Podcast #95: Goldilocks, Clio, and Apps for Access to Justice, with Katrina Leung

In this episode, Katrina Leung talks about her “Goldilocks” approach to law practice, which eventually led her to start her own practice, Intuos Law, then move into Clio headquarters for her office space. Through the Courthouse Libraries BC, Katrina also works on access to justice (among other things), including a partnership with Thomson Rivers University Law School and its Designing Legal Expert Systems: Apps for Access to Justice class.

Katrina Leung

katrina-leung

Katrina serves businesses in industries like technology, medical, sports, fashion, retail, and entertainment. She also has an unusual office arrangement; Katrina co-works with the practice-management software company, Clio, in its Vancouver, BC, office.

You can follow Katrina on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thanks to Ruby Receptionists and Xero for sponsoring this episode!

Listen and Subscribe

To listen to the podcast, just scroll up and hit the play button (or click the link to this post if you are reading this by email).

To make sure you don’t miss an episode of the Lawyerist Podcast, subscribe now in iTunes, Stitcher, or any other podcast player. Or find out about new episodes by subscribing to the Lawyerist Insider, our email newsletter. We will announce new episodes in the Insider, and you can listen to them right here on Lawyerist.

Transcript

Intro: Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, with Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Each week, Lawyerist brings you advice and interviews to help you build a more successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Now, here are Sam and Aaron.

Sam Glover: Hi. I’m Sam Glover.

Aaron Street: I’m Aaron Street, and this is episode 95 of The Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, we’re talking with Katrina Leung about her business law firm which she runs from the office of her practice management provider, Clio.

Sam Glover: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Xero: Beautiful legal accounting, simplified. Find out more at Xero.com. That’s X-E-R-O dot com.

Aaron Street: Today’s podcast is also sponsored by Ruby Receptionists, and its smart, charming receptionists who are perfect for small firms. Visit CallRuby.com/Lawyerist to get a risk free trial with Ruby.

Sam, since today’s interview is going to be about a unique office arrangement, I thought it might be fun to chat about some of our unique experiences with office arrangements for Lawyerist, specifically about co-working spaces, which seem to be kind of a growing trend both for small businesses generally and also for law firms.

Sam Glover: Yeah. I think you can call into this mix of different types of office arrangements, virtual offices, and co-working is sort of in between a real office … There’s probably a regular office, then a virtual office, and then a co-working space is sort of a different, more flexible arrangement.

Aaron Street: I guess our experience has been very specifically with this new model of tech savvy drop-in co-working spaces, as opposed to, say, the model that’s been around for a lot longer of executive suites, which are also a similar business model, but I think pros and cons, and costs and benefits of executive suites are maybe a little different than this new trend in co-working spaces that we’ve been using for the last couple of years.

Sam Glover: The one we go to, it’s called COCO, and this is a Minnesota and Chicago now co-working space. I think it’s pretty similar to We Work and some other arrangements, where the coffee is free, and you pay for the space. You can rent it for one day a week, or 24/7. There’s essentially, it’s a big room with some sectioned off spaces for people that have those different types of rental arrangements, and we can come in, set our work down, and sit down and work all day. You start seeing the same people over and over, and you get to have kind of a place to go where you don’t have to feel bad if you only fill up your coffee once a day. It’s sort of like an upside down coffee shop, I guess.

Aaron Street: I thought it might be worth talking about some of the kind of pros and cons of this arrangement, now that we’ve had some experience with it, and I know that some of our community members either go to them or are thinking about using them. The two kind of selling points, I think, are about all the shared access to food and facilities and conference rooms and printers, and that kind of stuff. Then the community aspect of it, where you can alleviate startup loneliness by being around other people and other startup energy, to build this community of people.

I guess I’ll say from our experience, or my experience, that having free coffee and access to conference rooms is nice, but it isn’t really that big of a thing. Having the energy of other people around can be fine, but at least in our experience, in our current space, isn’t really a community vibe. There are some people I recognize from yesterday or from how long we’ve been there, but I’m not spending a lot of time chatting with and getting to know the people around me. I’m trying to work. If anything, all those other people around, much like at a coffee shop, are just noise and distraction. Some of which I can drone out and still be productive, but they certainly don’t add to my concentration and productivity.

