Episode Notes

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Do the lessons learned while owning a small law firm translate to life in a larger firm?

In today’s episode, Sara chats with long-time Lawyerist Lab member Nick Pleasants about how stayed entrepreneurial even after joining a bigger firm. He details how Lab helped him grow his small law firm (even before he launched), how he’s applied those skills after moving on to a new role, and offers some advice to solo and small firm owners. 

If today’s podcast resonates with you and you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, get the first chapter right now for free!

Thanks to Posh Virtual Receptionists, Berkshire Receptionists, & Lawyerist Lab for sponsoring this episode.

  • 10:30. Owning his own firm.
  • 17:47. Finding focus.
  • 24:15. Transitioning to a larger firm.
  • 28:56. Lessons learned.

Transcript

Announcer:

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

Zack Glaser (00:35):

Hi, I’m Zack Glaser.

Jennifer Whigham (00:36):

And I’m Jennifer Wigham And this is episode 411 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, a Lab coach Sara talks to Nick Pleasants, a longtime Labster about transitioning from his private practice to a bigger law firm. And time to time we like to have these Labsters on the show. And labsters are the members of our coaching community and we like them to explain things that they’ve learned in Lab in hopes that you can also learn from them.

 

Zack Glaser (01:02):

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual ReceptionistsBerkshire Receptionists, and Lawyerist Lab. We wouldn’t be able to do this show without their support, so stay tuned and we’ll tell you more about them later on.

 

Jennifer Whigham (01:13):

Zach, I just got back from Austin, Texas. You ever been there? Oh yeah. There’s a lot of loud birds.

 

Zack Glaser (01:18):

There are a lot of crackles. Keeping Austin, Texas, weird,

 

Jennifer Whigham (01:22):

Long tail grackles. That was a really interesting moment for us when we were on a rooftop lunch. This was for our leadership retreat. Our leadership team. Every quarter we try to get together in person, cuz we’re a remote team. And we try to get together for one or two days just to plan for the next quarter and see how the last quarter went. And just generally hash things out. It’s, they’re very intense days. They’re very long. But on our last day we were on the rooftop of a restaurant and these birds were all over us. So it was interesting because I love the birds, but our operations director, Paige, has a bird phobia. So there was some screaming.

 

Zack Glaser (01:58):

Did you love those birds? I mean, crackles. Crackles. They, they’re pretty

 

Jennifer Whigham (02:03):

Annoying. They were bonkers, but I mean, not to side cast that are like, to make the intro go sideways already. But they were great. They were like trying to get on our table. One was like almost on my shoulder. Not everybody loves that, but I’m basically a living scare crew and I want birds to hang on me.

 

Zack Glaser (02:19):

I mean, how many opportunities do you get for that? You know? Yeah,

 

Jennifer Whigham (02:21):

I, I give myself more opportunities than most honestly. Right. I, I put myself in the path of birds just as a rule.

 

Zack Glaser (02:29):

So what did you guys do there?

 

Jennifer Whigham (02:31):

<Laugh> good question

 

Zack Glaser (02:32):

Other than attract birds?

 

Jennifer Whigham (02:34):

Other than attract birds. So we have a very, it’s actually a very structured retreat. We use the EOS system which is from the book Traction by Gino Wickman. And it is a style of running meetings, running leadership retreats. So we start off by talking about our you know, our best personal news of the quarter, our best business of the quarter, kinda like we do in our team meetings. Prior to that we have populated an online board with issues that we think we need to discuss company wide, team wide. And then we do what we call IDS. Identify the issue, we discuss the issue, then we try to solve it. And we do this for any issue that came up through the quarter that we might have thought of. And they can be all sorts of things.

 

(03:18):

They can be personnel issues, they can be, you know, our email rates, they can be anything like that And then we spend the rest of the time planning for the future. So we figure out what our future projects should be and what our KPIs should be for those projects. Our key performance indicators, how will we measure the success of the projects and we look at our three year goals and for the company and see are we, So it’s a lot of talking and it’s a lot of questions and you know, sometimes it can get tense and sometimes it’s really fun, but there are long days where we try to see where the company is and where it should be going and if everything’s in the right place and if it’s not, how do we fix it? That makes sense.

