Episode Notes

Unsure where to start when choosing legal technology? Listen in as Zack interviews Jeff Schoenberger, fellow Legal Tech Advisor, on selecting the right tech for your office. Jeff homes in on specific questions to ask yourself, your office, and your potential provider. If you’re looking, choosing, or just dreaming about new technology, listen to this episode. 

Additionally, Zack talks with Krystal, from POSH Virtual Receptionists about what firms are using VRs, and how their app can help you stay connected—or disconnected—when you need it most.  

Links from the episode:

Check out Posh for a 14 day free trial 

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  • 3:58. Posh Virtual Receptionist
  • 17:14. Choosing the Right Practice Management Software
  • 33:57. Testing Out Different Software Options



Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts


Stephanie Everett (00:35): 

Hi, I’m Stephanie Everett. 


Zack Glaser (00:36): 

And I’m Zach Glaser, and this is episode 489 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today I have a chat with Jeff Schoenberger, another one of our legal tech advisors about how to buy legal technology and he really cuts to the quick. 


Stephanie Everett (00:51): 

I love it. And today’s show is brought to you by Posh Virtual receptionist, so stay tuned because Zach’s going to have a little quick conversation with them in a minute. 


Zack Glaser (00:59): 

So Stephanie next week, next week is Legal Tech. Can you say that in all caps? I know that it’s always Tech Show is all caps. 


Stephanie Everett (01:09): 



Zack Glaser (01:10): 

Yeah. The ABA Tech show is next week. Yes. And we’ve got a lot of people there. You, me obviously, and then we have some other speakers- Barron. Debbie. What should people be on the lookout for? 


Stephanie Everett (01:22): 

Well, I’m excited to speak. I get two really fun topics this time. One is all around onboarding a hybrid and remote team. And the other one, I mean I love them both, but the other one is basically called AI Will Kill the Billable Hour. Is your business model ready? Oh, that’s fantastic. Anytime I can talk about killing the billable hour, I get super excited. 


Zack Glaser (01:45): 

Absolutely. Well, I think that AI is starting to kind of bring things to the forefront that a lot of people have been talking about trying to adjust, and quite honestly, we’re going to have to adjust a lot of things based on artificial intelligence, so I’m actually really excited about watching that one. 


Stephanie Everett (02:02): 

Yeah, I’m sure there’ll be lots of great topics. As always. We are going to host a little get together, so if you’re in the community, if you listen to the show, if you have any interest in meeting us or other lawyers, come see us on Thursday night at five 30 basically in that American Craft bar, it’s the lobby bar basically on the first floor. Not big bar upstairs, but the downstairs one. 


Zack Glaser (02:26): 

Yeah, you’ll be able to see us. Yes. And if you’re thinking, am I part of the lawyer’s community? If you’re listening to this, you are absolutely part of the lawyer’s community. 


Stephanie Everett (02:35): 

And if you live in Chicago but you weren’t thinking of coming to Tech Show, you should come the floor pass. You can just go walk the exhibit hall. You can get a free pass to do that. You won’t get to go to any of the sessions, but you can still get a lot out of it. You can come hang out, meet lots of people. I think it’s time well spent. The sessions are obviously great. We have some ideas up our sleeve around a new way of maybe sharing out what happens in those sessions, and so stay tuned for that. Be watching our social media feed for that, but it’s always fun to have these conferences and get together and see people in person and learn new things and we’re going to make sure that we have an eye towards that. We’re always listening out for you guys, what can we learn and share with our community? So that’s part of why we go. 


Zack Glaser (03:22): 

Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I’m excited to go learn a bunch of new things in Chicago here next week. 


Stephanie Everett (03:27): 

Speaking of tech, before you buy technology, you should listen to this show. This was actually well timed. We didn’t even plan it. 


Zack Glaser (03:34): 

No, no we didn’t. But Jeff Schoenberger is very good with practice management software, practice management solutions and all that, and I got to pick his brain a little bit in this episode and it was helpful for me. And so I hope it’ll be helpful for the listeners. 


Stephanie Everett (03:49): 

And before that, Zach’s going to talk with Posh and so take a listen and we’ll see you next week. 


Zack Glaser (03:58): 

Hey y’all. Zach here with a quick sponsored segment. Today I have Krystal White with me from Posh Virtual Receptionist. Krystal, thanks for joining. 


Krystal White (04:05): 

Thank you, Zack for having me. 


Zack Glaser (04:07): 

Now Posh is a 24 / 7 live answering service that has an app and a lot of legal specific integrations, but before we get into some of the guts of posh virtual receptionists, let’s start off with why should a law firm use a virtual receptionist service in the first place? 


Krystal White (04:25): 

Absolutely. So the wonderful thing about our reception service is it allows for our clients to free up their time for more legal work. So it allows them to focus more on research client representation. In addition, we offer call screening and routing so we can help prioritize the different types of calls that are coming in so that our clients can prioritize their callbacks and which matters they need to handle first. 


Zack Glaser (04:48): 

Okay, so let them get to actually practicing law instead of being on their phone or tied to their phone all day. 


Krystal White (04:56): 

Exactly. With the app, you can do that while you’re on the go. You can communicate with us, provide us instruction information on any callbacks that need to be completed or just relaying information to callers that might be coming in while they’re on the go. 


Zack Glaser (05:11): 

And although the judge may get irritated with me like being on my phone in court, you can do it from there if you have reception. 


Krystal White (05:19): 

Exactly. And if interruptions are something you simply cannot have, then from the app there is a hold button and that will let our receptionist team know that you are to not be disturbed. 


