ll send the text next week and then it becomes the next week and next week and it never happens. Now I have it on my list of, oh, I haven’t talked to someone so in a little bit. Let me reach out and see if they’re available to grab coffee. And that’s been really key and actually keeping up those relationships is not only reaching out the first time, but being consistent didn’t. And it doesn’t it’s not like every four weeks, but just oh, sometimes it’s gone by and I wanna I wanna reach out to them again. And for me, the one-on-one coffees are the best. I get the most benefit out of them. I just had one the other week shout-out to Shannon, which she probably doesn’t realize, but was so helpful to me because I’ve struggled a lot in the past with opposing counsel who just make my life miserable. And she was kind of just venting that she was experiencing that too, and it just made me feel less alone and there’s so much power in that feeling of not being so isolated. And you’re not the only person going through the thing. That you’re going through and being able to kind of help each other and say, well, what did you do? And oh, you responded that way, well, that’s such a great idea. I should do that or Here’s what I did that really helped. Like, that piece of the community and the dialogue makes such a difference.

Jess: Yes. I don’t know if you remember this, Lauren, but that is how we met.

Lauren: We did.

Jess: We attended a Colorado Women’s Bar Association Committee meeting. You and I were on delivery of legal services, maybe, or something along those lines…

Lauren: Sure.

Jess: So we went around the room, we introduced ourselves, both Lauren and I were pretty new to Colorado at the time. But then we quickly transition to committee business. But afterward, sometime probably within a week or so after that committee being Lauren sent an email to me and said that she either had or was getting ready to launch her practice what I had talked about, which I think was probably the legal incubator program, and Sethi pricing had really resonated with her. And would I be open to grabbing coffee? And I on the receiving end, of course, I was super excited that anyone was actually interested. And what I was talking about, that was so refreshing. But I was also new to the community and looking to meet people and, you know, the rest is history, but This is a great example. And just so you know, on the receiving end, also I think most people are gonna look at that and feel flattered and be energized and also just see, you know, everyone’s looking for an opportunity to have a break and just chat with people. So do the best you can to kinda put that fear aside and just send out that email. And then I hundred percent agree with you. If the response is no response or I’m too busy, then it just really wasn’t meant to be. Like, that’s not your person.

Lauren: And that’s not about you personally either. Like, that has no reflection, which I’ve had to remind myself. Like, that is not a reflection of me at all. They probably, for whatever reason, are genuinely busy or this is just not their vibe. They just don’t wanna connect. But that has nothing to do with me and doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try again with someone else.

Jess: Exactly. Yep. And I love that you have it on your to-do list. It’s funny. I will go through phases where I’ll set a bunch of these up and it’s great and I’m feeling great. It’s like a little chaotic and that adds extra or takes time away from doing other work and then I feel like maybe I need a little bit of a break, but then I get to a point where I I start feeling a little sad. I have to kind of sit there and think, like, What is this? I’m like, oh, it is because I haven’t talked to anyone. You know, for x period of time, like, I need to schedule some more copies or lunches or whatever it is. And, you know, maybe you’re the type of person who’s really good at this in your personal life, but it really needs to be you really need to work community too. I think having both of those communities is really, really important, and to prioritize it.

So the next one we have on here as things, practices, that we would love to see solo small firm practitioners lean into because it would just only help their cause and help their clients is to really consider new ideas or ideas that are coming from other industries and how they could be incorporated in their practice. And so perhaps you just listened to the previous episode during which we talked about our ex. And so one of my icks on there just to refresh your memory, or for those of you did not listen to that episode. If you haven’t, go back and listen after this one. But the if that I listed in that episode was that oftentimes I presented on various practices and ideas from other practitioners or sometimes some other industries that I’ve seen work and want to share with practitioners, get them to incorporate more in their practice, and you know, I can see on people’s faces. They seem excited about it. Some people come up and talk to me. And then there’s always kind of this I’m gonna call it an excuse. It’s almost just like this something shifts where they’re like, but that’s it’s cool. Cool. But it’s not gonna work for my practice. Might have worked for their practice. It might work for that industry, but my practice is different. You know, there’s something very special about it. All, every case is different. It’s not gonna work for my practice. And so it’s immediately almost like a no as opposed to wow. This is really cool. Like, how could I potentially incorporate this into my practice? And so we talked a little bit about it. Lauren had a really great tip, which was instead of saying no, like, say yes, that’s a great idea. And this is how I could potentially incorporate it into my practice. We talk about pricing all the time. That’s kind of a big focus point for a different practice. Lauren and I will present on this topic a lot. And the reason we do that, there are lots of reasons. I’m not gonna give the presentation. And I almost just, like, launched right into it.

