Alex McLaughlin: Common Sense Legal Tech for Your Law Firm

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Alex McLaughlin discuss:

  • Legal tech at every law firm size.
  • Challenges lawyers are having with and without legal technology.
  • The evolution of the legal technology landscape.
  • Utilizing tech for a better work-life balance and to better serve clients.

Key Takeaways:

  • Find the right technology that works for you, customize it to your firm, and get the proper training so it can work for you and help, not hinder your day-to-day business.
  • If you have too many technology systems, it makes it more difficult to bring on new staff without long training times and frustration for both employer and employee.
  • Your mind and your focus are the best things you can give to your clients.
  • When you break out of a high-focus space, it can take up to 15 minutes to get back into that working space.

“If you don’t have a system to store that data, reference it, and make use of it, that’s how you get lost in a project – you miss a deadline, you blow a statute. That’s where legal tech has stepped in and is helping to pull all of those loose threads together, tie them up, and allow you to have one place to look at your case.” —  Alex McLaughlin

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About Alex McLaughlin: Alex McLaughlin is a Senior Director of Product at Filevine, innovating on the core features that make law firms more efficient and profitable. Alex has worked across a broad domain at Filevine from Document management to permissions and billing tools. He comes from a technical background working as an IT director for a plaintiff and Mass Tort practice and previously has worked on some of the largest cases in the country. He brings a unique blend of product management, technical knowledge, and industry expertise that allows Filevine to build for the future of legal tech.

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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.


[00:00:00] Alex McLaughlin: If you don’t have a system to store that data and to house that data and reference it and make use of it, you are living out of file folders on your floor. You’re living out of folders on your desktop, an Excel spreadsheet to manage things, and that’s how you, you get lost in a project. You miss a deadline, you blow a statute.

[00:00:19] Alex McLaughlin: And that’s where legal tech has stepped in.

[00:00:26] Narrator: You’re listening to be that lawyer, life-changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author, and lawyer coach Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.

[00:00:48] Steve Fretzin: Hey everybody. What. Welcome to be that Lawyer. I am Steve Fretzin, and I am so excited to have you with us today. This is episode 3 0 1. If you missed the last one with Jerry Madman, that’s, uh, an episode not to be missed. So go back and listen to that. But man, it’s been a journey. It’s been just over, let’s say three and a half years, and man, to have 300 episodes under my belt, I think is, I think that’s an accomplishment, Alex, is that that’s not a bad accomplishment.

[00:01:14] Steve Fretzin: Yeah,

[00:01:14] Alex McLaughlin: no, that seems, seems great. Definitely not a, a flash in the pan and you’d be able to stick with it.

[00:01:18] Steve Fretzin: I’m considered now like a reliable, you know, podcaster. I guess I’m not a flash in the pan, so that’s okay. And you know, this show is, you guys are very familiar if you’re, if you’ve heard it before, is all about helping lawyers to be that lawyer.

[00:01:31] Steve Fretzin: Someone who’s confident, organized, and a skilled rainmaker. And so my job is to make sure I continue to bring on amazing guests and people that are gonna help educate you and inform you on all the things legal and legal growth. And, uh, you know, today is no different. I’ve got Alex waiting the wings. And Alex, before we jump into you and your background, I wanna talk about our quote of the show.

[00:01:52] Steve Fretzin: And we always do this quote of the show. And you have one that I think is absolutely fantastic because it’s not a quote from like some philosopher, although we might argue that point. It is a quote from our friend Ron Swanson from the show Parks and Rec, some really good writing there. And the quote is never ha, half-ass, two things, whole ass one thing.

[00:02:12] Steve Fretzin: Which I think is absolutely fantastic. So, so you had a million different quotes you could have put out in front of us today. Is that something that you say a lot? Is it just one that you really love?

[00:02:20] Alex McLaughlin: It? It’s one that I love and it’s one I I’m always trying to put into practice too. I, in my job, I’m, I’m pulled in a million directions.

[00:02:29] Alex McLaughlin: I, when I worked in legal, I was pulled in even in more directions. I’m a father of three and so it’s, Splitting your attention. No one’s getting the best of you. And, and so always try to stop and rephrase and, and get myself fully immersed in, in that one most important thing and see it through. Yeah.

[00:02:45] Steve Fretzin: Right on.

[00:02:45] Steve Fretzin: And I think most of the time management and efficiency experts talk about the idea that we can multitask. That people can multitask and you know, I can walk and chew gum. I don’t think that’s really multitasking. Right. So I think there’s a lot of people that feel like they can, they can have three or four things going at the same time, and they’re maybe not recognizing that they really are kind of half-assing all, all the things that they’re

[00:03:08] Alex McLaughlin: doing.