 

Zack Glaser (03:59):

Yeah. And y’all leave for a day.

 

Jennifer Whigham (04:02):

Yeah, we get there in the, like one day in the morning and leave the next day in the afternoon.

 

Zack Glaser (04:06):

Yeah. And so you’re out of office and Yeah. The rest of us who are not on the leadership team are, are here. And I remember one of the people saying to me yesterday, this is, you know, feels like Thursday it was yesterday was was Wednesday. And it’s because it was kind of crickets around here. But, but it was crickets that we knew were coming, you know, we, we had everything in order and all that. So like when our leadership team leaves, we know that’s happening. We are prepared for that. We know where everybody is and things are moving along smoothly. With that.

 

Jennifer Whigham (04:38):

Well, that was one question I was gonna ask you too because, you know, after we have these leadership meetings, we usually have, we don’t usually, we always have an all team meeting within the week to just discuss kind of what we talked about, where we see it going. But as somebody who wasn’t at that retreat, what do you find most helpful from your leadership team? Because sometimes to me, I don’t ever want it to feel like, Oh, we go off to this remote location and it’s siloed and then we come back with, you know, wizard of oz visions of how the company can be. And I don’t think it is that, No. But what is the best way for us to give you that information in a way that makes it clear that you are the team too? We just happen to go and make some decisions.

 

Zack Glaser (05:20):

Yeah. I get excited actually about our quarterly kind of all-team meetings because we always come back with these goals and these visions and I think that our team, we’ve done things, you know, we’ve not done some things, we’ve reached some goals. It’s a good time to say, Okay, what did we do? How do we adjust? And then it just gets exciting because we have things that we want to do in the future. And we have very, very capable people who are going into the, the yurt and having the, you know, the, the visions

 

Jennifer Whigham (05:49):

Definitely a yurt

 

Zack Glaser (05:50):

And kind of leading the ship. I mean, like, it, it’s a team. And so having people come back and say, say, Okay, well here’s what we discussed and what we thought of and, and the decisions we’ve made. Because I also, you know, prior to that you say, we’ve got a list of issues and, and things. And I’m able to put stuff on that.

 

Jennifer Whigham (06:09):

Yes. And you did and we like talked about your, like I m we’ve got brought out that Zack, you’re like, Oh, Zack has an issue on the board, let’s talk about that.

 

Zack Glaser (06:16):

Right. So it’s not that I don’t have a voice in there, but quite honestly, at some point you get too many people in a room, you’re never gonna make a decision So you have to kind of limit it. And so I, I really enjoy when you guys come back and say, Okay, well here’s, here’s the stuff that we were able to get through, here’s the stuff that we were able to, to talk about. And what I think a lot of it comes from, from trust. You know, trusting your, the rest of your team from both directions, you know. But honestly, I don’t know exactly how the greatest way of presenting, Hey, here’s what we’re doing in Q4 would be, but I think we do it well. We have the all-team meeting and we, we go through everything kind of the way that you do according to our book, according to the US book. Yeah. And talking about the good things, things that went well, things that went poorly, and the things that we’re gonna do better at going forward.

 

Jennifer Whigham (07:05):

Yeah. And I think you hit on something that I really like is that in these retreats, for example, you know, I’m the community director and my department is community Lab, but I’m not going there as the single person and I’m all community. I’m going there as an advocate for my team. And so that’s how each team leader is, you know, they are just in some ways this spokesperson for what’s going on on their team and they’re bringing issues that their team brought. And that’s how I really like to think these retreats. So it’s not, I think in sometimes, you know, bigger companies or corporate companies, there might be this us against them mentality with leadership versus people who are not in leadership. But I just see it as I am an advocate for everybody on my team. I’m an advocate for the success of our team, but I’m also then the puzzle piece into our whole business and trying to make it healthy and trying to do my part with my team to make the whole business healthy. And that’s helpful for me because I don’t like us versus them.

 

Zack Glaser (08:00):

No. And I think that that’s, that’s not as healthy, you know, to me that’s not a way to run an organization. You know, it needs to be like we’re all on a team, but at some point you have to have points of contact, you have to have places that, that come together because if, if everybody talks at once, nobody, nobody is listening. If we do everything that everybody wants to do, we’re not gonna get anything done. If we pull in different directions just as hard, we’re never gonna move anywhere. Yeah. And so we have to make tough decisions and we have to kind of decide who, who is in that, that area. But for me, I go through Ashley.

