Whitney Harper: The Case Against the Billable Hour

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Whitney Harper discuss:

  • Why so many law firms still use the billable hour.
  • Deliverables-based billing.
  • Getting clear about what your deliverables are.
  • Building the playbooks to increase your profitability.

Key Takeaways:

  • Most tech for lawyers are based on hourly billing, which makes it difficult for those wishing to switch without creating new software.
  • Hourly billing can make you adversarial to your clients, and adversarial to yourself and your mental health.
  • Understanding what you are looking for (more money, more time, etc.) then you can look at more ways to make yourself efficient in delivering those products.
  • If you have agreed on the price at the front end, you are less likely to have a collection issue.

“When you bill by the hour, there’s a kind of an upper limit on what you can reasonably say an hourly rate is. There’s also an aspect of it, that’s a mental health issue – as a lawyer, if I only can win by burning more of the midnight oil, there’s a level of exhaustion, and you feel like you’re playing the game that you can’t win.” —  Whitney Harper

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Episode References: 

About Whitney Harper: Whitney Harper is a seasoned practicing lawyer, and the co-founder of ADVOS Pro, a business that helps law firms break up with the billable hour method and begin measuring what matters – value, expertise, and results. Her practice, ADVOS legal, has leveraged the ADVOS Pro P3 Method and [A]OS platform for nearly a decade, building a successful, healthy, and highly profitable practice that delivers sophisticated, strategic legal counsel to clients who are raving fans.

Connect with Whitney Harper:  

Website: https://www.advospro.com/

Email: whitney@advospro.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneycharper/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/advos-pro/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ADVOSPro

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whit_onthewater/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/advospro/

Connect with Steve Fretzin:

LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Instagram: @fretzinsteve

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.

Website: Fretzin.com

Email: Steve@Fretzin.com

Book: Legal Business Development Isn’t Rocket Science and more!

YouTube: Steve Fretzin

Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

[00:00:00] Steve Fretzin: Hey, everyone. Before we get to the show, I wanted to let you in on something over the next few months and starting on August 24th with the topic that taboo surrounding sales and legal, I’ll be providing some sales, free selling workshops for you to learn the basics of my methodologies. If you ever wonder what it’s like to work with a coach or go through incredible training, here’s your chance.

[00:00:20] Steve Fretzin: It’s easy to register. Just go to Fredson dot com slash events to register as my VIP guest. See you there and enjoy the show.

[00:00:36] 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.

[00:00:58] Steve Fretzin: Hey everybody, welcome to Be That Lawyer. I am Steve Fretzin and I just… So happy that you’re here with us today. We are going to have some fun. We’re going to have some laughs. We’re going to cry. We’re not going to cry. When you just look to be like, we’re going to cry. That one has to be cry. Well, we will cry.

[00:01:13] Steve Fretzin: If you find like you’re doing everything wrong as a lawyer, then maybe you want to cry, but we’re going to fix that. We’re going to work with you on that very thing. For you, those listening for the first time, or if you haven’t heard, you know, Fredson is my company and it’s, um, all about helping lawyers to have their best year, every year.

[00:01:27] Steve Fretzin: Many of the people that I work with are going through some type of change. They are at a new job, a new firm. They’re going off on their own. They’re leveling up at the firm they’re with, or they’re just looking to take things to the next level. But I rarely work with anyone that’s kind of, Just going through the humdrum of billion hours and doing their thing.

[00:01:44] Steve Fretzin: It’s usually people that want to, you know, that are going through some life crisis or something where they realize, you know, Hey, I want, I need to make some serious life changes and business development is a great way to do it. And so that I’m here for you if you need that. And, uh, and again, this show is all about helping you to be that lawyer, someone who’s confident, organized, and a skilled rainmaker.

[00:02:02] Steve Fretzin: I’ve got Whitney waiting in the wings. Uh, Whitney, so happy that you’re here. How are you today? I’m

[00:02:07] Whitney Harper: really well. Thanks so much for having me, Steve. Yeah, of

[00:02:09] Steve Fretzin: course. Of course. I thought we had a great, like, pre interview call, and now we’re, like, ready to go. We’ve got your quote of the show all lined up, and I think it really is great for lawyers.

[00:02:19] Steve Fretzin: And it is, and you guys, you’ll figure this out in a minute when I say it, but the quote is a ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. And that’s John A. Shedd. Is that the guy from the Shedd Museum or is that someone else from, we have the Shedd Museum in, uh, Chicago. I wonder if it’s the same Shedd.