Sam Glover: It would be interesting to get Davis Senseman’s sort of counter to this, because she was on our podcast a few episodes back, and she’s kind of a co-working booster. When I’ve talked with her, I get the sense that maybe there’s a community there that we’re missing out on or something. Maybe we’ve just never gotten involved in it. I’m not sure, but I feel the same. I’ve met one or two people at COCO that I’ve had a more than five second conversation with. That hasn’t done a lot for me. I do like getting the coffee. That’s nice. I think the flexibility has served us well. It’s not a cost savings if you’re there 24/7, really, but it’s a nice cost savings if you only want to be there one or two or three days a week.

Aaron Street: Yeah. I guess I would be interested in Davis’ assessment too, and I guess one of my questions is how much her advocacy for places like COCO or other co-working spaces is influenced by the fact that her client audience is largely other members, that some portion of her marketing is networking with the people in the space, whereas our business doesn’t directly benefit from us networking with freelance graphic designers or people with other internet startups.

Sam Glover: That’s a really good point.

Aaron Street: Unless you are a small business attorney, I don’t see how other law firms are really going to directly benefit from that community.

Sam Glover: One of the beefs I have with it is, in our specific co-working space. This isn’t true for all of the co-working spaces in COCO’s network, and it’s certainly not true nationally, but dogs are allowed. I love dogs, but it drives me crazy when they’re in the workplace, because there is, I would say, every other day that I’m there, there are dogs getting in fights. There are dogs deciding to bark. There are dogs running around and having a great time, and being really noisy and distracting. It’s not great. It’s not my favorite thing.

Aaron Street: I agree, and obviously other people don’t, because they love that there’s finally a place they can take their dog with them. I guess the one other thing I would mention as kind of something to think about if you’re considering one of these spaces is the degree to which your office setup is actually really mobile, versus you wanting to have a dedicated kind of desktop-like setup. You and I primarily use laptop computers as our primary computers, but at least for me, working off of it as a laptop all day every day is not how I maximize my productivity. I like to dock it to a monitor, and a mouse, and a keyboard, and hauling those things back and forth doesn’t really work that well. There are potentially, in these places, the ability to have a dedicated desk or a locker to put some of your stuff in, but I certainly benefit from having the same space with a full desktop setup on it, and some of these arrangements don’t make that particularly easy to do.

Sam Glover: I will say, one thing that is not a problem is sometimes people worry, “Is this going to be professional enough?” From talking with Davis and others that I know who have used various co-working spaces … I met a lawyer in Evansville, Indiana recently who uses a small co-working space at a little tech hub downtown, and one of the objections is not that it’s not professional enough. Your clients walk into a cool co-working space, and either they don’t even reflect on it or they think, “Wow. This is a cool space.” I think it’s served Davis well, both with her clients inside of COCO, who obviously don’t mind, and her clients who come from outside of it, because these are neat spaces. You walk into the downtown location or the uptown location, and it’s a cool space. You wish your office was in a neat space like that.

I don’t think the professionalism of the space is going to be an issue unless you have a very particular set of clients.

Aaron Street: I think that’s right. I guess my final takeaway on balancing all of these pros and cons is, like just about everything, that this absolutely can be the perfect and right solution for some people, and it can be absolutely the exact wrong solution for others, and for most it’s probably in between, and should be weighed against your other opportunities.

Sam Glover: I think it’s a great, flexible working option for people who need flexible working options and can either cross off the list priorities like, “I need to be able to set up a desktop every day,” and even then, maybe you want to have a longer, more permanent desk there, and you still want that environment. With that in mind, I’m curious to hear about Katrina’s experience working out of the offices of Clio, and her own sort of unique co-working experience.

Katrina Leung: My name is Katrina Leung. I live in Vancouver, Canada. I run a corporate commercial solo practice here. I run it out of a little known software company called Clio, practice management software. The unique thing about my practice is that of course I run it out of their office, and work with them to deliver feedback as a co-working lawyer in residence, and also liaison lawyer with the Vancouver Courthouse Library BC. I run their training programs for lawyers and the public, and am constantly working with them to reshape what it is that the library defines itself as.