 

Jennifer Whigham (08:33):

Yeah. She’s our operations director. And that’s that’s your manager?

 

Zack Glaser (08:36):

Yeah, No, she’s our, our R&D director.

 

Jennifer Whigham (08:39):

So sorry. Yeah. Product director. Sorry, I just gave her a different role.

 

Zack Glaser (08:41):

I mean, she can probably do great in that the position. She’s doing wonderfully there, so Yeah. But yeah, I, I go through Ashley and so I have meetings with Ashley about this stuff and, and you know, I have every faith that, you know, she is bringing forward the concerns and the wins and all of that from from our team

 

Jennifer Whigham (09:00):

And she is, yeah, thanks for letting me know. And it was a really good retreat. I think it was really hot in Austin. I learned a new bird and I think our old team meeting is in a week. So I look forward to dazzling you with what we got going.

 

Zack Glaser (09:15):

I look forward to being dazzled. Yes. And I also look forward to being dazzled by Nick Pleasant in this interview with Sara.

 

Nick Pleasants (09:25):

Hi, my name is Nick Pleasant. I am an estate planning attorney at Oseran Hahn. In Bellevue, Washington. I practice in elder law and estate planning, probate, guardianship, and some litigation prior to joining Oseran Hahn. And I was on my own for three years and before that I was an associate attorney for my father in a general practice setting. So now I’m here and excited to join the Lawyerist podcast today.

 

Sara Muender (09:51):

Nick, we’re so happy to have you on The Lawyer podcast today. It’s been a long time coming. You’ve been involved in our Lab program for quite some time and you’ve recently had this big transition to the firm that you’re working in now, from running your own, you know, firm and joining this bigger firm as a shareholder. And I’d, I’d love for you to speak on that transition in our conversation today. But first let’s go back to when you started Nick Pleasant’s firm, why you started the firm, what was the vision and just how did that go early on for you?

 

Nick Pleasants (10:30):

Yes, so I’m an entrepreneur by heart. I, you know, grew up with lemonade, stand mowing lawns, you know, and that night I’d watch Shark Tank and I was like, Yeah, I wanna start my own business. So it wasn’t a surprise when the opportunity came for me to have my own law firm that I took it. So I had worked for my dad for four years coming out of law school and I enjoyed working with him. He gave me a lot of opportunities to try different things, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be the one making the decisions and I really felt convicted that I didn’t wanna go work for somebody else. So when he retired in 2019, I had laid the groundwork. I had started talking actually with Stephanie Everett when she joined Lawyerist in the fall of 2018. This Lab program was launching. So I actually joined Lab before I owned my own law firm, but with the knowledge that my dad was in the process of retiring and, and very soon I would just split up my law firm. So by the time I got going in the summer of 2019, I had Stephanie as a support, I had Lawyerist and I really was able to just go out and launch my vision of having my own law firm.

 

Sara Muender (11:39):

Yeah, that’s super exciting. So you had been around Lawyerist for a while then before you actually joined and you kind of had an idea of maybe some of the support that you would need going into this?

 

Nick Pleasants (11:53):

Yes. So I have been helping my dad off and on running his firm. It’s funny actually, when I was in college, I would fly back, you know, once a month I’d follow his 941s. I would, you know, just help him with operations because he was not an operations guy. And in 2015 when I graduated from law school, we went to the Washington State Solo conference and we met Sam Glover there. And you know, I started hearing from Sam this idea of, you know, paperless office and I, you know, law practice of the future. And I said, Okay, when I have my own law firm, I wanna incorporate these principles into it, you know, cloud based first, you know, paperless first, and, and not have those as an afterthought. So yeah, I was kind of in this Lawyerist, you know, sphere for three or four years before I was launching my own firm.

 

Sara Muender (12:41):

So you already had somewhat of an idea of what you wanted your firm to be and how you wanted it to run. So tell me a little bit more about that vision going in. Did it go as expected? Did you face any unexpected challenges early on into running your own firm?

