Lawyernomics Modern JD spotlight: Travis Jacobs

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, Travis Jacobs of Jacobs Law LLC.

What is your area of practice and why did you decide to get into it?

The Jacobs Law, LLC is a business law and business litigation law firm in downtown Boston. The firm was formed almost 10 years ago to provide entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized businesses with quality legal advice at rates and retainers they can afford. Personally, I have always had the ‘entrepreneur bug’. When I was younger, I loved setting up a lemonade stand, walked the neighborhood shoveling walkways, ran my own landscaping operation, and tried to set up a paralegal business in college – all before setting up my own law firm after law school. I know how difficult and daunting a task it can be to start and run your own business, and although there is useful information online, much of it is not trustworthy and it is tough to find reliable answers to specific questions. The Jacobs Law is devoted to solving those issues for business owners.

Other than that, our attorneys absolutely love what we do – we enjoy being at the beginning of a client with an idea, helping them build the foundation of a successful business enterprise, watching it grow and getting feedback from our success stories.

How has being a lawyer changed since graduating law school?

In so many ways! The first and perhaps most obvious is the technology we use. Today more law firms, even smaller firms like The Jacobs Law, use robust software to research and provide legal services. But technology has changed how we market our firm, how we staff our offices, the amount of space we need, and how (and how often) we communicate with clients. One of the best ways technology has helped our firm is the way we communicate with clients. Since our offices are in Boston, most potential and existing clients prefer not to meet in person. But technology allows us to meet via vivideoconference. It also allows us to share case files and quickly and easily update our clients. And since one of the biggest complaints clients have had with their prior lawyer is a lack of communication, we use technology to contact and communicate with our clients as often as possible.

Where do you envision your practice and profession as a whole going in 5 years?

If the market for our legal services continues, we envision expanding our menu of legal services to provide more in-house options to our clients. For example, many of our clients require assistance in more specialized areas such as small business tax, business immigration, and the purchase and sale of the commercial real estate. In addition, we would like to expand our menu of flat fee legal services and forms and a la carte service packages.

The profession as a whole is likely moving towards more flat fee and set fee service packages anyway, especially for lower value-added legal matters. However, with respect to higher value added legal matters, the client will likely place increasing value on an attorney’s experience, the level of service, availability, and accessibility. The law firms and lawyers who can continue to manage client demands on their time and attention, without increasing rates higher than their competitors, will be more likely to succeed.

How do you think your practice is unique compared to others? What is your firm’s secret sauce?

Perhaps what makes The Jacobs Law special is that we are smart enough not to give away our “secret sauce.” That being said, I think there are a few key things our lawyers do to set The Jacobs Law apart from other firms: First, we treat our clients the way we would want to be treated as customers or clients. We know that a lot of firms say this type of thing, but we truly believe that our commitment to it is the reason for our success. Of course, no one can please everyone all the time. However, most clients recognize and appreciate the effort, and it has resulted in repeat clients and a high rate of word-of-mouth referrals. Second, we stick to what we know and we recognize we can never know everything. If an existing client needs legal services that are outside of our wheelhouse, we will say so and try to find a referral for them. Although we don’t enjoy turning away the work, we are confident that when the client has a legal need that is within the scope of services we provide, they will return to us.

Third, treat overhead costs like the plague. Clients, especially small business owners, are savvy consumers of legal services these days. They understand that big and shiny law offices correlate to big and shiny legal bills, not necessarily big and shiny lawyer brains. By avoiding unnecessary overhead, we keep our rates reasonable and affordable to our small business clients.

Do you see yourself as a lawyer first? Business person first? or Client service first?”

I see myself as a small business lawyer whose experiences in life and as a small business owner have made me a better lawyer to my clients. As I’m certain most of our clients would agree, starting and running your own business is rewarding, but not easy. I understand this better because I have experienced it personally, and I can relate to our clients in ways that maybe others cannot.

How has Avvo helped you connect with clients?

Avvo was probably one of the first online forums that allowed a solo/small firm lawyer like myself to leverage technology to connect directly with potential clients. For example, with Avvo’s Q&A forum, it has nothing to do with how fancy or big your office is, how prestigious your address may be, whether you work from home or downtown, or how expensive your suit looks – it is entirely about how much of the law you know, how well you apply the facts to the law and how well and succinctly you are able to convey a response. That is, in a nutshell, what a good lawyer must do every day. And with Avvo, the person asking the question is likely to choose the lawyer who writes the best response. It’s hard for lawyers to level playing field like that in any other forum.

Where do you find inspiration professionally and/or personally?

Very often a new client will call or come into our office excited about a new business idea, a burning desire to start a new business, or the motivation to expand their existing business. These clients inspire me all the time. Their excitement and energy remind me of when I started The Jacobs Law and that, in turn, inspires me anew.

What’s the piece of technology you couldn’t live without and why?

In terms of our business, almost all of it because each piece of equipment increases our efficiency or improves our services in one way or another. But if I had to pick one, it would be my Bluetooth earpiece for making phone calls. It is a huge time-saver to be able to type while talking on the phone – and it’s a piece of technology that I have only recently embraced.

Favorite app on your phone?

Outlook.

The best tip or trick for balancing everyday work and life?

If there is one flaw I have, it is that I’m terrible at the work-life balance. I need tips and tricks from others!

Describe, in three words, the Modern Lawyer or the 21st Century Lawyer.

Accessible. Tech-Savvy. Lean.

 

Do you or someone you know exemplify a Modern JD? Nominate yourself or others by emailing gillian@avvo.com or follow @avvolawyers on Twitter, using the hashtag #ModernJD.