Judge Scott Schlegel

The Best Advice on How to Start a Law Firm Comes From A Judge!

For almost two decades, I’ve trolled the internet for good advice to share here on how to start or run a successful law firm.  And friends, let me tell you that it’s pretty slim pickings out there. 

Many of the blog posts and e-books on starting a law firm are either written by the lawyer-version of Captain-Obvious (Stuff like pick a practice area. Buy malpractice insurance. Find clients).  Or they serve as chum, tossed out into these digital waters to lure vulnerable lawyers into purchasing pricey programs or coaching services.

So I was surprised when I came across this video compilation by the Honorable Judge Scott Schelgel of the 24th Judicial District Court in Louisiana.  Although Judge Schlegel describes how he used low-cost technology to modernize his courtroom, most of the advice is spot on for how solo and small firm lawyers can incorporate tech easily and affordably into their practices

How Lawyers Can Use Technology to Run or Start a Law Firm

Watch the entire video, but if you can’t, here’s a quick summary:

  1. Establish workflow, then choose your tech.  Too many lawyers become quickly overwhelmed with technology choices, or invest in costly tools that don’t get much use.  Judge Schlegel’s advice? Establish your workflow first, and the pick the tech to implement it.
  2. Resolve simple matters through tech Judge Schlegel found that for most oral arguments, he could save time by questioning lawyers through Slack.  Same is true for client communications.  Explain to clients how some interactions are far more efficient if tech-based, or better if your client can DIY.(BTW, recent studies show that clients prefer a similar approach)
  3. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Granted, lawyers don’t have the advantage of companies offering free legal tech as they have to Judge Schlegel.  But there are off the shelf tools that can be easily implemented by most law firms. In a post here Judge Schlegel describes how he set up his court website for just $300.  (inside tip – looks like he’s using squarespace!)

Tech has so much buzz lately that we forget that it’s not the main event.  It’s just a tool to get us where we want to go.   If Judge Schelgel can use cheap out of the box tech to innovate his court, surely solo and small firm lawyers can do the same for their law firms.