 

Nick Pleasants (12:58):

Yeah, so I was maybe a little naive about cash flow. I, you know, I had the actually two physical offices and I had Westlaw and I had all these things and you know, within the first three months I didn’t have the cash flow to support that kind of operation. And I think it really helped me to have a, you know, stern look in the mirror. And that was one of the first things I brought to my mastermind group was help me call through my, you know, p & l and look at my expenses that I can trim. So we didn’t need the full West law, we didn’t need, you know, a full office. I found a subtenant, you know, I started just really trimming and being more disciplined and that was a really painful experience at times. You know, I wasn’t able to pay myself for a few months, which I think a lot of solos have had that experience. And you know, I really was able to write the ship right before going into the pandemic, which was just a complete boom to my practice area. I mean, everyone wanted to get a will done during the pandemic. So it was helpful to kind of have that foundation set and then really just grow through 2020.

 

Sara Muender (14:08):

Yeah. So tell us about some of that growth that you did. I mean, you took this idea of kind of trimming the fat off of some of the unnecessary expenses to improve your p & l. What were some of the other things that you implemented or did or tried or experimented with? I mean, other than the pandemic just probably bringing you a whole bunch of work, but what were some of those things that you maybe had picked up along the way that you started to implement that you found positive results from?

 

Nick Pleasants (14:40):

Yes. So one of the things I had done before starting my own firm was joining Wealth Council, which is a document drafting for estate planners. And I knew that I, I wanted a really efficient way of producing estate planning documents as a result of that during the pandemic, I just was super focused on estate planning to the point that if you had a, you know, a difficult probate, I was referring that out. If you had some kind of real estate transaction, which, you know, I would be qualified to do, I just referred everything out. I was super disciplined. All we were doing was gonna be wills and trusts and there’s so much to be gained by having that focus and that niche, you know, And I think clients definitely responded saying, Okay, yeah, we, we know like, and trust Nick to do our will because that’s all he’s doing.

 

(15:28):

And so we were able to grow tremendously by just focusing and getting really streamlined. So we implemented case management with Trello and having a Trello board, a Kanban board that was tracking, you know, the life cycle and when you’re only doing estate planning, it’s like, well there’s the, you know, intake phase, there’s the drafting phase, there’s the delivery, and that’s about it. And just being a transactional attorney helped me to produce things in a very timely manner. And I really enjoyed having that focus and that just drive to get things done quickly. And that was another thing that Stephanie suggested, maybe it was Mary Ellen to have a KPI of how quickly did we produce your estate plan? And we got it down to I think under three weeks that we were turning those around. You don’t know until you track it. Right. And that was really helpful.

 

Sara Muender (16:19):

Yeah, no, I’m so glad that you brought that up because KPIs comes up a lot in my coaching calls. You know, what KPIs should I be tracking? And the obvious ones are always the financials, but sometimes we forget about some of the more maybe productivity-related KPIs that, you know, indirectly affect the financials. But you were able to start tracking that, and it sounds like you really focused in on the most profitable aspects of what you could be doing, and you went narrow and deep into that. And I think that that can be scary for a lot of, especially new or solo firm owners, is they just say yes to a lot of things that maybe their five year experienced in solo practice, self down the road, you know, the higher version of themselves as this business owner CEO would maybe say no to in the future.

 

(17:15):

But early on they kind of just say yes to everything. Can you speak on that at all? Because that comes up also a lot in coaching calls and it’s this fear of if I turn down work that I really don’t wanna focus on long term, is that gonna be saying no to money that I need right now? So how did you find that balance? Was it hard for you like mentally to just ride off the bat, be like, Nope, we’re only gonna do this and these are the ones we’re gonna refer out, or did that kind of progress over time?

 

Nick Pleasants (17:47):

It definitely progressed over time. I think having a few of those regrets, you know, those difficult cases that keep you up at night, I had done those, I had seen what it does to your mental state to be burdened by a case or a client that you really don’t jive with. And it’s just wasn’t worth it to me. And I get that you may be at a spot where you really need the next case, and I’ve been there too, so I’m not proud of every case I took. But I think getting to a point where you just really value that relationship with the client, that’s really important. And if I don’t have a good relationship with the client, it’s not worth me going down that road. So I don’t think it was overnight, but, and you’ve been to the lawyer websites where it says, we do estate planning and bankruptcy and criminal defense and you know, personal injury and I, I’m not making fun of those lawyers, but I’m just saying, where’s your focus?

