Natalie Knowlton: The Changing Legal Field and Why Lawyers Should be Paying Attention

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Natalie Knowlton discuss:

  • The growing number of people DIYing their legal needs and why lawyers should be concerned.
  • Non-lawyer ownership of law firms.
  • Why lawyers should embrace thoughtful legal regulatory reform.
  • Emerging business models in the practice of law.

Key Takeaways:

  • Law is both a profession and a business. Your law firm should be running as an actual business that provides legal services.
  • Consumers are responding to the commoditization of the law – it is a way that consumers recognize and understand how to use.
  • You can monetize legal information. There is a level of legal information you can package and sell that the average person just doesn’t know.
  • Technology is causing a disruption and a change in the legal industry. That technology, such as AI, is likely here to stay and is only going to get more sophisticated.

“Regulatory reform is here to stay. I think the level of opposition we are seeing is a testament to the fact that it is here to stay.” —  Natalie Knowlton

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About Natalie Knowlton: Natalie Anne Knowlton is the Founder of Access to Justice Ventures, empowering entrepreneurs who are developing scalable access to justice solutions. She is a 2023 ABA Journal Legal Rebel and is listed among the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s 2022 Women 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] Steve Fretzin: Hey everybody, if you’re looking to supercharge your success in 2024, you’re going to want to attend our final event of the year, uh, December 18th. Go to our website at Fretzin. com slash events to learn more, but this is the one you’ve been waiting for. Hope to see you there.

[00:00:20] 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.

[00:00:42] Steve Fretzin: Well, Hey everybody. Welcome to be that lawyer. I am Steve Fretzin. Hello. Hello. Good. Good. I wish I could say good to see you, but it’s not, I can’t see you, but I’m talking to you and this is like 350 shows. Now we’ve knocked out on this, be that lawyer podcast, and we’re continuing to bring on amazing guests, uh, talent.

[00:00:58] Steve Fretzin: That’s going to help you to be that lawyer. Someone who’s confident. Organized in a skilled rainmaker. Today is absolutely no different. I’ve got Natalie waiting in the wings. How you doing? Great, great. Good to be here. He’s talking to me. He’s not supposed to talk. You know, it’s an interview. I’m going to talk to you the whole time.

[00:01:16] Steve Fretzin: Uh, and of course we love to start, all right, we’re starting off with a laugh. That’s good. And we’re going to also start off with our quote of the show. Now the problem with this quote is we don’t know who actually said it. So if you know who said it, I want you to email me right away or email Natalie and let us know.

[00:01:32] Steve Fretzin: But it’s a, it’s an interesting quote. Lawyers do not have a monopoly on services. They are not provided. And I’m curious, Natalie, first of all, welcome to the show. And second of all, what the heck does that mean?

[00:01:41] Natalie Knowlton: Sure. Thanks. I appreciate being here. So the quote is designed to mean that lawyers, we have this monopoly on legal services, on providing legal advice, but yet.

[00:01:51] Natalie Knowlton: The majority of people in the people law sector today in civil and family cases are, are going without lawyers, whether that’s going to court without lawyers or just choosing to forego the law at all. So really, how can, how can lawyers justify that monopoly that they have when they’re really not providing services to the bulk of people who need them?

[00:02:10] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, that, I actually didn’t know that. So what, what do you think is like a, is there a percentage of people that you think, or is it only in certain areas of law, like they’re doing their own estate plans or their own divorce or something crazy like that?

[00:02:20] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah, so the bulk of the statistics that we have are on the more, the more court focused issues like, uh, family cases, divorces and separation, civil cases that go to court.

[00:02:30] Natalie Knowlton: And you’ll hear a lot of different statistics. There are two national studies that were done a couple of years ago that were generally cited best thinking at the moment. And in about, let’s see, those studies both found one was a civil court, one was a family court. And three out of four cases, at least one party is self represented.

[00:02:48] Natalie Knowlton: And in only about one out of four cases are both parties with the lawyer, of course, to a lawyer on each side is what we think of when we think about the law and going through court. Uh, we don’t have great data on transactional issues like estate planning, but obviously with the rise of DIY solutions out there, we know that that’s a huge area where people are underserved and potentially served now through these new technology services.

