What is a lawyer to do in an industry set in old ways? Follow or disrupt.
This week, we welcome Ali Katz from the New Law Business Model to discuss why the new model is the way forward.
In our conversation, Ali shares her journey, graduating top of her class from Georgetown University Law Center. She quickly became disillusioned with the legal industry’s status quo in the late 90s, and that drove her to, against all odds, reimagine the way law firms should be managed. Her model puts relationships before transactions, and no, Ali’s legal services are not low bono; in fact, her firm under her new model was generating millions in just three years.
In her new book, The New Law Business Model, Ali shares the lessons she learned along her journey and how you can also break with the old ways and use your law degree for the good of families, small businesses, and most importantly, your well-being. Listen now to learn more!
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Liel: [00:00:00] Local governments are strategizing the experience of getting the covid-19 vaccine to reasoning, making the process enjoyable for everyone will increase its popularity. You know what else needs an experienced process revision? Your law firm, I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media, and this is In Camera podcast where we believe that your client engagement process is the baseline to your success.
Liel: [00:00:54] Welcome to In Camera podcast, Private Legal, Marketing, Communications. Grace, welcome back. How are you today?
Grace: [00:01:00] Good. How are you, Liel?
Liel: [00:01:02] I’m doing great, Grace. Not as well as you, because you have a beautiful office, Grace. We’re just talking about it. You have a bright window on your background and it just makes your face glow. You look great in that new office, Grace.
Grace: [00:01:15] Thank you. And if I open the window, you see some palm trees out the window.
Liel: [00:01:20] You’re killing me. You’re killing me. I haven’t seen the sea in over a year now, almost. So, yeah, I’m counting the days. Counting the days, Grace. But I’ll be honest, there is no reason to be sad on a day like today. Grace, there are a lot of great things happening. Right. It’s an exciting week. And just to add to the excitement, really the conversation that we have lined up for today, Grace, we’re really lucky to have a special guest who’s going to come and join and talk to us about what she calls the new law business model. So why don’t you do the honor of introducing our next guest for today’s conversation?
Grace: [00:02:00] Thank you so much, Liel, for that intro. So for everybody, as you mentioned, this is a fantastic interview. And for today’s conversation, we are thrilled to welcome Ali Katz. Ali graduated first in her class from Georgetown University Law Center after serving a clerkship with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. She became an associate at Munger, Tolles and Olson, one of the country’s top law firms. Ali went on to start her own law practice and write a best selling book on family legal planning. She’s appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show and radio and television stations across the country. Over the past decade, the new law business model has helped thousands of lawyers build six and seven-figure law practices that positively impact their lives, families, and business communities. Ali, welcome to the camera podcast.
Liel: [00:02:49] Ali, thank you very much for joining us for this conversation. How are you today?
Ali: [00:02:53] I’m great. It’s so wonderful to be here with you.
Liel: [00:02:56] Thank you. Thank you very much. We’re delighted to have you. Ali, in just tell us, where is this podcast finding you? Where are you right now?
Ali: [00:03:03] I’m at my home in Boulder, Colorado, where it’s a little bit cold. And, yeah, it’s where I live, I love to live here in the United States and Boulder.
Liel: [00:03:15] That’s lovely. Great. Excellent. Well, Ali, let’s start off with some basics here, right. You’re a lawyer. And why don’t you tell us a little bit as to how your journey as a lawyer started and let’s hear a little bit about that. Sure.
Ali: [00:03:34] So when I came out of law school, it was nineteen ninety-nine. I graduated from Georgetown Law and I went back to my hometown for a year to clerk on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami, where I also gave birth to my daughter. So nineteen ninety-nine was a big year. I got married in February. I graduated in May back to Florida in August. I had my first child in November and then the following year I went out to Los Angeles, where I had been recruited by Munger, Tolles, and Olson.
Ali: [00:04:10] Now, at the time, Munger, Tolles, and Olson was one of the most difficult law firms to get a job at. And, you know, going through law school, they really cultivate at least at Georgetown at that time, they really cultivated this reality of competition and being the best and prestigious and getting the best job in the six-figure paycheck. And, you know, I grew up in a totally different world. I put myself through college and law school and now all of a sudden, I have entry into this new reality as a result of having graduated top of my class at Georgetown and I choseMunger, Tolles, and Olson not just because it was the hardest to get a job at, although that was certainly part of it. I had this competitive streak, but also because I was going to be able to go there and do estate planning. And at the time I thought that doing estate planning was the closest that I would be able to get to being able to work at a big corporate firm while having a personal relationship with my clients.
Ali: [00:05:17] That was really important to me that I was going to be the kind of lawyer who got to make a real difference in people’s lives and wasn’t just helping big corporations to save money on their taxes or wasn’t just going to be helping people win in litigation, but really was going to be able to make an impact in my client’s lives. So I get to this law firm. And the reason I thought that this law firm, I would be able to do that, have that personal relationship with my clients there was because the law firm was started by Charlie Munger and Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s personal lawyer.
