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Scaling Legal Practices Efficiently Through Outsourcing and Technology With Michelle Etchebarren

May 29, 2024   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Michelle Etchebarren

Michelle Etchebarren

Michelle Etchebarren is a single mother of four kids who has transformed her initial role as a law firm filer into a serial entrepreneur within the legal industry. She successfully managed a law firm and spearheaded its growth before founding Attorneys in Motion, the first company to integrate technology similar to Uber for matching attorneys with court appearances. During the pandemic, she faced severe business challenges but rebounded by creating Law Beez, a marketplace for legal services. Michelle is adamant about the importance of business processes, self-mastery, and embracing failure as stepping stones to success.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [1:28] Michelle Etchebarren shares her background and how she eventually founded Attorneys in Motion
  • [3:22] Using frustration as a powerful motivator for creating better legal services
  • [4:13] How Attorneys in Motion operates like Uber for legal professionals
  • [5:08] The benefits of being an independent lawyer and the flexibility offered by modern legal services
  • [6:42] How Attorneys in Motion differentiates itself from competitors
  • [8:25] Michelle explains how Law Beez matches law firms with vetted legal services
  • [10:59] The importance of small law firms to maintain a lean business model 
  • [14:29] How necessity turned Michelle into a thriving entrepreneur
  • [19:10] The future of legal services and embracing AI in the legal field

In this episode…

How can small law firms and solo practitioners efficiently scale their practices without the overhead of permanent staff? In today’s ever-evolving legal landscape, maintaining flexibility and efficiency is paramount. Is there a way to leverage technology and outsourcing to achieve this balance?

According to Michelle Etchebarren, a seasoned entrepreneur in the legal services industry, the answer lies in smart outsourcing and innovative technology. She highlights that outsourcing tasks like legal writing and court appearances can help firms manage workload fluctuations without the burden of full-time employees. By embracing these strategies, law firms can streamline their operations, reduce costs, and enhance their ability to handle both busy and slow periods effectively.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Chad Franzen sits down with Michelle Etchebarren, Founder, CEO, and President of Attorneys in Motion and Founder and CEO of Law Beez, to discuss how technology and outsourcing can help legal practices scale efficiently. They talk about the origins of Law Beez, the benefits of a lean business model, and strategies for educating attorneys on outsourcing. Michelle also shares her personal journey and insights on overcoming challenges in the legal industry.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • “I was hoping it was either make this work or I die because I need to support my kids.”
  • “It works like Uber… it’s that user-friendly, and it’s very quick.”
  • “I actually care about this company… if anything doesn’t go perfectly as planned, we’re right there to do what we need.”
  • “You can’t be everywhere at once… I mean, it’s changed a lot since COVID. A lot of it’s virtual now.”
  • “I’ve grown a couple of businesses pretty successfully. And I failed horribly also, at the same time, so I know a thing or two about what it takes.”

Action Steps:

  1. Embrace technology in legal practices: Utilize platforms like Attorneys in Motion and Law Beez to streamline workflows and connectivity. It offers an efficient method for managing appearances and legal tasks.
  2. Cultivate perseverance and resilience: It’s vital to view challenges as opportunities to innovate or pivot. This mindset paves the way for continual growth and recovery when faced with significant setbacks.
  3. Implement lean business models: Focus on essential staff and outsource when needed to scale businesses without unnecessarily increasing overhead. This strategy enhances profitability and flexibility, especially for solo and small practices.
  4. Pursue personal development and self-mastery, especially in entrepreneurial ventures: This improves decision-making and resilience, and personal growth ensures that business leaders can effectively navigate the tumultuous landscape of entrepreneurship.
  5. Employ regular communication and detail-oriented processes: Given the importance of details in legal service matching, implementing such processes avoids miscommunication and errors. It also leads to improved efficiency and service quality, precise instructions, and consistent follow-ups.

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. 

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. 

To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.

Chad Franzen  0:12

Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice, where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI. Your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. As a single mom of four kids, Michelle Etchebarren started a nationwide appearance attorney company, Attorneys In Motion has worked with more than 8000 attorneys across the country. Since then she launched Law Beez, a lawyer marketplace that provides vetted contact attorney services to law firms across the country. Michelle, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Michelle Etchebarren  1:07

Thank you for having me. Again, privileged and honored to have been invited to speak today. So yeah.

Chad Franzen  1:12

Hey, fantastic. Thank you. Good. Good to hear. Great to have you here. So before we get into both of your businesses that you’ve launched, Attorneys in Motion and Law Beez just kind of tell me a little bit about your background leading up to the first one.