[00:02:36] Steve Fretzin: Ooh, I wonder. Yeah. I’m not going to have to look at that. That’s a look, that’s a look it up moment. I’m going to have to look that up. So talk about that quote though. And welcome to the show.

[00:02:44] Whitney Harper: Thanks so much. Yeah. Yeah. You know. So, first of all, I’m a water baby. Anything with a boat or water in it resonates with me.

[00:02:52] Whitney Harper: But really, you know, I think very few of us went to law school just to be ho hum, right? Like people go because they have some sort of drive and there’s some aspect of a calling to it. And so, you know, it’s really easy to get kind of lulled into the, this is the way we’ve always done it. And we just, this is the way the practice goes.

[00:03:13] Whitney Harper: But I’m a big believer that you’ve got to pick your head up and make sure that you’re, you’re actually doing the thing that you were meant to do. And, and I think, you know, lawyering as a profession, it’s a, it’s a noble thing. And, and I’d say that as someone who lawyers for businesses, right? Like I’m not, you don’t have to be, you know, serving.

[00:03:30] Whitney Harper: Low income people or, you know, working for kind of the big J justice stuff for it to be a noble profession, but you do have to, like, keep yourself aligned to the deeper calling and not be afraid to get out of the harbor,

[00:03:45] Steve Fretzin: go after it and make some changes. I think you and, and, uh, our friend, mutual friend now, Matt Kirbis, you know, making some laws, law subscribe, making some big changes in waves and legal and the way things are done.

[00:03:57] Steve Fretzin: And was there like a, a big or important tipping point in your life, in your career where you realized you, you know, you either want it to be an entrepreneur or that you just, you tell me, I may not. It’s

[00:04:06] Whitney Harper: your. Sure. All right. You know, it, it’s been a really fun career, a lot of different stages. So I started in big law and was going by the hour and, and kind of, you know, operating as lawyers have done for years.

[00:04:24] Whitney Harper: Then took an in house gig and really enjoyed that shift of thinking about kind of what is the end goal and delivering work that was really targeted toward the company’s goals and aligned to what the company needed and, you know, had a purpose more than just churning hours. So that was, you know, that was all great.

[00:04:49] Whitney Harper: And then we sold the company and I had this opportunity to go from bubble wrapping everybody else’s stuff, right. And, and sweeping up when they broke things to kind of being the one to get out there and, and make some moves as an operator in the business. And that was a big shift for me mentally. Right.

[00:05:07] Whitney Harper: I think once you’ve kind of, there’s the shift from hourly billing to in house counsel, and that’s, that’s a pretty good ship. But then when you go to be the client. And you’re thinking really clearly about a P& L and what are the, you know, what are the results and you really don’t care how long it took someone to do it.

[00:05:26] Whitney Harper: You care about whether it was, whether the juice was worth the squeeze, right? Like, we, did we get what we needed out of this thing? And that was the mental shift that then led to the kind of career occupational shift when I then met my current law partner and we were talking about what might be next.

[00:05:46] Whitney Harper: And she said, you know, what are you up to? And I was like, Not lawyering. I’m not going to be in a law firm. And she was like, let’s talk about that. Right. And we really dug into it. It’s like, we could do this differently. We could deliver legal services in a way that was aligned to the client’s needs. And that would also be healthy for the, for the lawyers, right.

[00:06:09] Whitney Harper: That they could deliver a good experience for the people who are working in the practice and a really tremendous client experience with great profitability and time margin and all of those things too. So that was a little shift of like, let’s think about this differently. Okay.

[00:06:28] Steve Fretzin: When I think about, you know, and I, I heard about alternative fee arrangements with the first law firm I ever worked with, a great firm in Chicago called Ehrenberg Golgan.

[00:06:37] Steve Fretzin: And I heard them like bringing that up to me and I. I sort of fake like I knew what they were talking about at the moment, but I don’t think I really, I don’t really, but I mean, I get the gist of it. Like, it’s not hourly billing, it’s some type of alternative fee arrangement, like it’s in the title, but at the same time, I didn’t really know, and they thought there was the future of legal, but they weren’t.

[00:06:56] Steve Fretzin: In a position at that time to like completely, you know, Hey, we’re going to change our firm and compete that way. It just wasn’t in the cards and they’ve, they do primarily still, and most firms do, you know, primarily still hourly billing, but talk about the, the, the, we’re going back, you know, 15 plus years to when I first heard about it, but what’s the, why haven’t lawyers and law firms moved to some form of alternative billing arrangement?