[00:03:11] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah.

[00:03:12] Steve Fretzin: And if you’re listening to this right now, wondering who’s this highly intelligent person that I’m talking to, that’s Natalie. It’s Natalie Knowlton. She’s the founder of Access to Justice Ventures. And, um, I was just so happy to get you, get you on the show and, and, and pick your brain on some of the things that are happening in the legal space today.

[00:03:28] Steve Fretzin: And before we get into all that stuff, I want to obviously hear your background leading into how you got into doing what you do today. And, and of course that be let be that lawyer tipping moment. Yeah. I

[00:03:40] Natalie Knowlton: never wanted to be a lawyer. My father and my whole line on my father’s side are lawyers. My sister’s a lawyer.

[00:03:45] Natalie Knowlton: So I never absolutely ever wanted to be a lawyer. I was in undergraduate, and I became very interested in genocide and humanitarian issues, and I decided I was going to grad school, and theoretically, I wanted to work for an organization like the United Nations, working on human rights and humanitarian issues.

[00:04:02] Natalie Knowlton: But as I was studying and leading up to that moment of application to grad school. I thought, wow, all of this has the law underneath it. The law is the foundation on which our entire humanitarian and human rights system is built. So boy, wouldn’t it be great if I had that fundamental legal knowledge as well.

[00:04:19] Natalie Knowlton: So next thing you know, I’m going to law school, even though I never wanted to practice law. I was always really involved and interested in systemic issues, systemic reform issues. Uh, being the traditional lawyer representing clients was not my calling necessarily. So coming out of law school, I fell into, um, what is called the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

[00:04:39] Natalie Knowlton: It’s a nonprofit think tank at the University of Denver working on systemic reform and still on family justice, fell in love with that and the rest is history.

[00:04:47] Steve Fretzin: As they say, it’s history. Okay. And was there like a be that lawyer tipping point, or was it, was it the idea that you, that you wanted to get involved in helping the greater good?

[00:04:57] Natalie Knowlton: I think it was when I did a lot of research on the last years of undergraduate on the Holocaust and how to. How to prevent genocide, how to prosecute genocide, whether prosecution was a prevention. I became very involved in the United Nations efforts to prosecute the Rwandan genocide and Srebrenica. And, uh, I think that was the moment that I realized law is it being in the law, understanding the law, that’s really foundational.

[00:05:24] Natalie Knowlton: If I really want to make a difference in this area, I have to know the law.

[00:05:28] Steve Fretzin: Makes a lot of sense. So, so something you mentioned earlier is already kind of resonating with me in the census. People that want to do the law on their own, I mean, should lawyers be concerned with the growing number of people who are forgoing their services to just kind of DIY it?

[00:05:42] Steve Fretzin: I think lawyers

[00:05:43] Natalie Knowlton: should be concerned. Uh, for one, lawyers are generally fighting to maintain a monopoly on the services they’re not providing. And so it’s a little disingenuous to be doing that if we’re not actually serving the need. Another reason I think that we should be concerned is, is that this was particularly, and I’m talking mostly in the people law sector, um, where lawyers are serving people like you and I, not large corporations.

[00:06:04] Natalie Knowlton: We, as lawyers, we, we set out to help people. We are a profession. We’re one of the great professions. We want to make a difference. And so many people today are being railroaded by a system that’s just not built for them because they don’t have access. Or don’t want access. There’s a consumer choice issue here as well to what lawyers are providing and the way they’re providing it.

[00:06:25] Natalie Knowlton: So in a way it’s a product market fit issue. It’s evolving. Lawyers are used to serving clients in a way that worked a hundred years ago, but clients want different things. They want it in different ways. They might not want a lawyer, they might want an automated system that a lawyer develops. So I, I think lawyers need to be concerned both because it’s a problem, but also because it’s a huge opportunity.

[00:06:46] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And it sounds, it sounds like maybe there’s like, even with like, we can get into AI in a little bit, but like, there’s certain aspects of the law that seem to be more easily handled through AI and technology versus You know, a two week, you know, trial with a multi million dollar corporation, right?