Michelle Etchebarren  1:28

Yeah, I mean, it’s a long and interesting background. I started off working at a law firm as just filing stuff, and then ended up managing that law firm within a year. And the law firm was growing very big, very fast. Somewhere in that I saw, I spotted this opportunity in the form of being an attorney who just got her license. And she was just. I just thought that she was wasting her potential there. And so I was like, Hey, why don’t you start your own law firm? I know, you wouldn’t want to do anything with business. But so I’ll do all the business stuff, I will help you build and grow this law firm. And so we did . Within two years, it was evident we had very limited resources, or she did. And, I mean, she was on Billboard’s within, you know, two years doing radio, because we finally attained the money to put into really expensive advertising, but that that all stemmed from, you know, learning, and failing and all of the business process that it takes to build a law firm. So I have these legal service companies. But it’s not because I know, I just decided to open up a legal service company one day. I’ve been there, I’ve been in the trenches of growing a law firm. And I know what it takes to run a lean, firm and grow to, you know, grow and thrive and scale.

Chad Franzen  3:02

Sure. Sounds good. So let’s talk about the first one, I believe it was Attorneys in Motion. I know that it was kind of maybe developed or inspired by a frustration of searching for special appearance attorneys, can you can you kind of expand on that would have inspired you to create a more efficient and capable service?

Michelle Etchebarren  3:22

That’s exactly what inspired me. Frustration. I mean, there were other companies around. They’ve been around for decades before I started Attorneys in Motion. However, none of them were using technology that was available to them. It wasn’t my only inspiration. My main inspiration was that I need to build something for myself, so that I can, you know, so that my kids aren’t raising themselves. I was at home again as a mom of four kids. So they were my main inspiration. And Attorneys in Motion was the opportunity within that inspiration, so I knew I could, or I was hoping it was I either make this work or I die, because I need to support my kids.

Chad Franzen  4:11

How does Attorneys in Motion work then?

Michelle Etchebarren  4:13

Yeah. So it works like Uber. And I started having it developed by web developers in like 2013. Right when Uber was also they were still I think doing TCPIP that wasn’t just like everybody could drive around. It was really new. And I’ve been introduced to that app. And like, it was like ding ding lightbulb. You can totally build this. You can match attorneys that practice a certain type of law to attorneys that work in those courthouses. And they’ll all get this notification will work just like Uber. So it’s that easy. It’s that user friendly, and it’s very quick.

Chad Franzen  4:57

What are they so I know like, like the Drivers for Uber are independent contractors, how are the attorneys that you work with affiliated with, with you and Attorneys in Motion?

Michelle Etchebarren  5:08

They’re all independent contractors, same thing. It works just like it’s crazy to me, because an attorney will schedule coverage for an appearance. And like sometimes within 30 seconds, an attorney has already agreed to go to court for them. And not just on continuances sometimes, you know, substantive motions, and, you know, bench trials and things of that nature.

Chad Franzen  5:36

So it sounds like Attorneys in Motion is beneficial for attorneys who need somebody who has a specific practice that, you know, if they want to, like, not have somebody as a full time employee, but they want to have an independent contractor, they couldn’t go through you. But it could also be beneficial for an attorney looking for work. Is that in my summary?

Michelle Etchebarren  5:54

Absolutely. Both sides. I mean, and there’s always time conflicts, right. So you have, you know, to 515, court hearings on a day, you can’t be everywhere at once. I mean, it’s changed a lot since COVID. A lot of it’s virtual now. So yeah, I mean, it’s more of scheduling conflicts, I think, than anything that pushes out the need for parents, attorneys, or on the East Coast. I call them per diem attorneys. So I learned that early on in the game.

Chad Franzen  6:29

So in what ways would you say Attorneys in Motion differentiates itself from other per diem attorney companies? And how do you ensure a higher level of efficiency and capability?

Michelle Etchebarren  6:42

Well, number one, we’re the first ones to use technology in the way that technology is being used for appearance attorney companies now, after we did it, a couple of other companies followed suit. So I can’t say we were the first absolutely 100%. I was just telling someone the other day that asked what sets you guys apart? Well, it’s my company, and I take things very personally. You know, it’s not just my, you know, the way that people look or think about me, my ego, say, you know, it’s, I actually care about this company, and my staff are involved, and they are talking to our clients or talking to our parents, attorneys. And, you know, if anything doesn’t go perfectly as planned, we’re, we’re right there to do what we need. And Correct. Whatever error an attorney might have made, doesn’t happen often. Thankfully, it does not happen often.

Chad Franzen  7:51

I know that you have a quality control team that ensures that appearance attorneys are specially matched to particular types of cases. How do you guys kind of go about doing that?

Michelle Etchebarren  8:02

It’s easy, once one says and one of our parents’ attorney slash per diem attorneys signs up, they go in and they select the types of law that they practice and their location. And it matches it, it matches it up with what our client puts in on their side when they’re scheduling and appearance. Okay, so it just automatically matches the two.