 

(18:46):

Because for me, when I focused in on a estate planning, it really helped me. And so the other thing that kind of lifted me out of that transaction was having an intake coordinator. We had several lines of defense. Our reception was outsourced after my receptionist went on maternity leave and she didn’t come back. I was sort of up a creek and I said, Okay, we’re gonna do Ruby. And I just told them, yeah, if it’s not an estate planning case, feel free to tell them that’s not a fit and don’t even bother scheduling an intake call. And then they didn’t always know though, you know, so you get some intake calls, but then the intake calls, I had my paralegal do them and I gave information. I said, Look, if it’s not a estate planning case, you know, here’s my list. If it’s a divorce, give it to this person if it’s, you know.

 

(19:28):

And so I never even talked to those people anymore. I just took myself out of that equation because I think as the lawyer sometimes it’s hard once you start talking to a client, you get emotionally invested, you’re like, Yeah, I wanna fix your problem. But by taking myself out of that, those calls never got to me. And I think it was better service to those clients to find a lawyer who really, whose focus is divorced, you know, and then the ones that found me, this is my focus for estate planning. So I think just removing myself from that equation really helped.

 

Sara Muender (19:59):

Yeah, that’s a really good point. I say this all the time, especially from a sales perspective, it’s so helpful sometimes to create space between you and potential clients because for one thing, I think that number one, it maybe increases the perceived value of what you do in the minds of people who are gonna start working with you. But what you’re saying is it actually helps you focus. And focus is a huge issue for a lot of attorneys. I just had a coaching call this morning where he says that’s, that’s my number one enemy is my inability to focus because there’s just, there are so many things calling at my attention. And so it sounds like you just, again, you know, to use that analogy, you went narrow and deep on the thing that you, you know, you’re really good at and that you wanna do and it’s your best way of serving people and win-win, it’s the most profitable endeavor for your business. So that’s amazing. We’re gonna take a quick break to hear from our sponsors and then when we come back, I want to transition the conversation to talk about where you are now working in this bigger firm and maybe some of the positive things that you brought with you into your new role from when you were working as a solo. So we’ll be right back.

 

Zack Glaser (21:25):

 

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Sara Muender 

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Zack Glaser

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Sara Muender (23:27):

I’m back with Nick Pleasants talking about his transition from private practice to working as a shareholder in a bigger firm. And I think Nick, I remember us talking maybe one on one or as a group back at Tech show earlier this year about this, but we were really curious because I think you were either thinking about transitioning to this bigger firm or you had just made that transition. You’ll have to get me right on the timeline, but if you look back between now and when you first made that transition, what positive changes have you brought with you into the new firm in otherwise? In other words, what lessons did you bring with you that you think have really benefited you in your new role?

 

Nick Pleasants (24:15):

Yes, Sara, that’s really great. So I had seen your tech show in Chicago in March, and I had been talking with this firm since late December of 2021, but my actual first day here was March 7th. So I was right about to start and going in, you know, I was a little nervous being in a bigger firm, about a dozen attorneys, about a dozen support staff. And the biggest thing that I would, I brought with me was my entrepreneurial spirit. And there are, you know, certainly great lawyers here, you know, maybe associates, maybe partners that are just grinders and they’re doing the work and they’re churning out really high-quality legal work and that’s great and they need somewhere, you know, firm to be at. And I’m not to say that I don’t do legal work, but I definitely like the business development side of things.

 

(25:04):

And as a solo, you know, I was a hundred percent responsible for the business development. So bringing that into this firm and having a place where, you know, I can be helping not just my own practice, but also, you know, finding cases. And we had just talked about how I was referring out every divorce I was referring out every real estate transaction, it’s the complete 180 at this firm, you know. And so my brand in the marketplace especially I have a satellite office up in the mountains and that’s a small rural community and they know me and they knew my father. They have all kinds of, you know, range of things. But here we have a dozen partners, well there’s a divorce partner and there’s a real estate transaction partner. And now I’m not just referring everything out. I can help with business development for my practice and for my partner’s practices. So that’s a really fun way to be entrepreneurial in a larger firm.

