Podcast #32: Sonia Miller Van Oort’s Non-Traditional Law Firm

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Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

What does a law firm look like without the traditional hierarchy? Sonia Miller Van Oort’s firm has a flat governance structure, transparent compensation, and offers alternative-fee arrangements to every client. Plus, why it’s silly to let your hardware dictate your law-firm policy.

What Happens When Your Hardware Dictates Your Law-Firm Policy

When the Oakland Police Department started snapping pictures of license plates, it didn’t have a data retention policy; it was just going to keep its data forever — until it ran into the natural limits of its Windows XP computer with its 80 GB hard drive. Once that ran out of space, it decided to keep data for six months only.

On the one hand, great. Even six months is probably longer than necessary, but it’s much better than forever. But while the result is good, the reason is dumb. A 1 terabyte hard drive is like $50. There’s no good reason to let hardware limitations dictate policy like this.

But how many lawyers are making decisions like this because they don’t want to upgrade the technology at their firms (or don’t know they can)?

Sonia Miller Van Oort’s Non-Traditional Law Firm

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Sonia Miller Van Oort’s firm, Sapientia Law Group, is different for a lot of reasons. It is owned by women and minorities. The governance structure is flat, so all members of the firm have a say in how it is run. The compensation structure rewards collaboration over hoarding. And everyone knows how everyone else is compensated.

Listen to the show to learn how it all fits together.

Thanks to Ruby Receptionists for sponsoring this episode!

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  • Scott Bassett

    You asked for suggestions to change the format of the podcast. I listen to a lot of tech and law tech podcasts. I really like the format of Clockwise on the Relay FM network. They do four tech topics in a half hour, sometimes adding a bonus topic if time permits. That forces the hosts and guests to be concise and keeps the show moving forward.

    https://www.relay.fm/clockwise

    I am not suggesting that you always try to do four topics in a half hour, but shorter more focused topics would be good.