Lauren: Of course. We’re so passionate about it!

Jess: We believe in it so much. There are so many benefits for both lawyers and for clients. And that’s why we talk about it. But in that example, like in that presentation, for example, and if you look on the toolkit, you’re gonna see that we’re drawing examples from other industries like we draw an example from the airline industry. The reason we do that is because the other industries offer this fee structure, and it works. And there’s nothing about the legal profession that would suggest otherwise. And in fact, there are law firms in the legal profession that make it work. And so we’re just really encouraging people here to again, instead of leaning back maybe there’s fear involved or just lack of recognition on how it could work, and just lean into it and say, yes, this is a good idea. And then determine how it’s a good idea for your practice and how could you potentially make it work. Maybe you don’t ultimately implement it and that’s okay. Again, just the idea of kind of having that mindset shift where you’re now considering these new ideas as opposed to immediately kind of stuffing them in a drawer, like, that would be really really huge. And so you might be asking yourself, well, okay, I’m listening to you. You’ve got my attention. I’m gonna try to make this mindset shift. But where like, what ideas are you talking about? Where might I find them? Wow. You’re unlocked. Here’s a few suggestions or at least a few things that Lauren and I have done that have proven to be useful. And again, we would love to hear if you have something that we don’t mention as well. So first of all, just reading, there are so many great books out there that are focused on business some aspect of business that are focused on maybe productivity, like, personal productivity, personal development, so many out there and we could probably post a list to this podcast episode with some places to get started, some books. That we’ve read, that we found really useful. I know Lauren does a book review at the end of every year. She can talk about this in a second. She’s a very avid reader. I’m super impressed. I so wish I could be like her. I am on the other end of the spectrum, and I’ll let her give some examples here in a second. But I’m gonna pair this part of the discussion with podcasts because Lauren is amazing and can read, like, I don’t know what, thirty-some books. Did you how many books did you read last year?

Lauren: Yeah. Thirty-ish.

Jess: Yeah. Thirty. I I don’t even know if I read three books the whole year. I just slowest reader puts me to sleep. I really struggle with it. So for me, podcasts are really helpful because they’re bite-sized. It’s something I can listen to. I don’t actually have to read it on a page or on a screen. I can do it on cooking, like, all these different things. So the first is to read or listen to podcasts, and we can probably get using examples right now. Lauren, what are some of the books that you’ve read or some podcasts you listened to recently that you really like?

Lauren: My book recommendations, and these two fundamentally changed my business for the better. One is Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller, who I just adore and I will put it out into the universe that one day we will work together. And the other one is Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, which I talked about on a couple of episodes back when I went through the exact numbers that I use in my law firm. One of them comes from the process in that book. So those were fantastic. But like Jess said, there’s so many. I loved the story from Nike’s founder called Shoe Dog, which was not a traditional business book, like, he didn’t teach you how to run a business. It was just the story of Nike, but you pull out so many anecdotes and tidbits about decisions that he made and he talks about why the decision and this is like a shoe company, but I would pull stuff out even if it was just like, keep going. That hurdle is not gonna stab you, just keep going. Like, even books like that, if you wanted something that was a little bit more of a story versus instructional, something like that. Like, read the books by the business people who have built a business. Those are really fantastic. And then for podcasts, Donald Miller also has a podcast called Business Made Simple. My favorite thing about it is listening to the discussions he has with other entrepreneurs and they’re from all different sectors, but they have a problem that they come with. Kinda like a mastermind and they say, here’s the biggest problem in my business right now, and then Donald Miller works through it with them, and I’ve gotten so many tidbits and ideas. I usually listen at the gym, and I will have on many occasions immediately text suggests. Like, I got an idea for the business. I’m just listening to this podcast. Like, that’s typically the podcast that that comes from. The Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher is really good about business and then Entrepreneurs on Fire. Again, just kind of interviews different entrepreneurs. So If you like that and like to get inspired by those kinds of folks, those are really fantastic podcasts to check out.