[00:07:21] Steve Fretzin: What’s the, what’s the sweetness of the billable hour? Yeah, well, it’s

[00:07:25] Whitney Harper: easy, right? So you default to the thing that works and it’s, um, I think that’s one of the biggest problems in this. Like, let’s all shift to something different. Movement is the hourly billing model. It’s working well enough that there’s not, there’s not that, like, it’s completely broken.

[00:07:46] Whitney Harper: And so the train

[00:07:47] Steve Fretzin: stops and there isn’t that much pushback, right? Like, it’s not like everybody’s like on fire about it and it needs to go. Right. So it’s like, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and nobody’s complaining and not many people are complaining. Well, and then you

[00:07:59] Whitney Harper: get bigger firms where the, you know, the senior lawyers who are retiring out, like the whole, the whole aircraft carrier is built on this model.

[00:08:07] Whitney Harper: And so to shift it, like you’re, you don’t turn an aircraft carrier quickly, right? That doesn’t happen. So, uh. Back

[00:08:14] Steve Fretzin: to the ship. Always about a boat. Full circle. Full circle on the, on the ship. Okay.

[00:08:20] Whitney Harper: So, you know, I think that’s part of it. The other part is. You know, as lawyers, we are very busy delivering the work that our clients need.

[00:08:31] Whitney Harper: And so trying to figure out a new method and a way to do that at scale while you are also delivering client work and trying to keep your, keep your firm and your business on track is tough, right? And I say that from experience. We had the, um, we had the benefit of being able to start from scratch. And so, you know, when you, when you don’t have a full slate of work, you have some time to go figure it out.

[00:08:59] Whitney Harper: Maybe wouldn’t have if you had a full book of business, but you’ve got this opportunity to, you know, just to figure it out and do it differently. And what we found was that we had to build our own platform. We tried really hard to go use the technology that’s out there for lawyers now, and that tech is all based on hourly billing.

[00:09:27] Whitney Harper: And it doesn’t have a way to shift off of that to go get some other model happening. We tried to find things that would let us figure out points billing. And, and, and I’ll tell you a bit more about the points situation in a minute. But we tried to find a way to track deliverables, but it just wouldn’t work in any of the existing systems.

[00:09:51] Whitney Harper: And so we had to go build our own. And I think that’s. That’s the shift that made it possible for us to do it at scale. And part of the reason why other people haven’t done it as much is that you do have to go build your own way. Yeah.

[00:10:04] Steve Fretzin: And I think that’s how innovation happens, right? I don’t have a way of getting the fields done quickly.

[00:10:09] Steve Fretzin: So let’s invent, you know, a horse and pulling something and then a tractor, and then it just keeps to. It keeps up, but now it’s going to be robots, I’m sure, right? So there are, I’m sure there are already robots out there. So things need to evolve and the legal industry, my experience, and I’m sure most people listening is it’s a very slow moving train, or it’s an aircraft carrier to your point of moving and turning very slowly.

[00:10:31] Steve Fretzin: So we need legal tech and innovation to advance in order for this to happen. And sometimes it’s out of necessity or out of, you know, somebody’s got to do it. Might as well be me. Yeah,

[00:10:45] Whitney Harper: for sure. And, and we are, we are definitely the, the personality that is willing to jump in and say, might as well be me.

[00:10:52] Whitney Harper: Right? Yeah.

[00:10:52] Steve Fretzin: Deep end of the pool. Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. Got it. And so let’s, before we get into some of the weeds that we’re going to get into about your model and your software and what you’ve created, what is like, in your opinion, the most, the top two or three reasons that the billable hour. 99% or whatever of the mostly defense side attorneys work on is broken.

[00:11:16] Steve Fretzin: Why? What do you see as the main elements of that, of that model is busted up?

[00:11:22] Whitney Harper: Well, it makes you adversarial to your client, right? So I think that’s the biggest problem is that when you and your client are not aligned, the relationship with your client is not going to be a good thing. Right. So there’s, I mean, there’s a reason there’s all the lawyer jokes, right?

[00:11:39] Steve Fretzin: But I, I would, I would temper that a little bit and say, you know, General counsels and CEOs who are used to the billable hour and know that that’s the way it’s done and maybe they’re billing in a similar fashion, like they’re, I don’t think they’re sitting, you know, up at night every night thinking about, geez, I just wish there wasn’t a billable hour.

