What would happen if you couldn’t make it to work for a week? Would your practice completely collapse?
For too many lawyers that’s exactly what would happen, says outsourcing strategist Dina Eisenberg. It’s because their business simply can’t function without them. It’s a recipe for overwhelm and overwork, with impact on your physical and mental health.
You don’t have to tough it out. Dina shares her strategies to ensure that you can build your practice and make more money… while working less.
Listen in to find out…
- The worst place to find freelance talent – and the platforms to use instead
- The biggest – but least obvious – obstacle to growing your business
- The one task a lawyer should never do
- The most powerful automation tools available today
- And more
Mentioned in This Episode: outsourceeasier.com
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Solo to CEO podcast, where we provide a mix of powerful, thought provoking, and practical information to assist you in your transformation from solo to CEO of a high impact, high revenue generating business. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here this morning with Dina Eisenberg, founder and CEO of OutsourceEasier.com. Welcome Dina.
Dina Eisenberg: Davina, I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this conversation. Thank you so much for asking me.
Davina Frederick: I’m so happy that you’re here. I’m just really excited. You and I have had some fun conversations together before and I’m glad to have you on our podcast. So, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and of course about OutsourceEasier.com.
Dina Eisenberg: I would love to. I love to give the $1.50 tour. So, for those who maybe didn’t hear, my name is Dina Eisenberg and I am a lawyer turned award winning entrepreneur. When I did practice law, I practiced a very kind of sad law. I was a prosecutor. I prosecuted doctors for sexual misconduct and while I was very excited about helping women get justice, after a while it became apparent to me that my talents were going to be better placed somewhere else. So, I went on to become a mediator, then a small business mediator, then a corporate ombudsman for a global bank. So, my purpose throughout my legal career has been maybe a little different than other’s. It’s always been about empowering others to know what’s important to them and live their best lives, and I bring that same purpose to my work working with high achieving women lawyers who are very successful, but very overworked.
So, at OutsourceEasier.com, what we help them do is clarify their vision and then use delegation and automation to really create a sustainable, joyful, profitable law practice, and I’m laughing because people are always like, “Sustainable and joyful? Those words don’t go with law. What are you talking about?” But I actually think they do, and they should go with practicing law. We help people solve their legal problems, and for that I think we deserve to be well paid and live life on our own terms.
Davina Frederick: I could not agree with you more. You and I are so on the same page with that. So, tell me what is it about your legal career that led you to this conclusion that lawyers needed more help with … like there was this solution out there for lawyers? First of all, that there was a problem to begin with, with lawyers, what is it that you think pointed you to this direction that there was a need for lawyers, that they were struggling?
Dina Eisenberg: Absolutely, I love talking about this. So, you know what law school is like, right?
Davina Frederick: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dina Eisenberg: I think over the course of law school, what happens is that we get conditioned and trained to accept overwork and overwhelm as our normal condition and as our day to day existence, because there’s no opportunity to say, “No, I’m not going to have that paper done.” “No, I need to get eight hours sleep tonight.” “No, I’m not working through the weekend on that paper.” No opportunity for that at all. So we get used to, as law students, being tired, sleepy, hungry, thirsty, all in service of getting the work done. When we graduate, that mindset doesn’t change.
In fact, it becomes even more ingrained, because there’s this thing I call glorified tough. I know that you’re familiar with this. This is the lawyer who is online saying, “I’ve been working twelve hours straight, and I have five trials lined up, and I’m just so overworked.” Like wearing that very busy badge. We all see that as something to be honored and revered. We think those are the real, in air quotes, real lawyers. If you’re not overworked, you’re not a real lawyer. You’re weak. That’s how we’ve been trained to think, but the truth of the matter is, if you’re overworked and you’re overtired, you cannot possibly give your client your best, which is what we all swear to when we pass the bar, right, and we get our license. We’re to zealously uphold the law, and if you’re just overworked, you can’t do it.
Davina Frederick: And even beyond that, there’s a real mental health crisis in our profession.
Dina Eisenberg: That’s exactly where I was going with that. So we’ve convinced ourselves that if you’re not overworked, you’re bad, and that if you ask for help, you’re weak. So nobody wants to be seen that way, as a lawyer. So we just trudge along. I came to this work from a personal tragedy, and I haven’t been telling this story a lot because if felt like it would distract from the message which I want people to have, which is you need to own your own life, but I started telling it this year because it had exactly the opposite effect. When people heard the story, it became very clear to them why they needed to start delegating and outsourcing. So, if you don’t mind, I’d love to tell it.
Davina Frederick: No, I’d love it. You and I have talked about this a little bit earlier, and I think it’s important.