[00:07:04] Steve Fretzin: Like there’s different levels of where it’s going to have the greatest impact. Is that kind of what you’re, what you’re seeing too? Yeah,

[00:07:10] Natalie Knowlton: absolutely. We’re seeing that in the AI space and the technology space. We’re also seeing that in the emergence of new providers and new tiers of providers.

[00:07:19] Natalie Knowlton: Traditionally, law has not looked anything like medicine, where you walk to a doctor’s office and you see a physician assistant or an RN, and then you see a doctor and then you have a surgeon for your surgery and it’s. The stratified layer by service, uh, law does not traditionally have that, but we’re starting to see new providers in the space that all of that, uh, lends itself to this notion that there are certain issues and certain pieces of legal matters that are harder than others and that require a higher skill set, a higher educational set.

[00:07:45] Natalie Knowlton: And so how can we pull those pieces off that others can handle? And leave lawyers to be doing the things that really do require that three year education and skill set. I mean,

[00:07:55] Steve Fretzin: I, I like to, I think I’m talking about this on a regular basis that the, the partner level, 10 year partner level attorney with sophisticated knowledge and experience is being pushed down to do associate level and paralegal work because they can’t find enough help.

[00:08:10] Steve Fretzin: But at the end of the day, they should be focusing on the high level work and growing business. The associates should be, you know, learning the law and grunting it out. And then the paralegal, but that, I think that’s the right thing though.

[00:08:21] Natalie Knowlton: Well, and it’s the same, uh, you see the same sort of thing happening in solo and smalls, and I don’t remember the exact figure, but the Clio trends report came out and every year they report on the number of hours that the average solo small is managing to.

[00:08:32] Natalie Knowlton: To bill for and receive. And I think it hasn’t reached three hours yet, I believe. And so, Solos and Smalls are having to do marketing. They’re having to do communication. They’re having to do overhead and things that they did not go to school for. And I’m guessing are not as meaningful from a professional standpoint than actually practicing law.

[00:08:49] Steve Fretzin: Well, and that’s one of the reasons we talk about, you know, the importance of delegation and bringing in the right. I mean, I’ve got get staffed up, for example, as a sponsor, and I’ve got a full time marketing, uh, director from Bogota, Columbia and Sergio. Hey, Sergio. And, uh, I ease handling everything like, I mean, I’m creating content, like we’re talking right now.

[00:09:08] Steve Fretzin: This is what we’re creating, but then what happens to it? Does it just sit on a server? No, we’ve got to pull a video clip and we’ve got to, you know, get, get all the technology to pull the transcripts. And we’ve got to get it, you know, posted on all the, on all the podcasts, you know, um, uh, platforms. So there’s a lot to do.

[00:09:24] Steve Fretzin: And I don’t think it’s my best interest and my best skill to be doing that stuff when I’d rather help lawyers grow business. Mm hmm. Yeah, it makes sense. So the other thing that’s happening in the world right now, and I don’t think lawyers are thinking about this at all, but it’s the, you know, the, the, the non lawyer ownership and that hasn’t been talked about a ton on this show.

[00:09:49] Steve Fretzin: And I’m waiting for the day that someone’s going to ring me up and say, Hey, Steve, you know, business development better than anybody. I’ve got a booming business in Nevada. Why are we working together and growing this thing? I’m not saying that’s going to happen and I’m not asking for somebody to pig me tomorrow, but I am saying like there, someone’s going to be in trouble.

[00:10:07] Steve Fretzin: If I get, if I start working at a law firm part time, even, I mean, with my network and with my, you know, training their people and stuff, it’s going to be, it’s going to be tough to compete. I’m, I’m, that’s my ego may be playing in a little bit, but is that, what do you see in there? Yeah.

[00:10:22] Natalie Knowlton: Well, the first


[00:10:23] Natalie Knowlton: I’m sure it’s not just, uh, I don’t, I wouldn’t say it’s your ego.

[00:10:25] Natalie Knowlton: I think it’s your appreciation of the skill set, the skill set that you can bring to attorneys that attorneys and law firms might not necessarily have. 5. 4 is hugely controversial in this space. And I was just in San Francisco last week talking with the American Immigration Lawyers Association about this.