Ali: [00:05:53] And so I think naively, I realize now I think I’m going to be my client’s personal lawyer, so, you know, of course, now I realize how silly that might sound, but I didn’t know anything about anything. I’m twenty-eight years old and, you know, I don’t really know anything. So I go to work at Munger, Tolles, and, you know, I’m put in the corporate tax department and estate planning. You know, I’m the only estate planning associate working with the estate planning partner there. And pretty quickly, I start to realize that there’s something very wrong. And I couldn’t you know, I couldn’t quite tell exactly what it was. At the beginning, I just could feel like something isn’t just something isn’t right. I’m getting paid this big paycheck and I don’t even really know what I’m doing. I’m commuting an hour each way in L.A. traffic. I’m leaving my daughter all day. Her dad was a stay at home dad and I’m pumping breast milk there all day. And I’m coming home late at night and I’m not really getting to spend that much time with her. And, you know, they’re calling me in the middle of the day and she’s like screaming in the background. And I mean, it was pretty confronting. And when I looked out 40 years into the future, even 20 years into the future, I kept thinking to myself, this can’t be why I have, you know, taken on one hundred thousand dollars of student loans and achieved at the top of my game to live in this reality. This can’t be what I’m going to be doing for the next 20 years. And then I also started to look at what we were actually doing for our clients.
Ali: [00:07:51] And again, it just something didn’t feel right to me. And it took me a year or so, a year or two to really realize what the issue was. And I tell the full story in my book. We’ll talk more about my book a little bit later. We won’t have time to go into all of it today. But the big thing that I realized is that my father in law had died while I was in law school and he had spent three thousand dollars on an estate plan with a lawyer in order to keep us, his family out of the court system and from having to deal with his ex-wife when he died. And yet then he died and we’re in the court system. And we’re dealing with his ex-wife. His plan had failed. And at the time I’m in law school, I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I knew that something had gone wrong. I thought maybe his lawyer had committed malpractice. But then I realized that I’m at one of the best law firms in the country. And it’s not malpractice. It’s common practice. It is the exact same way that we do things for our clients. We are the clients are coming in. We’re charging them four or five thousand dollars for an estate plan. The partner is telling me to go pull the Smith estate plan and change the names for the Jones estate plan. They’re signing documents that I know are going to be put away on a shelf or in a drawer, never looked at again, and that when that person becomes incapacitated or dies, that plan is going to fail in the exact same way that my father in law’s plan failed.
Liel: [00:09:31] Yeah, I just think that’s basically automation in 90s style. Right?
Ali: [00:09:38] Right. I mean, this was before, you know, document drafting software. This was just at the very beginning. Right of it. I mean, we still saw some of these still had worked perfect. Yeah. So I started to realize we’ve got a problem here I cannot devote my life to doing estate planning in a way that I know is not going to work. And so I made the decision to leave the security of that six-figure paycheck and to leave this prestigious law firm that hundreds of thousands of law students would kill to work at and to start my own law practice. And this was terrifying because at that point, now a mom of two breadwinner in my family, no savings in the bank, huge student loans, a mortgage, and I don’t know anything about business. And I’m realizing I need to fix that this time. At that time, I didn’t really realize this was the issue, but I came to eventually realize I need to fix this very traditional, broken old law business model that has been taught to me that is not going to allow me to truly serve my clients and to make a difference why that is not going to allow me to truly be a great mom to my kids. That is not going to allow me to have a life that I love. And, whoa, there are some really broken things here. And so I sat out to fix that broken law business model for myself. And now, 20 years later, I have written the book New Law Business Model, to teach that to other lawyers. I’ve been teaching it to other lawyers, you know, all along. I just haven’t had a book until now.
Grace: [00:11:26] It’s amazing, Ali, I mean, really, truly inspiring. Plenty of times where I know all of us have thought about things and how they’re wrong and what’s going on. But thank you for that. The story was part of it.
Grace: [00:11:42] What I mean, besides, obviously what you already told us, what made you want to develop a new way to practice law? What would be I guess maybe the other way to look at is what are the main differences between your model and the traditional one?
Ali: [00:11:58] So the origination of it actually was not a whole new lot business model. The actual origination of it was when I was out to dinner with my husband. This must have been when I was still at the big law firm and I’m out to dinner with my husband and our 16 month old daughter is home with a 16 year old babysitter. And I start thinking about what would actually happen if we didn’t make it home tonight. Now, I had an estate plan in place because I’m an estate planning lawyer. We had named Guardians in our will, but all of our guardians live three thousand miles away. And I’m from Miami and we’re living in Los Angeles. And I realize, oh, my gosh, if something happened to us and we didn’t make it home, the police are going to go to our house and our daughter’s home with this 16-year-old who doesn’t know where our will is. He doesn’t know who to call, doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Our daughter will be taken out of our home into the care of strangers. This is not OK with me. So the very initial Christless of this was creating something called the Kids Protection Plan and writing my first book called Wear Clean Underwear, and that that book is called Wear Clean Underwear, because when you you know, your mom always told you to wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident. Well, once you’re a parent, wearing clean underwear alone is no longer enough. There’s important legal planning steps that you need to take to take care of your children. So I wrote this book, Wear Clean Underwear, and I created this thing called the Kids Protection Plan, to teach parents about what they actually needed to do to make sure that their kids would be taken care of if anything happened to them. And I did a lot of TV to talk about that. All of that, by the way, is under my former name, Alexis Neely, which is my name, that I’m still licensed as a lawyer under my current name is Ali Katz, I’m in this whole big name change process. And so that was really the Christless was realizing that part for families with young children. And when I started my own law practice, once I started to build that practice into a business, I talked to a lot of lawyers in my community and I said, hey, this is a problem and I’m going to focus my law practice on serving families with young children because they’re, you know, the law practices in town. They were focusing on serving seniors and they were focusing on serving high net worth people, but nobody was focusing on serving families with young children.