 

Sara Muender (25:55):

Yeah. So talk to me about that kind of business development that happens on a, you know, a day to day basis that you’re doing now that’s working.

 

Nick Pleasants (26:06):

It’s interesting. So I still have most of my estate planning going through my paralegal and he has a really detailed process for getting their questionnaire filled out and getting the, you know, intake calls scheduled with me. And I won’t talk to an estate planning prospect until they’ve given me, you know, at least some of their personal information. But for other types of cases, it’s kind of all over the place. Some things come directly to me, some things go to the paralegal, but just figuring out is there somebody in the firm that can help you with this? So as part of that is just maybe having more conversations. So I try to, I try to give the first couple hours of the day, most days unless like I’m doing something like this, doing a podcast or something. Otherwise, you know, from 9-11 I’m typically looking at yesterday’s, you know, emails and voicemails and saying, Okay, these prospects can I find a home for them in our firm? And then trying to marry those up. So that’s really fun. I enjoy helping a wider swath of people and helping my partners and, and just making that happen. So I’m spending more time doing that, but I definitely, you know, internally have the reward. And our firm has a structure where, you know, I do get credit for helping a partner with the case. I’m bringing the case in. So that’s been a different way to get, you know, compensated for my efforts. Not necessarily practicing law, but also developing business.

 

Sara Muender (27:25):

Yeah, and I think that that speaks to the opportunity that even solos have in sort of having that arrangement, maybe not necessarily in the exact way you do, maybe it’s not, you know, keeping business in the family, so to speak. But a lot of attorneys, their main marketing strategy is relationships and it’s getting referrals. And especially if you are trying to hone in on a niche area of practice, you’re gonna want to have a lot of good relationships with other people that you can refer out to because number one, it feels good to be able to do that for clients who are contacting you and it kind of shows them your gratitude for them coming to you first. You know, or you know, somewhere along the line they came to you and it, you know, potentially will come back around and leave you with more referrals from even more attorneys who really start to recognize you as the expert in the thing that you do or in the thing that you’re, you’re trying to do more of. So I’m curious, so let’s like turn this whole, my original question around, which was what did you bring with you into the practice that you’re at now from your own firm? Let’s turn that idea around. And let me ask you, if you were to go back to owning your own firm and running your own firm, what would be some of the lessons that you think would benefit you, that you would take from what you’ve been doing over the last few months?

 

Nick Pleasants (28:56):

Yeah, one of the biggest takeaways I have being at the bigger firm is not worrying about the little things. It’s like a 180 of where I was at with the cash flow and the Westlaw and just trimming the, you know, the things you don’t need. But, you know, I would maybe hesitate to take a client to like a hundred dollars lunch because I think this is an extravagant expense. Whereas here I’ve just encouraged all the time to, you know, keep those relationships and so at least once or twice a month I’m taking a referral partner or a client out and there was no reason I couldn’t do more of that as a solo and I couldn’t just budget for those kind of activities. And so I think putting some budget, whether it’s time or money to being intentional about the referral relationships you talked about.

 

(29:46):

And not that I wasn’t building referral relationships and doing all those things, but I didn’t intentionally say, Oh yeah, I’m gonna budget, you know, a thousand bucks this month to take every referral partner out to lunch. But now I would totally do that for one, we have that budget here at the firm, so I’ve gotten used to trying to, to use that business development budget, but, and also going after the referral partners that are really key and you know, in Clio Grow or La Madox, it’s so easy to track your referral partners and see who’s given you the valuable cases. And I was doing some of that, you know, sending like a Christmas card and a gift basket, but it’s, I think it’s on a different level when I know no, actually this referral partner, you know, generated 10% of my revenue last year. It’s like, okay, no, we need to do something very special for them and just understanding the relationship business that we’re in.

 

Sara Muender (30:34):

Yeah, and I think you can translate that concept into other business development initiatives other than just developing better relationships with referral partners. But what I took from what you said is focus on the most high impact things don’t get caught in the weeds of running a business. And I see that a lot. I see it a lot. And it’s getting, you know, as the saying goes, I, I hate to use sayings that are used all the time, but it’s like going through the forest and not being able to see the, the whole entire forest through the trees. And I think that that happens in running your own business a lot. And so that’s actually incredible advice is to just focus on the most highest impact things, whether that’s relationships or other areas of business development that you could be doing. And I mean, to speak to what you said before that you did really well was to focus on the area of practice that was the, the highest producing thing that you could be focusing on or the most, the most profitable thing. So any other advice that you have for the solo and small firm owners out there who are listening?