Dina Eisenberg: Thank you. So I was running a six-figure business after I left my ombudsman role, and my husband was running a million-dollar business. Honestly, we were kind of living the American dream for self-employed folks. We had the portability so we could be anywhere in the country, in the world. When my daughter did her study abroad in Madrid, I went too, to play for a little while with her. We traveled a lot. Things were great.
Now I always had a team, because I came from the corporate background where my assistant pretty much gave me the smack down. She caught me at the copier and she took me in my office and told me basically I was ruining our reputations, because her colleagues thought she was lazy, because they saw me doing so much work that wasn’t executive work, and that my colleagues thought I wasn’t suitable, because clearly if I was doing copying, I didn’t understand what the senior vice president should be doing. So I learned that I needed to have her, because really, I was representing 60,000 employees. My focus should have been on them. I needed her to do the day to day work and so she taught me how to do it.
I could not convince my husband, who was running a very successful business with lots of corporate clients, to get an assistant or any help at all. I mean we would just talk about it over and over again, and he gave all the excuses that I have heard lawyers say in the past, and I continue to hear them say. So things like, “It takes too long to explain to somebody else how to do this. It’s just simpler and faster for me to do it myself.” Or “I can’t have a mistake and I don’t know if I bring somebody in, if I can trust them to do it right or to keep the information confidential. So I don’t want to bring anybody in.” Or the biggest one, which is, “Why would I pay somebody else to do the things that I could do?” So we had this argument going back and forth, and eventually I was like, “Fine. Do it your own way.”
Well, don’t you know, he sneezed one night and ruptured two discs in his back. I had to rush him to the hospital for emergency surgery, and just like on Grey’s Anatomy when they say like, “In 90 minutes, you’re going to be paralyzed.” That’s what the doctor told me. If they didn’t operate immediately, he would be paralyzed for life. So at that point I’m not thinking about either of our businesses, I’m just praying that he gets through the next morning and comes out of surgery fine, which he does. He comes out of the surgery fine, but then he starts a two-year recovery period, where he has to learn how to walk again, how to use the bathroom again, how to readjust to this new life that he has. So while he’s recovering, his corporate clients are calling, and then I’m the one picking up the phone, and they’re like, “Where is this document? Why haven’t you scheduled this meeting? Where is my survey?” And I have nothing to say to them, because I’m not in his business. I don’t know how it runs. While they were all very sympathetic, they were sorry he had had this health crisis, they were also adamant about how irresponsible and unreliable he was, because he didn’t have any team. So literally, within a week of the surgery every corporate client dropped him.
Davina Frederick: Wow. Wow.
Dina Eisenberg: And it was horrifying to go through that process of doing really well and then having this crisis and then sort of struggling a little bit. What was really, I think, the big wake up call for both of us is that as a result we ended up getting divorced, because I think that part of the responsibility of running a business is taking care of your family, because your family doesn’t want to be in business. They don’t want to have a law practice. What they want to do is support you. So it’s your responsibility to make sure that there’s going to be steady income and that you create a system so that could be true, and he just refused to do that, and I refused to be married to somebody who wouldn’t consider taking care of me in that way. So I came to doing this work because I had had all the experiences that I wanted to keep other people from having. I wanted to wake lawyers up and say, “You’re doing fine now, but have you really thought about if something happens to you? Have you thought about you need a team to grow? Do you have any systems in place? Because if you don’t, you’re really kind of playing Russian Roulette.”
Davina Frederick: Wow. What a powerful, powerful story. That’s incredible and as I’d love to say that’s such a unique and rare story, but part of the reason that I do the work that I do, and you do the work you do, is stories like that are all too common. That there are experiences that we have in life that come and hit us out of the blue, and because we don’t have a business that can function without us, when I say us I mean lawyers, don’t have businesses set up in a way that can function independently, we’re caught when a life circumstances happens, like what happened with your husband, caught with our pants down and then what do you do if you don’t have a team and you don’t have systems in place? You’re stuck and it changes everything.
Don’t you think there’s so much, I know that my clients hate it when I say this, but I say it anyway, that it’s arrogant. Like the phrase that I hear the most, like I say, “If you’re the person that says if I want it done right, I’ll just do it my damn self, if you’re the person who says that, then I’m talking to you.” There’s an arrogance in there, and I know they don’t think of it, people don’t think of it, we don’t think of it as arrogance, because we think we’re just hard workers. Your husband just thought he was a hard worker, diligent, dedicated, he’s just there being a good guy, working his butt off, right? He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He was working hard, right? He just thought he just couldn’t get anybody who would do it the way, take care of his clients the way that he did or do it the way that he would. Nobody could live up to his standards.
Dina Eisenberg: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s exactly it.
Davina Frederick: But there’s really arrogance in that.
Dina Eisenberg: Yes, there is.