Chad Franzen  8:24

Sounds good. Let’s talk a little bit.

Michelle Etchebarren  8:25

And then we send like millions of reminders. So no one’s forgetting about anything. Everybody’s getting like two emails a day until the hearing is over.

Chad Franzen  8:34

In your experience, have you found that that is particularly important when dealing with attorneys? When you say that it is you referring to just sending out all those reminders, you know, maybe when you started?

Michelle Etchebarren  8:46

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. And we have safety nets in place for anything that might happen. So early on in the game, we realized very quickly that more communication was needed. And so we set it up to where there are lots of notifications and emails going out.

Chad Franzen  9:08

Yeah, sure. With regard to Attorneys in Motion, what is maybe a challenge or a lesson that you’ve learned kind of along the way, obviously, sending out, you know, messages or reminders is a big one, along the way that has helped make it what it is today.

Michelle Etchebarren  9:26

The biggest challenge, I think, is in the instructions that our clients provide to our attorneys. And the challenge is in getting them to be much more detailed in what they want out of the attorney because if they’re not, if they’re leaving things up to assumption, like, oh, I wanted you to pick up discovery at the same time you are at the courthouse, you know, doing this arraignment and you don’t say you want to do pickup discovery, they’re probably not going to And then they assume that they’re going to but you know, just small little details like that, that you don’t want to leave things up to assumption. So I think yeah, that’s probably been our biggest challenge.

Chad Franzen  10:12

Sure, sure. So as I mentioned in your intro, you also founded Law Beez. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that is?

Michelle Etchebarren  10:25

Absolutely. And it’s something I’m really excited about. And I wanted to do it before COVID hit, but I didn’t. Business was just flowing with attorneys in motion. However, when COVID struck us all, all of the courthouses closed down. So we went from being a very busy company to not being busy at all. And that really opened up the opportunity for me to start creating Law Beez for all those busy bees out there. And if I’m not using the bee puns, I’m just not doing my job.

Chad Franzen  10:59 

Right. Right. Very nice.

Michelle Etchebarren  11:02

So it gave me Yeah, and, you know, there’s always that need for outsourcing the legal writing aspect. Since COVID, more and more law firms have weaned out their staff members, or, you know, they’ve got rid of a lot of their associates, and they’re switching to outsourcing. So it made sense. And, and again, you know, I’ve, I’ve been in the trenches growing a law firm before. So I know, I know what it’s like to have those really busy months. And you’re like, Yeah, we’re making so much money, right. But then the slow months hit, and you’re like, holy crap, the all that money we made, has to pay for all of the payroll, and employee taxes and stuff for the slow months of this, the people that we have hired, and we’re not, you know, we’re kind of in the red. So all that those profits are going, they’re not really profits. And so that’s one of the reasons also why I wanted to do lobbies. Because, you know, I know what it’s like to try to grow a law firm. And I think it’s one of you know, especially for smaller firms, solo attorneys, it’s a good way for them to scale their business is, you know, rather than hiring, again, back end attorneys, or when I was helping that attorney grow her law firm. At first, we thought success equals more employees. But success. It’s not because you have more employees, I mean, you could be very successful running a very lean firm, as long as you have the right processes in place.

Chad Franzen  12:37

So obviously, you know, I noticed you have a user base of over 8000 attorneys nationwide, so you’ve gained significant traction, obviously, people are agreeing with you.

Michelle Etchebarren  12:48 

I think so. And they’re coming to see it more and more every day.

Chad Franzen  12:53

What strategies did you use in order to kind of communicate that, hey, that you know, that, that using freelancers is good. And maintaining a lean firm is, you know, can be good business?

Michelle Etchebarren  13:06

I, you know, I’m still working on that strategy, you know, the most I can do is help educate attorneys. On, you know, what is success really? What is number one? What does success mean to you? Um, you know, is your law firm running you? Or are you running your law firm? That’s a big, huge, I mean, that’s a question that attorneys need to really stop and ask themselves, and a lot of times, they’re law firms running them, you know, and it’s because they don’t have the right processes in place. So I, the thing that brings me the greatest happiness is seeing other people succeed. So if I can help educate in any way, I, you know, I’ve grown a couple of businesses pretty successfully. And I failed horribly, also at the same time, so I didn’t know a thing or two on what it takes. So if, you know, the more I do, like things like podcasts like this, or I get up and I speak somewhere, or just having conversations with attorneys, and it really helps them realize that if they do want, you know, time freedom, more money, more fulfillment, they need to they need to, you know, maybe try outsourcing.