Zack Glaser (05:30): 

Fantastic. So connected but also disconnected at the same time if you need to be. Exactly. So what kind of firms are y’all seeing as customers? 


Krystal White (05:39): 

So 40% of our clients are actually in the legal industry. Our firms range from immigration law to bankruptcy law. We have a good bit of criminal law as well. And another large client is in the traffic law area as well. 


Zack Glaser (05:55): 

So not just people that have high volume intake, but people that need somebody else to handle their calls. And it sounds like pretty much anybody that has some sort of intake. 


Krystal White (06:06): 

Exactly. Anyone from a solo practitioner to a large law firm, our services are scalable and we can customize the setup to meet your needs and what works with your day to day. 


Zack Glaser (06:16): 

Okay. So what sets Posh apart, and I kind of know the answer to this, I’ve seen you guys and all that, but what sets Posh apart from other virtual receptionist companies in the industry? 


Krystal White (06:28): 

Well, cost is always a factor, and I am happy to say that we are 25% less than our leading competitors. We provide the same level of quality. I believe that we even provide extra integrations and services for an economical rate, 


Zack Glaser (06:45): 

And I think that’s one of the things that comes to mind for me is all the integrations that y’all have, you have integrations with set More with Calendly, with Cleo Rocket Matter, this is just to name a few people can obviously go to your website, posh.com to see a lot of those integrations, but this allows people to kind of set it and forget it. Especially that set more integration. Right, 


Krystal White (07:07): 

Exactly. And in addition to the leading scheduling platforms that we work with, we also partner with zapier.com. They allow us to integrate with over 6,000 apps, so it’s a very easy website to use and we have a support team who is ready to help set up a proper workflow that can make your day smoother. 


Zack Glaser (07:29): 

Okay. So yeah, we’re really getting into trying to make this an automated sort of thing. If an attorney wants to use posh virtual receptionist specifically, where do they need to be in planning in their process? Do they need to know exactly where they want all their calls routed? Do they need to have that in their head yet or do you guys help them with figuring that out? 


Krystal White (07:50): 

We help with figuring that out. So you can give us a call at eight three three get posh or 8 3 3 4 3 8 7 6 7 4. You can visit us on our website@posh.com and our sales consultants will help guide you through the process from start to finish. So even if all you know is I need a receptionist, we have you covered. 


Zack Glaser (08:11): 

Fantastic. Well, one last question. Who is your favorite fictional lawyer? 


Krystal White (08:17): 

Going to have to go with Matt Murdoch. Daredevil. 


Zack Glaser (08:20): 

Oh, Daredevil. Nice. I like that. All right. Well Krystal, once again, thanks for being with me today. I really appreciate it. And if people want to learn more about Posh, where can they go? 


Krystal White (08:30): 

Well, they should give us a call at eight three three, get posh. That’s 8 3 3 4 3 8 7 6 7 4 or visit us@posh.com. And as a note, anyone who mentions Lawyerist will receive a 14 day free trial or 500 minutes, whichever comes first. 


Zack Glaser (08:46): 

Great. We’ll put all those links in the show notes. Again, crystal, thanks for being with me. 


Krystal White (08:50): 

Thank you. 


Jeff Schoenberger (08:55): 

Hi, I’m Jeff. I’m a legal tech advisor with Lawyerist. I work with a lot of our great Labster who have tech questions. I also work with Affinity Consulting, which is now the parent company of Lawyerist, and on that side I worked with bar associations and bar members dealing with all sorts of legal tech questions in my prior life. And I still am a licensed attorney. I didn’t know Legal Tech was a job until I took a CLE class on legal tech adjacent topics. So if you ever wonder if there’s something valuable to get out of CLE, the answer is yes, it’s a job, 


Zack Glaser (09:27): 

A new job, a new job. That’s fair. 


Jeff Schoenberger (09:31): 

You need your best out Bob Barker voice for that or who was the announcer? It wasn’t Bob. 


Zack Glaser (09:37): 

I think it’s Drew. Oh, who was the announcer? Oh man, 


Jeff Schoenberger (09:40): 

The guy in the podium at the back. It’s like Charlie or somebody, they always called him by his first name. 


Zack Glaser (09:45): 

They did this. It’s 


Jeff Schoenberger (09:47): 

A brand new job 


Zack Glaser (09:50): 

And it’s somebody tell ’em what they’ve won. What is that name? Oh man. I 


Jeff Schoenberger (09:55): 

Want to say it’s like Marv or something, but I might just be thinking of Merv Griffin. 


Zack Glaser (09:59): 

Yeah, probably. We’ve really stayed on topic on this one, keeping it really tight on this episode. 


Jeff Schoenberger (10:07): 

Well, some of the times when you’re doing a legal tech advisor call, we ask them upfront, what do you want to talk about? And they either give us very broad things or they say it’s one specific thing and then something else has come up in the intervening few days since they scheduled and we talk about something entirely different. 


Zack Glaser (10:27): 

Yeah, you do kind of have to be on your feet for the legal tech advisor calls, which is why I’m glad that you’re doing a lot of them too is because you’ve got a lot of knowledge in that area because you’ve been doing practice management advising for a while now kind of helping the bar associations. So tell me a little bit more about what you do with the bar associations and what you do for the, I guess, affinity Consulting group side of our practice. 