[00:03:09] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah. It’s, uh, it, it’s definitely a problem people see and it, it’s become, you know, we, we’ve kind of steered into that problem too, with the various communication platforms we have now. It’s just getting worse.

[00:03:20] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. So we’re, you know, we’re trying to figure out, like, all right, so you can communicate with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, email, text, phone.

[00:03:28] Steve Fretzin: And, you know, there’s probably 10 others I haven’t mentioned, and so that’s just too many. So I think we, we’ve gotta figure out some ways to kind of streamline that, but that might be a, a future part of our conversation today. Alex McLoughlin, you are the director of product at File Vine and interviewed Ryan I think early in the, in the show.

[00:03:45] Steve Fretzin: I think maybe in the first 50 episodes or something. He was terrific and a good guy to work for, good work with. Yeah.

[00:03:51] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, I know Ryan’s great. Ryan. Uh, yeah, I’ve been with Fal Vine for about three years now. I was actually a customer of F Vine before I came here, and Ryan and I had a lot of conversations and it’s been a different relationship, uh, now being an employee versus a customer.

[00:04:03] Alex McLaughlin: Great guy to, to work with, and we, we talk often. So it’s, uh, definitely, definitely like

[00:04:07] Steve Fretzin: working with them. Yeah. So you have a, a fairly deep, if not very deep it background. And so if you would share a little bit about that and then we can get into kind of our main topic today of around, you know, legal tech and, and time efficiency and, and, and ways to make things work smarter and better and faster without losing, you know, the, the, the, you know, the key ingredients of success in within those, within the tech.

[00:04:31] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, so I, I started out my

[00:04:33] Alex McLaughlin: career at Apple actually, and then quick, relatively quickly moved on, uh, it was Apple retail, but it was a great learning experience and they, their, their ethos in how to talk to people and how to treat people and how to work with people really helps train employees, uh, for any industry they go into.

[00:04:49] Alex McLaughlin: Uh, then I, I moved on to work with a, uh, a prominent plaintiff’s, uh, firm that did a lot of mass tort and class action and then catastrophic injury cases. And I was there in, in an IT function as their director for a little over a decade. Uh, I got to work on some really fun cases, uh, some, some enormous PI and, and med mal cases, some, some of the biggest mass tort cases in the country at the times, and, and be involved in those trials.

[00:05:14] Alex McLaughlin: Really awesome experience. Uh, a grueling experience for anybody who, who’s worked in a, a practice like that. It’s, there are a lot of, uh, directions you’ve gotta run in, but just a, a great learning exercise and I, I wouldn’t give that up. And then I, I’ve been with F Vine for three, just over three years now.

[00:05:32] Alex McLaughlin: Uh, this last week was actually three years, and so I, I, I started out working on our, our document management solution and then moved on, it worked on our billing solution and now I oversee a, a, a, a larger suite of products and a few other areas, but all of it really kind of comes back to just making attorneys and, and the practice of law work a little bit better


[00:05:51] Steve Fretzin: people.

[00:05:52] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, and there’s legal tech at the big firm level. There’s legal tech at the solo level and everything in between. And I think sometimes it’s hard to keep track of it all. I mean, I go to the legal tech show in Chicago every year and I walk around just, you know, just jaw dropped at all. The new tech and all the, the companies that are pushing their chips in on, on legal tech.

[00:06:13] Steve Fretzin: But before we get into like the, the solutions that we see out there, what are the challenges that lawyers are having? Either not having legal tech or with the legal tech they have. Yeah, I mean, the

[00:06:25] Alex McLaughlin: challenge without is, Disorganization. You know, when, when people were practicing, I don’t know how long you’ve been in practice, 30, 40, 50 years ago, the, the series of documents that you had to manage the series of data points that you had to manage in a, in a case were exponentially smaller than they are today.

[00:06:44] Alex McLaughlin: You know, you think about the number of pages of medical records you would’ve had to review for a med mal case in the sixties or seventies versus what you’d have to review today. You know, it’s, it’s a factor of 20 or 30. Times higher. It, it’s a, a huge difference. The standards in some states that tort reform has brought about, uh, where you, the standard for a plaintiff’s attorney is so much higher to prove and what they have to get and the number of experts they have to have and to the, what they have to prove in their case has just led to this growth of, of work that’s incumbent on the attorney.

