The Modern JD spotlight series is a feature on Lawyernomics that highlights attorneys that are using technology, their brand and marketing in innovative ways to connect with clients and their peers. These attorneys come from different practice areas across the country but have one thing in common: they have evolved with the times to meet the needs of their clients and practice. This week we are excited to share attorney, Patrick Palace of Palace Law.
What is your area of practice and why did you decide to get into it?
My practice focuses on helping workers who are injured on the job and also resolving third party cases arising from job site accidents. It’s an area of law that found me and one where I found my passion.
How has being a lawyer changed since graduating law school?
Many lawyers practice the same way they did when I passed the bar nearly 25 years ago. But those days won’t continue. Today lawyers aren’t leading or defining the legal services market like they once did. Today consumer expectations are being set by producers of legal services like Legal Zoom, Rocket Lawyer and Avvo and set by other business models like Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb, Uber and more who make transactions easier, faster and cheaper. As a result, today consumers of law are demanding lower costs and fees, predictable outcomes, transparency and seamless ease of access to their attorney and their case information whenever and where ever they want it, as well as access on any mobile device. Today, legal consumers have the ability to get legal information and do it themselves or compare legal services of lawyers and/or legal service companies all from the ease of their iPhone.
We are no longer alone in the field and the days of a legal monopoly are gone. Lawyers who choose not to compete will continue to lose market share. Unlike 25 years ago, for those lawyers who adapt to compete in the new economy, there is more opportunities for lawyers to find greater success faster than ever before.
Where do you envision your practice and profession as a whole going in 5 years?
Our strategy over the next 5 years is to grow by resetting and redefining what clients should expect from a law firm. We will continue to add and retrain staff into newly created nontraditional legal positions that are more relevant to an agile and consumer-centric firm. We will continue to re-envision how our services can be more accessible for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Palace Law will become a regional law firm that is not defined by our location in Tacoma. As a result, it is my hope that we will emerge as a tech based, sustainable, competitive, consumer forward firm that provides better outcomes for everyone who needs a lawyer, regardless of their ability to afford legal services.
With regard to the profession, I hope that in the next 5 years the concept of the “unauthorized practice of law” is abandoned and that “legal services” are expanded and redefined so that all legal professionals are regulated by the Bar.
How do you think your practice is unique compared to others? What is your firm’s secret sauce?
As a past WSBA President, I’ve had the honor of serving all the lawyers of this state, meeting many and asking how they are doing. It gave me the opportunity to see the state of the profession from the top down. I saw firms thriving and some struggling. Successful firms are investing heavily in technology, catering to client needs first and cutting costs and lowering fees or being paid for results (not hours). They are focusing on marketing by giving value, often in the form of free services like forms, blogging, advice and Q&A.
In my office we have adopted these same strategies. We are making the transition from a firm that just practiced law into a firm reallocating lawyer and staff time to find, utilize and grow technology throughout the firm. This strategy will create new processes and policies, new job descriptions and invest in nontraditional jobs. It will refocus the firm with a more client forward approach, and create seamless and simple access points between our firm and consumers and clients.
Do you see yourself as a lawyer first? Business person first? or Client service first?
I have to start with client service first. That is what brings clients in the door and makes them, their friends and family return. Outcomes in cases are not measured by the best brief, or the most money made in a case, win, lose or draw…success is measured by client trust, loyalty and satisfaction.
Next, I think lawyers have to be smart business people. Finally, I am a lawyer, but if I am client-centric and running a solid business, then I can continue to hire lawyers who are better and smarter than me.
How do you use your personality or brand in creative ways to connect with clients?
The short answer is that we make efforts every day to be real, human, approachable and non-alienating. I think people want a lawyer that they are comfortable with and trust, yet it’s hard to truly create that with ads. For my office the solution includes a wide mix of marketing tools including radio ads that share the personality and the passion of the firm as an advocate for the working men and women of Washington. One way that we emphasize that point is to actively participate and sponsor an annual rock concert. We buy all our clients tickets and send them to the show for a day in the sun. This single act builds goodwill with my injured workers who deserve this and so much more, and it also helps grow our relationship with our listeners.
We simply share our passion and knowledge without bragging, boring, or selling. In the end, we just want to get to know you in our ads like we would in person.
Where do you find inspiration professionally and/or personally?
I find inspiration in my business life with creating change itself. It’s exciting, scary and totally all-encompassing when you are in the middle of self-directed change. It’s that adrenaline charged sprint reaching to attain the next vision that inspires me to do it over and over again, especially when it works. There are few things more exciting than to see an idea become reality.
How has Avvo helped you connect with clients?
Avvo helps me connect with clients by bringing me clients who already know who I am and want me to represent them. Its seamless marketing. “Legal. Easier.” should be as much a mantra for the profession as it is a company slogan.
What’s the piece of technology you couldn’t live without and why?
For me personally, it’s my iPhone. I can run my entire practice from it.
What kind of a role does technology play in your practice?
It is the most dominate single focus in my firm right now. We are retooling every aspect of our firm to utilize and integrate technology for workflow, marketing, client intake, internal and external communication, case management, data storage, staff training, and comparable analytics just to name a few.
Favorite app on your phone?
The best tip or trick for balancing everyday work and life?
I own a yoga studio so I can practice yoga and meditation every day and make wine to share with friends and family.
Describe, in three words, the Modern JD or the 21st Century Lawyer.
Adaptable, innovative, multifaceted.