Sam Glover: Very cool. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Katrina Leung: Thanks for having me.

Sam Glover: Let me talk to you first about how you wound up having a solo practice working out of Clio’s headquarters. Give me kind of the background of how you got there.

Katrina Leung: Absolutely. It’s a pretty awesome story. I spent a few years moving through a few different firms of different sizes. I like to say that I’ve tried the big, the small, the medium, and none of those shoes quite fit. I realized it wasn’t the size of the show, but the private practice in its traditional sense just didn’t really work for me. I work with a lot of small businesses, and noticed a definite niche, a need of these small businesses to be a little bit more flexible, a little bit more responsive, so I decided to start my own practice, and in that planning stage I had been doing a lot of climbing. I was hitting the climbing gym pretty often, and met one of their user experience designers at the gym. He was wearing a Clio t-shirt, “Ask me anything” t-shirt. I’m sure many of the listeners have probably seen that t-shirt.

I went up to him and I said, “Look. I’m starting my practice. I’ve heard bits and pieces about Clio. I am pretty lost in this practice management solution research. Please help me. If I could do a demo of your software, that would be awesome. I know you guys are local.” That’s what I did. I went to their office and Josh Lennon met me, along with that user designer. By the end of the demo, Josh proposed a pretty awesome and radical idea which was that I run my practice out of their office, and in return, I help them out with giving them feedback and some insight on my practice, and what was working with respect to the software, and what wasn’t.

Sam Glover: How long had you been solo at that point?
Katrina Leung: I had just started. They wanted to see what it was like to migrate some client information from my old firm to my new practice, that they really wanted to see right from zero up to running a firm, how long it would take and what that experience would be like for me.

Sam Glover: You’re like the lab rat, I guess.

Katrina Leung: Absolutely. I frequently refer to myself as a guinea pig, and I think they’re awesome though. They ask very little of me to be able to refer to myself as a guinea pig.

Sam Glover: That’s what I’m wondering. Are you in, like, a glass room in the center of the user interface design team, or are you just in an office that happens to be in Clio headquarters?

Katrina Leung: It’s more like the latter. I have a space. I come and go. I’ve got some other responsibilities that keep me away from the Clio office more than I’d like. When I am in their office, and I usually bring my crazy miniature Australian shepherd who likes to run around like a nut, when I am there, they’re great about … Obviously they want my feedback, and want good information out of me, but their expectations have been very reasonable.

Sam Glover: Do you kind of sit down with the design team periodically, and do they debrief you? Or do you run into problems and walk next door and yell at somebody for the fact that you can’t get something done?

Katrina Leung: A little bit of both. Often, I will find a strange glitch, or I have many, many asks because I’m a corporate commercial lawyer. I have this dream that I can manage all of my corporate information of clients, and shareholder information, and keep all that stuff in a nice, tidy place with minimal data entry. I’m quickly realizing that such a solution doesn’t exist anywhere, but I want that, and I want it now, and I want it to work with Clio. That was an example of, “Hey, guys. Can you do this for me?” Then the quick realization that I’m in a very small percentage of lawyers that want that. Sometimes I have particular asks, and sometimes I see glitches or weird things that happen, and I walk over and say, “What’s going on here?”

Sometimes they’ll schedule some meetings with me to get my first impressions of a redesign or a new look to, for example, the iOS app did a big facelift and that “global create” button that they’ve spoken quite a bit about, I was a big fan of that, and I definitely said that was a huge thing. I had made earlier requests for that. That kind of stuff happens, too, and it’s super fun.

Sam Glover: I was going to ask, is there a feature that we have you to thank for in Clio? Is it that “global add” button, or is there more?

Katrina Leung: Yeah. The “global create” button was very important, and I had lamented about that not being there sooner. I’m really glad it’s there, and I think that’s probably the most obvious one. There are probably some little things here and there, and maybe Canadian BC lawyers, there may be some little improvements on accounting or invoice calculations that might be relevant for us. Nothing else that really sticks out.

