LMME 026 : Jay Fleischman, the “Untethered Lawyer”

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Jay Fleischman

Jay Fleischman, the original “untethered” lawyer

Today’s guest is Jay Fleischman, a consumer bankruptcy lawyer who runs a self-proclaimed “untethered” law practice with offices in both New York and Los Angeles. Jay is also the founder of Legal Practice Pro – a marketing and practice management blog and online resource for lawyers.

Enjoy!

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Items Mentioned in the Podcast

Jay’s Quote (but this is not inspirational…)

Being self-employed means you have the freedom to work any 80 hours a week you choose.

Jay’s Journey

Jay has been in practice since 1995, originally handling a number of different practice areas. However, his practice is now focused primarily on consumer bankruptcy and student loan resolution.

Jay knew he wanted to start a law practice from pretty much his second year of law practice. He started off with a position at plaintiff’s firm in New York. Although he was working at a firm, during evenings and weekends he was in “pre-launch” mode, getting ready to start his private practice.

In hindsight, Jay was doing everything incorrectly when he first started to prepare himself to open his own law practice. He was spending most of his time “teaching himself the law” – but now he realizes that this was a huge mistake. What he should have been teaching himself was how to run a business.

How Jay got his first clients

Jay started out with the mindset that he wanted to “build an empire”. He put ads in the newspapers for clients. His first client called him on a day that the entire city of New York was shut down because of a winter storm (and he was probably the only attorney working who answered the phone).

This woman needed help with a bankruptcy matter and Jay pushed her appointment out 2 weeks so that he could spend that time learning bankruptcy. This paved the way for Jay to start a bankruptcy practice.

Jay practiced food law at the beginning. He would take any case that “put food on his table”.

Jay also used Yellow Pages, radio, and direct mail to build his law practice in the late 90’s – this was before blogging became mainstream.

Jay’s Blogging Experience

Jay’s first website was created in 1996, but he didn’t start blogging until 2004 or so. At that time, he also started podcasting about the changes to the bankruptcy.

Jay likes blogging because it allows him to work out issues in his head, and establish himself as an expert in his field (in the eyes of his colleagues at least).

Legal Practice Pro

LPP was born in 2006 or 2007. It started as a webinar/teleconference for other bankruptcy lawyers. It started as a way for Jay to work out practice management issues in his head – and instead of writing them down in Word, he would blog about them on Legal Practice Pro.

Jay’s big failure…

Pre-911, Jay was “empire building” with his law practice. He was making a lot of money but his expenses were very high, so the net “profit” was small. In the months after 911, he had to let all of his staff go and send his personal injury files to another firm. This was the beginning of Jay learning to start paying more attention to the “business” of his law practice.

What it means to be an “untethered lawyer”

Jay hates the term “virtual law practice”. He believes that it is different to distinguish between a virtual law practice and a document preparation company (with all due respect to Stephanie Kimbro)!

An untethered lawyer is a lawyer that can perform a full-range of legal services regardless of their geographic location. Jay co-runs two law offices, one in mid-town Manhattan, and the other in Los Angeles. To do this he has a cloud based phone system and online backups, encrypted file sharing, and other cloud-based services.

An untethered lawyer does not necessarily mean working from home or being a “Starbucks Lawyer”. It mans you could work from anywhere, but you don’t necessarily have to.

Why Jay started his own law practice

Jay doesn’t take direction very well and he does not deal well with authority. He wants to be available to his family whenever he wants, and have the freedom to do his work in the evening.

What held Jay back from starting his own law firm

Everybody telling him that he needed five years of experience before he could start his own law firm.

What is the best business advice you ever received?

Don’t listen to the people who tell you “that you need five years of experience before you could start your own law firm.”

A personal habit that contributes to Jay’s success

Jay get’s out of bed around 5 and get’s a lot done before the rest of the world wakes up. Being productive at the beginning of the day pushes him through the rest of the day.

What business book does Jay recommend?

Jay recommends two:

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber

All Marketers are Liars, by Seth Godin

What would Jay do if he had to start over?

Register a website and start blogging immediately. He would also get a great set of business cards (something unique) and start taking one person to coffee and lunch per day for the next 60 days.

Jay’s words wisdom

If you think that you want to open up your own practice, if you wait until you are ready, it will never happen.

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