Jeff Schoenberger (10:56): 

Sure. So a lot of the origination of Affinity Consulting started with individual practicing attorneys or people who had started out in Legal tech back when say PC law was a huge thing or Amicus Attorney was a huge thing and they got a fair number of their clients, which would be solars and smallest predominantly at that point from either sponsoring different Bar Association events or speaking at it, teaching CLEs and a couple of our owners, Paul Luger and Baron Henley, and I assume Steve and a whole bunch of the rest of ’em really had to fight in the past to even get associations or accreditation entities to recognize that knowing how to keep your calendar on a computer or make efficient use of Excel to figure out settlements or be able to produce a document in Microsoft Word that looked great without having to hand it to a word processing department, that was something that those accreditation bodies didn’t recognize until a bunch of the folks who started affinity them to. 



And so we have a great history and a great love for what bar associations have helped build for attorneys, particularly the small firms and the solos. And one of the things that some bar associations have as a member benefit is this sort of tech question and answer or tech resource. A lot of your bars just about all of your bars are going to have some sort of member discount for a practice management program, usually some computer hardware, other tech related things, but a lot of ’em leave it at that and they don’t give you advice or they don’t want to be in the business of saying, well, we offer three different discounts on three different equally excellent practice management programs. Let’s tell you which one you should use. And so for several, maybe for 10 or 15 years, it would’ve been possible for a single person to know what all Lexus offered in their various suite of server desktop based programs or what Amicus offered or Tabs three offered and so forth. 



And in the last 10 or 15 years, we’ve just seen such an explosion in online programs that it takes a large organization that has experience with all these different types of programs to be able to even say what might be best for your firm if you’ve got clients who are older, maybe you don’t care about a client portal because they’re never going to use it. I was talking to a member from a bar yesterday, solo small practice, predominantly estates and probate, and she says, I have clients who will not check email, who wouldn’t use a client portal to save their lives, but who will text incessantly, which is kind of interesting. You think if you’re older, you might generally be more comfortable with email. It’s been part of your experience longer than texting, which I didn’t even, honestly, I didn’t even text until I got an iPhone. 



I was not one of the kids who could do the nine digits under the desk. If you want to do a podcast on that, you should go back and listen to Danielle. She was somebody who grew up. You have to look at the nine digits. Oh man. Yeah, I know. But these clients who are super comfortable with texting, you might think, well, I want a simple program, but that doesn’t really affect how they want to interact with you. It doesn’t necessarily affect what you need. And the fact that they like to text means that you might be looking and your clients have done this for you. In fact, you are looking at a very relatively limited number of programs because what you want to do is you want them to text, not you as an individual, but the program. So whatever you’re texting about ends up in that client file so that if you’re a small firm, there’d be two attorneys and a couple of assistants when you go on vacation, nobody has to call you and say, Hey, look at your phone and see what Sally said about the healthcare director. You want them to just be able to pull that up in the program, which means you’re getting a more advanced program because your clients are not doing some of the things that would let you avoid having a program that lets you text. 


Zack Glaser (15:14): 

None of the attorneys out there, certainly none of them that are listening to this, use their own cell phone as their business text line. Right. Come on, come on. 


Jeff Schoenberger (15:25): 

Oh golly. I think it’s more the opposite, frankly. 



Who was I talking to? Oh, it was one of our relatively new Labster. I was doing one of the onboarding legal tech consults a few days ago, and they still had phones that were actual phones like a PBX, no voiceover ip, no, anything like that. So when they were going through Covid, she told me we couldn’t come into the office and call people, which means if we call people, we had to use a personal phone number. And there were times where she’s like, do I really want to call this person back and have them have access to my home phone or my cell phone, whatever she was using. And honestly, in my personal experience as an attorney when I was working with Legal Aid, two things. One is in respect of mobile technology, the client population of Legal aid is actually more advanced than most normal client population simply because even 10 years ago, the cell phone was their means of communication. 



They texted that was in many cases the internet, they had even at their home, it was their computer. So that was one thing. The second thing is that even when I give out my cell phone, generally speaking, even people who aren’t in the course of normal business professional interactions, they were still super respectful of when they used it. Now you can probably think of clients that if you’re like, oh God, if I gave that, I gave my cell phone like, Gary, you never, I get texts at three in the morning, which if you have that problem and you’re a Labster, reach out. We can teach you about things like focus modes and do not disturb so that your kids, your spouse can call you or text you at three in the morning, but Gary can’t. 


Zack Glaser (17:14): 

Right, right. So what we’re kind of getting to here though, and we’re just jumping right into the practice management and tech practice management aspect of this, what it seems to me that we’re getting to is what tech works for One company, one firm is not necessarily going to work for another obviously, but I think there are a lot of attorneys that look at their friends and they go, oh, my buddy or my competitor or whatever is using File Vines, so I have to use that. Or they’re using Cleo and they’re using it really well, so I need to use that. But like you’re saying, people have needs. 


Jeff Schoenberger (17:50): 

Oh, absolutely. 


Zack Glaser (17:51): 

So how do you go about starting that process of discovering or deciphering? 


Jeff Schoenberger (17:58): 

Well, there are a couple of things that I would think about. First of all is I don’t like to buy anything twice if I don’t have to. It reminds me, I don’t know if you or any of our listeners are familiar with the movie contact from 1997. 