Sam Glover: What other kinds of technological solutions do you use, if any? Is there other software that you plug in to Clio in your workflow, or is there … Just kind of give us a picture of what you use to work with your clients.

Katrina Leung: I’m not as tricked out as many of my other friends out there, and their practices. Greg McLoughlin, who was the first co-working lawyer at Clio, I know he’s got everything automated and he’s done an absolute brilliant job in that regard. I’m constantly …

Sam Glover: He’s probably in rural Thailand or something right now.

Katrina Leung: Exactly. Definitely striving to achieve more of those efficiencies like he’s done. For me, I am on the ground and local. I see clients face to face sometimes, and sometimes clients don’t want to bother seeing me, so that’s cool too. I don’t have as many integrations. I just rely on the Gmail extensions big time. The Clio Gmail extension, but I think that’s a pretty standard one. I use QuickBooks, and it integrates with Clio. Other than that, it’s a pretty lean and simple setup that I’ve got.

Sam Glover: Is there a solution that you’re looking for at the moment? I’m curious.

Katrina Leung: Probably all of those corporate details I spoke about earlier, but that volume of work still hasn’t really necessitated a need for me to find something really solid to answer that.

Sam Glover: That’s something that comes up a lot. We talk a lot about document assembly and automation, and that stuff’s all awesome, but if you’re really just handling a fairly manageable caseload, saving two minutes on creating a document doesn’t really have that much benefit. It sounds like you’re kind of there. You’re like, “The nifty integrations and automation would be cool, but it’s not like it would save me a ton of time.”

Katrina Leung: Yeah. That’s the thing about my practice. It’s probably not the end of the world if I have to do a bit of manual work here and there, but for sure one could quickly reach that ticking point where it becomes unwieldy and it doesn’t make sense to be typing in a lot of crap.

Sam Glover: We’re always kind of talking about the way the practice of law is changing and stuff, and I’m curious. What’s your sense of what your business clients want from you as a lawyer?

Katrina Leung: I think most important thing is that I’m available, I’m responsive, and that it’s very transparent, and they understand what’s happening. Perhaps that’s not necessary for every kind of client, but in many of the types of clients that I work with, they just want to know what their risks are. They want to know as quickly as possible, and they don’t need me to go into a super deep dive into every possible pitfall or concern. They just need to get the deal done, and they don’t want to … Of course there’s going to be risks, but perhaps it’s going to be more of a business, sort of like a dollar figure question, and negotiating that dollar figure for that agreement. Who is going to bear more risk, or less? I think they just want me to be responsive and get them answers quickly, and be practical in that, and keep the business issues kind of top of mind rather than get lost in all the legalese, and all the possible horrible things that could go wrong.

Sam Glover: How long do you get to work out of Clio’s office? What’s the arrangement? Do you get to stay indefinitely, or is it like a one year thing?

Katrina Leung: Yeah. It started out as being, “We’ll take this as it comes. Perhaps it’ll be a year.” It’s been a year and a half almost now, and I know that they’re frequently looking out for other folks to join, as they like to call me the “incubator program.” I think it’s kind of an indefinite thing at this moment, and I don’t think it’s a huge problem, because I’m there maybe once or twice a week. Sometimes I’m not really all that troublesome, except when my dog’s there.

Sam Glover: Very cool. We’re going to take two minutes so we can hear from our sponsors, and when we come back I want to talk about some of the other work you’re doing outside of your firm.

Aaron Street: Billable hours are the lifeblood of a successful law practice. Problem is, you still have to bill those hours. Even if your law firm has an accountant, tracking hours, clients, rates, preparing invoices, and collecting on those invoices is time you never get paid for. Writing notes to yourself in court or on the road is inefficient and error-prone. Run your legal practice better with cloud accounting software and see why over 600,000 small businesses love Xero, including Lawyerist. Get our free trial at Xero.com, that’s X-E-R-O dot com. Beautiful accounting software.