Chad Franzen  14:18

Have you always considered a founder to businesses, at least that I’m aware of, if you have you always considered yourself to become an entrepreneur, or did you just kind of, is this just kind of the path you went down at that time?

Michelle Etchebarren  14:29

You know, it happened out of necessity. And I’ve always looked back, you know, being a bartender and a server at first Denny’s and then I moved up to Outback Steakhouse. You know, I always kind of took on a leadership role, just accidentally, I guess it was just in my nature. And so, I guess in a way without realizing, you know, that just said that being that I’m, I’m creative enough to start a business, and I have the courage enough to do it. So yeah, I guess I just fell into being an entrepreneur.

Chad Franzen  15:10

Hey, good for you. So, you know, as you talked about, and as I mentioned that also, when I introduced you that you are a single mother of four kids, you managed to build two businesses, maybe maybe using limited resources? What, um, what advice would you have for maybe aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those who, you know, have similar constraints or other things going on in life?

Michelle Etchebarren  15:32

I love that question. Number one, don’t fall into like perfection paralysis, which is, if I don’t do this, if I don’t get everything, right, you know, then it’s just not, you know, perfection and perfection paralysis is when you end up not doing the thing that you need to do, because you’re afraid it’s not going to be perfect. So don’t fall into that, like nothing but perfection and illusion. So you’re going to fail a lot, and you’re going to, it’s going to be really scary, and there’s going to be a lot of very discouraging moments. But surround yourself with the right people, get a mentor, build relationships, relationships are so important, and like growing a business and getting out there and networking, and just, you know, getting people to know who you are and having them learn to trust you. You know, and you have to be just your authentic self. If you really want to get there and, you know, have processes in place, you have to have a business process for every part of your law firm, not just one process, like having good case management software, having a good accounting process, you know, having a good intake process. There’s all these processes. And if you don’t, if you don’t streamline them, you’ll fail for sure.

Chad Franzen  16:51

You talked, you talked about how failure has been a little bit of a part of your experience. And I’m sure you know, all entrepreneurs, a lot of people experience failure, what have you done during that time? Or what, what was kind of your attitude where you kind of had to remind yourself that this failure isn’t fatal.

Michelle Etchebarren  17:09

I mean, my biggest failure was during COVID, when Attorneys in Motion went from being very busy and lucrative to losing millions and millions of dollars. You know, that was real, that was really hard. But, you know, I remember a long time ago, I told myself, if I ever lose millions of dollars, that means I was really successful, and I can do it again. So during that time, I was working on getting a new website developed, and I was working on myself. Because Self Mastery is so important. If you’re going to have a business, if you don’t have the psychology, then you know, the mechanics of it, don’t line up and eventually, you just don’t make it out the gate or you fall and you fall on your face. And you gotta go work for someone else. So you know, self self mastery, personal development, so important. And that’s what that’s what I did. I really worked on myself a lot, and my business, the new business.

Chad Franzen  18:07

I have one more question for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more about both Attorneys in Motion and Law Beez.

Michelle Etchebarren  18:14

You can always go to our website, www.lawbeez.com. Because we wanted to make it a little fun. You know, everybody takes himself too seriously. So let’s have a little fun with law two. There you go. And then or www.attorneys in motion.com. For our court appearance coverage website. You can also email me, michelle@attorneysinmotion.com. And I mean, feel free to reach out. I love talking to people, educating, and learning from them, as well. So yeah.

Chad Franzen  18:55

So last question for you, for your tremendous experience with both Attorneys in Motion and Law Beez. How do you kind of envision the future of legal services, particularly in terms of innovation and adapting to the, you know, the evolving needs of the legal community?

Michelle Etchebarren  19:10

Yeah, I mean, the future is bright, I think, I think, I think attorneys should, should use some AI in their work. I mean, if you want to, at least shorten the time that it takes to put something together, get a nice skeleton built, use a little bit of AI, if you it’s, it’s the future, you know, and I think you should use it. We’re not using it on our website, because we don’t need AI on our website. But that’s not to say that, in the future, we might not incorporate AI in some way or form. You know, but I see. I see a lot of success in the future for the legal world. It’s not going away. Or people are like, Oh, hey, I was gonna take the legal world away. No, it’s not. That’s not going anywhere.

Chad Franzen  19:55

That’s good. Good to know. Hey, Michelle, it’s been great to talk to you. Normally we talk with attorneys, but it’s been a pleasure to hear about your experience and the things that you’re involved with, and that you’ve, you know, done on your own. Thank you so much for your time today.

Michelle Etchebarren  20:08

Thank you. I appreciate your time and again, privilege and honor to be a non-attorney on your podcast.

Chad Franzen  20:15

Absolutely. Well, great to have you. So long, everybody.

Outro  20:21

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