Davina Frederick: Right? The arrogance is it’s really arrogant to think that I’m the only one who is the best person for every job in my business.
Dina Eisenberg: Yep and we come by that arrogance kind of naturally as lawyers, because we’re conditioned to always have the answer, to always know, even when we don’t know, we pretend like we know.
Davina Frederick: Well we think, “If I only had time, I could figure this out.”
Dina Eisenberg: Of course, of course. So for us, it’s really natural for us to be like, “No. This is the way I want it done and it’s only me who can do it this way.” What I try to remind people of, is if you have that much passion around how it has to be done, then you should codify that. You should write it down, because a couple of things. One, you’re a human being, so you won’t always remember exactly how you do it, and writing it down puts it into stone for you. Secondly, once you write it down, you no longer have to hold that in your head. You can hand that piece of paper to a teammate who will now do exactly the same as you, because you’ve written it down for them.
Davina Frederick: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and there are a whole lot of jobs in your business that you really, seriously cannot be that passionate about. Like there are so many jobs in my business that I am really not that passionate about. For instance, while I absolutely love, love, love, love, love my bank account and my money, I’m not really very passionate about the bookkeeping part of it, the recordkeeping part of it. I want somebody else to line those little numbers up so that I can then go look at them and go, “Oh, look how awesome that is.” Right?
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah, that’s exactly it. That’s one of the places where I tell lawyers, I think there are five different spots where you just need to have a teammate. It shouldn’t be on your plate, because you’re not going to be great at it or it’s not something that’s the best use of your very expensive time.
Davina Frederick: There are so many people who are better at it.
Dina Eisenberg: Yep. A financial team is right in there. So you need to have a bookkeeper, because most of us don’t love numbers and the bookkeeper is going to keep the books in a good shape and organized. You’ve got to have an accountant, because that’s the person who’s going to help you with the tax planning. I don’t know about you, but I don’t love doing the taxes.
Davina Frederick: I know, unless you’re a tax lawyer and that is like a whole separate breed of people, a whole different breed of lawyers, you know?
Dina Eisenberg: And then when you make all that money, you want to have a wealth advisor, somebody who is going to help you fund the dreams. Now sure we have all these technical tools now so you can figure out your stock balances and do all that, but you do it with less ability, less superior knowledge than somebody else. So let somebody else do it.
Davina Frederick: Right, right, and having a team of advisors, you know? Having people with different areas of expertise, because we simply cannot know it all. We just can’t. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
Dina Eisenberg: And we have blind spots, right? We know what we know and often we don’t know what we don’t know until somebody else points it out to us. I was joking with a client the other day and I was like, “So can you see your ass?” And they were like, “Only in the mirror.” I’m like, “Right. That’s why you need somebody else.”
Davina Frederick: That’s good. That’s good. So let me ask you this. What are some good areas for automation? Well before we do that, let me ask you this. Let’s get clarity on automation versus … One of the things I think a lot of people get confused about is they’ll hear lawyers talk a lot about I need systems, I need systems, I need systems, like they just murmur this all the time, I need systems. Let’s be clear that systems and automations are not the same thing. They are systems and systematic thinking and system is different. You can automate systems. Systems is a broader thing, automation then is something you can apply to some systems. So let’s clear that up first, but let’s then talk about some systems that you can automate. So you want to explain systems and automation?
Dina Eisenberg: I think that’s a great place to start, because what I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been doing this is that lawyers often conflate delegation and outsourcing and then they really, as to what you just said, think that systems and automation are the same thing. So it’s good to walk through each of these. At the highest level we have outsourcing, which I define positively as just asking somebody else to help you achieve a goal. It’s not as complex as people would like to make it. It doesn’t really need to be demystified, because it’s not that mysterious. It’s just asking someone to help you achieve a goal, and that person could be either inside your business, because maybe they’re a paralegal or an associate, or outside your business, because they’re an independent contractor or an expert or a consultant.
Then delegation is the next step. So now you’ve decided to outsource, you have the project in mind, now you get your teammate or your talent, and I distinguish between those two things. So teammate is somebody who is in your firm. They’re either part-time or full-time, but they’re a hired employee. Your talent is an independent contractor. When you’re delegating, what you’re doing is telling that talent or teammate exactly how to help you, and then you’re setting them up for success by providing them with both the information and the tools they need to do a good job. So that’s outsourcing and delegation.
Automation, and sort of to your point, is about systems, but it’s not the system. So what I like to tell people, and often I would do this with my clients, is that we create a work flow, so that this is how the work gets done, and oftentimes there are outsourced parts, so thinking like a virtual receptionist to screen your potential clients, and there’s automation parts, so using a tool like ClientSherpa, which actually does the online document part of intake. You need both of those things as part of your work flow to become much more efficient. So I don’t want people to get stuck on one or the other. I often hear lawyers saying that they delegate, and they think that that means it has to be in real life, like that’s the only time that delegation works. When actually, when you delegate it doesn’t matter if the person is online or in real life, it’s the fact that you’re telling them how to help you and then setting them up for success by giving them the tools. Does that make some sense?