Ali: [00:14:40] And they said, Alexis, you’re crazy. You can’t do it. Families with young children don’t want to talk about estate planning. They’re not willing to pay for estate planning. They’re too far away from death. You’re going to starve if you do that. Even a business coach, a lawyer, business coach that I had hired at that time said, don’t do it. This is a mistake. You’re not going to be able to make it. And I knew it was wrong. And I knew that the attorney that I was sharing office space with, he had been in practice for twenty five years and I was sharing office space with him because when I came out of that big law firm and started my own law practice, I couldn’t even afford rent. I couldn’t even afford office rent. And so I found an attorney in town who had like an office in one of these high rise buildings. And I said, Rod, his name was Rod. Would you be willing for me to give you 20 hours a month of my time in exchange for renting this office from you? And he said, yes, that was a good deal for him. So, of course, I said to Rod, this is my vision. You know, I want to get an office that is not in a high rise building. I want it to feel like it’s in a home. And when people come in, you know, I don’t want them to have to navigate the garage, the parking garage. And when they come and they pull up to my door, I want them to have this welcome to my office. And when they come in, I want them to feel like they’re at home and it’s really comfortable. And I want to serve families with young children. And he said, no way, you can’t do that. He said instead you should come into my practice and be my business partner here in this high rise building. And you know, all the other lawyers in the office were working all hours of the day and night because they didn’t have any systems in place and I said, no way, no way. You can join me in this practice that I’m creating, but we never did end up getting together on that. And so, so I did it. I followed my vision. And in fact, on my website, when people buy the book, there’s a resources page where I take them on a tour of my office, the office that I ultimately did build.
Ali: [00:16:56] And it was a dream come true because when people walked into my office, they did say that. They said, wow, I feel like I’m at a spa. Where’s my massage? Because I wanted people to feel at home and comfortable and welcome because we’re talking about such personal, intimate issues. And I did focus on serving families with young children and solving this problem of what I had identified was broken specifically with how we’re naming guardians for kids with this kid’s protection plan that I created. And it turns out that young families had been looking for a solution like this, and today serving young families is very common and I believe that I was really the initiator of that and that these young families were happy to pay for five, six thousand dollars for a plan that would grow with their family throughout life, that would actually work for their kids. And it’s funny because, Rod, that lawyer who had been in practice for twenty five years, at one point he had said to me, you know, Alexis, the same families that were coming to me 20 years ago so that I could help protect their money for their kids are now coming back to me twenty five years later to protect their money from their kids.
Ali: [00:18:25] And there was such a heartbreaker to me when he said that, and it helped me to realize that as estate planning lawyers, if we are serving families with young children, we have such an opportunity to have that not be true. To have it where we actually get to influence our clients’ lives, far beyond the documents, far beyond just planning for death. And so the model that we teach now is really it’s about legal life planning. It’s about being that trusted adviser to our client families in a way that is going to ensure that they have a plan that works and that we’re embedding into the planning structure. What does it mean to leave a real legacy? It’s not about what happens after we die, you know, it’s about what we do while we’re alive. And so now, all these years later, my kids are 17 and 21. And I get it, I get it, there were times when my kids were 14 and 15, both of them, where I thought I was going to have to protect my money from my kids because I didn’t know if they were going to turn out. But because of this kind of ethos that I have lived in my own life and now we teach our lawyers and, you know, ideally they teach their client families, my kids. I don’t have to protect my money from them. You know, we are collaborative partners already, even though they’re only 17 and 21. And I and I do believe the estate planning process can create that if we do it differently, it’s not about documents, we use documents, of course. But lawyers like we get to really influence culture and families in a new way, and that’s really what the new law business model has grown into and is all about, it’s taken a long time that to create that. But is where we are now.
Liel: [00:20:33] So your story, of course, here is very powerful because you had a vision, right. And you’re really like almost 20 years ago. We’re talking about client experience, which is a term that many law firms did not. Well. Still don’t know about. And really, we’re started to see it being more commonly used over the past couple of years. But you’re really embracing an idea that it was putting the client at the center and the way they feel interacting and being at your law firm and make the product above the actual legal services. Right. And that’s extremely powerful. Now, my question to you is that you had a vision. You had the willingness to go find a way to put yourself through your plan. But I’m very interested to hear, you were going against all odds. Nobody believed that there was a market for you. How did you create that market? How did you actually end up finding the families that did want to use your services in a world in a society where that was not common yet and there was no digital marketing? So how did that happen?
Ali: [00:21:44] It’s so funny that you said that, that there was no digital marketing because it’s true, there wasn’t. And I was talking with one of our lawyer members last night is like talking about this new issue now on Facebook that’s coming because of the Apple iOs release. And he said, oh, my God, what are we going to do? And I said to him, you know, when I was building my practice, there was no Facebook. And today we’ve gotten so spoiled. And, you know, today we can use digital marketing and we do. We use it to the fullest in our own company and with our lawyers. And we love the strategy of running Facebook ads and driving to a webinar and getting people to come in for their initial meeting and engaging them. That is so wonderful that we could do that. But we couldn’t do that. 20 years ago, 15 years ago even, and so I had to learn marketing, I had to learn fundamental foundational, direct response marketing. And I think that that’s what makes me such a great mentor today to our lawyer clients, is because we’re not just giving them digital marketing. We are teaching them the foundations and the fundamentals of direct response, marketing. And most importantly, and this is where we start client engagement and what you said, client experience. So I see a lot of lawyers out there who are trying to rely on digital marketing as like the end all, be all. And they’re actually quite confused and oftentimes getting sold things that are not the right solution for them because they’re actually doing it backward. And so I started with τhe client engagement process, how my clients hired and paid me. That is the first thing that I transformed and I transformed that first because I realized I mean, it happened because of some kind of emotionally devastating events. The first one being the first time that I got hired by a client for a fifty-five hundred dollar fee. And two weeks later, they canceled their engagement with me and because they had found what they thought was the same service for less than half and they couldn’t justify paying me double.