[00:07:17] Alex McLaughlin: And so now, you know, you don’t have, if you don’t have a system to store that data and to house that data and reference it and make use of it. You are living out of file folders on your floor. You’re living out of folders on your desktop, an Excel spreadsheet to manage things, and that’s how you, you get lost in a project.

[00:07:34] Alex McLaughlin: You miss a deadline, you blow a statute, and that’s where legal tech has stepped in, is helping to, to pull all of those loose threads together, tie them up, and allow you to have one place to look at your case. But then unfortunately, you know, during early pandemic time, it started to go the opposite direction.

[00:07:53] Alex McLaughlin: Everybody spun up a SaaS company and there was now a new widget to do this and a new company that did this and another one that did this. And all of a sudden you were, you know, your five person firm had 15 different SaaS products that you were having to learn and sync data between and train your employees on.

[00:08:12] Alex McLaughlin: It got to be a nightmare. You were doing double and triple data entry, so you could use a review platform somewhere that automatically reached out to people to do a review or to pull a piece of data outta something. So there’s a, a balance to be struck.

[00:08:24] Steve Fretzin: Uh, yeah. I think the biggest thing I see too is people get the software.

[00:08:30] Steve Fretzin: On a whim or because they heard a friend had it or because they think they need it and then they don’t get properly trained on it, or it’s not properly customized to them and now it’s this software that’s actually hurting them, not helping them.

[00:08:44] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah. And they’ve got this piece that, oh, well we bought it, we paid for it.

[00:08:47] Alex McLaughlin: We’re paying, you know, we got a two year deal that we’re paying 50 bucks. A user a seat for this, we’re you’re gonna use it. And it makes more work for your staff. And meanwhile, you’ve got three other systems that are doing the same thing. Yeah,

[00:08:59] Steve Fretzin: years ago before I, I mean, when I first got into working in legal and, uh, you know, I’d focused on working with some sales teams and having a cr r m was kind of a big deal, and I went into a law firm and I think I had them pay for 20 people to get on, you know, some, some crm and, you know, we put them through a day of training and it, it was the worst thing ever.

[00:09:20] Steve Fretzin: Like from a standpoint of their investment of time, money, energy, me getting involved, I was like, I regretted it to this day because without. It being really something that people buy into and that people get trained on properly and, and stay trained on. It’s not a one and done then it’s just like this huge expense that no one really sees the ROI on.

[00:09:40] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, and and that’s one of the, kind of the dangers of that SaaS revolution that happened during the pandemic is you all of a sudden had 15 licenses, or f sorry, 15 different titles that you had licenses for. You gotta train up your staff on ’em and, oh, cool, you’ve got a new person starting. Well block off the next two weeks to train ’em how to use every one of these and hope they remember and retain it all.

[00:10:01] Alex McLaughlin: It’s easy to layer on a new piece of software for existing staff, but then when you’ve gotta bring someone new on and train ’em across, you know, 10, 15, 20 processes, it’s brutal. And they, they quit. They, you know, you, you waste your time training ’em up. They stay for a month and then they leave. They leave because they’re not catching on.

[00:10:16] Alex McLaughlin: And you think their work

[00:10:16] Steve Fretzin: sucks? Yeah. And so before we get into sort of like how you see technology evolving in the legal, how do you see it like today? I mean, we’ve got new things popping up, like chat, G b T, we’ve got, you know, the e-discovery stuff. We’ve got this, the, you know, the, uh, you know, the practice management stuff.

[00:10:34] Steve Fretzin: We’ve got all this, all this great technology. So where do you kind of see things sitting today? You know, maybe, you know, just kind of your take on it and then where do you see it going?

[00:10:45] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, I mean the, the landscape has changed dramatically for what legal tech can do. Document management systems are, are so much more robust and useful now, and you’re, you’re able to find data, uh, anywhere.

[00:10:57] Alex McLaughlin: You know, using your iPhone, your, your Android or your iPad. You get, pull up your documents wherever you are. You can work from wherever you want to. Um, the, the cloud revolution for legal tech was fantastic for attorneys. Um, I, I left my, the law firm job during kind of the, the Covid shutdown. Uh, and so I, I never got to see the, the after effects of it once restrictions lifted, but that enablement of the nomad lawyer or being able to work from anywhere at any time with what you need and not being tied into a briefcase or a file or your file cabinet is really one of the, the coolest thing I’ve seen happen in legal tech in the, the last couple

[00:11:32] Steve Fretzin: years.

[00:11:33] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And so we have efficiencies now that didn’t exist, you know, five and 10 and 15 years ago. And I think one of the goals of, of the technology is to take away the mundane and, and let the brain work the really thorough brain work that lawyers need to do. Let that sort of be stepped up, and then the stuff that’s mundane and that can be done.