Jess: Yeah. Those are great. On the book list, I will put Carol Dweck’s Mindset. That was a book that was really transformative for me. Probably can tell because I’ve mentioned mindset several times already. I just think mindset is so huge. I think it’s the starting point for everything, and I just thought this focus really interesting, not just for word, but just life generally. So I would throw that one on there. And then podcast, I agree. Business meets I really really like, like, the other ones you mentioned too. I also really love How I Built This. It’s just all about how a lot of these big-name companies that you’re familiar with got started. And I think you’d be really surprised to hear all the journeys are different. It’s all over the board. So if you’ve ever felt like your startup journey has been chaotic, listen to some of those episodes and you all feel like you’re right on track. So I would recommend that in addition to books and podcasts, social media is a great option. That’s a great way to find not only different legal entrepreneurs, but I would just say entrepreneurs more generally. I would just say always we encourage people, yes, look within the legal profession, but just don’t stop there because again, there are just so many ideas that can be drawn from other industries. And so that’s a great way to get some really good ideas, follow people on whatever your social media of choice is. You’re not into social media, that’s okay. Don’t worry about this one. You don’t need to do all of these things. Right? Just pick one that works best for you. Lauren, who do you like to follow on social media?

Lauren: I love Gary Vee. He does a great job of creating bite-sized content that is focused on entrepreneurs. So some of the content is about the latest tech that you can use to potentially grow your reach and your marketing. And then sometimes it’s just about the entrepreneur mindset, which always seems to find me on those days that I’m like, why did I do this? This was so stupid. I’m gonna quit. And then I see his video and he’s like, go for it. You’ve got it! It’s hard, but you could do this! So he always gives me, he’s like a little cheerleader for me. So Gary Vee is really fantastic. I also really love Jesse Itzler. He is married to Sarah Blakely, who is the founder of Spanx. They have built some pretty big businesses. He has his own business as well — businesses — I should say. And he does a lot of the same thing, like, just kind of motivational and then sometimes also talking about the grind of building a business and some of the mistakes that he’s made and some of the successes that he’s had and what those have meant, and they’re both very family-focused, which I particularly love that their businesses did not take over their lives, but they were more a vehicle to be able to have the life that they want and be able to raise their kids and be super involved. So I love his platform as well, and then I’m gonna plug it again just because Donald Miller has all of the platforms covered. So however you like to consume your content, he’s got something for you and I cannot say enough about the resources that he provides.