[00:10:39] Natalie Knowlton: I’m not sure how well it went over. Um, again, it’s really controversial, but I don’t think it should be. So here’s what we’re seeing on that front. So first of all, Arizona. The Arizona Supreme Court decided to simply remove, uh, Rule 5. 4’s restriction on co ownership and fee sharing. If you read the report, they found it to be an unnecessary economic restriction on practicing law.

[00:10:59] Natalie Knowlton: And so what they did is they removed it and now they have an alternative business license structure where companies who have non lawyer ownership, whether that is a mom and pop shop who one of whom’s a lawyer and one is, one of whom does the books and they’re sharing ownership Or whether that’s a venture backed company coming into the legal services space can apply for an abs license and if approved and it’s not an easy process, you have to prove a lot of things.

[00:11:23] Natalie Knowlton: We’re talking about entity regulation here, so it’s not just that the attorney is on the hook for all the misdoings of the non attorneys. The whole entity is regulated. It has rules all the rules of professional conduct in terms of confidentiality, communication, conflicts of interest. All of that is imputed to the entity.

[00:11:38] Natalie Knowlton: And if you get approved, then you can operate in Arizona. There’s an excellent piece out by Lucian Pera, who’s one of the, in my opinion, the best ethics lawyers out there talking about how to use Arizona potentially as a hub and spoke model for a larger national law firm. Highly recommend that. Could put that in the show notes if you like.

[00:11:54] Natalie Knowlton: So that’s what’s happening in Arizona. In Utah, we have a regulatory sandbox, which essentially is just an environment in which entrants can come and they can, uh, they have business models that can deviate from rule 5. 4 restrictions on co ownership. Uh, and also UPL restrictions. So if allowed in, the Utah Supreme Court runs that in association with the bar that is now, I think, leading the effort to, uh, monitor the entrance, uh, companies can have co ownership.

[00:12:20] Natalie Knowlton: They can have fee sharing and they can have individuals who are practicing law who might not otherwise be able to. So those are the two primary jurisdictions of what you’re seeing. This new evolution and thinking about, um, co ownership of law firms and fee sharing between lawyers and non

[00:12:33] Steve Fretzin: lawyers. I mean, do you have a feeling or information about how fast that’s actually happening, or is that also like most things in legal, very slow moving?

[00:12:42] Natalie Knowlton: Well, um, you can take a look at the entrance in the Arizona ABF. There are a number of companies, some are well known that are in there. Utah sandbox, I believe has 50 or so. Entrance that might be a little slower moving just because the sandbox itself is a pilot project. And so I think there might be some reticence on behalf of companies to go into a pilot environment.

[00:13:01] Natalie Knowlton: Um, and and deploy the capital to test out something new, but it’s starting to, I think, take shape that these new business structures are not necessarily as harmful as we might have thought. We have data coming out of Utah, Arizona, the court monitors the entities very closely and each organization has to apply for renewal every year and provide information on.

[00:13:22] Natalie Knowlton: on how they’re proceeding. So in a couple of years, we’re going to have more data that I think will allow other courts and other jurisdictions to make really informed decisions on whether these are actual rules that need to stay in place or whether they’re unnecessary burdens.

[00:13:34] Steve Fretzin: I mean, I guess the other question I have is, is it, is the real concern not about me getting into this and competing at the small firm level?

[00:13:41] Steve Fretzin: Is it the behemoth, you know, 500, 000 person law firms that are going to be competing against potentially Deloitte and some of these mega billion Types operations that could easily bring in, you know, a law, a law sector into, and they maybe already have that.

[00:13:56] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah, and when, when I would consider the kind of fear of competition bucket, I think that’s absolutely part of it.

[00:14:01] Natalie Knowlton: There’s a big fear, obviously, of big tech coming in. Google.

[00:14:04] Steve Fretzin: I mean, Google’s just, hey, we have a, we have a few, uh, extra, you know, 20 billion dollars sitting around. Maybe we’ll just go and we’ll Gobble up the market, you know,

[00:14:13] Natalie Knowlton: yeah, Amazon, Facebook, you know, everybody’s afraid of what happens when those companies get in, but we did the United Kingdom, England and Wales has had alternative business structures for some time now, and we don’t see a big tech playing a large role there.