[00:11:55] Steve Fretzin: You know, everybody would like things done cheaper and better and faster. But I think that I know as a, as an entrepreneur, yeah, I don’t want to pay the bill while if there was a flat fee or there was a better way to do it, this can be more efficient, but I think that’s, that’s sort of like it when everybody’s adjusted and comfortable with, with something and the way things happen, as you said earlier, then maybe we’re not all up in arms about it right away.

[00:12:19] Whitney Harper: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And part of it that’s interesting from my perspective is there’s so much technology out there right now, right? And some really cool stuff that can make the practice of law more fun, more effective, higher quality, like more efficient, but when you build by the hour, a lot of that, all it does is just reduce what you can build, right?

[00:12:44] Whitney Harper: You think there’s a, there’s a kind of an upper limit on what you can reasonably say an hourly rate is right. And so if you’re, if you’re built by the hour, but technology is making you faster, then I’ve got to go fill the funnel with more clients. Yeah, I’ve got to find more work to do and that’s that’s a little, you know, sideways.

[00:13:04] Whitney Harper: If you’re the lawyer who’s thinking about trying to deploy that technology. But I think, you know, there’s there’s also an aspect of it. That’s sort of a mental health issue, right? As a lawyer, if. If I only can win by burning more of the midnight oil, there’s, there’s a level of exhaustion and sort of the, you feel like you’re playing the game.

[00:13:26] Whitney Harper: You can’t win. And so that’s, yeah, that’s not great. And that, yeah, I mentioned the sort of adversarial positioning with your client. Like, if, if you are always having that competition within your own head of, does, you know, am I, am I working more than the client’s willing to pay for? And I don’t know, I’ve got to do my best work and I need to, you know, I have to deliver this really well, but is the client going to be happy about paying for this and that kind of thing?

[00:13:53] Whitney Harper: That’s, that’s sort of a disconcerting, you know, mismatch internally as well. And so if you can take all of that up to the front end and say, Hey client, Let’s get clear on what it is you need. I’m going to scope it out and we’re going to decide what the price is on the front end. Then you get one of two answers, right?

[00:14:11] Whitney Harper: Either. Yes, that sounds great. And you know, you’re only doing work that the client’s thrilled to pay for. Or no, no, I’m not interested in that. And that’s an okay answer too, because I don’t want to do work that somebody doesn’t want to pay me for. So moving all that to the front end is such a powerful shift and it just, it delivers better client relationships.

[00:14:31] Whitney Harper: It delivers better professional satisfaction. And then then I have an incentive if I know the price I’m gonna be paid, I have an incentive to find the tools and the technology to delegate to do whatever it is to make my work more efficient, higher quality, you know, and and spend more of my time building client relationship and wowing my client.

[00:14:56] Whitney Harper: And that ultimately sort of turns into repeat business, right? Like clients who are going to send you more clients. They’re going to bring you more of their own work. So it becomes this really virtuous cycle.

[00:15:06] Steve Fretzin: In the billable hour in some ways is a disincentive for efficiency, right? I mean, it’s like if I need to build 2, hours a year and I can get stuff done faster, stronger, better because I know the law and I know this is a case that keeps repeating, you know, the same type of matter.

[00:15:23] Steve Fretzin: And, you know, what’s the incentive to, to be efficient or to do it quickly. I have a great little YouTube or Instagram thing. I always forget where I saw this, but it was a guy interacting with an audience. And he was making a point about, let’s say that I’m going to charge you 20 grand for a logo. Do you want me to spend a hundred hours on that to get, to, to get the logo done and six months, or do you want it done in five minutes?

[00:15:51] Steve Fretzin: And so it was like, Well, no, if I’m going to pay you 20 grand, I want you to spend, you know, a hundred hours on it, not five minutes. Well, what if I’m that good that I can create the perfect logo for you in five minutes? Does your time not mean anything to you? Is it worth less because I’m that good that I could come up with something brilliant in five minutes versus a hundred hours?

[00:16:09] Steve Fretzin: You know, and by the way, all of the years that I’ve spent logo making, For 30 years, for example, leads me up to being able to do something in five minutes, not a hundred hours. It takes me a hundred hours because I’m a novice, right? It’s because I, I’m not, I don’t have it figured out. So that’s, that’s a great example of, you know, and there was a back and forth between this guy and the audience that eventually he made his point.

