Ep 6- Tracking Your Case Results



Welcome to episode 6 of the Small Law podcast. Yeah, I know episode 7 came out before episode 6. All 8 people who actually listen to this podcast are surely going to be so so angry this. But, today’s discussion will hopefully make you forget that I accidentally published episode 7 when I meant to just schedule it for release after this episode. Oh well.

A tip for trial lawyers – the debrief

Some people may call them their autopsy or the post-trial report. Doesn’t matter what you call it. But I’m going to call it a debrief.

As you practice over the years, you learn from your mistakes. For instance, don’t ask a question if you don’t already know the answer. I learned that the hard way—in trial, with a corporate rep on the stand. I asked a question and I got a very favorable answer. But I was lucky. I remember my gut being tied in knots during his answer.

But, as you begin to practice and do more cases- you will forget stuff. You will remember a lot more than you think you will remember, but you will indeed forget a lot of stuff. So, I recommend the debrief. Here’s what I do. It’s pretty simplistic, and probably could be automated in some ways if you have a high volume practice.

First, I set up a separate folder on my server called Debriefs. After each case I handle concludes – whether by settlement or by trial—I do a separate word document for each case. In the title of the word document I include the date – year, month, then day – the client’s last name – and then a brief description. So, by example, I’d have 2018.02.28- Jones – car wreck case against Allstate

So all my debriefs are in date order. If I’m looking for a particular client’s last name (that’s usually how I remember cases) I can do a simple search and the name will be in the title. But the best part too is that if I’m looking for a specific issue, I can do a word or phrase search for that word or phrase.

So, I just finished doing one for a car wreck case we handled. I’m going to change all the names here for confidentiality purposes. And I will say that this format can be adapted for any type of case you handle. Here’s the information I include:

Clients

Defendants’ names

Cause number, court number and location

Date of incident

Date of resolution

Insurance companies involved

Opposing counsel

And then after that, I do a simple recitation of the basic facts. My pleadings tend to be more detailed so I usually just cut and paste right out of the petition I drafted in the case.

Then I describe the injuries. I do use detail here but I don’t go too indepth. For instance instead of saying low back injury, I may say L5-S1. Or I may say things like two level fusion recommended.

Then I type out a paragraph about specific hot button issues in the case – things that made it a little different from other cases. If a discovery issue popped up and I had to file a Motion for protection, I may include that here. You ever have a case where you think “what case did I file that motion in before?” well, using a word search in your debriefs will allow you to find that case.

Then the last thing I include is a section for three things that worked and three things that didn’t work. Things that I should have done better or things I should do in all cases going forward.

There are several benefits to doing a debrief. The most obvious one is data. You will have created your own database to find out what typical results are for typical cases. I recently had a rollover case with a TBI against a law firm who I had a similar case against about 3 years ago. My debrief refreshed my recollection about some of the things that this particular law firm does during discovery so I could be prepared for it.

Secondly, a debrief also allows you the opportunity to improve by remembering more of the good and bad of a case. If you handle a family law case, you can actually prepare for some of the issues you may deal with the common trial tactics.

In the criminal law context you can track plea deals. I’ve handled criminal cases before and you kind of instinctively know, many times, who does and does not deal. But, by doing a debrief, you can actually give your clients real data. Instead of saying “that prosecutor does not give great deals on aggravated robbery cases” you can back that up with actual examples.

This takes a bit of time, of course. And a commitment. But, I have been doing this for years for my own cases. I think you’ll find it very rewarding.

I hope this helps. If you found this helpful, please hit the like button or share it on social media. If you do that, Tag me on twitter @donivanflowers and thanks again for listening.


Ep 6.5 – What Small Law Firms Can Learn From the Trump Whitehouse



This post is not meant to be political in nature. But, the Trump administration has a problem keeping employees. What can we learn from the Trump Whitehouse? Is personal loyalty enough to built and maintain a successful law practice?

Short Answer: NO.


Ep 7- Practicing Law Sucks Sometimes



Some days are great! Some days suck!

Owning your own law practice has many days that are wonderful. Being your own boss and reaping the rewards of your successful law practice are worthwhile benefits.

But sometimes, it just sucks. Sometimes, the practice law can be draining. This is why our profession has some of the worst rates of addiction, depression and anxiety. And frankly, I think these statistics are underreported.

This episode is about one of my crappy days and some of the ways I try to break out of the funk.


Ep 5- This Dude Started a Non Profit Out of Law School (w/ MacKenzie Dunham)



When I got out of law school, I wanted to make money. In fact, the student loan people that started chasing me pretty much told me I HAD TO make money.

MacKenzie Dunham, however, decided to start a non-profit that offers affordable legal services to those who do not qualify for legal aid.

In this episode, we discuss his motivation to serve an under-served segment of the community, ways he has kept his costs down, providing efficient legal services, and how they set their legal fees.If you are setting up a family law practice, immigration practice, criminal defense practice, or estate planning practice, the tips shared by MacKenzie are invaluable.

For more information, check out his website:  https://accessjusticehouston.org/attorneys/ 

Leave a review of this Podcast. Let me know what you think by sending me a message on Twitter: @donivanflowers 

To see my bio page, click HERE. Note that it gets updated regularly.


Ep 4- Four Cheap or Free Marketing Ideas



You don’t have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to market your law firm. When it comes to marketing, the idea is that you want to be the first lawyer others think of in a given situation.

This episode is all about finding cheap (or even free) ways to market yourself. I give specific examples on what to say or how to reach out ethically and cheaply.

If you have questions or thoughts about this episode, find me on twitters: @donivanflowers

You can also see me on my law firm website: www.flowers-law.com 


Ep 3- Delegating Tasks to Grow Your Firm (conversation with Matt Starosciak)



Look at your day-to-day activities. How much of your time is spent doing law work? How much of your time is spent doing administrative tasks? Can you delegate some tasks to someone who can do those tasks for $10 to $20 per hour? Is it something you hate to do anyway?

In this episode, I have a continued conversation with Matt Starosciak (see Episode 2) of www.provenlawmarketing.com. In our conversation, we discuss ways to evaluate your day and determine if and when certain tasks can be delegated.


Ep. 2- Full Service Marketing for Small Law Firms (w/ Matt Starosciak)



Solo and small firm lawyers must wear many hats. It’s not enough to be a great lawyer. Great lawyers fail in business every day when they cannot get new clients.

Marketing can eat up a lot of time. And most vendors focus only on one thing… SEO, or social media, or pay per click, or video. What if you could hire someone to just handle the whole thing for you?

In this episode, I talk to someone who does just that. Matt Starosciak is an alum of University of Houston Law Center and now focuses solely on helping law firms with their marketing needs.

Check out his website here: www.provenlawmarketing.com

Buy his book at www.thelawyermarketingbook.com/ Or on Amazon


Ep 1 – Self Awareness is the Key to Success



Self awareness is the key to success. You must know your own strengths and weaknesses as well as your interests. Doing a personal audit can you help guide your firm toward your goals.

If you take the time each year, each quarter, or even each month, to look at where you are in relation to where you want to go, it will help you make healthy decisions for your law firm.

“If you’re walking East looking for a sunset, you have a bad plan.”

Making a plan for your law firm will help you stay true to who you want to be and who you want to serve. If something pops up that does not fit within the parameters of your plan or will be a distraction from your goals, you can identify the distractions and eliminate them.

I hope you enjoy Episode 1. I promise to work hard to improve these podcasts.

Follow me on twitter: @donivanflowers