Zack Glaser (18:13): 

Yes, one of the few movies that I actually walked out of, but you walked out of it all. I don’t remember why anymore. But yeah, 


Jeff Schoenberger (18:21): 

I remember thinking it could have had three separate endings. There were three points in that movie where they could have stopped 



And if you’re like me and you like South Park, they did a spoof of that. I want to say in the opening of the first episode of Season seven does a spoof of content anyway, as that relates to your technology choice. When the billionaires floating around in space and he talks to Jody Foster, he says, the first rule of government procurement, why buy one thing when you can buy two at twice the price? And so we want to avoid that when we’re thinking about legal tech. So you probably already have Google or Microsoft 365 and so you’ve got a bunch of space that they’re selling to you to store stuff. If you’re a solo or a small firm, I would probably be inclined to start there simply because especially if you’re a true solo, as you’re adding things, you’re adding complexity. This is something you’re already paying for. If you’ve got one assistant, it makes it super easy to share documents. It makes it super easy to have one place to go. 


Zack Glaser (19:31): 

So basically I have to have email. You 


Jeff Schoenberger (19:33): 

Have to have email, 


Zack Glaser (19:34): 

And I can basically choose from Microsoft or the Google environment. And so I’m going to choose one of those. And quite frankly, from my perspective, I don’t care which one you choose, but I’m going to choose one of those. So now I have a starting point. Let’s say I have Microsoft 365. Okay, now I can start from there. 


Jeff Schoenberger (19:52): 

So you’ve got that also more so on the Google side, but certainly on the Microsoft side as well. That is something that you want to have talked to your practice management program because the whole point of a practice management program is to be, if you’ve been practicing as long as I have or even longer, it’s like the red weld. I can take everything associated with that matter and dump it into, so one of the things that you would and 15 years ago dumped into this Red world is client communications, email, text, things like that. So you’re in the Microsoft camp or you’re in the Google Camp, whatever practice management program you buy, I would recommend starting online and then if you’ve got some really, really specific needs, we could talk about a server-based program, but most of you really ought to be thinking online, but that is one of your categories. 



You’ve narrowed it down so you need something that’s going to work with Outlook or you need something that’s going to work with Gmail. Like I said, it’s a little bit more limiting on the Gmail side, which in some respects means you can scratch out eight or 10 programs or whatever. You might work with Outlook, but you’re on the Gmail side of the fence, so that does some work for you. The second thing to think about is how many people need access internally within the firm? Because the more people that need access, the more you’re going to have to think about who has permission to see what, and that’s particularly on the web-based side. There’s a fair distinction between some of the programs as to how much you can limit and how specifically you can limit things. Generally it’s pretty easy to limit a matter to a few people. 



When I was practicing, well, actually when I was summering before I even practiced, I was with a firm and they were doing a merger of a couple of banks, and so in the program you could wall it off so that only the attorneys involved in that transaction could see that that transaction was even in the matter management system, much less anything that was going on with it. Right? If you need that sort of thing, that’s something to consider. And then the third thing that I think really ought to drive it is what other we’ve talked about, we’ve talked about Google and Microsoft, but you use other stuff too. I mean, maybe you have a drafting system. So if you’re in the estates and probate area, like the person I was talking to earlier, you might use Wealth Counsel or you might use Lawyers with Purpose or any or something from American Academy of Estate Planners. 



If they’ve got document sets, it’s possible that they have an integration with one or more of the practice management programs. Probably makes sense to look there. Similarly, and this was a while ago, so you might want to do a little bit of research on Carrot to see if that’s still the case. But a few years ago when I was, probably two years ago when I was talking to somebody, they did a lot of work with the PTO, with the US pto, the Patent Trademark Office, and at that time what was then Zola is now Carrot had a much better integration or worked much better with the patent office than did the other programs. So that was why they picked Zola. So three things, what are you using as your base layer, like your foundations, either Microsoft or Google, you want something that talks to that. 



Two is how many people do you need to either give information to or limit access to information to? That’ll help clear out some people. Third thing is what other stuff you want to be able to plug into this practice manager program? If you have voiceover internet phones and you’re happy with your provider, you probably want to find a service that works with your provider, assuming there is one. Honestly, if you’re with one of the 800 pound gorillas in the market, so RingCentral, xva, core of ’em, something like that, they probably work with several. So you still have three or four practice manager programs to choose from. 


Zack Glaser (23:34): 

Right. Well, okay. You really just cut that one right to the quick, right, because I think people get into choosing practice management software and first and foremost they say, what does this do? What am I doing? And then they go, oh, well I’ve heard a lot about Clio, so I’m going to go look at Clio and see how I can use it. In my practice, I’ve heard a lot about Practice Panther, so I’m going to go look at Practice Panther or Carrot or whatever. But you’re really getting into what are the things that separate these platforms. To me that’s what being able to wall off from particular users, that’s a thing that only certain platforms really do, and if you need that, you need it and you can’t use X, Y or Z, but you have to use A, B or C. So I think that’s a really good one. I like that one a lot as kind of a first step into there, and I agree with you on the Google or Microsoft, it’s like you have to use one of those, but I push back a little bit on buying twice and I think you’re right. Ideally you’re absolutely right, but I think that that might slow people down some because what you’re saying is don’t buy big things twice, don’t buy Cleo and practice Panther, but I think people here don’t have hello sign and Adobe sign. 


Jeff Schoenberger (24:53): 

Oh no. Yeah, there is going to be some overlap. For example, if you buy a certain tier of Clio, you get some level of Hello sign. I mean I’ve used Adobe Sign and I wouldn’t imagine for most Aries that you would be practicing without Adobe Acrobat. If you want to save a few bucks, there are ones that you can buy that unlike Adobe, which charges you $20 a month forever until you die, there are cheaper ones out there. But I recommend Adobe usually for two reasons. One is it’s cross platform, so it looks and works the same on a Mac or Windows. So if your different machine at home it looks that part of it looks and works the same feature identical and it’s probably easiest to find help on. 