Ali: [00:24:13] They called me up and they said we would have happily paid you a thousand dollars more, but we couldn’t justify paying you more than double. And I didn’t yet have a process that helped them understand why they were paying me double. I didn’t know how to communicate. And what ended up coming out of that because of how I handled that moment is what today is my entire client engagement system that now thousands of lawyers have used and probably generated. I mean, I couldn’t even count the million dollars worth of fees and happy clients as a result. But it started with that cancellation that we can’t justify paying you this, and instead of just defending or thinking I was in the right and they were in the wrong, I actually listened and came to understand why they were making that decision and learned and then created a whole system around that. The second experience that happened was when on a Saturday, I had three clients booked, three prospects booked on the calendar. And I was so excited because this was going to be my ten thousand day.
Ali: [00:25:26] I knew that I would engage probably all three of them for about four thousand dollars each, maybe just two of them, but probably all three. Most of our lawyers actually do have a one hundred percent engagement rate with the system that we teach them, which I know is very rare. But we created it from these experiences and teach it now. And so I am anticipating basically paying my payroll with that one Saturday. And I come into the office that morning and my client services director, Susan, says I have bad news. All three of the appointments canceled for today. And I literally almost hung up my shingle at that moment. I just broke down in tears. I didn’t know what I was going to do. That was the payday day. And instead of giving up, I again recognized the learning experience here. And we refined the system in the process such that we no longer had cancellations. And again, that became part of our client engagement system that we teach to lawyers.
Ali: [00:26:35] And, you know, each one of those experiences taught me that I can’t be focusing on marketing until I have my client engagement system dialed in, such that I know that every single time somebody meets with me and we sit down for two hours, they’re going to hire me for an average fee of three to five thousand dollars. Because once I’ve got that dialed in now, I can afford to invest in building out that beautiful office. Now I can afford to invest in building a team. Now I can afford to invest in marketing. So once I had that client engagement system process dialed in, now it was just a matter of making those next-level investments with that confidence of knowing that if I then engaged 10 clients a month. And I’m only meeting with people for two hours, you know, for that engagement. So I can start to do the math of what that looks like, oh, OK, so that’s 20 hours a month of client engagements is going to generate, let’s call it forty thousand a month. Now, I can start to make my hiring and marketing decisions based on that. Now I make that sound, that math sound really simple. I’m going to be honest with you, that math took me eight years to map out and get into my system and to build to actually understand how to build financial models. I had built my practice into a million dollar a year business, not understanding the financial models, really, and kind of just. Like, I kind of understood it, but today part of the new law business model is actually really understanding the financial model so that, you know, as we’re building our businesses, we can do it without the stress, worry, fear, doubt, and do things in the right order, which nobody we certainly don’t learn how to do that in law school. And I had to go out and learn the hard way, actually almost walking away from the business altogether because this part was so hard for me to figure out and learn, like the fundamentals of business, legal, insurance, financial, and tax matters, which then led me to realize that lawyers, we are not trained on the legal, insurance, financial and tax picture as a whole. And so now we have all of that into our training models as well, so that our lawyers aren’t just able to serve families, but also business owners. Because if as lawyers, we can help business owners really understand the business of law or the financials of the business and then really embed that into our own practices, to again, we’re making the right decisions at the right time in the right order, making the right investments at the right time, in the right order. And so long-winded way of saying it’s got to start to me. It’s got to start with client engagement. Then client experience, then marketing. Then the investments in marketing and so in those early days, I built my practice by going out and speaking in my local community by having a presence in my local community. So one of the best investments that I ended up making was I rented my dream office space and converted these two cottages that were in the back of this historic home. And we had our sign on one of the busiest corners in our community in front of this historic home. And then I started doing print advertising, but not just that business card kind of print advertising would like Martinelli and Associates. Wills trusts probate, but direct response advertorials and then invite using direct mail. My best, one of my best months came from a mailer that we sent out a letter that we sent out inviting it was for Valentine’s Day, inviting the people into our community to come in for a family wealth planning session. And when they did, we would give them a certificate for a dinner for two to the really well-known restaurant in town. And that family wealth planning session, we would give that to them at no charge. So it’s normally seven hundred and fifty dollars, but we’ll give it at no charge. Plus Jennifer to you know, there was no there was one other lawyer who was doing something similar. He’s kind of the actually the grandfather of marketing for lawyers. But nobody was doing it the way I was doing it.