[00:14:24] Natalie Knowlton: And we also don’t see the big 4 playing a large role there either. Okay. Um, so,

[00:14:29] Steve Fretzin: so that might be telling

[00:14:30] Natalie Knowlton: a little bit. It could. Yeah. I mean, it’s hard


[00:14:32] Natalie Knowlton: tell what’s going to happen. Um, also, you have to, I have to just say that even if big 4 come in, what they’re going to be doing is hiring lawyers. This is not going to allow in Arizona, in particular, non lawyers to practice law.

[00:14:43] Steve Fretzin: Right, right. They’re still going to need lawyers. It’s just going to be, again, now you’re competing against someone who has sort of unlimited money and unlimited budget to take away the lawyers that you’re paying 300, 000 a year and they’re now making a half a million, you know, because who’s going to say no to that?

[00:14:58] Steve Fretzin: Go work for Google or whatever. That could really, you know, be an interesting twist in the direction of legal in the future. It’s a little, little scary. Hey everybody, here’s a fun fact for you. According to routers, the top three challenges preventing law firm growth are time lost to administrative tasks, winning new client business, and a spike in complexity of new technology.

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[00:16:42] Steve Fretzin: stand out. Let me ask you this too. I mean, getting back to AI. And then I wanted that.

[00:16:48] Steve Fretzin: I’ve got some other, I’ve got a, I want to talk to you a little bit about, uh, emerging business models, but any other thoughts about AI and how it’s already influencing the practice of law and how people are dealing with legal services?

[00:17:01] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah, the AI question is a big one. Um, and it goes to the unauthorized practice of the law rules that we have in place.

[00:17:07] Natalie Knowlton: And I think that are very unclear and that are shutting out a lot of technologies that have the potential to do great good. Some of my comments and thinking on this here goes back to this task force in California that started working years ago now, and it was the advancing technology. I’m not going to get this right, but we call it a tills the a tills task force in California.

[00:17:27] Natalie Knowlton: And some members on that task force did some recon looking into things that they were potentially building and things that others were building that involved technology, technically practicing law, um, and they talked about how they weren’t able to deploy these very simple tools to help consumers because that would be UPL and they were worried about enforcement.

[00:17:44] Natalie Knowlton: We see that also in some litigation that Upsolve got into in Maryland, uh, at a software precision was found to be practicing law on a very, very, very small issue. So I think regulators are going to have to really talk about what UPL means in the context of this increasingly sophisticated technology and whether we’re making restrictions too hard, whether we’re making them, whether we’re limiting, excuse me, limiting entrepreneurs and their ability to create tools that can actually provide consumers that kind of diagnostic information that they need.

[00:18:12] Natalie Knowlton: So there’s a step beyond legal information. Technology is getting dangerously close to be able to competently fill that, but are we going to let it? I think is the question for the regulators.

[00:18:21] Steve Fretzin: Okay. The last thing I wanted to, yeah, I want to get into the weeds in this, but there’s emerging business models and that are happening in the practice of law.

[00:18:31] Steve Fretzin: And I’d love to hear what you’re seeing on, on that end and, and just, you know, which, what are they and what do they do and how is it changing maybe the billable rate and other aspects that come into play with, with new, new business models.

[00:18:45] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah, I think my favorite, the one that I talk about the most and the one that I’m the most eager to see, as I guess we could call it, and some people are going to find this really discouraging, but the commoditization or the productization of the law.

[00:18:56] Natalie Knowlton: I’m very excited by that. Consumers respond in many ways to that kind of service and product model. They’re used to it. And it’s a way for lawyers to create that kind of scalable information that’s really valuable to consumers. Uh, lawyers create it once and then consumers can purchase it and benefit from it to grade lead generator to firms, uh, Aaron Levine, hello, divorce, of course, and uses that kind of model.

[00:19:18] Natalie Knowlton: Um, there are others out there, particularly in the family law arena that I see, and, and I think part of that is recognizing these lawyers are increasingly appreciating that legal information is valuable for consumers and that you can monetize legal information. We’re, we’re, so up here on legal advice, what’s the highest level advice we can give.