Zack Glaser (25:37): 

That’s the best one right there to me is it’s easier to find help on. 


Jeff Schoenberger (25:41): 

If you’ve got a file by midnight and it’s 1145 and you’re like, oh, Zach told me something that I should redact my PDFs before I file. I wonder how I do that. 


Zack Glaser (25:52): 

Who’s my Fox at Expert out there? But by the way, we do have Fox at Experts Affinity Consulting, but rarely does some attorney have that person on their Rolodex. 


Jeff Schoenberger (26:04): 

No, we were talking about cell phone information. So if you need Fox at 11:45 PM send me an email. I’ll give you Danielle’s cell phone number number, but Googling how I redact A PDF, almost anything that you find, it’s going to assume you have Adobe Acrobat. So if you buy Adobe Acrobat and you need to redact, that means you’re buying Adobe Acrobat Pro, which means you’re getting Adobe sign, you’re already paying for Clio, but you’re going to get Adobe sign. I like Adobe Acrobat sign, I’m enough old school and computers that desktop programs, even if they’re storing all the data online and it’s just like a front end, I still like using the desktop program. So you get notifications when you use Adobe sign on the desktop and I like that. So that’s a scenario where you pay twice essentially. 


Zack Glaser (26:54): 

And I think I have a thing a lot of times when I talk to people about phase one of getting all your stuff and I love the things that you’re thinking about, what’s the thing that sets my practice apart? What are the tricky things? It’s like when you’re studying for an exam for torts, you study for the weird stuff. 


Jeff Schoenberger (27:12): 



Zack Glaser (27:13): 

Yeah, don’t study for the normal stuff. So we’re looking for, when we’re looking for law practice management software, we’re looking for our weird stuff. Everybody’s going to have some sort of calendaring, everybody’s going to have notes for your file and things like that. But I like to say in phase one, just get all the crap to do the crap. I don’t care how many of whatever you have now, I mean obviously try not to buy 17 different things, but really it’s that the reason you don’t want to be duplicative is you want things. It’s your third point. You want the things to talk to each other. You want the things to work well with each other. 


Jeff Schoenberger (27:46): 

You do not want to have a calendar in Clio and then a calendar and outlook and God help you if you’re trying to keep ’em together without actually integrating them so that they talk to each other because at some point something’s going to be different and then you’re going to wonder which one is right. 


Zack Glaser (28:01): 

Oh man. Yeah, and you’re in the middle of nowhere driving down Highway 64 in Tennessee looking at your Well, I pulled over to the side of the road. Look at your phone. That’s 


Jeff Schoenberger (28:11): 

Right. Don’t encourage our listeners to commit crimes, 


Zack Glaser (28:14): 

Please to see what courts you’re supposed to be in. And it says you’re in two different courts and you don’t know which one’s right, and you’ve got no cell phone service, so you can’t call your office. I could imagine that might happen to somebody. 


Jeff Schoenberger (28:25): 

Can you imagine that it did happen to somebody? 


Zack Glaser (28:29): 

I could see that happening to somebody while they’re driving their Honda Civic down the road. I don’t know who though. Okay, so once we’ve kind of said, I know basically the area of practice management software that I want to dig into or software really for my practice management, because you don’t have to use what I would consider an LPMS to manage a practice, but I’ve kind of gotten into the weird stuff and I want to figure out which one’s right For me, I’ve narrowed it down to three. How am I going about doing that? 


Jeff Schoenberger (29:05): 

Oh, well, one of the great things about the fact that all of these practice management programs, at least the web-based ones are subscription and I guess even the desktop ones have maintenance contracts days. Oh 


Zack Glaser (29:16): 

Yeah. They’re unquote subscription. You can see my air quotes. They’re subscription now. 


Jeff Schoenberger (29:20): 

So they don’t think of the fact that they have to spend a half hour with you as some great loss. They think not that there are three people in your office and they’re each going to pay $40. So the value of your contract is 20. The value of your contract is almost certainly $40 times, three times, 12 times, probably at least six because you’re going to be in that program for five or six years barring something ridiculously revolutionary coming along. So take advantage of the demos. The first one’s going to be pretty much canned and that’s fine, but 


Zack Glaser (29:55): 

You mean the first one that you do with the same company, 


Jeff Schoenberger (29:58): 

You reach out to company X and they say, let’s schedule a demo. You say, sure, somebody’s going to show up. They’re going to run through the basics in a half hour, 


Zack Glaser (30:06): 

So I’m going to be doing more than one demo with each of these companies. 


Jeff Schoenberger (30:10): 

Oh yes. So the first one, like I said, it’s going to be pretty much something that they do paint by numbers, and then you’re going to have questions after that or they’re going to say, here’s how you send an invoice and you’re going to say, oh, that sounds interesting. I’ve never sent an invoice for electronic payment from a practice manager program. Then you’re going to go back to your office and you’re going to think, well, sometimes we have two clients because we do mediations or it’s a dissolution and it’s amicable or something. 


Zack Glaser (30:36): 

So two clients, one matter. Yeah, two 


Jeff Schoenberger (30:38): 

Clients, one matter. So we want to send a 50% invoice to each. You didn’t show us that in the canned demo, and you’re going to come up with a list and depending on what your situation is, you’ll have different lists than other people. So as you mentioned, your buddy uses Clio or your friend uses my case or whatever it it’s they probably, unless they’re in the exact same practice area with the same client population, they’re going to have a different list of questions than you. And the fact that whatever decision they came to is excellent, it works for them and they love it, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to come to the same decision. So get that secondary list of questions and do another demo and say, give ’em the person the questions in have asked and you say, Hey Sally, we love your first demo. 