[00:11:54] Steve Fretzin: Either by a paralegal or be done by software. Let that happen. And yeah, it’s gonna take away some jobs, but I think ultimately that happens in every industry. So how do you see that kind of playing out, you know, now and maybe into mo, you know, moving into the next couple years?

[00:12:07] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, I think there’s two questions there.

[00:12:09] Alex McLaughlin: I think the, the, how it impacts people’s jobs and where it’s moving is a little bit different from how we use software to make ourselves more efficient and make our us the best versions of ourselves. An attorney, I’ve always kind of felt that they’re the most important thing that you can offer your clients is your skill, your training, your expertise.

[00:12:30] Alex McLaughlin: It’s, it’s your mind and your focus, and if you have things that are taking away from that, you know, someone. Checking in, you know, walking by your office and poking their head in their door to ask you a question, emailing you about something that you weren’t thinking about, pinging you on slack, texting you, hitting you on teams, calling you up on the phone.

[00:12:50] Alex McLaughlin: If anybody actually still uses a phone to, to call anymore or you’re trying to work at home and the the dog needs let out, the kid needs help with their homework, you need to help making dinner or getting something set up, or figuring out where to go. You know, everybody’s vying for your attention. And the person who’s paying you for your attention suffers because everybody else wants a piece of your time.

[00:13:10] Alex McLaughlin: And so we’ve, we’ve gotta use technology to help solve that issue of helping block out those changes in context switching, letting you focus on a task and not, you know, moving on to the next shiny thing because it happens to be at the top

[00:13:26] Steve Fretzin: of your inbox. Yeah, I mean, I just wrote an article for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin about, Legal tech and kind of what’s happening and, and some of the ones that I feel are really great from a time efficiency standpoint, and if you lean into them and you find the right, you know, ways to go paperless, cloud-based, you know, it takes away the mundane, I feel like, like you know, that between that and the ability to delegate, find people to delegate to, which has also never been easier because since everything’s virtual, you know, you don’t have to find a local person full-time, w2, you know, sitting in the office that you have to feed, you know, work to.

[00:14:01] Steve Fretzin: Everything’s kind of opened up, but I, I just still feel like there’s a lot of people, a lot of lawyers that aren’t taking advantage of what’s out there to, to make their lives better. They’re just still saying, I’m gonna do it myself, or I’m just, it’s just easier if I do it myself. That statement has been, you know, a crutch for lawyers for forever.

[00:14:21] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. I, I

[00:14:22] Alex McLaughlin: don’t know if it’s a fear of outsourcing themself or a fear of other people doing it, but you know, Switching context and moving between these things is, you know, it reduces your productivity by the, you know, some measure of 40%. And so by making yourself that central point of information that everybody has to come through to ask a question to move on in their project, to get unblocked means that you are never going to get to focus on the work that you need to be done, uh, efficiently anyways.

[00:14:55] Alex McLaughlin: You’re, you’re constantly getting pulled away. And it, it’s, it just, it’s not good for your mind. It’s not good for your client. It’s not good for your personal life.

[00:15:03] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Now, Alex, you don’t have a crystal ball. I’m looking at your, the room that you’re in, there’s no crystal ball. But I’m gonna ask you this question away because you’re on the, on the forefront of legal tech.

[00:15:12] Steve Fretzin: And where do you see things three to five years out? I mean, we know how fast things are moving right now, move out three to five years. What are we, what are, what are some things that are happening that are, that would blow people’s minds? And what are some things that maybe should concern us? Yeah, you know, I’ll, I’ll actually

[00:15:28] Alex McLaughlin: go back to Ryan for a minute.

[00:15:30] Alex McLaughlin: Uh, he, he’s got a quote that I, I love, um, and he’s, he’s saying this isn’t verbatim, but basically AI is not going to replace, or a AI is going to replace lawyers who fail to adapt and incorporate AI into their, their workflows. Um, if you are stuck in your ways of doing things with, you know, a hundred percent of your focus having to be done, you know, be applied to a task.

[00:15:55] Alex McLaughlin: You’re gonna get beat by people who are leveraging technology. Yeah. And you know, I, we’re, we’re in the AI revolution right now. I think this is moving faster than anybody could have expected or hoped. You know, I, I’m in it in the, the thick of this every single day and I get surprised on a daily basis with how fast these things are moving.

