How Lawyers Work: Josh Barrett, Baker of Artisan Breads & Drafter of Artful Contracts

In this week’s edition of How Lawyers Work, we hear from Josh Barrett. Josh is the founder of CreateLegal, a company dedicated to helping freelancers and busy agencies find practical solutions to business law problems. In his community in Portland, Oregon, Josh is Treasurer and a Director for AIGA Portland, the professional association of design. Josh also advises App Camp for Girls, a nonprofit inspiring girls to explore their creativity through code.

You can follow Josh on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

What’s your elevator pitch?

CreateLegal is the business law firm designed for businesses doing creative work.

What apps or tools are essential to your daily workflow and why?

As a business lawyer, words are our stock in trade. So it’s tempting to say that a “word processor” is an essential tool. But that seems sorta silly, and generic. It would be like saying that a hammer is an essential tool to a blacksmith. But as a tool of the craft, A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting (4th ed.) by Ken Adams is an essential tool for CreateLegal. We’ve worked hard to avoid typical lawyer drafting tropes, traps, and terminology to create contracts my clients love, see value in, and are happy to pay for. The MSCD helps us do that. On the tech side, despite being an all Apple shop, we’ve integrated The FormTool Pro into lots of our work. Its a great tool for developing complicated, logic-driven, documents-as-software customized to our practice. Aside from the MSCD, Airmail for email, Slack for slacking, Twitterific for tweeting, Flow for project management, and Clio for practice management. Oh, and an Aeropress for coffee.

What does your workspace look like?

Those pictures speak better than these words.

How do you keep track of your calendars and deadlines?

For meetings and the goings-on of life, Google provides the back-end to our calendar system with the data synced to all devices. Work calendars, family calendars, kid calendars—they are all in there. I love Fantastical for calendar viewing and natural language event entry. A complication on my Apple Watch lets me know what’s next at any time. For our corporate practice, filing deadlines and renewal dates start as calendar items in Clio but sync to a firm calendar. A backup database in AirTable ensures nothing is missed.

What is one thing that you listen to, read, or watch that everyone should and why?

Gosh, this is a hard one. I’ll go nerdy and say “Tapestry”, Season 6, Episode 15 of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993). Or Miles Davis’s album, Kind of Blue (1959). Or best yet, I’ll say Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical.

What is your favorite local place to network or work solo and why?

Work. At my desk behind my computer. Old school? Perhaps. But my office is perfectly tuned for my needs, workflows, etc. Sure, I’ll work while enjoying a coffee or beer at my local and favorite place. But yeah, my office.

Network. This is a tough one. For the fun-loving, I like to take folks to a Portland Timbers game and stand with the Timbers Army. If a cocktail is called for, can’t do better than the Multnomah Whiskey Library. Fortunately, we are blessed in Portland with more great coffee shops and breweries than one can count. Any of those can be a great place to meet up.

How do you or your team approach problems?

Find out what the client really wants or needs first. Work backward from there. Or when I’m stuck, break a problem down to identify the smallest next action I can take to make progress. Then the next. Then the next. Getting stuck for me is usually from not identifying a proper next action.

What are three things you do without fail every day and why?

In no particular order:

(1) Check in with a Client. I never want a client to fall through the cracks or feel like they’ve not heard from me in a while. So, I keep a running list of all clients and each day I try to check in on one or two from the top of the list. Once I’ve checked in with them, I move them to the bottom of the list and someone else bubbles to the top.

(2) Check in on Twitter. Twitter is my source news, frustration, laughs, ideas, and a bit of networking. While I don’t post much on Twitter, it helps me keep tabs on whats going on in the world both locally and globally. I just really wish @jack would get rid of the fascists.

(3) Check in with my friends, family, and self. I left a larger law firm and its demands so I could be more present in my own head and the people around me.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?

David Sparks

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