 

Nick Pleasants (31:42):

Well, I have to say I’m still a solo at heart and, you know, active in GP solo and my state’s solo section, and I just think the connection is really important. I’m extrovert by nature and I need that connection. And that’s one thing I, I think as a solo you can be kind of disconnected, especially if you’re practicing from home and not nothing against that, but I think, you know, staying in your community, so if that’s joining your, your state section or joining your your state bars practice area section and making effort to go out to those kind of events, I think it’s really important to build your, your network, whether it’s intentional or, or not intentional. I just went to, we, we had a Mariners game night for our state bar and there was nobody on the guest list that I was meaning to say hi to, but it was just putting myself out there, you know, So I think being involved in your legal community, it is marketing whether you think of it that way or not. And I think that you’ll find the reward in that time if you, if you put yourself out there and, and make those connections in your community.

 

Sara Muender (32:48):

Yeah, well, not to mention, if you are an extrovert, just getting out there and being around people, if that energizes you, then that energy is gonna translate into the energy you bring into your business. And so that’s wonderful. I think that’s great advice. I often hear in calls, especially on like the early end of bringing people into our Lab program, you know, they, before they’ve gotten started is they say it often feels like being alone on an island. I’m so far separated from just other business owners, and quite frankly, that’s part of the reason why a lot of people do come into our Lab program is to connect with other business owners who are going through a lot of the same similar challenges and struggles in having the same doubts and fears and learning about what’s working and you know, what other people are doing and implementing. So I think that’s great advice. What are you excited about next? What’s next for you?

 

Nick Pleasants (33:41):

I feel like six months into this new firm gig, I finally have, you know, my, my feet under me and I’m just really looking forward to meeting some of our clients that are doing very interesting things and I might touch them for estate planning, but they have all kinds of other, you know, projects going on here and we’re very transactional firm. And so I think just working in this firm a little bit and doing some of that relationship-building with our clients is really fun and exciting. And I’m, I’m taking up golf because it’s the cliche, I used to golf as a kid, but I, I have no short game. So working on that and just being more of a, you know, a business person and transitioning my thinking. I am a lawyer by trade, but I’m, I’m now at a firm where I can really just be a business person in the community and building those long-term relationships.

 

Sara Muender (34:28):

Yeah, I love that. Well, I hope that you can visit me in Atlanta again and come say hi, where I live, I live on a golf course so we can, you maybe you can teach me a few things. I still have yet to have ever golfed on it, so that would be awesome. I love that you’re also just enjoying things outside of work. That’s so important Nick, and you’re doing such an amazing job. I’m so freaking proud of you and I know our audience took so much away from our conversation today. So thanks again for coming on our podcast.

 

Nick Pleasants (34:59):

This is a pleasure I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and I’m so happy to share with the audience.

 

Announcer:

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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Sara Muender

Sara is a Community Coach at Lawyerist. She is a certified life coach and has had years of coaching others through their professional and personal lives. She works one-on-one with our Lab community members to take their business and perspective to the next level.

Featured Guests

Nick Pleasants Headshot

Nick Pleasants

Nick Pleasants is a shareholder in the Estate Group at Oseran Hahn P.S. in Bellevue, Washington. His practice focuses on Elder Law, including Estate Planning, Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Litigation. Prior to joining Oseran Hahn, Nick founded his own law firm in 2019 focusing on estate planning and probate. Before that, Nick was an associate attorney for his father at James Pleasants, P.C. in a general practice including civil litigation and transactional work. He was named a Rising Star by SuperLawyers in 2022, and serves on the boards of several non-profits in his community including the Asian Bar Association of Washington, the Washington Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Chinese Southern Baptist Church in Seattle. He holds a B.A. in Economics & Political Science from Columbia University, and a J.D. and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Washington School of Law. He was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 2015.

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Last updated October 12th, 2022