[00:16:15] Alex McLaughlin: So, you know, I hope I have an idea of where things are going in three to five years. I hope I’ve got an idea of where things are going in three to five months. But what I, I really see happening and, and hope happens is we can make tools that make attorneys more efficient. Not so they have to cut staff, uh, not so they have to scale down so that they can either choose to scale up or look at a different type of case set that they work on.

[00:16:45] Alex McLaughlin: You know, so many attorneys out there say, you know, I’m not gonna touch especially Pi. I’m not gonna touch this case unless it’s worth X amount, because they know how much time they have to invest in it, how much they have to spend on it, the staff time that it takes. But if we can begin to make that work more efficient for them and easier for them through leveraging technology, then why wouldn’t we want to, you know, expand that access to justice, be able to bring in cases that, yeah, it’s only a $2,500 settlement that we’re going after here, a $2,000 settlement that we normally would’ve brushed off.

[00:17:16] Alex McLaughlin: We can get the person taken care of, we can still make a little bit of money and everybody’s, you know, except for maybe an insurance carrier is a little better off.

[00:17:24] Steve Fretzin: Right, right. Okay. Let’s take a quick break to talk about how money Penny is changing the game. For lawyers who are losing business every day and may not even realize it, it’s impossible to provide amazing client service when you have phone, trees, voicemail, jail, or untrained staff handling your phones.

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[00:18:03] Alex McLaughlin: lawyers.

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[00:18:31] Steve Fretzin: And then what about just from a standpoint of, of, you know, the, the, the AI and then the virtual and how that may work together? Is there some something. Gonna happen with regards to people working like maybe in more, like having more multiple state practices, expansion of of law firms in a virtual state and how they keep everybody together through the cloud.

[00:18:53] Steve Fretzin: I mean, you’re seeing more of that.

[00:18:55] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, I, I’ve heard some, some rumblings around that. Some kind of metaverse, uh, law firm, uh, type of ideas where you, you, you don’t have a brick and mortar office. You go to wherever you want and you, you set up shop there and you have someone barred in that state, and that’s how you can, you know, practice through that person.

[00:19:11] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, I think technology is going to continue to make that easier. I mean, people have been doing it for years. Not every state allows it, but at least in Ohio, where I am. You know, you can say you’ve got a law office in X, Y, and Z city. As long as you’ve got your name on a door somewhere, or an address where you can receive mail, even if it’s a shared desk that 15 other people are using, I think the same thing is gonna start to happen with states.

[00:19:31] Alex McLaughlin: You’ll have one person barred in, you know, Colorado, and all of a sudden you can say, all right, we’ve got these 15 cities in Colorado that we can market for, that we have

[00:19:39] Steve Fretzin: practices in. Yeah, so I think between the, the, you know, the virtual world, the technology and software that’s coming out, the AI that’s coming out, The goal is, I think, for all of this, to make lawyers lives better.

[00:19:52] Steve Fretzin: So, you know, the, and the thing that the, the words that keep coming up are work-life balance. Everybody says work-life balance. Some attorneys, you know, laugh at that. They go, if you wanna be an attorney, you shouldn’t, you know, don’t expect work-life balance. I think if you’re at a law firm and you’re kind of a senior associate or partner level, not equity, you know?

[00:20:09] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. I mean, it’s gonna be really tough, you know? To have that work-life balance if you got everybody’s, you know, funnel and work to you. But I think that’s the goal. So how do you see technology helping us to have that better work-life balance and also continuing to better serve clients?

[00:20:24] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, I mean, it’s a little bit of a broken record here, but it’s finding ways to come back to focusing your work on, on a given task at hand.

[00:20:34] Alex McLaughlin: So cutting down context, switching. You know, I, I think, I don’t think everybody realizes quite how rough it is on your brain when you switch between tasks. When you’re in a deep focus mode for a task and you break that context, e even if it’s something small, answer an email, take the dog out, go do whatever.

[00:20:51] Alex McLaughlin: It can take you up to 15 minutes to get back into that same workspace where you were when you left. So, you know, you’re not gonna get rid of the dog, you’re not gonna get rid of the wife and kids. You’re, you’re not gonna get rid of every interruption that you have. But how can you, Lessen the other issues that are other things that are coming in.

[00:21:12] Alex McLaughlin: You know, why is that person emailing you? Well, it’s because you didn’t post the update into the project that says this is the case status for it. And so someone else had to go through and you know, they have to reach out and say, Hey Steve, what’s going on with this case? What’s going on with this matter?