Liel: [00:31:53] Right. Yeah, because that strategy as such almost feels like taken out of the timeshare playbook. Like the hijack you on this trip in Vegas. Hey, come where? Buy you dinner or something. But listen to our pitch. But it’s all about how you execute, right? It’s what you do once you buy that attention, can you actually deliver can you do the conversion? That’s really incredible. And…
Ali: [00:32:22] Let me tell you something about that because a lot of lawyers would say, oh, that’s you know, you sound like an infomercial or, you know, that’s like a timeshare pitch. I have so much confidence in my services. That’s why I believe you have to start with the client engagement process and you have to start with the experience, because and I talk about this in my book, it’s called Lawyer Shame. So if you don’t actually really believe in your services and the value of what you’re providing, then it is like a shamWow. Yeah. Because you’re selling something you don’t actually believe in. But I knew without question that what I was delivering to the client families that I was serving was so important to them that it wasn’t just about that set of documents that I knew actually weren’t going to work when their family needed it. It was actually about helping them to be better parents. And today actually helping them to be better business owners. And so and the reason we start with that client engagement process, interestingly enough, is because if you design your client engagement process to deliver true value as a trusted advisor, you are being a trusted advisor right from the beginning, rather than looking at, you know, how can I just do this 30-minute meet and greet.
Liel: [00:33:40] Yeah.
Ali: [00:33:41] Right. That’s just getting people to hire me so that I can charge them hourly. And maybe if you’re like doing divorce so that I can, like, escalate the conflicts that I can charge more fees like that doesn’t feel good. Right.
Ali: [00:33:56] So if you have lawyer’s shame, you’re actually not going to be willing to market your services in the way that you need to market your services to be seen and known in your community. When I sent out that letter in my community, I got 17 appointments. On my calendar that February, 17 people from that one mailing, now, that mailing was not a cheap mailing. It cost me like five thousand dollars to do it. But I had the confidence to make that investment because I knew that my services were worth it. I knew that every single person that came in that met with me and sat down with me was going to hire me at an average fee of four thousand dollars. And so it really does, I think, need to start with, do you believe in what you do and how you do it? And can you design a client engagement structure that provides value to the people that you’re serving, whether they hire you or not? And that will result in them hiring you if.
Liel: [00:35:00] Right.
Ali: [00:35:00] And for an average fee that is high enough where you are able to deliver a truly meaningful and valuable service. This is why it’s called new law business model rather than just client engagement system, which is what I started teaching lawyers in 2006, because it really is about that whole model, not just being able to sell your services, but actually getting paid enough to deliver a service that you truly believe in and then going out and using all the direct response marketing and today the digital marketing, which is so great that we have that. But what foundation is it built on?
Liel: [00:35:40] Right. It’s a tool, right? It’s what gets you the few seconds of attention is what you do with that attention once you get it. Can you actually turn it into something else, something big, as you just said, an opportunity to build trust, which is probably the most important thing that you can do. Ali, I want to ask a little bit more about the new law business model. Right. Because by now we understand that it’s a method. It’s a way of seeing things. We also understand that it’s an organization that you have so obviously for lawyers, but which particular lawyers. And what is exactly that they get from the new law business model?
Ali: [00:36:23] Yeah, so. So there’s the book and then there’s the organization. And I wrote the book for all lawyers who want to practice law in a new way so that they could understand enough about the new law business model to take it into any practice area and create their own version of the new law business model. Because I’ve done it for lawyers who serve families and business owners with estate planning and trusted advisor, legal insurance, financial and tax systems, business services. So I’ve done it for lawyers. And when I say done it, what new law business model the organization does is it teaches the lawyers that want to serve families and business owners in a new way, step by step, exactly how to do that. We first train on what is this new law business model? How do I serve families and or business owners in a way that actually makes a difference so that I believe in my service. I know that I’m providing a service that makes a real difference. It’s not just documents. It’s not just naming guardians in a will. How do I be that trusted advisor? How do I engage clients with your family life planning session or left business breakthrough session process that we teach that first and then for the lawyers who are like, oh, my God, yes, I want to do this, we licensed them to use all of our marketing systems, all of our technology systems, all of our automation systems. And so new law business model is an education and training and coaching and service organization that really gives the lawyers who want to serve families and our business owners in a new way. The soup to nuts. I don’t like to call it a business in a box because it’s not it’s not like you open a box and money flies out at you. It’s like you make the investments of time, energy, attention, and money and learning step by step how to serve and deliver services to your clients in a new way. And you build a life and law practice you love. It’s hard work. It’s commitment, it’s dedication. We’re just making it easier. We’re making it so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We’re making it so it doesn’t have to take you the 15 years it took me to figure it all out. Right, and so today we are we’re seeing the lawyers that come through our system, they’re able to build million-dollar practices in 18 months if they make the investments. And that’s the drive and dedication that they have or they’re able to build what we call the part-time law baller model in six to eight months. And I would just we celebrate our members and one of our members, she heard us talk about the ten thousand dollar day when she was in law school, and she said, that’s impossible. Well, today, it’s been a couple of years. You know, she graduated law school. She joined us and she routinely has her own ten thousand dollar days. And she’s about to go out on maternity leave having a baby. And she just had a twenty-five thousand dollars month. And what is this month or in January? Now, if she goes out on maternity leave at the end of this month and she’s already booked with prospects in March and April when she returns from her maternity leave because of the systems that she’s built with us. And so that’s what we do for lawyers at new law business model who want to serve families and our business owners as we teach them. They’re like, oh, heck, yes, I’m all in for this model. But the book is for any lawyer because we need this model in divorce law. We need this model in bankruptcy. We need this model in personal injury. We need this model in all of these other practice areas that I’m not going to go into. I’m not… I’ve got my hands full with serving families and business owners. But I believe that there are other lawyers out there who can take these principles and if they’re smart, will do so. Take these principles. Because, look, I didn’t learn any of this from other lawyers. I actually learned all of this from carpet cleaners, magicians, optometrists, chiropractors, and dentists. And I saw what they were doing in their industries. And I said, oh, I’m going to take that and apply it here. And so any lawyer and any other practice area who loves bankruptcy, who loves divorce, but wants to do it in a way that’s truly in service, should take what’s in the new law business model and apply it. And then any lawyers who are doing estate and or business planning should read the book and say, do I want to apply this in my practice without having to reinvent the wheel? And then if they do, they can come into our organization and do that.