Davina Frederick: Absolutely, absolutely. Makes perfect sense to me.
Dina Eisenberg: Now do I think people should be working on a work flow and automating and outsourcing certain things? I do. I think that no lawyer should be doing their own intake. Just crazy town to me that somebody who is maybe billing at $250, $350, $400 an hour would want to spend their time with folks that are not clear whether or not they’re a good client for you or not. I have lots of lawyers going like, “It has to be me, because I have a sense. I use my gut.” I don’t think you need to use your gut. I think you need to write it down and create some screening scripts and let somebody else do it.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, that’s powerful.
Dina Eisenberg: So that’s one place I think, definitely at the intake, and you can be using tools like Smith.ai, the virtual assistant company, the virtual receptionist who you can train to use your script. So for folks who are like, “But it has to be me.” It can still be you, your words, your criteria, but it’s just somebody else actually doing the contact.
Davina Frederick: So what kind of things do you do to help lawyers sort of overcome that, because that’s a mindset issue? When you’re dealing with a client who’s saying, “It has to be me,” which I’m sure you get a lot, it has to be me, that’s obviously a mindset issue that they have. So talk to me about that and sort of how you help them overcome that belief, that limiting belief that they have, and what is that about, do you think? Where do you think that that comes from, this belief that, that goes back to what I said earlier about this idea that I’m the only one who can do it?
Dina Eisenberg: Absolutely. It is a mindset issue, and that’s I think one of the things that makes my coaching unique, is in just about every program or every strategy call, we’re talking about mindset at some point. When I hear clients say that to me like, “It has to be me”, then we start this process of I would say challenging, but in a gentle way, that notion. So ask some questions. Why does it have to be you? I’m asking them again why, more deeply, more specifically, why does it have to be you? Usually what happens is, after we get to the third why, people don’t have a reason anymore. It just feels like it needs to be me, and that’s when I know they’re at a fear place. So law, this is what I say about law, we are a stick culture. Do you remember when you were a kid, it was the carrot or the stick?
Davina Frederick: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dina Eisenberg: So law is a stick culture. We are motivated by fear. If you step out of line, someone is going to whack you on the hand and say, “Bad.” So that’s how we develop this idea that we can’t trust anybody else but ourselves. I don’t know you. I know me. I don’t know you, so I don’t really want you to do my thing, because I cannot trust you to do a good job. So I’ve spent a lot of time helping people understand, one that it’s a trust issue for them, so it’s not a skill issue, it’s a trust issue, and then helping them understand how are you making trust? When we think about trust we kind of don’t think about how we make trust, again air quotes. But we actually do make trust. It’s kind of transactional.
So, if you’ve ever valet parked your car or gone to the doctor, that’s a great example of it, right? When you valet park your car, you drive up to the restaurant and what do you see? You see the guy out front, he’s standing in front of a podium, he’s wearing that red jacket, and he has the peg board of keys. All of those are trust indicators. So when you see those things together, you’re like, “Oh, okay, I can trust this guy. I can hand over my $40,000 investment to him, because on all the other times that I’ve done that, I’ve gotten my car back. So I know that this guy is somebody I can trust.” And then you do it. Same thing about going to the doctor. You walk into the doctor’s office and he has the trust indicators. There’s a receptionist behind the desk asking for your card, and then she asks you for payment, then you go into the doctor’s office and you look and you see their certificate on the wall and where they graduated from medical school. Those are all trust indicators that make you more comfortable saying to this doctor, “I have a pain.” But in both those situations you really don’t know the person, you’re just using those trust indicators to make the decision that you’re going to say yes and trust them.
Same thing with hiring people. There are some trust indicators that you already know but you haven’t articulated, taken the time to articulate them or write them down, that make you trust somebody more or less. My job is to get you to write those down and think about what they are, and then apply that knowledge now to hiring people to bring them into your law firm.
Davina Frederick: And don’t you think there’s also this trusting yourself?
Dina Eisenberg: Yes.
Davina Frederick: Trusting yourself to make it work. So one of the things, this is one of the things that I often discuss with my clients, is having the confidence to know that whatever decision you make, you will make it the right decision for you.
Dina Eisenberg: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Davina Frederick: So that whether it works out with this particular person or not, you will gain something from the experience.