[00:21:26] Alex McLaughlin: What’s going on with this document? And they’re asking it to you in an email or in a phone call. The lowest. Level of communication. It’s the easiest thing to do to just cast out the line via email saying, Hey, what’s going on with this? Then you’ve gotta recreate the context. You’ve gotta rebuild it.

[00:21:43] Alex McLaughlin: You’ve gotta spend 5, 10, 15 minutes reorienting, attaching the document, attaching the the images, attaching the pleading, whatever it happens to be, all because you didn’t have the system or the data stored in a system of record where everybody has access and knows what’s going on. So it’s, it’s breaking that cycle of using these, the communication methods that are wrong for the overall need, but we’ve become so reliant on it because email is easy.

[00:22:10] Alex McLaughlin: I’m sure. What 75, 80% of your office is operating on two screens and one of ’em is their email inbox and For sure, yeah, I’m in. For a long time I was an inbox zero person, and that is an unhealthy way to live. I, I couldn’t stand the people that I saw that had 27,000 unread messages. I’m like, how do you, how do you know what’s important?

[00:22:28] Alex McLaughlin: How do you know what’s not? Oh, it’s whatever’s at the top of the list. And if I don’t get to it, they remind me that I need to get to it, and they, they send another email and, you know, it’s, it’s getting, getting out of that flow and, and getting away from that low effort

[00:22:41] Steve Fretzin: communication. Are you, just outta curiosity, are you a getting things done guy?

[00:22:45] Steve Fretzin: Are you a, a reader and believer of that system? Do you know what I’m talking about? No, I haven’t read that. The, oh, because you’ve already mentioned like two or three things that are, are, you know, basically, you know, a couple of the pillars of that book, getting Things Done by David Allen, which my audience and the people listening have heard me Yammer on about for, for years now.

[00:23:04] Steve Fretzin: But it was the one that saved my life from a standpoint of being a feather on the wind, being distracted by every squirrel that would, you know, cross my window to being a highly focused person who has no paper, who has a zero inbox. Who, you know, ha has everything structured from my calendar to, you know, how I go out and go about my day.

[00:23:24] Steve Fretzin: I’m, that’s not how I’m built. So I think that there’s technology and there’s just flat old-fashioned reading of common sense ways to manage all of the things that are flowing into our brains. And David Allen’s book, getting Things Done, I think is one of the best. So, Might be something to put on your reading list, but Alex, it sounds like a lot of what that book talks about, you know, you’ve already sort of figured out because you’re, you’re in a position where you have to be efficient and help other people to do

[00:23:50] Alex McLaughlin: it.

[00:23:51] Alex McLaughlin: Yep. Yeah, and we’re, we’re trying to build tools to, to drive that efficiency too. So it’s, you know, life I’ve lived, it’s something I’ve, I’ve dealt with. I, we use Slack at File Line. Sure. And it is the hardest thing to not get distracted with that slack window. It’s usually up on this monitor over to here to my right.

[00:24:06] Alex McLaughlin: And you know, it’s minimized right now. Whenever I’m in something that I know that I need to get a task done, slack goes down, email goes down, any of those methods turned off away from me so I don’t get pulled away. And then, you know, of course someone will text message me about a fantasy football trade or something that I, I need to look at.

[00:24:23] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah.

[00:24:24] Steve Fretzin: It adds up. Let me just before we, cuz I wanna have you share a little bit about Fi Vine and how Fi Vine helps with efficiency and then that tech product. But are there any other legal tech, either softwares or, or things that you’re seeing that either you guys use or, or just technology in general?

[00:24:41] Steve Fretzin: It doesn’t have to be legal tech that you’ve, that you have found that helps, uh, people to be really efficient, that helps you to be efficient. Uh,

[00:24:49] Alex McLaughlin: calendaring tools are. Yeah. Fantastic. And I’m sure your audience has talked, you know, whether it’s Calendly or one of the other that, that are out there not having that back and forth, the, the scheduling of, of 10 emails back and forth to get something scheduled.

[00:25:02] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah. Such a mundane task. That’s awesome. To take off of that, off of your

[00:25:06] Steve Fretzin: checklist of things, a hundred, a hundred percent, hundred percent.

[00:25:09] Alex McLaughlin: And then any kind of project management or task management type of tooling. Um, you know, we, in our, in the development world, we’ve got project management tools that, you know, it’s known as kind of the conbond system where you’re moving tasks from one swim lane to another and getting things done really makes, uh, project management for, for large pieces of work.

[00:25:26] Alex McLaughlin: Done, you know, in, uh, former life setting up work or war rooms for, uh, mass tort trials. I didn’t have a, a tech combat board, but we had just, you know, sticky notes taped up all over the place and this is in this in flight here and this is in flight here and we’ve gotta make sure we do this. And the, the tech solution for that, it has really been great.