[00:16:31] Steve Fretzin: They were like, oh shit. But that’s kind of like where I think there’s a disincentive for on the bill of our, and not in every situation, but obviously that we’re talking shop here.

[00:16:40] Whitney Harper: Yeah. Yeah. Wait, you know, I think in every other industry, well, maybe, maybe not every other in almost every other industry, right?

[00:16:49] Whitney Harper: The person who has the, the product to sell is in the best position to go price it, right? And they’re going to, they’re going to be able to tell you the price ahead of time. And then you can make a decision. And is it worth it? Is it not? And I think that’s, it’s sort of interesting to me that. There’s this like psychology around lawyering where we think it’s gauche to talk about it as a business, like it’s a profession, but it’s the business you got to, you got to turn a profit and talking about pricing has not historically been something we’ve been good at.

[00:17:24] Whitney Harper: And. You know, it, I get it, it feels awkward to talk about price when you are the product and that’s, you know, part of it is getting clear on what the product is, right? So it is deliverables that I’m going to deliver to my client and I can measure them and we can talk about why they’re priced the way they are in terms of size, complexity, value of the client, risk mitigation, like those kinds of things, right?

[00:17:48] Whitney Harper: But divorcing the thing they’re, they’re paying for from you as a human and your value as a professional. You know, it’s, it’s an interesting exercise.

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[00:19:51] Steve Fretzin: So let’s, let’s move to sort of our next segment, which is not only what are the different alternatives then for the billable hour leading into what you’ve created, which I definitely want to get into with, with Advo’s pro, but let’s talk about what models exist right now in that lawyers might be wanting to consider or may already know about, but haven’t used.

[00:20:12] Steve Fretzin: And what are the kind of the pros and cons of those? And I think there’s probably not a hundred of them. There’s probably a few, but talk through those. And then let’s talk about, about what you, what you got cooking. Yeah.

[00:20:22] Whitney Harper: So, I mean, we see all kinds of things as alternative fee arrangements, right? So, one starting point for a lot of lawyers is just like, I’m going to bundle hours and give you a discount if you commit to a certain amount of hours, right?

[00:20:37] Whitney Harper: You’re still willing by the hour, but you’re finding some way to sort of build maybe some recurring revenue there or something.

[00:20:43] Steve Fretzin: It’s a thousand dollars a month. You’re going to get X number of hours and then you just, I know every month you got a thousand coming in. Right.

[00:20:50] Whitney Harper: So like there’s, there’s that end of the spectrum.

[00:20:52] Whitney Harper: And then. You kind of move along right to like maybe someone’s pricing a project into phases or, or has, you know, you see people with a specific list of here’s a fee and it’s for this, the bundle of these deliverables. And we’ve seen that in terms of like the startup, a company package or

[00:21:14] Steve Fretzin: on a state plan, right?

[00:21:16] Steve Fretzin: Is like a set fee for that project based on, you know, variables,

[00:21:20] Whitney Harper: right? Right. And, and you can maybe say like, if you have this. You know, assets in this range, then here’s your fee. And if you’re, you know, that kind of thing. So the packaging of a suite of, you know, a bundle of deliverables is one way to do it.

[00:21:36] Whitney Harper: And then what we’ve landed on is this approach where clients who are on a membership know that we know that they’re going to have some consistency with the work they’re going to need over time. And we might not know exactly what those projects are going to be at the start, but we can get a good sense of what their volume is going to be.

[00:21:57] Whitney Harper: And so then you think about the client buying like a bundle of tokens, right, points that they then can use on the various products that they have pop up along the way. And those projects might not all be the same size, right? So some projects cost one point and some projects cost three points. Some are a quarter point.

[00:22:17] Whitney Harper: So, you know, understanding that there’s going to be some variation and some scale to what they’re going to need. In our law practice, our clients are typically on a membership buying a bundle of points for a calendar quarter. And then we’re kinda taking a leadership role in helping them to understand how best to use those based on their context, on their changing needs, on what’s going on in their business.

[00:22:42] Whitney Harper: Right. All those things.

[00:22:43] Steve Fretzin: So at the But at the heart of of, and is it the pro P three? Is that the

[00:22:49] Whitney Harper: Yes. So the P three method is the three method. Yeah. And we offer P three method as a course to help lawyers understand how to price on a deliverables basis, and then how to package and pitch that. To a client, whether that’s as a project or like a phased approach or a membership, but all of that kind of aligns back to deliverables based pricing.