Dina Eisenberg: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Davina Frederick: Because you know that whoever you hire, we don’t live in a world where people, generally speaking, stay with us for 30 years. Let’s say you have your own practice and you have it for 15 years, 20 years, do you expect that the people that you hire now will still be with you 15, 20 years from now? Maybe you’ll have one or two people who will, but there are throughout the course of that 15, 20 years you’re probably going to hire and fire a lot of people or you could have people who quit. I mean you’re going to have to get comfortable with that.
Dina Eisenberg: Right and I think you’re absolutely right about it’s a self-trust. That’s the second thing that we talk about, is reminding yourself that you’re trustworthy. Because we’re always trying to do the right thing and not make a mistake, we are always questioning ourselves, and the flip side of questioning is that you have to respond and find the answer, and often lawyers don’t stop to say and look back like, “Yes, I made ten great decisions in a row, I can do this.” It’s always about well what would happen if. Like we’re the big what if crowd.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, well and the very things that make us good lawyers, which are the what if’s, that’s our job for our clients is to imagine every-
Dina Eisenberg: Worst thing. Yeah.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, every worst-case scenario that could possibly happen, right? That makes it difficult for us to be good CEO’s.
Dina Eisenberg: Right. We’re still doing the same thing in the business, like what if, what if, what if.
Davina Frederick: Because we can’t ever take a risk-
Dina Eisenberg: That’s right.
Davina Frederick: We’re too busy imagining all those terrible things that could happen.
Dina Eisenberg: That are going to happen. I like to remind people, look at your own past history. It’s very likely that you’re going to find that you’ve done so much better than you’re giving yourself credit for, and that even when you’ve made a mistake, it’s very likely that you’ve done something that countered the mistake or that you learned from it so that you didn’t make the mistake again. We just don’t give ourselves enough credit.
Davina Frederick: Something good came out of it.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah. Almost always. In fact, lots of times I will say having a mistake is better.
Davina Frederick: Right. There’s growth.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah.
Davina Frederick: And then the thing about it is, what is the alternative? Because you know if you don’t, you can’t … So I once had a mentor say to me that you can choose anything. So you can choose to hang onto micromanaging these details, but when you choose to hang onto micromanaging these details, what you’re giving up in exchange is growth.
Dina Eisenberg: Yep.
Davina Frederick: Because if you’re focusing on this, you can’t focus on these big macro things that you need to focus on to grow. You can’t move into these big projects, because you’re too busy managing these details. So if you turn these details over to somebody else and you just say, “It’ll be okay.” Then you could focus on these big growths. So you’re picking and choosing.
Dina Eisenberg: You get bandwidth back, you get high level bandwidth so that you’re not wasting your time on, I hate to say minutia, but it usually is the minutia. You can shift your focus to high level thinking in terms of growing your practice and most folks will say, “I don’t have enough time to think about strategy.” Why is that? Because you’re spending all your time on the day to day stuff. You haven’t planned to give yourself time to think about where you want to take your law practice in the next three years or five years or how to sell it, because you want to sell it in 20 years. All that stuff takes planning and thinking, and if you’re always so involved in every bit of the day to day, you don’t ever have time for that.
Davina Frederick: Right. Well then to be the devil’s advocate or the typical lawyer in the room, they would say to you, “But we get paid to manage those details.” But they have to develop a team.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah, we would be arguing about that then. That’s the thing. That’s why lawyers are having such a hard time with AI now, is because we think we get paid for what we do, which is wrong. We get paid for our brains, we get paid for our creativity, our energy, and our mind. That’s why we-
Davina Frederick: Our strategic thinking.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah. It’s not what we do that people are paying for. We have forgotten that we are counselors at law. Our job is to give advice and counsel, not move the paper around.
Davina Frederick: I love that. You said a mouthful right there.
Dina Eisenberg: I mean that’s what we have to recognize and grab onto, and you can’t be a good counselor when you are preoccupied with details that do not require you.
Davina Frederick: Right.
Dina Eisenberg: So I’m really, that’s I think the large part of what I give my clients, is permission to say no to stuff. Like no, I don’t need to be involved with that and getting them to empower other people. Once you help somebody else understand the context of how you practice law and what’s most important to you, and then you give them some authority, the ability to make decisions without you, it frees up so much time and makes life so much more flexible and joyous, because you’re not minding every detail. You’re minding the details that are most important to you and you know somebody else great who’s minding those other or maybe lesser details for you.
Davina Frederick: Right, right, and you get your life back, which is one of the big complaints that so many lawyers have.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah, I mean we’re just too hard on ourselves. I’m constantly asking people to consider self-care. When are you taking care of yourself? When are you giving yourself a treat, because we all deserve treats. We work really hard, but there’s this notion that we’re adults, you don’t get any treats. You’re working hard, well yeah, you get paid. That’s not exactly it. We all need to be refreshed. You cannot pour from an empty pitcher and most of us will get to empty and beyond before we decide, “Oh yeah, I need a break.”