[00:19:35] Natalie Knowlton: We forget that consumers know nothing of this. So there’s this whole level of information with some guidance that we can package together for consumers in a way that makes it more accessible for consumers to purchase at a price point level, um, but also much easier for lawyers to create. So I’m really excited

[00:19:50] Steve Fretzin: about that.

[00:19:52] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, and I, I mean, I know a number of lawyers, um, uh, Matt Kbu, a buddy of mine who does the subscription by, you know Matt? Yeah. I call him Kbu. We, we, we only go by each other’s last names. That’s a rule. But, uh, but yeah, I mean, the sub, you know, the, the lawyer subscribed and. I mean, it’s, it, it seems in his mind and what I’m seeing him do and produce has been unbelievable as it relates to, uh, that subscription model, which again, some lawyers I would imagine are terrified of.

[00:20:17] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Kim

[00:20:18] Natalie Knowlton: Bennett’s doing great work in this area. I mean, any, any lawyer who’s interested in getting into that space, listen to her and you’re

[00:20:24] Steve Fretzin: set. Yeah. Yeah. So taking the things that are maybe the, the, the, the simplest for businesses and for individuals to. Uh, to, to, to get in and monetize it in a way that’s going to make sense.

[00:20:36] Steve Fretzin: That’s one model. What would be another existent, uh, another, uh, business model that you, that you are seeing on a record that you’re seeing every day?

[00:20:44] Natalie Knowlton: I don’t know that I’m seeing this every day, but I’m still pushing for, um, limited scope representation. I think unbundling unbundled legal services really potentially fall.

[00:20:53] Natalie Knowlton: There’s been, um, an obvious stall in adoption and use, and I’m not entirely sure where it go, where, where, where that, why that is happening, uh, and where this whole movement is going. But I think that combined with this kind of productized legal services approach can be pretty powerful. So I, for jurisdictions who are a little wishy washy when it comes to that, I encourage attorneys to get courts involved and have courts kind of sign off and get, get the, the premature of the leaders there for that kind of business model.

[00:21:21] Steve Fretzin: And what about alternative billing and in flat rates and thing? Are you seeing more of that? Yeah,

[00:21:26] Natalie Knowlton: definitely flat rates. There’s obviously a huge conversation happening with generative AI and legal ethics right now to figure out what the implications are on billing. If you can incredibly streamline a service that you’re offering, do you need to disclose that to clients and do you need to build differently?

[00:21:40] Natalie Knowlton: So I’m, I’m not gonna go over my skis and take a position on that at the moment, but I think a lot of courts and. A lot of access to justice commissions and ethics commissions are wrestling with that issue now. So, uh, I think the bill every over the last 20 years, it seems like every day, someone’s calling for the death of billable hour saying today’s the day it died.

[00:21:58] Natalie Knowlton: But, um, who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe we’re getting a little closer to that with generative

[00:22:03] Steve Fretzin: AI. Maybe. I mean, every time they talk about it, I, it just doesn’t go away. I just think people are so comfortable with it. I don’t. If the clients are comfortable with it as much as the lawyers are, that it just all, it all makes sense.

[00:22:14] Steve Fretzin: But, uh, I, I know that, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of people that get frustrated when they talk to lawyers and they say, Oh, yeah, I was, I was, you know, Jenny and the three kids. And they’re like, you know, looking at their watch going, oh, there’s, you know, another six minutes that, you know, we’re burning talking about my family or something.

[00:22:30] Steve Fretzin: There’s a, there’s a, there’s a rub there with, with the billable hour.

[00:22:36] Steve Fretzin: I hate to ask you this, but I’m going to ask it anyway, forecast the future a little bit, a year out, three years out, five years out. Like what are you seeing is drawing up so much momentum that you’re just, don’t predict the future, but give us a flavor from your tape.

[00:22:51] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah. Okay. Um, and this is a hard one, but first I think regulatory reform is here to stay.

[00:22:57] Natalie Knowlton: Uh, I think the, the level of opposition that we’re seeing is a testament to the fact that it’s here to stay. I think we’re going to have swings of forward momentum, backward momentum. I think we might be in a backward momentum swing right now, but that just gives us more more momentum when we do swing forward.