[00:23:13] Whitney Harper: And then we talk about how to now that you’re shifting off of hourly billing and on to deliverables based billing, how do you make yourself more profitable, right? So, well,

let,

[00:23:22] Steve Fretzin: well, let’s answer that because, you know, everyone listening is going, all right, I’m on the hourly. I’m interested in, in going to a membership, a flat fee, something to.

[00:23:32] Steve Fretzin: Get off the hamster wheel that I’m on, how does this work? And then how did I understand its points and like the projects and all that. And then how is it more profitable or more efficient or better than the billable hour? Let’s go into that. Yeah, this is like

[00:23:47] Whitney Harper: my favorite aspect of the topic.

[00:23:49] Steve Fretzin: Well, then forget it.

[00:23:49] Steve Fretzin: I don’t want to, let’s change, let’s change subjects then. Now we got it. This is like, this is the, you know, the meat on the bone that we all want to hear,

[00:23:56] Whitney Harper: right? Yeah. Yeah. Well, and, and when you think about it, like first. You have to think about like, what is the profit I want, right? Is it, I’m looking for more dollars out of my practice?

[00:24:05] Whitney Harper: Is it, I’m looking for more time freedom for some people? It’s a little mix of both, but, uh, you know, when you are billing on a deliverables basis and you’ve got a price for an item and the client’s happy to pay that price, then you start looking for ways to make yourself more efficient at delivering it.

[00:24:25] Whitney Harper: And that’s, we think about like a spectrum of technology. So low end of the spectrum, super easy place to start is. Things like checklists, playbooks, process documentation. We talk about playbooks instead of just a form library, because often if I were to say, for instance, Hey paralegal, I need you to go draft XYZ agreement, and they just go to the form library, they may need some guidance around which form is the right one to start from, for this particular instance, right?

[00:25:00] Whitney Harper: And so having a playbook that sort of says, in this, in this circumstance, we like to start from this point. In that circumstance, you might want to ask these other questions first, right? Giving somebody that guidance is a great way to facilitate delegation in a way that truly makes it effective instead of just like, I gave this to someone and, you know, garbage in, garbage out, I didn’t give them good detail and so I got terrible work product and now I just have more work to do.

[00:25:28] Whitney Harper: So those playbooks, which incorporate checklists and reference points and all those things. Or where we really encourage people to start in that, that sort of profitability approach and acknowledging that it can be as simple as a bullet point, right? The first time. I go to do a project and I think about like, Oh, I need to remember this one aspect of it.

[00:25:50] Whitney Harper: Next time I do it, build a playbook for that topic with just one bullet point in it. It’s a place to start. And every time you come back, you can add to it, but you’re always just making your, your next project easier than it was the last time.

[00:26:03] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. That’s really important too. That the idea that a lot of the stuff that you’re doing may be repetitive and to start over from scratch with anything you’re doing is never, never a good idea.

[00:26:13] Steve Fretzin: So, You’re building that library that’s going to ultimately make you that more efficient.

[00:26:18] Whitney Harper: And it’s, you know, it’s a simple low tech place to start. We all have, you know, word or some sort of word, word processing document as lawyers, right? So just. Start with that and build a playbook. And then, you know, then you think about technology, right?

[00:26:31] Whitney Harper: There’s a ton of legal tech out there right now that, that is really sexy and interesting. And, you know, if you’re building by the hour, maybe not so attractive. But if you’re not building by the hour and you can do some document automation or some, you know, process automation or, you know, those kinds of things like.

[00:26:49] Whitney Harper: That gets really fun. And then if you can layer AI into it, right, that’s, that’s where everybody’s eyes are right now. And so, you know, thinking about what in your practice makes sense for building inefficiency, building in, uh, the ability to delegate, building as in quality checks. I think all of those things can be really, really,

[00:27:11] Steve Fretzin: really, really good.

[00:27:12] Steve Fretzin: So is it the efficiency that drives the profitability or is it the points model versus the hourly? Like how are lawyers listening saying, Oh, this is how I could use this and be more profitable and work less, which I like that. Everyone likes that combo.

[00:27:28] Whitney Harper: Right. Right. So I think it’s both things. One on the, when you’re billing by a deliverable and you’ve agreed on the price on the front end, you know what your price is.

[00:27:42] Whitney Harper: You now have a target that you’re working to stay under. And it’s okay if the first couple of times you do something, you actually would have billed more by the hour because you’re probably doing that so that you build the playbooks while you’re doing it. So the next time you come back and you’re billing less or you would

[00:27:57] Steve Fretzin: have billed less.