Davina Frederick: Right, right. So let’s switch gears just a little bit and talk about some of your favorite automation tools.
Dina Eisenberg: Yes!
Davina Frederick: You like them a lot.
Dina Eisenberg: I do. I’m a gadget girl. I’m just going to go on record with that. I love tools and I go in and out of favorites. So I’d love to walk through some of the outsourcing tools that I like and a couple of the automation tools. So right now, I’m a big fan of Upwork and I’m not a fan of Fiverr.
Davina Frederick: Why is that?
Dina Eisenberg: Oh Fiverr. So Fiverr used to be my go-to. I was a big fan. I talked to their management team when they first started. Over the past ten years, which is how long it’s been around, they’ve gotten over 60 million dollars in VC funding. That changes a company. Their mission went from helping small companies to actually access the best help possible, which was their mission when they started, and to limit the cost to five dollars per activity, shifted in the last couple of years, because now they’re VC funded, and VC is like we need you to make more money.
So, what they’ve done is split their platform, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at it, but what happens in the algorithm is that when you’re new on their platform, they’re pushing you to the lowest bottom denominator, the lower tier. Where you’re expecting to pay $5, $10, or $15, $20 and that you’re going to be able to do that, because it’s the least experienced help. These are the folks who are brand new to the platform, they don’t really know that much, they have some skills, integrity maybe not the highest. Then there’s the upper tier, where it’s much more experienced help, higher quality help, US based workers, but also you’re going to be paying so much more. When you’re at that level of payment, I’m just like, “I’m going to find someone independent. I don’t necessarily need to be on Fiverr for this.” I’d rather pay somebody on Upwork, who I view as more of a small business owner like I am, than on Fiverr.
So I’ve stopped recommending them, even though I actually wrote the buyer’s guide. So I wrote the buyer’s guide to using Fiverr and now I don’t use it anymore because I just disagree with where they’ve taken the business.
Davina Frederick: Oh, interesting. I haven’t used Fiverr in years, and I used to use it all the time, but I did not know that.
Dina Eisenberg: Right. Yeah, I mean the back end is, because I’m a skeptical lawyer, when they first came out, I joined them as a seller, because I really wanted to understand how does this work? How are you doing this for $5? It must be a scam, like everybody else said. But once I became a seller and started working on the back end and meeting other sellers, what I realized was it wasn’t really a scam. People were very experienced so they were able to be efficient and do the work in a way so that they could price it at $5 or $10, and that the way they were making their money was increasing the number of gigs they did in an hour. So you could get an effective hourly rate of like $50 or $80 an hour. It was pretty good. Now, it’s kind of changed a little bit, and so now they have the Pro advisor part where they will select for you the right teammate, but it kind of comes at a cost.
Davina Frederick: That’s interesting. Well I never really paid $5, because I always ordered all the extra add on kind of, I got everything rushed and all the files and everything. So mine always added up to more than $5 anyway.
Dina Eisenberg: I have to say, I love them. I have gotten some very good work in the early days, things that were very expensive that now you were paying thousands of dollars, I paid hundreds of dollars. So I mean I don’t want to dog them entirely, I’m just unhappy with where they’re taking things. Upwork, by the way, is my favorite platform at the moment, and from an outsourcing marketplace that’s online. For folks who don’t know, Upwork is the merger of oDesk and Elance. Most people know Elance. Did you use that?
Davina Frederick: I am familiar with both oDesk and Elance, so yeah. Because you know, I came from a copywriting world, that’s why. My background is in copywriting, marketing, and all of that, so I’m familiar with both of those platforms.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah, I love Upwork. They’ve changed since they were Elance. What I love the most about Elance is it had amazing KPI, so key performance indicators. So you could really hone down on the best of the best. That’s a little less true now that they’ve merged, but it’s still a better platform because they give you access to the talent there. You can actually call somebody up and talk to them before you hire them.
So, I was doing a white paper and I narrowed it down to a writer in France, and I was just like, “I’m not certain if there’s going to be a language barrier, and I want to make sure that he understands me.” So through the platform I called him and we had a great conversation that ended up I got a better product because he was excited about writing my paper after we talked. So I like Upwork.
For folks who are new to outsourcing or feel like they want to be more hands off, I like Worldwide 101 and Time etc. They’re a little bit different than most of the online outsourcing platforms because it’s a managed account. So on Upwork or Fiverr you’re really dealing directly with the talent, but on Worldwide 101 or Time etc. there’s an account manager between you. So you explain to the account manager your needs, the account manager goes out to their platform and their pool of talent and then selects for you. So you don’t have to do that. So for someone who’s a little nervous about starting or wants to be hands off, it’s a great way to do it. My only caveat is that it’s slower. So you have to wait for the account manager to get your request, and then wait for them to find the providers, then come back and tell you, and because I like to have a multi-use, so if I’m hiring somebody, I want to hire them for more than one thing. It’s much more efficient.