Here are the eight questions that we have that are specific to what our current system is or how we use our current software. I’d love to do a demo and see your product doing that or what it does in its place. And maybe Sally comes back, maybe Sally sends you over to Jimmy and you do a demo with Jimmy going back and forth three times an hour, hour and a half, couple hours worth for each of the products that you’ve got in your possibilities list. Think of these as test drives. You don’t just drive around the parking lot and park the car and say, yeah, this felt fine. I was in it for three minutes and I went over a speed bump. As our car market gets more normal, you’re going to go back out and you’re going to be doing test drives and you’re going to see what does it do on curvy roads? 



What does it do on that street in the city where they never fixed the potholes? What is it like on the highway? That sort of thing. We think that’s normal for so many products, but then for a lot of folks, they either look at what the bar offers a discount on or they say, my friend likes this thing, so I’m just going to buy that thing. Again, if your friend’s in the exact same practice area with the same client population, it might be good. Probably not the case. And it’s probably worth exploring because usually whatever you pick, you’re going to be with it for six years, so you got to like it. 


Zack Glaser (32:35): 

Yeah, I think that’s one of the things that we don’t have the patience for a lot of times as lawyers, and I’d like to compare this kind of to buying a mattress because we have the same kind of lack of discipline. I think as consumers in buying mattresses, we go, we test ’em out, you sit on ’em, you bounce on ’em, you think, okay, well this is the right size. I’ve read about this one. It seems good. I’m going to take it home, or I’m going to order it. I’m going to get it to me in a box and let it inflate or whatever. But mattresses generally are going to last seven to 10 years. So you’re going to have this thing for a long time, and the providers of the mattresses are, you get 90 days many times to send it back because you’re going to have it for a while and you need to really kind of test it out and see how it’s going to feel after you get used to it. And I think you need to do that. You’re going to have, like you said, these law practice management softwares for six years, hopefully for more. Hopefully you’ve found the one that you’re going to have for a while, so kick the tires and test it out. 


Jeff Schoenberger (33:41): 

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I find it fairly easy to buy a mattress. I just buy the hardest one that they have, what I like to sleep. But for most 


Zack Glaser (33:51): 

People, Jeff sleeps on rocks and uses an Excel spreadsheet as this law practice management software. 


Jeff Schoenberger (33:57): 

But you’re absolutely right. Any product that you’re going to buy or a subscription that you’re going to be paying for, particularly as most of these products, have a reasonable discount if you pay them a year in advance. Sometimes you can if you want pay month to month, but most people, you’re going to get substantial savings. So you’ve got it for whatever the free trial period is, and then you’re probably going to pay for a year of it. And just like every other product, cars, probably mattresses, there are some idiosyncrasies with the different brands and the fact that we don’t particularly like where the hand, I’m going to try and stick with this mattress analogy, so we’ll see how it goes. The fact that you don’t particularly like where the handles are to move the top mattress, but that might be annoying, but what are you doing flipping it every six months? 



And if you traded in trades in a mattress, if you decide to stop using that mattress and you purchase another mattress, maybe the corners are too stiff to get some of the sheets around. So there are things that you can absolutely experiment with and you should experiment with practice management in that trial period. Some of those things you’ll find out, and maybe there’ll be showstoppers, maybe you didn’t think to ask, can I have two clients and send a 50% invoice and 90% of your practice is mediations, and well then pretty quickly that’s not going to work for you and you’ve got to look at a different product. Although if you got that far into it, I would also say maybe you should take a couple steps back and reevaluate your selection process because that would’ve if 90% mediation, you miss something in your evaluation. It’s like they just gave you the box spring and said both sheets on that. 



So I think there’s something to be said absolutely that you get these test derived periods, you’ve got, particularly when you’re dealing with the salespeople, you’ve got their attention. That’s your time between that and the trial period to really kick the tires. There is no break-in period. There would be for an engine for a new car, or maybe there is for mattress again, I dunno, I buy rocks. So I think what you really want to be focused on is what do you need it to do? I’ve talked to the people who should know I have access to the trial system. Let’s make sure it does those core things. 


Zack Glaser (36:22): 

So first thing, Jeff and people out there, you should rotate your mattress once to twice per year. You don’t have to flip it, but you should rotate it. So just so we’re not putting out fake information out there. Don’t listen to Jeff rotate your mattress periodically. 


Jeff Schoenberger (36:39): 

Well, we still might dislike where the handles 


Zack Glaser (36:41): 

Are. That’s what I’m saying is you do need to check where the handles are. Mine doesn’t even have handles. I have to just manhandle it around. Really? Yeah, yeah. Are you 


Jeff Schoenberger (36:51): 

Talking the box ring or the top mattress doesn’t have handles? 


Zack Glaser (36:54): 

No, it’s memory foam. I got it in the mail. 


Jeff Schoenberger (36:57): 

Oh, have you ever tried to send one of those back? That’s the question I always say, how do you shove that thing back in the box? 


Zack Glaser (37:03): 

Usually you donate it. Yeah, we are way on topic. 


Jeff Schoenberger (37:10): 

So what is the flock house equivalent of law practice management software? 