Liel: [00:41:28] That’s wonderful for sure, we’ll have a link to the Amazon page of your book, which, by the way, congratulations, we see that it recently became a best seller. So that’s quite remarkable. So congrats.
Ali: [00:41:39] Thank you.
Grace: [00:41:40] All right, Ali. So, you know, we understand quite a bit about your new business model, and it makes perfect sense. It’s something that Liel and I speak about constantly, actually, is applying information and knowledge from other industries into your own and creating your own story. It’s about you and what you can provide in your USP. Right, your unique selling proposition. So it’s great to hear somebody talk about that and not just understand it, but then preach it to others and help others understand that as well. Right. And benefit from it. So as part of everything in the world, that’s gone nuts. Right. With covid and everything that’s going on. What are the main changes that you have noted in law firms in the past year? And do you think with these changes and what’s been happening, do you think lawyers might revert to some of the old ways of managing their firms?
Ali: [00:42:31] So covid was actually, in some ways a great gift, obviously not a great gift in, you know, how it has, υou know, created so much fear and so many deaths, but in other ways also a great gift. And, you know, I’m in the death industry. We’re talking about estate planning and we’re talking about the reality that we all die. It is the one common denominator that we all have. And one of the great gifts of covid, I believe, is really helping people to more honestly face this reality.
Ali: [00:43:20] More honestly face this reality and, you know, there’s so much I could say about that, but on the lawyer side, prior to covid, so I’ve always been a virtual company. So let me say that so when I sold my law practice in two thousand eight, I sold my law practice because I was ready to not have a brick and mortar location any longer. I was ready to be totally 100 percent virtual. And and so I’ve been one hundred percent virtual since then, since 2008 in my businesses. So when covid came from an internal business perspective of new law business model, we were already virtual. So there was no negative impact from that perspective. Many of our lawyer firms had been wanting to make their law firms virtual prior to covid, but they kept not doing it. And so even though we actually had a program that I had built with one of our lawyers to help them get to be virtual prior to covid, I think only like τen lawyers had run webinars or something like that. And last year. I think our member lawyers, I’ll have to get the updated number from her, ran a total of something like three hundred seventy-five webinars using our technology and our systems. We didn’t build that, knowing that it would become a requirement. It just so happened that when covid hit, we already had it all built and ready for our lawyers to step into. And now they were in a place where they were forced to do so, whereas they wanted to before they kept saying they wanted to before. But, you know, inertia is a reality of life when something doesn’t force us into action. And so when I say that covid was a gift in many ways. Covid forced many lawyers into the virtual reality that they wanted to create for themselves. Anyway.
Liel: [00:45:37] Yeah, it was an accelerating force.
Ali: [00:45:39] It was and is, yes, and it is still, I think, an accelerating force. And so when you when you ask the question of will they revert back to their old ways? Do you mean like seeing clients in person and doing in-person presentations or like tell me more about what those old ways would be?
Grace: [00:45:58] I think I would say more in the terms of the client experience or the client engagement. You know, go back to that scene. I mean, it almost would be impossible to do that because you can’t really see people anymore. But yeah. You think I don’t know, because I know something we’ve spoken to quite a few times on the podcast about the client experience when they’re picking up the phones and when they’re talking to potential clients. I mean, just that very first experience. Right. And with the answering services and people having to go all remote, it seems like there may be some attorneys out there in law firms that have lost the thread, maybe even more, and the initial intake or initial experience with your firm. So if you feel like, these lawyers may be reverting or even regressing.
Ali: [00:46:49] Yeah, I think that lawyers who are committed to creating a really great client experience can do so, whether that experience is virtual or in-person. And there is this reality today where people want a virtual experience. Here’s I think and need right. I mean, so now we need to have this virtual experience. And here’s something that I do think also about 2020 shows us. So, most lawyers who are who before 2020 were creating a virtual experience. We’re doing so in a way that had them competing with the legal zoom and the rocket lawyer. And, you know, this big company, trust, and will, dotcom just got like this multi-hundred million dollar VC investment plan. And so and so they thought and I think many lawyers still think, oh, I have to compete with that. I have to compete with that. And so I have to offer these cheap services because I’m offering my services virtually. So they’re not worth as much because what clients are really paying me for is documents or they’re really paying me for. I think that’s what it really is. Right. We have been indoctrinated to believe that that clients are paying us for documents when we create a client experience that starts from the initial client meeting. And Grace, you said it. It actually starts from how their phones are answered. This is like the foundation of the original client engagement system that I that I trained lawyers on.