[00:23:12] Natalie Knowlton: I think the, uh, the new providers in this space are here to stay, whether that’s paralegal who can offer extremely limited advice or someone who can help with the bankruptcy form. Or someone who goes to school for 2 years in a nurse practitioner capacity. I think that is here to stay. I think the disruption and change that technology is providing is here to stay, although we have no idea what that’s going to look like, because it’s constantly changing.

[00:23:33] Natalie Knowlton: I won’t comment on, you know, the over promising or under delivering of generative AI at this point, but Everyone that I’m paying attention to who’s creating these technologies just suggest they’re going to get more sophisticated. So, I think that uncertainty is here to stay. Uh, and I think on the flip side of that, it’s the opportunity that that promises.

[00:23:52] Natalie Knowlton: Uh, we, we are in an unprecedented. I think, uh, place with technology and being able to really leverage that in a way that we haven’t in the future or haven’t in the past toward the future access. So how can we over the next couple of years really create that space? Cause someone’s going to create it. I would like lawyers to be involved in that, but if they’re not, um, it’s not going to, it’s not going to wait.

[00:24:12] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s just an interesting time in general to be involved. I’m not a lawyer. And so like my involvement is talking to you and working with my clients on business development. And the other thing that I’m seeing is the changeover. Now, more than ever, from lawyers running law firms to lawyers running businesses, billable hour attorneys deciding to stop and really be the CEO and run it as a business.

[00:24:38] Steve Fretzin: So is that, is that in line with what you’re seeing as well?

[00:24:41] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, and I think there are some members of the profession that are kicking and screaming to hear that. Um, law is a profession. It can also be a business, though. It’s not mutually exclusive. Any lawyer or any person who has a family or themselves to support and feed knows that they need to make money.

[00:24:56] Natalie Knowlton: They need to have a living that supports them. And that means running an actual business. So, irrespective of whether we are a profession in the law, we have to understand how to run a business. And so, um, law is a business. Law is a profession. And there’s nothing wrong with either one.

[00:25:10] Steve Fretzin: At what I’m, what I’m identifying is that you don’t have to give up practicing the law.

[00:25:14] Steve Fretzin: However, you know, you may want to consider. Um, really limiting how much you’re practicing and, and really maybe being the leader of the team that’s going to practice law and you’re sort of consulting and working with them on stuff versus spending two weeks in court or trying to wear every hat that you can at the firm.

[00:25:31] Steve Fretzin: It’s, I’m just more and more of the lawyers that I’m interviewing on the show than that I’m working with directly are taking on roles that are more, that are more focused on the business. It’s not.

[00:25:43] Natalie Knowlton: Yeah, and that’s where these new, uh, co ownership models also hold a lot of promise because if you prefer to be practicing law instead of running a business, then bring someone in who can run a business and let yourself do the things you’ve been trained to do.

[00:25:54] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, I think some of the smartest mid market, small, big, big, big, small, what is that? Like 50, maybe 50 lawyers and larger. They’re bringing in CEOs. They’re just, they’re finding people that have run and scaled companies and said, look. You know, it’s not that I don’t want to run this business, but you know, I’m a named partner.

[00:26:10] Steve Fretzin: I, but why not make it as profitable as possible? Why not make it as efficient as possible? That’s not my jam. Uh, so let’s bring in the expert, bring in someone who’s done it, you know, for multiple companies and let them do it. And typically if they find the right person, that’s going to be a home run. You know?

[00:26:27] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. So let’s, let’s kind of wrap things up, Natalie, with, um, well, first of all, before we get to your game changing podcast, any other kind of final thoughts or words about the. Kind of the future legal or just the kind of wrapping it up in a nice

[00:26:39] Natalie Knowlton: little bow I um, I guess I feel compelled to say given some of the things that have happened in the regulatory reform space in terms Of the dialogue that we’re seeing or lack of dialogue Um that it’s okay to talk about things that we disagree on Um, we live in a civil society and lawyers in particular should be able to have disagreements Um, let’s take those disagreements.