Sam Glover: This podcast is supported by Ruby Receptionists. As a matter of fact, Ruby answers our phones at Lawyerist, and my firm was a paying Ruby customer before that. Here’s what I love about Ruby. When I’m in the middle of something, I hate to be interrupted, so when the phone rings, it annoys me, and that often carries over into the conversation I have after I pick up the phone. Which is why I’m better off not answering my own phone. Instead, Ruby answers the phone, and if the person on the other end asks for me, a friendly, cheerful receptionist from Ruby calls me and asks if I want them to put the call through. It’s a buffer that gives me a minute to let go of my annoyance and be a better human being during the call.
If you want to be a better human being on the phone, give Ruby a try. Go to CallRuby.com/Lawyerist to sign up, and Ruby will waive the $95 setup fee. If you aren’t happy with Ruby for any reason, you can get your money back during your first three weeks. I’m pretty sure you’ll stick around, but since there is no risk, you might as well try.

We’re back. Katrina, you are also the liaison lawyer with Courthouse Libraries. Tell me, what does that mean? Those are cool words, but I don’t know what that means.

Katrina Leung: Yes. Totally ambiguous title there. Sometimes we get confused ourselves. There’s one other liaison lawyer there, and he manages a few other things. His name is Nate Russell. My role as liaison lawyer at the Courthouse Libraries BC is to run all of the CLE, CPD webinars and training that we deliver to lawyers. Sometimes we deliver it to judges, as well as law students. In Canada, we have the articling program, so I work with articling students also. We also work with a variety of different public facing educators out there. We work with them to deliver information to intermediaries and advocates as well as to the public directly.

Sam Glover: I was curious about the work that you’re doing with the public directly piece, because it sounds like that can take a number of different shapes. Give us some examples.
Katrina Leung: Our Courthouse Libraries website also maintains a few different other websites. One is called ClickLaw, and the other one is called ClickLaw Wikibooks. We have contributing legal writers, lawyers, professionals putting pieces together on all kinds of areas of substantive law, but written in a plain language, friendly, approachable way so that public facing folks can understand the information and get to it quickly. They’re written in an FAQ style, or written in a very topical manner. We manage all that content and make sure editors are curating and updating information on a constant basis, then we work with other partner organizations to deliver training to law clinics and librarians. We’ve got quite a few organizations that we work with in the public library space, and deliver workshops on wills and estates matters, and personal planning [crosstalk 00:25:24].

Sam Glover: It’s basically sort of a big self-help center?

Katrina Leung: Yeah. That’s right. We kind of manage all the content, and manage the various partners, and make sure it all blends and plays nicely.

Sam Glover: Very cool. Obviously I’m an American lawyer, so I have a little bit better picture of American legal system, although I try to keep up to date on the Canadian legal system too. Do the numbers of self-represented litigants, for example, look about the same in Canada as in the US, which is somewhere around 70-ish percent of people, I think, depending on the type of matter, are unrepresented?

Katrina Leung: I think it’s fairly close. I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s fairly similar. It’s a large proportion of people that are doing their own divorces, or handling their [cross-talk 00:26:22] tenant disputes, and small claims things. It’s quite a large proportion, and we see a lot of those folks in the library because obviously we’re one of the first points of contact for them when they’re trying to work on their own file.

Sam Glover: Maybe you’re conflicted on this because of your status as a liaison, but do you feel like the courts there are doing a better job of welcoming pro se people into the system? Or is it still a system designed primarily for lawyers?

Katrina Leung: It’s definitely still a system designed primarily for lawyers, but I know that courts are trying in different levels of conflict resolution, whether it’s tribunal or different decision maker bodies. They’re trying hard to change that, but it’s a slow, slow going process. There is a civil resolution tribunal that’s launched an online way to resolve for strata and tenant disputes, so everything is online and it’s gone live very recently in the province, and it’s a massive thing for us because we haven’t had this use of submitting to that type of forum before.

Sam Glover: I suppose that’s a huge percentage of cases, right? I assume landlord-tenant work, debt collection stuff, and probably some family cases are probably the bulk of what the courts do, so if you can move that stuff into a better system, that’s probably huge.