Ali: [00:48:30] What is the script when your phone is answered? It’s not law offices, please. If your phone is answered with law offices, this is like such a simple change you can make right now. My phones were answered. Welcome to Martinelli and Associates. This is Susan. How may I assist you? Welcome to Martinelli and Associates. This is Alexis. How may I assist you? Even if I was answering the phone and I would wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, like say that like that is like embedded in my psyche forever. More like that is how your phones need to be answered with a welcome and a name and a smile and a how may I assist you? And you can all do that tomorrow. It’s so easy whether you’re using an answering service or you’re answering your own phones or have a client services director. It’s so simple. And so now more than ever, I think that lawyers get to realize that actually providing an incredible virtual service. Your clients should pay more for that, one of the things that we teach in the book actually is this concept of affordable premium services, affordable premium services. It’s a paradox that is critically important for lawyers to understand, which is I understand we all want to be affordable because access to justice and access to legal services and we all want to provide affordable legal services.
Ali: [00:50:01] However, at the same time, you need to get paid enough to deliver really great service because otherwise your clients might as well go online and use legal zoom or rocket lawyer, and you can’t compete with that, nor should you. So instead, we teach this idea of affordable premium services where you are the most affordable solution for your clients and you’re getting paid enough to deliver a really phenomenal service. So how do you structure the way you charge for your services to be affordable premium services? So that’s part of what we teach lawyers to our personal family lawyers coming through the new law business model. But it’s something that we want other lawyers and other industries to do as well, so that if somebody is coming to you for a divorce, they’re paying you premium fees, but you’re still the most affordable solution for their divorce or for their bankruptcy or for their employment matter, a worker’s comp case or whatever it is.
Liel: [00:51:04] I think that’s a huge component. Right. And a very valid mistake that a lot of law firms are doing here. We’ve talked about that before here, really thinking that Lobianco Services is the answer to competing with some technology that is there but not necessarily as one to one solution to what you’re doing.
Liel: [00:51:26] Right. You’re in a different nice. True, you are a lawyer and you are in the business of solving legal problems, but you’re also in the service industry service industry in the sense that you’re serving people. You’re dealing with people. Right. And that’s a big component that gets removed out of the equation when you’re using services like rocket lawyer or legal zoom, where you’re really kind of like just more of a transaction. Right. You’re it almost like strips down your needs to the very bare minimum and gives you the most basic solution that you can for a low price. And people are fine with that. And it’s fine if it serves and caters for some people. But obviously for lawyers who are wanting to build a practice and stand out and dominate a market that may not necessarily be the the following who they should be looking at regarding as their competitors.
Ali: [00:52:15] No. And so, you know, when we came up in law school and beyond law school, we were taught that we could either choose a transactional practice model or a litigation practice model conflict practice model. This is what we were taught. These were our two options, transactional or conflict, transactional or litigation. Well, what you learn in the book with new law business model and what we’ve created is actually what I call a relational model. Remember, we are attorneys and counselors at law. But the counselor’s part was actually dropped out of the business model of law because of the hourly billing model, because of us being taught to charge too low flat fees so that we can be affordable. So what we’re doing here is we are reinjecting the truth of who lawyers are. Where giving lawyers a way to have a relational model, and that is not transactional or litigation where we are able to actually help our clients to navigate conflict if there’s conflict, to keep families out of court and out of conflict, to keep business owners out of court, not of conflict, no software is ever going to be able to do that. Now, it is true that lawyers need to learn some new skills in order to be able to do that, like actual collaboration. Like, you know, again, we just weren’t taught this in law school. And so, you know, I think it is up to us as lawyers to step back into our real role as counselors in the community. And, you know, I wanted to bring something up before we go, because I know that one of the things that you do is you serve lawyers who want to reach the Spanish speaking market. And, you know, I was thinking of somebody who called us the other day and was talking with one of our law business advisors. And, you know, one of the things that we talk about is that our lawyers are able to charge an average fee of three to five thousand dollars per client and get hired by every person that they meet with that needs their services. And he asks the question, well, am I going to be able to do this in the Hispanic market because they’re not going to pay these fees. And culturally, they’re not going to pay these fees and we have, by the way, heard the exact same thing in the Chinese market. In the black market. And so now he’s bringing this to us in the Hispanic market and and of course, in rural communities. And what we have seen repeatedly again and again, is that when lawyers actually understand how to be relational lawyers and understand how to help their communities understand why planning to pass on generational wealth is so important to their family and to their community, and why they can’t just leave it to a set of documents, like for my father in law, that the fees are actually worth it because of the service that they’re getting. Then, of course, it will work in your community. The question is, are you going to take a stand for the people in your community to actually do the right thing by the people that they love? And so, you know, I so look forward to helping the lawyers that are in the Hispanic community to be able to translate that to their communities, right?
Liel: [00:55:56] Yeah, it’s correct. Having that community involvement even before the conversation of any kind of partnership starts without trust. And that particularly since you brought up the Hispanic market, you’re not going to get anywhere. Right. I think some practice law areas have been able to get away with a little bit less of community outreach than they should have probably and still find lots of success. Addressing the Hispanic market, but the Hispanic market is one that it’s very community-centered and very family-centered. And of course, these are going to be values that you’re going to have to align with the community before you even start a conversation. So, yeah, thank you so much for bringing that up, because it’s an underserved community and certainly needs the help of community lawyers that want to help them protect everything that they have. Right. Their families, their wealth, whatever that is.