[00:26:58] Natalie Knowlton: Let’s turn them into something constructive Let’s leverage evidence and data that’s out there as we make regulatory reforms and policy decisions Lawyers love evidence, so let’s love it in all contexts of artists and making policy as well. Um, and let’s just, uh, you know, no matter where you side on a certain issue, uh, in your space, and mine obviously is the regulatory reform piece, let’s sit down and have a conversation about how we can be constructive here, because I’m just seeing this polarizing effect and this kind of lack of dialogue that I think is really negatively impacting the space.

[00:27:28] Natalie Knowlton: So that would be my plea to everybody.

[00:27:31] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And do me a favor too, and just take a few minutes or a minute even, and talk a little bit about your, your business access to justice ventures. Yeah.

[00:27:40] Natalie Knowlton: Access to justice ventures. Uh, we are empowering entrepreneurs who are developing scalable justice solutions.

[00:27:45] Natalie Knowlton: So a lot of those are lawyers. Uh, some legal technologists, people who work in the space who are interested in figuring out how to develop, uh, move beyond that one to one model and do a one to many model, um, or disrupting traditional spaces of legal services delivery. So we work with a lot of clients who are interested in, uh, Arizona ABS and interested in the Utah sandbox and also helping people appreciate the business model potentials around the country, given this real strong patchwork of state by state regulatory rules that we have in

[00:28:14] Steve Fretzin: place.

[00:28:16] Steve Fretzin: Really cool stuff. And if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to, for them to find you, reach

[00:28:20] Natalie Knowlton: you? Um, Twitter is still probably the best place, not ex Twitter. Um, you can reach me at Nataliecat, that’s N A T A L A L L E Y C A T, and I’m that across all, um, almost all the platforms, including LinkedIn.

[00:28:33] Steve Fretzin: Very cool. And finally, your, your game changing, uh, podcast, and I’m not surprised by the title. Talk

[00:28:38] Natalie Knowlton: justice. Yeah. So talk justice is actually an LSD podcast. Um, I’ve been on it a couple of times. I highly recommend that anyone listened to it. They have incredible guests on there. I’ve been lucky enough to be on there several times and I really appreciate it.

[00:28:52] Natalie Knowlton: Different hosts. They have different, they queue up different issues. Um, it’s one of the best podcasts out there. Again, it’s LSD and you can find that, um, I think anywhere you listen to podcasts, but it’s one of my kind of go to sources of information on innovators in the legal sector. I have

[00:29:08] Steve Fretzin: to check that out.

[00:29:09] Steve Fretzin: I have not heard of that. So that’s on my list. And I want to, of course, thank our wonderful sponsors, Get Staffed Up, Get Visible, and Get Lawmatics. Actually, it’s just Lawmatics, but I figured I’d do it. I do it three in a row on the get, um, and then check them out. Uh, they’re phenomenal, uh, sponsors, companies, et cetera.

[00:29:27] Steve Fretzin: And, um, just thank you so much, Natalie, for coming on, sharing your wisdom. I mean, so bright and so articulate and, and, and, and helping everyone understand kind of what the state of legal is and where it’s going and all the different facets there. I just thought it, I find it fascinating.

[00:29:42] Natalie Knowlton: Thank you for having me.

[00:29:42] Natalie Knowlton: I appreciate it. Thanks everyone for listening. It’s my pleasure

[00:29:45] Steve Fretzin: to be here. Yeah. Thank you. And thank you everybody, as Natalie just said, to, uh, for being on the Be That Lawyer podcast. Uh, you know, we’re helping you to be confident, organized, and a skilled rainmaker. Consider the future and how are you setting yourself up for success, uh, whether that’s.

[00:30:01] Steve Fretzin: Focused on business development, marketing, whether it’s focused on the business side, whether it’s focused on delegation and doing only the top level work that you should be doing and everything in between. It’s all, all important stuff in evolving as this, as this wonderful industry evolves. So, um, we’ll talk to you soon, everybody take care, be well, be safe.

[00:30:18] Steve Fretzin: And thank you.

[00:30:24] Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be That Lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website, Fretzin. com, 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

[00:30:46] Natalie Knowlton: notes.