Jess: I mean, that’s great. Even if, like, I really am into food, so I’ll follow a lot of food-related bloggers and such. And just seeing things like how they present food and the content. Like, that is something that’s helpful too because then you might be able to draw from that for your social media account, for your firm. So it can really this inspiration and these ideas can really be found anywhere which kind of leads us to one of our last examples here, but certainly this is not an exhaustive list, which is just to be a mindful consumer, try to take a minute and think about some of your favorite brands and why you buy from them because that’s probably going to give you an example of something you might be able to incorporate into your firm. So for example, since I moved to Colorado a little over a year ago at this point, I’ve really taken advantage of the outdoors. Like, really leaning in, so a lot of outdoor brands are really top of mind for me right now. One example is Cotopaxi. What do I love about it? I love the color walking on all of their clothes. Like for me, visual is really important. So if you are not a visual person, just know that there is a segment of the population where they’re very visual and just see how things are laid out and colors it creates a mood and a feeling and I’m very much that type of person. So for me, when I see they’re bright, it’s usually bright colors, bright color blocking, and then they use a llama or it’s probably an alpaca as, like, their logo. Like, it just brings me so much joy to see that all the time. And so you could think about, hey, I guess, first of all, is that the feeling that you want your target of greatest to have? Maybe it’s a different feeling. But to think about what it is, what feelings you do want your target clients to have? And then maybe think about a brand that makes you have those feelings. And what is it about what is it about that they do that really evokes those feelings and can you draw something from them and incorporate into your practice? Another example, and then I’m gonna see what your thoughts are, Lauren, But this one we reference a lot especially when we’re talking about pricing and just value more generally is Amazon. So love them or hate them. They totally have nailed it. When it comes to understanding what it is their consumers ultimately want and delivering that value. And for them, especially in the beginning, but still today. It really was the convenience, the convenience of that one click and having things delivered directly to your doorstep. So that’s another example too. I think a lot of legal consumers are looking for convenience. So think about the brands, that do that well in your opinion and how you might be able to draw from that and incorporate into your practice.

Lauren: Amazon has given me a lot of inspiration. And again, like, you said, love them or hate them. You can have your opinion of the business separately. But when a business is doing well, you can definitely take ideas from them. So from Amazon to two of the things I’ve drawn from and actually incorporated into my business is first, the suggested products. Like, so I really do think it’s Amazon probably is listening, but you know when you get like, hey, we noticed you by this. You might want this and you’re like, yes, that is the thing that I’ve been missing in my whole life. Thank you so much, Amazon. So I had that happen and then thought, that was so nice as a consumer. Like, I didn’t have to go for look around for it. I almost, like, didn’t know I needed it, but it was a thing I needed, and they served it right up. Made it super easy to purchase. I thought how can I do something similar in my practice? And with legal, sometimes it is harder. Like, I will say that. I am in divorce and estate planning and, like, I’m not going back to my divorce clients and going, hey, did you wanna get that next divorce? Heard you got married? Right? Like not. You can’t always go one to one, but I could think, okay, is there a way that I can serve another product for them or another service based on what they’ve purchased. So for divorce, for me, it’s checking in once a year and saying hey, you just wanted to see how things are going. You know, wanna hear how the kids are doing. But also, did we need to kinda look at child support? Does that need to be updated again? Or for my estate planning clients, like, has anything changed? And it’s a way for me to connect with them to kinda get an update on their life. But also to say, oh, you bought a house. Like, we might need to make some updates or you had another baby. Awesome. Congratulations.
Do we need to make some tweaks to the estate plan. So just kind of giving those prompts, which is what I took from Amazon in a way that’s not intrusive. It’s not every week. Like, it’s maybe once or twice a year, but it just keeps you kind of top of mind to the client. And the other thing I took from Amazon was their one-click buy. Like you said, right, that that was revolutionary when they did it. It made it super easy. It made them a ton of money because made it super easy, but I thought what they’re really doing there is removing the friction. Right? We’ve all been on those websites where it’s like sixty-five clicks to get to a phone number.
That’s friction. Every one of those clicks is friction. So Amazon just thought how can we remove the friction even from putting it in the cart to the and clicking checkout. They said, well, why don’t we just remove the cart and we’ll just go right to checkout? So I thought, okay, how can I remove the friction in my law firm? One example that I came up with is for my marital agreement clients, they have to sign their marital agreement in front of a notary to get it executed. And for a lot of them, they’re busy professionals. They have jobs. It’s in the middle of the week. They have all these responsibilities. They often don’t have the time. And especially with their spouse or soon-to-be spouse to coordinate two schedules, to go somewhere, to sit there, to have a notary. And so how can I remove the friction for them? All they need is a notary, to sign their signatures, so I just hired a mobile notary to go to them. And my clients have loved it. I found a mobile Notary who’s so fantastic, and he has, like, eight to eight PM. Like, he has these great range of hours, and he’ll go to the clients’ work or home or coffee shop or wherever they wanna meet and the clients love it because it’s so much more convenient for them and it removes that friction of getting in the car, driving somewhere, sitting in traffic, waiting for the notary, waiting for their that those are all friction points. So just thinking about it. In that way, when you find something you love about a company, think about what it is at its essence, that it’s doing, And then how can you apply that in your law firm?