Zack Glaser (37:14): 

Yeah, so just give your practice management software away, donate it to some attorney that’s less fortunate attorney. So we want to really look into what is it we need? You are really cutting to the specific things that are difficult for people to get split billing. If you need split billing, you need split billing. And there are only a certain amount of providers out there that have good split billing. Split origination is another one. Really, like you already said, granular user permissions is one where if you need that and it doesn’t have it, you’re not going to slap something else on there. If you need really good document automation and your platform doesn’t have that built in, and most platforms don’t have really good document automation built in, and I’m going to get some of the platforms screaming at me for that, but I mean the conditional formatting sort of, but you can bolt something on most of the time, but you can’t do that with user permissions. So I’ve chosen my platform and it’s going to be perfect, right? Silver bullet, I mean just absolutely. This is the thing. Obviously this is what it was because I took my time, I tested it out for 90 days and I did, I slipped on it for a while, right? 


Jeff Schoenberger (38:30): 

Wow. Some things might be dramatically better early on if you got a practice management program that integrated with your voiceover internet provider. And so the phone rings and it starts at time entry for John Smith, and then that day, there’s days when you’re just on phone calls, you go to the time entries at the end you’re like, oh my God, there’s my entire day. I don’t friend. 


Zack Glaser (38:52): 

Remember my working is done. Fantastic. Yeah. 


Jeff Schoenberger (38:53): 

There’s going to be some things that are like that. It’s like, I don’t know, using CarPlay in a car for the first time that you actually have CarPlay as opposed to whatever terrible system the automaker gave you. But there are also going to be, when we deploy software for Erica’s team, Erica does a lot of enterprise and volume firms, and so they have a lot of employees, and so they’re changing everybody over to something new all at once. And she refers to something called the Valley of Despair because the way things used to work, they no longer work. So you used to go to the NAS to find files for the firm. Well, now the files are either in OneDrive or they’re in CCLE Drive or they’re in, I think it’s still Z Drive with Care Legal, they’re someplace else. And so you got to do a new thing, or you used to add someone to a spreadsheet when you had a new client so that you had a whole list of clients. 



Well, now you open a new matter in my case or a rocket matter or whatever, and it’s a different process. And so there’s just stress like that just from a lot of things are going to be new and different. There’ll be some wonderful aha moments if again, with the voiceover internet or that maybe your way of doing conflicts checks was just to email everybody who worked at the firm and say, Hey, do you know Jim Smith? And do you have any reason to think we shouldn’t represent him? Well, now as you build information into your practice management program, you can just search for Jim Smith and depending on the program and the tier that you pay for, it can not only search whatever you’ve typed in, but it can search the documents that you’ve associated with the program so you can find out is there some reason you should or should not represent Jim Smith. So there are a lot of great things, but it’s going to be different. It’s just going to be, because it would be going from Google to Outlook there some things that are better. There are some things that are worse, but it’s definitely different. 


Zack Glaser (40:49): 

Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re right. Most firms aren’t going from folder with a stapled time sheet into the back of the folder to practice management software anymore. We literally did that at my father’s office, my office. So there’s a time where you’re trying to make this platform work for you. I don’t have the time for that, Jeff. I don’t have the time to mess with that stuff. 


Jeff Schoenberger (41:22): 

That’s the killer. And there are a couple of different ways you can address this. On some level, you’re absolutely right. You paid for this new thing and you picked the perfect thing. It’s like you built the world’s best home theater room, and then you look at the controller and it’s like, am I flying at 7 47? How do I just watch ESPN? Right? So one is all the vendors are going to have, they’re going to give you some sort of training, depends on the vendor, what sort of training you get. Two is they’re generally going to have different resources available. A lot of videos, a lot of people learn by watching, so that’s helpful. There are help articles. Of course. All of that requires your time too. So there are a couple of ways to address that. One is, again, if you’re not a true solo, if you have somebody who is available or has some time, they can go through and they could create, if it’s the Smith firm, they could create the Smith Firm method of how we create a new matter or how we send an invoice or how we make a phone entry or time entry or something. 


Zack Glaser (42:27): 

So my ops manual. 


Jeff Schoenberger (42:28): 

Your ops manual, an operations manual. Exactly. At some point after you’ve had some experience with this product, you might notice or you might think that there are gaps, or you might just have the feeling that I’m doing something really zany and there’s got to be a better way to do it. One of the things that one of our owners, Barron Henley says when he talks about Microsoft Word training, he says, if you’re doing something and it’s taking forever and it’s repetitive and you want to beat your head on the desk, there’s probably an easier way to do it and you should ask somebody. 


Zack Glaser (43:01): 

That is so true. That’s a great one from Baron. Yeah. 


Jeff Schoenberger (43:05): 

I remember when I was taking legal research and writing, the instructor who Dearly Loaf did a wonderful job. She gave us, it must’ve been like three pages of instructions on how to get the little leading periods out for our tables of contents and tables of authority. And I talked to Bar, it’s like, yeah, here’s four Steps. You should just do that. 


Zack Glaser (43:25): 

Oh, man. Baron is a wealth of information for that. Absolutely. 


Jeff Schoenberger (43:29): 

So one of the things that we offer, it’s just for Clio right now, is a Clio optimization program. So you’ve had some experience with Clio, you’ve used it for a while. Usually somewhere in the three to nine month or year range generally gives you an idea of you have the general principles of how it works. You can find a matter. You probably know how to send an invoice. You might not know how to customize your invoice beyond what they showed you in a brief training. 