Katrina Leung: Yes. Absolutely. It’s coming in bits and pieces, and it’s a slow go. Definitely still aimed for folks who have legal representation but I think everyone’s trying to move away from that.

Sam Glover: You’re also working with Thomson Rivers University Law School. Tell me a little bit more about that. It seems like another bit of access to justice work.

Katrina Leung: Yeah. The Courthouse Libraries BC has a really strong relationship with Thomson Rivers University, which is one of the law schools here in British Columbia. There are two others, University of British Columbia and University of Victoria. We work with them, also, but Thomson Rivers, which I’ll call TRU, as that’s their short form, TRU has a course that they’re launching in the winter called “Apps for Access to Justice.” It’s based on a few other courses that have existed for a little while. Georgetown University’s Law Center has a similar course where it’s called Iron Tech Lawyers.

Sam Glover: Oh yeah.

Katrina Leung: Students pair up in these groups and try to tackle an access to justice issue, and build an app to resolve it, or at least tackle it. TRU has developed a similar course, and the Courthouse Library is going to be a partner organization in working with students in guiding them to develop an app to tackle an access to justice problem.

Sam Glover: Tell me, is this to sort of wire frame and theoretically map out an app, or is the idea that they’re actually going to build an app and maybe future classes will add features, keep it up to date, that kind of stuff?

Katrina Leung: Yeah. The students will map it out with the help of the partner organizations, and then they will be using the Neota Logic platform to code and develop an app, and as I understand it, Neota is going to be hosting that for a year after the app is developed. Hopefully with some further students, or further work to keep developing and improving on that app, and that idea.

Sam Glover: Neota Logic has come up a few times on the podcast, but I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped to kind of explain it. My understanding is it’s basically just a platform for building logic into an app, or something like that. It provides sort of the backbone to an app that is based on a decision tree or something. Am I close to right on that?

Katrina Leung: Yeah. That’s basically how I understand it, too. It’s supposed to be simple enough that you can develop, test, and implement these different applications based on simple rules and a decision tree, as you mentioned. I might have said that students will be coding, but now that I think back, I don’t believe there’s actually any coding. Your description is more accurate. It’s based on a yes-no logic decision tree, and then different functionalities will pop up based on those triggers.
Sam Glover: The idea is the students will map it out, decide what it should look like, and work with Neota Logic, which will build it and then it will be a real app that will hopefully solve a problem.

Katrina Leung: Yes.

Sam Glover: Very cool.

Katrina Leung: We’re pretty excited about it, and this is definitely the first kind of course like that in Canada. I know that Georgetown, I mentioned their law centers, I believe the first to be doing this type of course, and then I know the University of Melbourne has a similar program. I think they’re in their second year now, so we’re stoked to be a part of that. The Courthouse Library is really stoked to be a part of that.

Sam Glover: I’m sorry. Have they identified the problem that they’re going to try to solve?

Katrina Leung: Nope. That’s up to the students to decide. That’s part of the fun. We can show them what it is that we do, the different audiences that we work with, the different public audiences that we work with, and hopefully give them some ideas for inspiration about the framework that they might want to develop an app to address.

Sam Glover: Very cool. Let me circle back and ask you a little bit more about your firm. How long since you’ve started your firm?

Katrina Leung: I started about a year and a half ago, probably around the same time that I joined up with Clio. It’s been a fun and tough ride, of course, as every solo out there in starting will know. It’s been fun. It’s a completely different ball game from working in private practice in a traditional sense, but I love it. I love being able to decide who and when I work. I frequently work with other lawyers on larger transactions, or if I need some more bench strength. It just allows me so much more flexibility, and I do a lot of public speaking and workshops, too. Different co-working spaces out there. I find that type of marketing is very effective for my size of firm, and for the clients that I want to go after. I like it. It’s good.

Sam Glover: A year and a half in is kind of early days for a solo practice. How’s it going?

Katrina Leung: Wow. It’s good.

Sam Glover: Would you call it successful, and how would you measure the success of your firm?