Jess: Love that. And I got to meet the mobile notary.

Lauren: Yeah. He’s wonderful. Right?

Jess: He was. He’s professional, super knowledgeable. He was funny. He was great. Love that. I’m gonna offer a space example. So Again, I guess, maybe love or hate them. We’re having to say this more and more about companies these days, but a company that I’ve really liked for a long time is Starbucks. I’m a huge coffee fan, but I actually don’t like Starbucks coffee and that’s not why I like Starbucks. I like Starbucks because of the feeling that I get every time you go to one. They’ve really made themselves out to be this third space where they really want people to be able to come and feel comfortable. It’s not at a workspace. It’s not you’re not at home. It’s a space where you can, you know, build community, relax to whatever it is that you need to do there. And that’s something that really comes through to me. And so when you’re thinking about your law firm, think about, a, if you want to have a physical space, would that offer value to your clients? And if yes, how would you think your clients would want that to feel? If you’re not a Starbucks fan, perhaps there’s another brand or space that really resonates with you. A recent example, I don’t wanna go hang on this space. So this is my I have some eye issues, and so I had to go to, I’ll just say, an eye doctor recently. And I’ve been going to eye doctors my entire life pretty much. And so this was the first time for me going to this doctor here in Colorado, and I walked in the space and immediately it was so well lit. And you might think are all places where people are treating people with vision problems well lit? No. They’re not. They are not. That was the very first time and I’m forty-two, forty-two years where I was like, wow, this is actually like, these people are paying attention to their clients. And so it kind of started there. And then as I continue to make my way through the space. There were so many ways that they had adjusted their space specifically for people with vision impairment, and people were oftentimes older Everyone was so polite, making sure everyone knew where everything was. Everything was very well marked. Many times, a lot of the professionals would walk the person to the next space or walk the person to the exits, would get Waterfront out, like offer water and anything to make it more convenient. It was just the customer service level was so high, and it’s not something that I experienced. Recent history. And so it’s just really impressive. And so when you have an experience like that, think about what it was that really resonated with you and how we could translate that into a space for your clients. And I think there’s opportunities to do this in a virtual space too, but I think it’s especially important if you’re gonna have a little space. Okay. Well, let’s keep moving along. So the final topic that we really just wanna plan a seat for because it’s quite large and it could take at least one in a podcast episode, if not more. To discuss is forging your own path. And so this is definitely a theme of A Different Practice and a theme that Lauren and I like to talk about a lot, corporate into our presentations, because I think it’s so important. And I just wanna start by saying, we recognize that this might seem a little ambiguous or gray. And I think that’s because we weren’t presented with a lot of opportunities in law school. When we came through law school or at least when I came through law school, and I think I think it’s getting better, but I think there’s still work to be done. There are like three-ish pathways that are presented to you as career paths upon graduation. Right? Nothing else is really presented to you and at no point in time did anyone talk to me about forging my own path or doing things differently or even really starting my own firm, frankly, which is a very common path for people on graduation. And so it can feel kind of murky and scary. And like I said, there’s so much opportunity and so many sub-topics here that we would love to cover and likely will cover in separate podcasts, but just kind of wanna plant a seed here. We’re all very smart and capable of people. We graduate with law degrees. So we are very capable of doing all these things. But again, because it hasn’t probably been taught to us and you gotta really look sometimes to see some really good examples of how things are people are doing things differently, but we’re doing our best to bring those people to this podcast and just amplify them and their messages more. So one is if if this is something that you’re interested in doing is just to start slowly again.
And this is a tip I think we give with so many different in so many different areas because it’s just so true. There’s no reason you need to accomplish everything in one day, in one year, you know, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. I think just starting with one task, and maybe give yourself a deadline, whatever is appropriate for you, just to get yourself started. As you’re moving along, you really wanna trust your instincts. As best as you can, you really wanna be moving through this journey, Azure Authentic South. You didn’t listen to the episode with Ryann Peyton, episode three, go back and do that. It’s a great episode on this particular topic, and so reference that. But as best as you can, you wanna be moving through the journey as your authentic self and your instincts, your gut, is gonna help you. It’s gonna serve as your compass for that. Sometimes as you’re moving through this journey, you’re gonna try something out, and it’s not gonna work. Congratulations. That’s awesome. Now you just learned something, which is great, and now you have an opportunity to pin it. So experimentation is good. Failing in this way is good. I mean, we’re not talking about, like, that the farm type fail, but, like, taking these small steps and trying things out and experimenting is a really good thing. And it’s just gonna lead to more learning, which is just going to further you along your journey and accomplish whatever it is that you’re ultimately trying to do. And then, of course, celebrate your wins along the way. You even if they’re small, that’s all part of the process and it should be celebrated. Doing something like this on you have to do on your own, go back to community. There are many of us trying to do this. We’re here for you, but it is hard to forge out and path, and they’re gonna be some ups and downs. So definitely celebrate those ups and lean into your community to do that.