Davina Frederick: So what these tools would be good for, what kinds of outsourcing? These sites would be good for what kind of outsourcing?
Dina Eisenberg: Pretty much ongoing stuff. So like on Worldwide 101, if you wanted to outsource your social media, which I recommend that people do, right now sellers are spending up to five hours a week, which is around $1,300, dealing with their own social media. You’re going to pay a site like Worldwide 101 maybe $1,200 and get all kinds of usage out of it. So let pick the social media manager for you and coordinate that stuff for you. That’s definitely a task you should outsource. Most of the marketing stuff I don’t think we should do on our own. It’s things that we should outsource. Most of the admin and tech stuff, like setting up your own website, no lawyer should be doing that.
Davina Frederick: I agree, I agree.
Dina Eisenberg: Not your area, stay in your own lane. So those are the kind of projects, like when I’m using Worldwide 101, it’s an ongoing project. So it’s time consuming, something that I shouldn’t be doing, but it has to get done because it’s essential. So those are the kinds of projects you want to bring to that kind of platform.
Davina Frederick: Good, good. All right and then what are some of your automation tools?
Dina Eisenberg: Yep. I don’t know, have you heard of SweetProcess?
Davina Frederick: I have not heard of that. Tell me about that.
Dina Eisenberg: I’m sort of loving them at the moment. So in terms of automation, I’ve talked about it being about work flow and having a system to move from one task to another, and so to be able to smoothly move somebody else to a task, you need to tell them how to do it. That mean creating what would be called a Standard Operating Procedure, but I call them legends, which is the story of the project. You don’t really want to have to tell somebody that all over and over again, you want to be able to present that on a digital form for them. So SweetProcess is a, I hate to say SOP, but an online SOP. So you can generate forms about how to do things, and they store them. So you don’t have to have paper, you can say I’m using SweetProcess, here’s the link to my team member. They go on and they find all your legends there. So they can easily do tasks. You don’t have to have that conversation directly, although you should at least once, because delegation is a relationship building thing.
The other tool that people might be more familiar with is Trello. Trello has gotten so much better over the years. It really is a great tool. Now if you like Kanban, in terms of organization, then it’s that kind of system. So you create cards that you put information on, and so if you didn’t want to do SweetProcess, you can create cards for your different projects that you want to outsource, and then give your team access to those cards, and then have information. You can leave notes, so there’s a way for you to communicate back and forth. I think there’s actually even a slack integration with Trello. So you can have-
Davina Frederick: I know a lot of people love Trello, because it’s visual. It’s kind of like post-it notes that you can sort of move around and stuff like that.
Dina Eisenberg: Yep, that’s exactly why I like it. I like to see it. I don’t want the paper, but I do like to see the notes. So those are the two automation tools that I’m loving right now. Oh there’s one more.
Davina Frederick: Okay, one more.
Dina Eisenberg: To you it’s like, “Oh and then this one and then this one!” So you know how hard it is, there’s so much paper involved with the law, so there’s a new tool called DOCUMATE, and what I love about it is that it fills in all the documents, because usually what happens is you do the intake and somebody in your office takes down the information, hopefully not the lawyer, and then you have to put it into the online forms. So that means you’ve written it once and then you’re retyping another time, total waste of time. DOCUMATE does that for you. So they will build out all your intake forms for you, so you’re taking that information once, online, and then if there are other forms that you need to use, because maybe it’s a divorce and there are additional forms or paper for the court or it’s an estate plan or whatever, it will populate those other documents for you. So you’re not, again, rewriting something.
So that’s a fairly new tool that’s come out in the past year. I had Dorna Moini, I think that’s how you say her last name, come talk about it in my group. It’s just a fabulous tool. The story behind it is so great too, because she started her work in domestic violence cases where having to spend the time writing out the information took away time from the women. So she sort of created that tool to make it easier.
Davina Frederick: Great. That’s fantastic. So we’ve got some really good tools, some insider tips on tools that we can use. So that’s wonderful. Is there a case management system that you have gotten a lot of feedback from different lawyers on case management systems, to get a feel for which ones are kind of the most popular or the best or?
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah, I think that everybody loves Cleo. A lot of-
Davina Frederick: I’ve heard a lot of good things about Practice Panther.
Dina Eisenberg: I was just about to say that. A lot of my clients use Practice Panther. There’s one in New York called Leap, I think it’s just New York though. So I think you should be using a practice management software, because it can keep things organized and automated. If you’re using Cleo, consider using Tali, which is T-A-L-I dot com. It is a time tracking system that works with Alexa. How cool is that?