Katrina Leung: I would say that I do enjoy it. It’s not easy work, that’s for sure. Chasing clients is obviously not easy work, and the administration of it all can sometimes still be a pain in the ass. It’s much more satisfying than what I was doing before, and because I’ve got other obligations and other things going on that financially help me and get me networking in different circles that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to access otherwise, I think all of it works very well together for me.

Sam Glover: Your firm is really a complement to the other work that you’re doing, not necessarily … It’s not the only thing holding you up.

Katrina Leung: That’s right. I think that because I’m speaking with lawyers, and at the library, training them on different substantive areas of law, but also helping them through their sort of practice management issues too, having that experience of running a firm and knowing what it’s like for them is obviously necessary. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to speak very effectively about how to run a firm, if I’ve never run my own firm.

Sam Glover: I’ve always said I think it’s a little bit different when you start a firm after you’ve practiced for a few years, as you did, as opposed to people who jump right out of law school and try to go, and as opposed to people who go solo after 10 or 15 years in practice. I think those are all sort of different scenarios. After a few years of practicing, you kind of know what you’re doing, and so you have to learn how to run a business, but you aren’t also necessarily scrambling to learn how to practice law. Does that ring true for you?

Katrina Leung: Yes, definitely. The business of running a law firm is different, and that’s the new component for me, but having had that few years of practice and working in different sizes of firms, I’ve seen a little bit about how a firm is run, but not in any way, shape, or form that could have really, really prepared me to be a solo practitioner. I’m definitely grateful that at least I’ve done several years of transactions and worked with clients, and so I have a good understanding at least of the practice and the technical, the drafting skills and whatnot.

Sam Glover: I didn’t prep you for this, but I often like to ask people who have recently started a practice, what was the biggest challenge that you ever had to overcome, and how did you do it?

Katrina Leung: Now that I think about it, thinking back, I think the sort of slow, organic growth and not taking on too much at one time, I think that’s a really key and important thing for me, and perhaps for many folks out there. I have a few lucky stars to thank. I think Clio really helped in that regard. I could start slow and build it on a timeline that really made sense for me, and not take on too much.

Sam Glover: It’s hard to go slow, because you need money, but it wound up being a good thing. You didn’t have to run around like a crazy person, I imagine.

Katrina Leung: Yeah. Then also, just not taking on too much expense, and taking on too much overhead too early. I think that’s really important. Build your clients, build your practice, generate revenue before you go and sign a multi-year lease to rent office space. It’s exciting and awesome to be starting out, but to bet the whole farm is a little bit terrifying. I’m glad that I didn’t do that, and it was a very deliberate thing right from the get go, and conscious decisions along the way to not do that.

Sam Glover: What’s next? As you look ahead to the next one, two, three years, or one, two, three months? What are you working on now for developing your practice? What’s the focus?

Katrina Leung: I’m working on figuring out, I’ve got a few clients that I want to be more of an in-house kind of advisor for them. Figuring out different pricing models, and ways to demonstrate that value, to kind of be a constant legal counsel whenever they need me. I think figuring out that kind of … I mentioned pricing, as well as marketing kind of twist on things. Then building more clients, I guess. Facing more clients.

Sam Glover: More and better.

Katrina Leung: Yeah, absolutely. More and better. I like being able to do this practice, run the practice in a way that is sort of a conscious and … I don’t think that I’m going to be adding a bunch of lawyers to my firm and growing in a nutty kind of way, because I think that this pace and this level of volume is good for me.

Sam Glover: Very cool. Katrina, thank you so much for being with us today. Loved hearing more about your practice, so thanks.

Katrina Leung: Thank you so much for having me.

Aaron Street: Make sure to catch next week’s episode of The Lawyerist Podcast. If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit Lawyerist.com/Podcast, or LegalTalkNetwork.com. You can subscribe via iTunes or anywhere podcasts are found. Both Lawyerist and the Legal Talk Network can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play or iTunes.

Sam Glover: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said during this podcast is legal advice.

Subscribe

Get Lawyerist in Your Inbox, Daily

Current Articles
Current Lab Discussions