Lauren: I had the same experience as you in law school that it was you went to a big firm, you worked in government, prosecutor, public defender, or you did, like, some sort of, like, nonprofit civil service kind of work? That like, that was it. And folks, I was crazy to do my own practice, I thankfully had had a background. I got lucky enough to have a background in business and thought, of course, that’s an idea. Like, why can’t I open up my own business? Like, every industry has that. So that sort of wool over the eyes was actually beneficial to me. If I didn’t have that, I can definitely see how if I didn’t have the experience I had, I would have easily fallen into that. Well, I just have to pick one of these three options. So I guess I’m gonna go work at a big firm. I mean, like, there was no other solution. And so once you get out and realize there are other options or you meet folks who have done things differently. Think it’s just a reminder to check-in with yourself to see, are things working the way they are right now? For me, it was really important when I started the firm even though I didn’t have children yet that I wanted to build a firm that would support my life as a mom one day, which I live in now where I can drop them off and pick them up and have dinner every night and do stuff with them on the weekends and go to their school events was always really important to me, so I built a business that could support that. And I think for a lot of us just because of how the profession is set up and the narrative that is so beaten into our heads is this is the box. You have to fit in the box, not this is who I am. I’m gonna fit the profession in my professional life around me. And that I think is where we’re getting out with this idea of forging your own path is having it look the way you need it to look. And what needs do you have in your life that your professional life can support or maybe needs to pivot to support better. So if you’re working and you’re feeling burnt out, you don’t have time with your family or you haven’t taken a freaking vacation in five years or you really wanted to join that book club, but you can’t because work is in the way. Like, find a way to make work supportive versus a barrier. And I know that’s easier said than dying. Like just said, it’s not a well, just up and quit your job and now you have no source of income. Like, that’s not the right answer. But can you start slowly working towards something and making little changes so that you can eventually build something where your firm and your practice support your well-being and supports your life and is optimized in that way. And I still struggle with this. Literally, I had a conversation with my husband yesterday, about I was kind of done with work at, like, three. Like, I did my tasks, emails were good, clients were good, And I just sat there for a while, and he was like, why don’t you do that? And I was like, because I don’t know some lawyer somewhere is gonna tell me I’m not a lawyer enough because I didn’t work twelve hours. Like, dumb. Like, as it’s coming out of my mouth, I’m telling him this sounds so dumb. I know this is dumb. But I still struggle with that very strong narrative of this is how you’re a lawyer and you’re not a lawyer unless you check off these boxes. Whatever those boxes are from how you look to what you believe, to who you love, to how you work, I mean, all of the things. And for me, it’s like, am I not working enough? Because we work a lot. And so I still have to fight against that narrative and remind myself, I don’t wanna work twelve hours a day. My priorities to me are my family and my health. And so being able to constantly sort of pull back to that core tether is hard, but I think leaning into that more and being more mindful of it when it comes up is just a really important skill that we need to develop.