[00:25:44] Alex McLaughlin: You

[00:25:44] Steve Fretzin: know, and I was talking about, I was on a podcast earlier today, it was like a real estate law podcast and they had me as a guest on and. One thing that I was talking about too was that lawyers generally speaking, don’t want to get involved in CRMs. And there’s a number that are built for lawyers and there’s a number that are built for the general pop.

[00:26:02] Steve Fretzin: You know, public CRM stands for client relationship management tool. It’s how you basically track your pipeline, you know, you’ve got leads, you’ve got prospects, you’ve got people you’re talking to, your people that are closing with you, people that are not people you need to follow up with, and how do you manage all that?

[00:26:18] Steve Fretzin: And so, you know, I’ve come up with a basic Excel spreadsheet because I would love to get everybody on a crm, but I think there’s so many different lawyers with so many different, at different levels, and some of them are in, in, uh, law firms where that software just never, they’re never gonna get it across the finish line.

[00:26:34] Steve Fretzin: Others are just old school. They’re just, and there’s just hasn’t been one. Yeah, there’s a few that I would, would talk up, but I mean, generally they’re just, they’re just struggling with that kind of, um, that kind of a, a, a product. Have you, is that what you’ve seen or.

[00:26:49] Alex McLaughlin: A little bit. I, I’ve seen the struggle with it, uh, when it’s not integrated into the rest of their process.

[00:26:54] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah, yeah. I don’t wanna give a big commercial for file buying and all the cool stuff that we do. I will touch, we, so we have file by the, the, the elevator speech is we offer a kind of soup to nuts software stack from lead management through case management, document management, contract lifecycle management, e-signature time and billing.

[00:27:14] Alex McLaughlin: Uh, we’re. A couple weeks away from launching a payments collection app. We’ve got some really cool stuff that we have. But the nice thing is, is kind of going back to the whole issue at the beginning of the call, of the SaaS fatigue. Everything is in one integrated ecosystem, so you don’t have to train on a million different things.

[00:27:30] Alex McLaughlin: It flows from person to person. And our c r M that we have, it’s, it’s called Lead Docket, is it is a purpose-built simple tool. Uh, simple is, is a, a rough term to use. There actually, it’s a, a very, very, uh, A useful tool, but it’s easy to learn and you don’t need a license for everybody. You need a license just for the people who are managing those intakes up until the point you push ’em over into your, your actual case management.

[00:27:56] Alex McLaughlin: And so that’s where I’ve seen it be successful is you ha you kind of switch the c r m workflow and have it as, as your lead management and your first step

[00:28:04] Steve Fretzin: of case. Yeah. And that’s a, that’s a another, you know, topic that comes up is, you know, what’s the intake process? And lawyers are like, well, yeah, I get ’em on the phone, I talk to ’em and okay, but what happens if your assistant does, or what happens if your paralegal does or what, you know, is it the same it’s process over and over and then in your inbox and, yeah.

[00:28:24] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. So it’s, it’s, it’s tricky. So from a standpoint of, of then, you know, file Von obviously has sort of that soup to nuts and then, I’m, I’m putting you a little bit on the spot, but how do people like, either, is there some kind of way to try it? Is there some way for them to get more information about it?

[00:28:40] Steve Fretzin: Obviously I’ll include all the details on, on the, in the show notes, but is there anything people, if people are saying, you know, I, that sounds good. I like the idea of, of, of all those features in one spot, not having a plug and play with all these different SaaS products.

[00:28:54] Alex McLaughlin: Yeah. I, you know, we, we do demos all day, every day.

[00:28:57] Alex McLaughlin: We’re at pretty much every trade show where you can get a good. Real world example of what’s happening for it. Uh, the cool thing with Fab Line is it is a bespoke system. We customize it to you. Uh, so there’s no two builds that are identical that are out there. Uh, it’s how each firm wants to operate. We, you know, we give them best practices, but we don’t say, you know, uh, round peg, square hole, we’ve got you go do it this way.

[00:29:20] Alex McLaughlin: So check out f Uh, that’s our, we’ve got our whole suite of products that are listed on there. Or you can schedule a demo from there. Yeah. Or literally almost any conference you go to, you should be able to find us and, and take a look and see what we can do.

[00:29:31] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. That’s great, man. I appreciate that.

