Stephanie checks in with one of the newest members of our profession, Kendall Heward. Hear how Suffolk’s Accelerator program prepared her to think about the business of law differently and how established firms can lean into the skills and talents new attorneys are bringing to today’s small firms.
Links from this Episode
Lawyerist Podcast #466: Navigating Generational Differences in the Workplace, with Katherine Jeffrey
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- . Accelerator to Practice Program: A student’s view
- . Lawyerist lab case study
- . Work firm culture: A young attorney’s view
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 Zack. And this is episode 472 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Stephanie talks with Kendall Hayward, a recent graduate of Suffolk Law School.
Stephanie Everett (00:47):
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists, NetDocuments & LawPay. We wouldn’t be able to do our show without their supports to stay tuned. We’ll tell you more about them later on.
Zack Glaser (00:58):
So Stephanie, Suffolk Law School rings a bell for me with our podcast. Why are we talking with Kendall Howard?
Stephanie Everett (01:06):
Yeah, so this is part two of a series we did. You may remember back in June of this year, we had professors Andrew Garcia and James Matthews on, they were talking about how they’re using our book, the Small Ford Roadmap, to teach business to law students. And actually, how do you run a small law firm?
Zack Glaser (01:26):
How many times have you thought that after graduating law school, why wasn’t I taught how to learn a law, how to run a law firm? So many conversations I had with attorneys as I got out and people that I knew in law school. That’s fantastic.
Stephanie Everett (01:41):
Yeah, it’s a really cool program. And so we had the professors on earlier this year and we thought maybe it’d be cool to have one of their students on and hear what it was like from their perspective. Unfortunately, then we hit graduation and studying for the bar and taking the bar. So part two is a little delayed, but the good news is Kendall passed the bar. She just got her results last week, so she’s now one of our new members of the profession, so that’s exciting.
Zack Glaser (02:10):
Oh, that is fantastic. Well, if anybody wants to go back to that previous episode, that is episode 451 and they can listen to Stephanie, talk to Andrew Garcia and James Matthews as well.
Stephanie Everett (02:23):
Yeah. So let’s check out my conversation with Kendall. We’ll hear what’s on the minds of our newly barred attorneys.
Kendall Heward (02:32):
Hi, my name is Kendall Heward. Thank you so much for having me on today. I am a recent graduate of Suffolk Law School in Boston. I graduated in May of this year.
Stephanie Everett (02:44):
Kendall Heward (02:44):
So very recently. I just passed the bar last week, which is very exciting in Massachusetts. Thank you. And I’m currently an associate at Bletzer & Bletzer, which is a small practice in Boston. Iwas also a member of a very accelerated practice program while I was there.
Stephanie Everett (03:01):
Awesome. Congratulations again, that’s very exciting! It’s exciting to have one of our newest members of the bar here with me today. And this is sort of a continuation, so some people may remember that I talked to the Suffolk professors, Andrew Garcia and James Matthews back in the spring, and so this is kind of part two. Now we’re talking to Kendall who was on the other side of the coin. You were a student and a participant in the program. So maybe just to kick things off, tell us a little bit about that program and what it was all about.
Kendall Heward (03:38):
Sure. So I think something very, very unique about Suffolk and the Accelerator to Practice program specifically, I know my professors talked a little bit about it, but you go to law school and you learn the black letter law, you learn, you take all your classes to prepare you to take the bar, but a lot of law schools and a lot of classes in law school don’t exactly teach you the fundamentals and practical skills of what it really means, day-to-day to be an attorney at a solo or a small or even a large firm. So the Accelerator to Practice program was, in my understanding, sort of created to fill that or bridge that gap in education and understanding. So for me, the practical aspects of being an attorney has always been something that as a student I’ve worried about when I graduate, how am I going to know how to email clients, how to talk to people where I should look for certain things.
Just very seemingly simple, practical questions. And when I was a first year student, I attended a talk, a virtual talk with Professor James Matthews where he sort of explained a little bit about the program and invited first years to apply and it sort of fit everything that I was looking for. He explained that as part of the program you will be placed in a first year summer internship at a small firm, which was something that I was very interested in doing. And he explained a little bit about the specialized curriculum that you would go through to sort of really answer all of the questions and concerns that I was particularly wanting to know about. So I applied to the program at the end of my first semester and I had an interview with Professor Matthews and some of the other professors who run the program. And then I was thankfully accepted along with I believe eight other students.
And we went through the next two and a half years of law school altogether with Professor Matthews and Professor Garcia and a bunch of other amazing teachers at Suffolk really learning the fundamentals of what it means to run your own practice or work in a small firm, whether that’s marketing business plans. We took a legal tech course, we made legal apps in that class, we took a counseling class, we really did everything and it sort of culminates in our capstone seminar where we gave presentations about case studies of other small firms that we were matched up through Lawyerist and also the clinic where we represent tenants in housing matters. So it sort of all comes together.
Stephanie Everett (06:39):
I think the program’s a great idea. Last year when you participated in those two things, I’m curious to hear what surprised you? So going into it, what did you learn about the small firm practice that maybe you weren’t expecting or that was different than what you thought it’d be?
Kendall Heward (06:58):
So a lot of things surprised me. Absolutely. I think I learned different things in every class we took. I really was surprised though when I took Professor Garcia’s course, the business of practice. It was very inspiring for me and I know a lot of the other students to see someone who has been a practicing attorney and owning his own firm for so long, and to also know that he is always looking for ways to innovate and make himself and his firm better and take those experiences and that knowledge and in turn help his clients and then in turn help his students. I think the wealth of information and tools out there for solo and small firms that if you only reach out and utilize them, the big impact that they can have, I think that is a big thing that Professor Garcia’s course taught me and something that surprised me and really happily surprised me.
Stephanie Everett (08:04):
So you had a chance, small firm process with some firms and also do a case study on a firm. And look, I’m not going to ask you to name names, but I suspect that you were able to see under the hood a little bit, you might’ve seen some things that you thought, huh, we’re learning it differently. And so I’m just kind of curious, what were some of the takeaways from being able to work hands-on with the firms that were harder than you thought that maybe they should be?
Kendall Heward (08:37):
Yeah, that is something that I think, again, I wasn’t really expecting going into coming into law school, I had interned at a larger firm. I’d never worked in a small office environment like that. And I think a big thing again that Professor Garcia also taught us, he and his partner of his firm have been working together for so long and I think learning from him and then learning from my own experiences just how important it is to consider the person or people that you’re opening up a business with because of course in the beginning, everyone wants to do the best for the clients, make the best practice that they can. But again, Lawyerist always taught how to run a business, how to be business people, how to be employers, all of these different things that come second in law school to actually learning the law.
And I think learning from my own experiences and just from Professor Garcia’s example with his partner at his firm, just how important it is to make sure you’re constantly communicating with everyone who works in your firm from the top down, make sure that personalities are meshing together, make sure you’re all oriented and on the same page in terms of your goals and growth and check in with each other. Just the communication between the firm, even though it’s often not that many people, it’s really important to make sure that everyone feels on the same page. And that is something that I’ve seen when all of that works well together.
Stephanie Everett (10:29):
I love that because I’m thinking really back to when I was in law school and interviewing, which was sadly a long time ago, and that is not something that I would have thought to look for if I was interviewing with a firm. They kind of feed you some questions in law school, make sure you understand this about a firm and who they serve and how they work and maybe some aspects of firm culture, but how they communicate with one another and are they aligned on vision and how they are going to approach the practice of law. Maybe was a nuanced piece that I don’t know that I appreciate it when I was in law school, so that’s great that you got to see that. I’m curious if kind of going along that line when you were interviewing for firms and thinking about that first position, what was really important to you? Did going through this program kind of make you think about something differently that you wanted to make sure you found in your first job?
Kendall Heward (11:31):
Yeah, so obviously I can’t speak for all recent law school graduates, but many of my peers at Suffolk in the accelerator program and out, a lot of us who go into small firms and a lot of graduates from Suffolk do work at small and solo firms in the Massachusetts Greater Boston area. I think a lot of us are looking for again, that good communication, that good firm culture because going through the accelerator program, I know that not only is having a good firm culture beneficial for employees like myself, but it’s beneficial for the client, it’s beneficial for the owners, it’s really beneficial for everyone. And I think again, just being able to learn about the wealth of technology and tools and information that can really help small firms personally, I think that something that’s important to me is looking for small firms who aren’t afraid to embrace new ideas and change. Whether that’s something as simple as adopting a cloud-based case management system, which is something that the accelerator program helped me learn a lot about or bigger things like different alternate fee models. So it really just ranges anyone who is willing to take risks, make changes, embrace new technology, embrace new ideas, listen to the people that they work with, listen to their clients, and when they tell them their opinions and what they need, just someone who’s not or affirm that’s not afraid to embrace change
Stephanie Everett (13:28):
Students have no idea what a cloud-based law practice management system is. Forget the fact that should you be figuring out that the firm uses one and are they open to that? So that’s definitely great. Have you noticed, since you’re now at a firm and starting your career as an attorney, have you noticed any ideas or takeaways that you learned from the program that you’re now bringing to your firm and making suggestions of, Hey, maybe we should try this thing that I learned? I’m curious what that would look like.
Kendall Heward (14:04):
Absolutely. I think the firm that I work at now, I started there as a law clerk in January, so I’ll have been there for a year coming up this January. I always put on my resume, on my cover letter, a little paragraph about the Accelerator to Practice program because I’ve noticed in graduates of the program have noticed that when you go and interview at a smaller firm and they see, oh, you took a class on case management, you took a class on how to build a marketing plan for a small firm that’s obviously very attractive to a smaller firm or someone who owns a small firm. And for example, when I interned or when I interviewed for my internship at the firm I work for now, they read that paragraph and one of the partners asked me, oh, it says here you’re Clio certified. We have this case management software that we paid for, but no one’s really using it.
And do you think that you could potentially learn a bit about it, see how it can work for us, see how it can help everyone in the office and sort of figure out a way to integrate it into the practice, whether that’s for organization purposes or billing or for keeping track of time, whatever you think would be most helpful. And that’s something that I’ve been working on since I’ve been there. I’ve been reaching out to the different partners, seeing how they use the software or don’t use it, what their problems with it are, what types of things they might need help with, whether that’s organization or one of the other things I mentioned and how possibly this software or another system that we could implement would help solve those problems. And that’s a responsibility that I am very happy to engage with because it honestly makes me excited to put in place those systems because I’ve seen how beneficial they can be for everyone. And also to be a young attorney just starting out and have that responsibility, that’s something that you really only get at a smaller firm. And yeah, I feel very honored and happy to be trusted with helping the firm
Stephanie Everett (16:21):
Solve some of it. Kudos to that firm. I know lots of Lawyerist that I work with are sometimes nervous about hiring someone right out of school because they say, oh, I’m not going to have time to train them or they’re going to need different skills. I think it really is around the training piece that,
Here’s a great example of you coming in and actually bringing a skillset that might be missing. So yeah, you may not have as much hands-on experience. You don’t know how to take a deposition yet at the same level somebody else would, but you can bring different skills to the firm and really help them with maybe some areas where they could use some help. So that is awesome. Congratulations. All right, we’re going to take a quick break here from our sponsors when we come back. Thank you. We’re going to dig a little bit more into the Accelerator to Practice program.
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Stephanie Everett (19:27):
Alright, I’m back with Kendall. As I understand your Capstone project, you got assigned with one of the folks in our Lawyerist lab program and you had to do a case study on that law firm. Is that basically right?
Kendall Heward (19:42):
That is correct, yeah. So I was paired with attorney Matthew he works out of Illinois and he has a very, very unique business model. His firm name is subscription attorney LLC, and he has implemented a fully remote practice based in Illinois where he charges a monthly subscription for all of his services. That is something that I had never heard of before. I was able to meet with him and as someone who is very interested in the technology and organizational systems aspect of running a small firm, being able to speak with someone who has implemented pretty much everything that I’ve learned about in the Accelerator to Practice program and do it really successfully, that was an amazing experience. And so he works across a variety of fields and his practice is only a few years old and he’s been doing extremely well so far profitability wise and being able to reach a lot of clients and also being able to maintain a great work-life balance, which is something that was important to him when I spoke with him about that and being able to hear from him about the possibilities with a subscription model and hearing how he feels very confident that it could be implemented in any practice area, which is something that was very surprising to me.
Yeah, it was wonderful to learn from him. I honestly did not have any critiques or constructive feedback for him. Every suggestion that I gave was sort of an idea of how he could iterate or expand on something that he was already executing really well. And yeah, I’m very glad that Attorney Purpose was able to speak with me. I’m glad that the program gave us the opportunity to meet with attorneys like him and learn about their practice.
Stephanie Everett (21:54):
Yeah, very cool. And I agree we are aligned that see it’s a good example of subscription can work and can be done for any practice area. So I love that you got that exposure because again, probably not something most law students are thinking about because you only see the billable hour model most of the time. So I love that you got that exposure to what else is possible. I want to shift just for a minute. I did an episode recently with someone who spoke about the different generations and we’re getting a lot of feedback from that episode because it was a fantastic one. So I’m telling all the listeners if you haven’t checked that one out, go, because I think we learned so much and we learned so much about how bathrooms inform, how we show up at work. And so I am making some assumptions Kendall about what generation you might be a member of, but I suspect it’s not the same as me. But I’m kind of curious since we have you here, what do you feel like law firm owners should know about students entering the practice and maybe working with someone who’s of a different generation than they might be? Because I think we can learn some insight from you since we have you here.
Kendall Heward (23:05):
Yeah, that is a very interesting question and I appreciated when you asked it in the episode with my professors as well. I think that law students and recent graduates and young attorneys, at least from my understanding and my perspective, they really value a good firm culture. Like I was saying before, I think a lot of people of all generations value a great work culture no matter what field you’re in, but I do think that some really positive changes in the traditional law firm culture are being made by not just young attorneys, certainly people who have been practicing longer than recent graduates like myself, but I think there’s hopefully a big shift occurring and that will continue to occur where law firms and partners and owners and all business owners across any field understand that not only is having a good work culture going to attract better candidates, better employees, but it’s really better for everyone.
It’s better for your clients, it’s better for themselves. So I think that is a big thing that people of my generation, younger attorneys look for in a workplace. And again, like I said, another big thing for me is especially people coming into smaller firms where a lot of small firms have been practicing for a long time, they’ve been very successful. But I think being able to listen to new employees and recent graduates when they say, Hey, I have an innovative idea, a way that we could do something new that might be more efficient for the firm, that might save the firm money, might save the client money, might save us time, might improve the workplace culture. I think even though we haven’t been practicing in the field as certainly as long as these attorneys have, we I think are very in touch with what people our age are looking for, what clients might be looking for when they hire an attorney, and certainly a firm that’s willing to embrace change and willing to promote a great workplace culture is beneficial for everyone and certainly something that myself and a lot of my peers I believe are looking for in a workplace.
Stephanie Everett (25:49):
Yeah, I agree. And I just have a follow up because I think if I’m being fair, there’s going to be people who heard you and they keep hearing great work firm culture and somehow that resonates in their mind as, oh, they just don’t want to work hard or they don’t want to work long hours. And so I don’t think that’s the case, but I’m curious to hear if you have a couple of examples or what comes up for you when you think
Kendall Heward (26:16):
Stephanie Everett (26:17):
Work firm culture, what does that look and feel like in terms of maybe some specific things?
Kendall Heward (26:22):
Sure. So I think what you’ve just said is a very valid comment that people make and I’ve certainly heard that as well. I do think from my perspective, myself and my peers that I’ve spoken to, we are not in the mindset of we don’t want to work. Certainly, I think I would hope most people who spent the time to go to law school and take the bar, they are passionate about the law and they want to practice as attorneys and no one goes into this field thinking that it’s very easy and not very time consuming. I think that sort of when we say a good firm culture or when I say a good firm culture, I mean not being afraid to take advantage of tools that allow you to work less but still get the same or better results. Whether that’s getting paid faster by implementing a billing software, whether that’s using Cleo or another case management system to keep track of your time if you’re on a billable hour because lots of studies have been done that show Lawyerist will be in their office nine to five or longer and they’re working constantly, but they’re not billing to reflect that.
Certainly taking advantage of software or other tools that can more accurately capture billing, whether that’s implementing a different fee model so you can still generate the same amount of revenue but not be in the office as long. It’s just all sorts of things are at our disposal. And I think when people of my generation or my age say that we want to work smarter, not harder, not longer, just to not be afraid to break out of the established way of things. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to put in the work and don’t want to put in the effort, but we see a way to do it that is more time efficient, more cost efficient, and is really, I think, more beneficial to the client, the partner, us everyone.
Stephanie Everett (28:43):
Yes, I agree and thank you. Thank you for indulging me. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot, but I think that’s what we’re trying to do is break down some barriers here and I love that Idea of working smarter. Well, I am excited. Thank you so much for being on the show, but also I’m excited that you have this great foundation that you’re bringing into the profession. It’s encouraging, quite frankly to see folks like you come into our practice ready to help us move the needle and work smarter and serve our clients better. So we’re just excited to follow along and watch where your career takes you. So best of luck to you as you get started, and thank you so much for being with us
Kendall Heward (29:25):
Today. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
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.
Kendall Heward is a recent graduate of Suffolk University Law School, located in Boston, Massachusetts. At Suffolk Law, Kendall was selected to participate in the Accelerator to Practice Program, a specialized course of study for students interested in solo and small firm practice. Currently, Kendall is an Associate at Bletzer & Bletzer, PC, a law firm in Boston, where she primarily focuses on civil litigation and family law matters.
Last updated October 25th, 2023