[00:27:58] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. It’s incrementally getting more profitable as you know, everyone more and more. Yeah.

[00:28:03] Whitney Harper: The other thing that’s interesting is if you’ve agreed on the price on the front end, then you’re not likely to have a collection issue. So on the hourly billing, you know, people want to compare it to. Yeah, maybe, maybe I said 2, 500 for this project, and I would have billed 3, 000 for it on an hourly basis.

[00:28:25] Whitney Harper: My next question is always, how much of that 3, 000 would you have collected, and when? Because in our world, we agree on 2, 500, we’re getting paid 2, 500 at the start, or at least some portion of it, right? Sometimes we’ll split up the fee based on what the project is, but… You’ve got, you’ve got commitment from the client to the fee.

[00:28:45] Whitney Harper: You’ve probably already got some cashflow coming in and you’re not, we’re not talking about a long hash collection cycle, so you’re speeding up your cash flow. You don’t have to worry about the effort of trying to collect and you, you can leverage technology to be more efficient so that the price can stay the same, but your cost to deliver can go down.

[00:29:09] Steve Fretzin: And, and I think, you know, again, taking the guesswork out of it from a client perspective of, you know, here’s a project, a contract that I think is going to be, maybe, you know, I think it’s going to be around three grand and it comes in at five because they spend more time on it. Wasn’t expecting that.

[00:29:24] Steve Fretzin: Well, I’ll let that lawyer wait a while for that, you know, for that bill to get paid. Right. Just because I’m pissed, I’m pissed off or whatever. And so is this primarily for transactional based projects and attorneys versus litigations? Because I know in litigation that makes it more even more so difficult to, you know, plan and execute on, you know, I don’t know what’s going to happen, you know, the future based on what the other side does.

[00:29:49] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. I mean, I think

[00:29:51] Whitney Harper: it’s certainly the language I speak is transactional because that’s what our practice is. Right. But we know lawyers who are Litigating who are operating on a deliverables basis, and really, it comes down to the thought exercise of how do I break up the engagement? So is it phases, right?

[00:30:14] Whitney Harper: So it might be that there are certain characteristics about a type of lawsuit where you can say this one’s in a, you know, is the like low level type of this litigation. This one’s the more complex and so low level initial pleadings cost this. More complex initial pleadings cost you that,

[00:30:33] Steve Fretzin: but the setting of expectations of, you know, breaking it up into phases.

[00:30:38] Steve Fretzin: Here’s what each phase, you know, will typically go for. And then maybe even setting the understanding that look, if things go off the deep end, then here’s the direction we’re going to have to go. That isn’t a part of this package or part of this plan. I’m just letting you know upfront. And here’s what that may look like.

[00:30:56] Steve Fretzin: As long as all of that’s established, I get things go wrong, right? Like that’s just life, you know, I just having a basic shirt, it’s unpredictable, there are things that are unpredictable and as long as that’s established upfront, but the consistency and the knowledge from a client’s perspective that this is the work that’s being done, here’s the money that’s going out to pay for it.

[00:31:16] Steve Fretzin: And I understand what that is. With pretty strong certainty. I mean, I love that. I love that’s that for me as a, as an entrepreneur, as someone who has spent money on legal in variety of different places, it puts me at ease. It puts me at ease. So. Let’s,

[00:31:31] Whitney Harper: uh, stand as a client, like where you can affect the fee to, right?

[00:31:35] Whitney Harper: Like how hard do you want to fight on this issue? Understanding what it might cost you. Yeah.

[00:31:40] Steve Fretzin: Right now. Well, very cool stuff. And, um, before we get, uh, before we get into the sort of like your details of how people reach out to you and, and how they want, you know, can hear more about Advos Pro and the P3 method and all of that.

[00:31:54] Steve Fretzin: Um, I love to do the Game Changing Booker podcast and you and I had a little chat ahead of time about our friend, Bob Byrd. Who wrote the book, the go giver it’s been mentioned on the show, but I think because it meant something so special to you. And I think we’ve got to be real, real brief on this because of the time from time, but talk about the go.

[00:32:10] Steve Fretzin: Cause a lot of people know about the go giver. If you’re hearing about it for the first time, it’s one of the, you know, next to legal business, next to the networking lawyers, networking handbook. It’s probably the next best, uh, book on networking. See how I did that? Uh, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s solid. It’s solid, but talk about that book and what it means to you.