Davina Frederick: Oh that is cool. That is cool.
Dina Eisenberg: So you don’t have to spend your time, because you know what happens, no one bills their time in real time. They sort of just forget and then it’s like, “Oh, how many hours this week? Let me try to reconstruct that.”
Davina Frederick: Oh yeah, because we could have a whole separate podcast just on time tracking. Don’t even get me started on that subject.
Dina Eisenberg: Yeah. Tali makes it so much easier, because essentially in real time you can say, “Tali, I spent x hours on the Abraham matter,” and it will collect the time and it integrates with Cleo. So boom, it’s already in there for you.
Davina Frederick: That right there, that’s a great tip right there. It was worth it for this whole podcast just to get that little nugget right there for people.
Dina Eisenberg: I’m with you, baby.
Davina Frederick: Before we wrap up I want to ask, because we’re almost at the top of the hour here, so before we wrap up I want to ask you, what is your number one piece of advice for lawyers starting out, women lawyers in particular starting out in business for themselves or maybe they’re two or three years down the road as a solo, and they’re wanting, they’re on this journey from solo to CEO, and they’re really needing to make that transformation and step up their game and move out of this sort of solo mentality and play a bigger game with their business and really step up and reclaim their time for themselves. What advice would you give them and why do you think it’s important?
Dina Eisenberg: Oh, great question, great question. How much time do we got, like a couple hours?
Davina Frederick: A couple of minutes, so it’s got to be kind of a speed answer, but you know.
Dina Eisenberg: So the advice I would give someone who’s just starting out, and I find myself talking to a lot of women who are in the first five years of their practice where they really feel confused, one about making that step, and two about what to do next. There is this prevailing attitude that there is a right way to do it, and I don’t think that serves anybody. There is the way you do it. So if you’re building a business, which you absolutely are when you’re starting a law practice, no mistake about that, when you’re building a business, build the business that suits the life you have, not the one that you see somebody else building, not the one that your law professor said should be right, but the one that really is going to suit you.
We are at a unique period of time in the law industry. We are in transition. Automation is everywhere, we’re embracing it more and more. There are more tools to help you be much more efficient. So really, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when you could be so intentional about how many hours you want to work, getting flexibility in terms of schedule into your work day, planning exactly the kind of practice you have. Like lots of people just think they have to have door law when they started out, but now because you can get so much market data, you can actually drill down and have a very niche practice and be successful right from the beginning, because you did niche down. So I would encourage people to recognize that you own a business just like every other business owner. Don’t necessarily segregate yourself just to law sites, because on small business sites you’re going to get a lot more information that’s critical to run a successful business.
Figure out how you want it to end. Most folks will just start their practice and it’s going to run, we’ll run for a few years and then we’ll see. Have an end goal in mind and hopefully the end goal will be selling your practice, which means the way you run it will be informed by the fact that you’re going to sell it. You’re not going to get more than one or two multiple unless you’ve really done the work to demonstrate to somebody else this is how the practice runs, I have systems in place that you can reproduce, getting this amount of income. So if you don’t plan for that from the start, it’s very hard to pull it out at the end and get a good sale. So really start with the end in mind. I’m going to build a business that I am eventually going to sell. I want to work X number of hours a week. I want to have this kind of client, both in terms of their market and their ability to pay and the quality of the client, which is something that we don’t think about as lawyers. Be selective. Not every client is a good client or good for your firm. So really, it’s about spending the time now to slow down and think about what you want so you can grow very quickly, grow into the law practice that you dreamed about.
Davina Frederick: That’s just terrific. That’s terrific advice, Dina. So much there. We could talk for another hour if we had the time. So that, I love everything about that. So, thank you so much for being here today and sharing with us, because you just, we packed a lot into this hour, and I think anybody listening to this is going to get a lot of great information out of it. So tell us again, one more time, how we can find out more information about you and where we can find you on the interwebs.
Dina Eisenberg: Thank you so much, Davina. It’s just been great to have this conversation. You and I spark each other, which is always fun. For folks who want to learn more about delegation and outsourcing and automation, I would be delighted to talk to them, and they can find a way to do that on my website, which is OutsourceEasier.com. We’ll sit down together for a half an hour and think about what your next steps are and how you can achieve those, and you’ll find a link to that on the website. You’re more than welcome to reach out to me on Twitter. I’m on the Twitter, as they say, @DinaEisenberg, or connect with me on LinkedIn, which is Dina Lynch Eisenberg.
Davina Frederick: Great. Thank you so much, Dina. I really appreciate it, and I’m sure I’ll be talking with you soon.
Dina Eisenberg: Thank you!
Davina Frederick: I appreciate you being here. Great stuff.
Dina Eisenberg: Thank you, I appreciate you.