Jess: So two things I just want to emphasize that you talked about even more is one, despite what we’ve been told maybe or that you might think. The only set of rules that you need to follow are the rules of official conduct. And then otherwise, there really aren’t any rules. You can make the rules however you want. So just because the majority of lawyers have chosen to do x y and or z, does that mean you need to do that unless it’s a rule of professional conduct.
And even the role of rules of professional conduct, there’s a lot of flexibility there. So emphasize that, and then also just the journey aspect of it. There should be no pressure either that you’re gonna come out of law school and know know the answers to all these questions and know exactly what you’re gonna wanna do. And guess what? You’re probably also gonna have multiple mini-careers during the time that you work. It’s probably not going to be just one thing.
And that’s totally fine. It’s whatever works for you. And I will also mention that there’s just also no one path to any particular thing. I think that’s another thing. Or at least something that I walked away with speaking after law school is, like, if I wanna do this, that I have to take this path, and if I wanna do that, then I gotta start now because otherwise, that’s the only way to get there.
My experience has been that that’s not really the case. So don’t be fearful about taking a job because it might not be on a path or something you may or may not want to do down the road. I don’t think that’s how it is these days. I know a lot of people put in my off who have passed that were definitely not linear, very zig zaggy all over the place. I think the most important part is just to be intentional about your journey and always being mindful and asking yourself those questions.
Like, is this working for me? Yes or no? And if the answer is no, just continue to explore. Okay? Why not?
And what changes could I potentially make and just baby steps. And then you’ll eventually get to wherever it is you’re trying to go.

Lauren: And that is our ultimate goal for each and every listener and for ourselves. So we try and share our own stories, so you can hear our ups and downs and trips and mistakes and wins so that you know that it’s not linear, but that we’re all in this together and we’re all here to support each other and be cheerleader. So we just encourage you with this episode to lean into some of those things that are maybe a little bit scary or maybe a little bit different or things that you don’t normally listen to, but you feel drawn towards for some reason. There’s probably a reason for that. So do getting community intentionally work on building a support network of folks around you that you can celebrate wins with and support each other through the difficult times. Get all of the resources that are out there. However, you consume media, whether you wanna read, you wanna listen to podcasts, you wanna get on social media, look at how you consume products and interact with other brands, like just be a little bit more intentional and mindful and get all of those resource, like, how can you incorporate some of the great stuff that’s going on in the business world in your law firm to continue to optimize it for growth and wellness? And then again, know it’s your own path. And at the end of the day, like just said, you kinda make most of the rules yourselves. And if the narrative isn’t working for you, write your own narrative so that you can be your authentic self because that’s what we need in the profession. If everybody is showing up as their authentic selves that’s how we’re gonna move forward and continue to do great things as lawyers. That is our episode for today. We thank you so much for listening. As always, we’d love spending this time with you. As always, thanks for listening, and until next time, keep building.

OUTRO: We’re over here giving you a virtual hi-five because you just finished another episode of a different practice. For more from this episode, head over to a different practice dot com slash podcast for our show notes. If you found this episode helpful, we’d love it if you’d share it with someone. Be sure to rate the show wherever you listen to podcasts and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode. If you’re looking for even more practical tools to optimize your law practice for growth and enjoyment, sign up for our monthly newsletter at a different practice dot com slash subscribe. We can’t wait to connect with you next time. Until then, keep building a different practice.