Ali: [00:56:49] We have to keep people out of court and out of conflict. And so the lawyers that are serving the Hispanic community have to understand how to be that counselor. The lawyers that are serving the Chinese community have to understand how to be that counselor, all the communities. Right. Because the truth is, is that in many ways we’re all cheap. Right? We all want to look for the most affordable solution. And so, you know, I bring that up because it is really up to us as lawyers to take a stand for the value of our services, to understand the value of our services, to be able to communicate the value of our services, and then to provide that value to our clients.
Liel: [00:57:36] One hundred percent. That’s so great. And Ali, I think just to wrap up this conversation, which was already being so full of advice and tips and insights as to how to do and look at things, particularly in this new world that we live, still in covid, but kind of like looking towards after the pandemic is behind us. But what are three tips that you would give lawyers who may have heard the conversation up until now and see, I see myself going through a lot of the things that you’ve just mentioned, Ali. I’m struggling with some of those same things that you’re saying now. What are three steps actionable that he can take to actually make a difference, a change this year?
Ali: [00:58:17] Yeah. So obviously, step one, get the book, read it, and apply it. There are so many actionable, practical steps that you can take from the book and put into practice in your own life so that that that is number one. Number two is to really consider what do you want your life and law practice to look like 20 years from now. If you notice, we’re talking about a vision that I began to receive twenty years ago. And so I want you to really be looking out with that kind of a future vision for yourself, what do you want your life to look like? How do you want to be serving your clients?
Ali: [00:59:04] What is the impact you want to be making in the world so that you can work backwards towards the creation of that? Then look three years into the future, look three years into the future, look at 2024. And whether you want to be in your life or malpractice in 2024. Because here’s the reality. You can accomplish anything that you want in your life in law practice in just three years. If you have the clarity of what you want that to be, you make the investments and stay focused each step of the way when the obstacles and challenges arise as they will to test you, you keep your eye on that future prize and you look at those challenges as an opportunity and a gift to you, and you do not revert back into victim mindset of things happening to you, they’re happening for you. And you don’t blame anything outside of yourself looking at, OK, what is life trying to show me here so that I can step into the truth of who I am, how I want to be in the world, and recognize you are a lawyer. You went to law school, you made it through the bar, you have a true gift. There’s only one point three million of us that’s not a lot, and there’s even a few or a number of us that are actually going to be willing to show up and be the change that we want to see in the world. So if you make the commitment to that, you truly can achieve anything that you set your mind to. So what is it? Get clear. Get the support, take the action steps, be willing to make the investments of your time, energy, attention, and money. To build the life in malpractice that you want.
Liel: [01:00:59] Ali, thank you so much for your time, for so much insight, for so much knowledge. We’ll make sure that we’ll leave links for your book and for the new law business model website. And again, we hope to have you join us back again because there is so much more that we can learn and talk with you about. Thank you.
Liel: [01:01:27] Grace, what a great conversation, right?
Grace: [01:01:31] That was fantastic.
Liel: [01:01:32] It was really. I mean, it was I have so many notes that I made for myself. Right. Not even a little firm, but there is so much knowledge here, Grace.
Liel: [01:01:42] So I think there is really not just one or two or six takeaways. There’s a lot here. But I think I would agree 100 percent here with Ali. With what she highlighted the tree takeaways. Right. The first one, you just get the book right. It’s a great piece of content that’s just going to help you. Yeah, it’s just it’s a great resource. Great. Now, and it’s so easy. Sanctionable. You have a link right here for you to go and complete that transaction in just a minute or less. Now, Grace, the other two takeaways here are a little bit more big picture, high level. And I think that’s important because many times we’re kind of like too focused on the small transactional like the today and tomorrow things. And sometimes that’s good, right? Because we want to make a change every single day. But you also need to kind of like zoom out and see the bigger picture to really get somewhere. So race, I believe Ali said 20 years. What’s your like…
Grace: [01:02:45] What’s this 20 years from now look like, you know, what do you want? Your life and law practice both. Right. Not just one or the other. This is your whole life and your practice to look like 20 years from now.
Liel: [01:02:55] One 100 percent. And I think it’s you know, you hear that too much, right? Even in work interviews all the time. Like how where do you see yourself in three and four or five years. And so sometimes it’s easy to do that for one or the other. Right. For your work ambitions or for your life ambitions. But hardly you ever do it for both. And 20 years is really like a big chunk of years, right. You usually do this kind of thinking for the next 5, maybe 10 years. 20 years is the real vision that you need to go through. And it’s a great challenge to take, I think.
Grace: [01:03:31] I think so, because you have to really look internally at your life and your practice. I mean, look, 20 years in the future.
Liel: [01:03:38] And in the process of creating that picture, you’re going to have to answer yourself a lot of questions, some of them very tough, because, you know, you don’t have to deal with some of those situations right now. And so you’re kind of like just, you know, neglecting that, that there are certain things that are coming at you. So that’s a really good one. And then her third one was a three-year vision. Right. But building a plan like not just like what you know, where do you see yourself three years from now how you were going to get there right.
Grace: [01:04:12] For her, the three year plan is this is what I’m going to where I’m going to be in three years, not it’s where I hope to be in three years. No, these are the things I’m going to do to actionability do in my life and my law practice to be there in three years.
Liel: [01:04:27] Yeah. One hundred percent, Grace. Great, great conversation, and it has to come to an end, but we’ll be back next week with another one. Thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day, Grace.
Grace: [01:04:43] Thank you too Liel.
Liel: [01:04:44] Thanks. Bye.
Liel: [01:04:48] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers, leave us a review, and send us your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next week.