[00:32:27] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, well, you

[00:32:28] Whitney Harper: know, when I was kind of an early professional, the word networking just was like a dirty word. Gave me the heebie jeebies. I couldn’t, I really couldn’t like get my head around how you could network in a sincere way. And so a couple of experiences, one, another colleague who I saw really kind of living out the go giver before I knew about the book.

[00:32:51] Whitney Harper: And then, um, my current law partner, uh, recommended the book. Yeah. And when I read it, it sort of things clicked, right? Like, ah, this whole networking thing can be really about avenues to add value to the people in your circle and, and who you run into, um, and not, not like in an if then kind of way. Right.

[00:33:16] Whitney Harper: But, and not, not at all feeling slimy about it, but instead feeling really genuine and just knowing that you are delivering tremendous value back to the universe. And so that was for me, like that shifted my whole game around. Networking and even kind of plays into how we operate the deliverables based billing and our relationships with our clients, right?

[00:33:35] Whitney Harper: We want to add way more value than we feel like we’re getting paid for and just, you know, have that confidence that we are additive and not subtracting from our relationships.

[00:33:44] Steve Fretzin: Well, and again, it’s, you know, givers gain, and there’s a lot of, of other verbiage around, you know, what makes someone successful in business and in networking, and it usually doesn’t involve taking and selling and pitching and convincing others to.

[00:33:56] Steve Fretzin: To throw business your way. So I think that book is a great should be out. Everyone’s everyone that’s interested in networking. You know, that’s one of the, you know, few books that I’d say really hits the mark. And, uh, you know, I don’t think you’re following it to the letter, but I think you’re following it as a guide of understanding the importance of giving and not being a taker and how that can benefit everybody in the long run, short, short term and long run.

[00:34:19] Steve Fretzin: So before we wrap up, I want to thank our sponsors, uh, money, penny, we’ve got get visible and overture. And I also want to mention if you’re interested in grabbing a copy, a free copy of my book, my first book sales, free selling to understand why. I think selling is dead and hopefully you think selling is dead and you want to look at a better methodology, grab a copy of it.

[00:34:41] Steve Fretzin: And it’s a bretson. com slash sales dash free dash selling. And you can just go and pick up a free copy. It’s really, really easy to do. And Whitney, if people want to get in touch with you, they want to, they want to look at your software. They want to look at your training and how do I get out of the billable hour model and start working, you know, in a different way.

[00:35:01] Steve Fretzin: What’s the best way for them to reach you. Yeah. So

[00:35:03] Whitney Harper: there’s a contact us form on our website, add those pro. com, a d v o s pro. com. You’re welcome to reach out to me by email directly at Whitney at add those pro. com. And we’re on the social platforms too, right? So Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, all the things at Advoce Pro.

[00:35:24] Steve Fretzin: Very, very cool. Thank you so much for, you know, not only coming on the show, but, you know, sharing your story, sharing, you know, kind of like your, you know, life and, and how it transitioned into, you know, finding a problem and solving a problem. And I hope, hopefully lawyers. That are interested in getting off that hamster wheel as we talked about, you know, we’ll look into this further and, you know, we’ll reach out to you.

[00:35:44] Steve Fretzin: It’ll learn more and maybe, maybe end up getting us some training on how to use, you know, your software to get, to get outta the billable hour. So, good stuff.

[00:35:52] Whitney Harper: Thanks so much, Steve. It was really been a pleasure chatting with

[00:35:54] Steve Fretzin: you. Yeah, yeah. We had some fun in a few laughs here and there. And, um, again, the, you know, the audience that’s listening, these are not the folks that are just, you know, you know, cranking out billable hours.

[00:36:04] Steve Fretzin: They’re people that are entrepreneurial. They’re, they’re ambitious. And they’re interested in, in, in doing things in a smarter, better way. That’s my audience. And so if you’re listening, you’re nodding your head saying, yep, that’s me, uh, which is great. And, um, you know, you guys are slowly or quickly becoming that lawyer, someone who’s confident, organized and a skilled rainmaker.

[00:36:22] Steve Fretzin: And I appreciate you. I appreciate you being, uh, you know, uh, listener of the show. And, uh, if you like the show, please tell people about it. Please don’t be afraid to give us a nice review on your phone after listening to this episode. Uh, we will be in touch and talk to you again soon. We’re doing two shows a week, so you’re not far away.

[00:36:38] Steve Fretzin: Take care everybody. Be safe. Be well.

[00:36:44] 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 notes.