Zack Glaser (43:56): 

But I’ve been keeping time I’ve I’ve been billing some things. Yeah, okay. 


Jeff Schoenberger (44:00): 

Yeah. So you’ve got the general idea, but there’s a lot of stuff that is, well, like Microsoft Word, it’s there, but you don’t have the time to go and find out how. It doesn’t take three pages to make your leading dots to the table contents. We’ve already done that. So we have Clio optimization set up as a way for you and one of our experts to get together four hours a month, and we use this as sort of a combination of study hall and office hours. We’ll figure out between the two of us, what are the areas that you’re running into? And in some cases it’s very specific. I need to know how to do these three things and we can’t figure out how to make it work. Here’s what our process is. We know Clear has the ability to do X. How do we get those two to work as a cohesive unit? 



Sometimes it’s just, I bought Cleo seven months ago. I’ve been using the bare bones stuff and I don’t know where to begin, but I know I’m paying for more than I’m making use of, and people all the way in between. So the advantage of doing this together is that you don’t have time to necessarily figure out how to do it. So we can work together, we’ll figure out what the process is, but once we figure out what the process is like I show you how to create a template and we work together on a couple of templates. It’s super easy at that point for, we have all these recorded, so you get the recordings if you want to watch me in the future, but you can just sit down with a beer or a glass of wine or sparkling side or whatever the heck you like in an evening and your document better than I do and where somebody’s name needs to go or where a particular dollar amount needs to appear. And because we’ve done it together, how to do it. And then maybe you hit a roadblock or two and come back. And that’s the point of the Office Hour study hall sort of approach. 


Zack Glaser (45:57): 

Got another session. Okay. 


Jeff Schoenberger (45:59): 

Yeah, it works pretty well. We’ve had several people go through it. We do it for both Clio Manage and Clio Grow. So if you’re also in the Clio Grow CRM space, happy to work. There are some great enhancements coming to Clio Grow over the next year. It’s been kind of quiet since, well, maybe since 2017, but it’s certainly been quiet for a while. But they’re coming out. If you paid attention to the last CCLE Con, they’re coming out with a bunch of interesting enhancements for Grow in this calendar year. So it should be pretty exciting on that side too. 


Zack Glaser (46:32): 

That’s funny. I think one of the things that was really missed at the most recent CCLE Con are some of the enhancements coming out of CCLE Grow. They have, just as an aside, they have really listened to people and kind of brought in some things that have been dearly needed or at least asked for. Absolutely. 


Jeff Schoenberger (46:51): 

And that just because I’ve had a fair amount of experience with Clear Grow that touches on something else that I might put as number four in my list of priorities. So we talked about your Google or Microsoft, what permissions do you need? What else do you use? And then number four, hopefully you have some reports that you look at even today that evaluate the health of your business. How much time is someone billing? What is my current open caseload look like? What are my accounts receivable? That sort of thing. Make sure the new program that you go to creates reports that present the information that you want. Sometimes that might mean you have to do some finagling in Excel. Sometimes the vendor will build you a custom report for a special fee. Sometimes it’s just right there. But hopefully you have some reports that you’re looking at to say, this is how the business is doing. Make sure whatever those are can be well replicated or improved upon with whatever practice management program you choose. 


Zack Glaser (47:52): 

Sounds good. Sounds good. Well, Jeff, we’re coming up to the, we’re way over time, let’s be honest here. But you get two legal tech advisors in a room talking about advising on legal tech and choosing practice management software, and it’s going to go for a while. So thank you for chatting with me about this. You’re a wealth of information. You’ve got a lot of good stuff on this. We’re going to put the link to the Clio optimization that we’re offering in the show notes, but people can always find you through our website at Lawyerist dot com and they can easily find you on LinkedIn and various other social media places. 


Jeff Schoenberger (48:28): 

Well, thanks for having me. I enjoy it. You should do a podcast on law and movies or law and TV shows. I think that would be pretty interesting. 


Zack Glaser (48:36): 

It would be. It would be. 


Jeff Schoenberger (48:38): 

I wonder what practice management software they used on Link Boston Legal. I don’t think they used anything. I’m not sure. I don’t think Denny Crane or Captain Kirk would’ve appreciated practice management software in the way that he should have. 


Zack Glaser (48:50): 

That’s fair. That’s fair. Yeah. So just an Excel spreadsheet. So just what Jeff uses, they sleep on rocks and use Excel spreadsheets. 


Jeff Schoenberger (48:58): 

That’s right. 


Zack Glaser (49:00): 

Alright, Jeff, thank you. Thanks for being with me. 


Jeff Schoenberger (49:02): 

Thanks. Great to be here.



The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you. 

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Zack Glaser

is the Legal Tech Advisor at Lawyerist, where he assists the Lawyerist community in understanding and selecting appropriate technologies for their practices. He also writes product reviews and develops legal technology content helpful to lawyers and law firms. Zack is focused on helping Modern Lawyers find and create solutions to help assist their clients more effectively.

Featured Guests

Jeff Schoenberger Headshot

Jeff Schoenberger

Jeffrey  Schoenberger is an attorney, senior consultant for Affinity Consulting, and Legal Tech Advisor at Lawyerist. Jeff specializes in practice management advisory services, including content development, CLE presentations, and member consultations. He is also Affinity’s designated Apple expert. Jeffrey received a B.A. in History from Yale University and J.D. from the University of Virginia. Jeff lives in Cincinnati, Ohio where he spends time reading (mostly history and biographies), tinkering around the house, and building LEGO sets. 

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Last updated February 7th, 2024