[00:29:33] Steve Fretzin: And, uh, let’s wrap things up with a couple things. We’ve got, uh, your game changing book, which is a world without email. How does

[00:29:41] Alex McLaughlin: that work? Yeah, it, it’s going back to some of what we talked about is getting yourself away from having, uh, email be that low effort communication that people know they can get an answer for you.

[00:29:53] Alex McLaughlin: So you might have to start out by blocking off time where you’re not going to respond to email. You know, it’s, it’s that dopamine high that people get that, oh, I sent this out. I got my response back. Instead, say, Hey, the information is surfaced here. You can go here and we can talk about it there if you need to.

[00:30:06] Alex McLaughlin: You know, not every circumstance that’s gonna work. Uh, junior associate saying that to a, a managing partner, an equity partner, not gonna go over great. But you really, you know, save the information where it needs to be and, and surface it there. And that’s the, that book, it’s awesome. It, it kind of blows your mind when it, it starts to walk through the actual creation of email, the, the, you know, sneaker net that, that lived before it, um, mail rooms and how things work beforehand.

[00:30:33] Alex McLaughlin: Um, and it just, it, it shows you how much it’s changed our brains and our expectations of communication. Um,

[00:30:40] Steve Fretzin: so yeah, it’s really tough and there are, there are lawyers that are just living, you know, minute to minute, day to day out of their inboxes. And it’s sort of like all encompassing. And again, you know, look at software, look at, look at at the book, getting things done.

[00:30:53] Steve Fretzin: Look at efficiencies. Look at possible options for delegation to get outta your inbox. That’s just not a way to spend the day. And, and I mean, I’m, one thing that I do, and this is so silly, stupid, but. I’m just continually unsubscribing and I hope nobody does that for my newsletter. But that being said, I’m doing it to every newsletter I get.

[00:31:12] Steve Fretzin: I just have no time to sit and read even legal focus, you know, it might be a legal publication. I just go, if, if I’m not gonna read, if they, if I get five or 10 of those and I’m not reading it, it’s gone. You know, if it’s not grabbing my attention, I’m not gonna sit there and, and, and have to, you know, look at it and erase it every day.

[00:31:28] Steve Fretzin: It’s just that, even that little simple task. Yeah.

[00:31:31] Alex McLaughlin: And if you get stressed out or anxiety over needing to take a day off and not like just the mental exercise of what would happen if I didn’t answer an email to, yeah. That if you know that’s going to cause problems. Like you, you have an issue in your workplace, you got an issue, you, you need to solve that problem.

[00:31:47] Alex McLaughlin: You need to be able to break away, give your brain a break, make sure that people aren’t reliant on you

[00:31:51] Steve Fretzin: as the only blocker. And you know, the first step to recovery, Alex, is admitting that you have a problem. That’s, uh, that’s known. Uh, thank you so much. Before we wrap up, I wanna, uh, also thank our wonderful sponsors, obviously Money, penny, uh, there’s some legal tech.

[00:32:07] Steve Fretzin: I mean, uh, live chat on my website. People are continually telling me how terrific that is. And then they also tell me how terrific my website is. In fact, I got a beautiful compliment today, and that’s in part to our new sponsor. Get visible. Who’s just helping with, you know, the, all the, you know, all the advertising, marketing website stuff that you would need to, to be successful.

[00:32:28] Steve Fretzin: You know, having a website in lead generation. And I’m also gonna announce a new sponsor. This one’s, uh, Fred Freon Inc. Which is me. And, uh, just if you’re wondering what we do, check us out. We do coaching and training and helping lawyers to grow their law practices. And of course we also do our pure advisory groups.

[00:32:44] Steve Fretzin: We’ve got the rainmaker round tables and the business developer round tables putting smart in, uh, successful. Business developing lawyers in a room together in a confidential environment, letting them hash it out. So, um, I’m my own sponsor now and, uh, that’s okay. I’m gonna, that’s, you guys are all right with that.

[00:33:00] Steve Fretzin: Hey man, Alex, thanks so much for being a guest and, and for sharing your wisdom. And this was, this was wonderful. And again, just so many great ideas and thanks for people to think about to make sure that they’re staying up to date on legal tech. Yeah, thanks a lot Steve. It was a lot of fun. Yeah. And thank you everybody for spending some time with us today and.

[00:33:16] Steve Fretzin: You know, the hope is is always to help you to be that lawyer, someone who’s confident, organized in a skilled rainmaker. Take care, everybody. Be safe. Be well, and we will talk again soon.

[00:33:29] Narrator: Thanks for listening. To be that lawyer, life-changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice, visit Steve’s website, for additional information and to stay up to date on the latest legal business. Development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes.