How Entrepreneur Sam Glover Built the #1 Legal Marketing Blog on the Web, Lawyerist.com

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a guy who I’ve admired for quite some time, Sam Glover. Sam Glover, Lawyerist.com, Lawyerist, solopreneur, small law firm, legal marketing, solo practitioner, lawyer marketing, law firm marketing

Sam may not be a household name like other well known entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson of Ted Turner, but he may get there one day.

Over the past couple of years, Sam has built Lawyerist.com into one of the most popular legal marketing blogs on the web, with a focus on small firms and solo practitioners.

He also created a members-only forum (free to join) called the Lawyerist LAB where attorneys can swap ideas and tips about the profession. And he also bought and revamped Bitter Lawyer, which is a legal humor blog.

Oh yeah, and he also has a family and his own legal practice.

I know a lot of lawyers who read Lawyerist, and I know I relied on it heavily in making the decision to go out on my own, all the way down to using Lawyerist before I made any decisions about purchases for my new office.

I’m not sure how he does it all, but we’re glad he is able to balance everything.

Enjoy!

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Interview With Entrepreneur Sam Glover, Founder of Lawyerist.com

John Corcoran: You are a rare breed — a really entrepreneurial lawyer who both advises startup businesses and forms and runs businesses himself. Did you always know you wanted to start businesses in addition to practicing law, or was there something that dissatisfied you with the practice of law that led you to form Lawyerist and your other projects?

Sam Glover: I never wanted to start a business, actually. I started my firm after I left a medium-sized firm and got tired of applying for jobs I knew I didn’t want. Starting my own firm was my first introduction to running a business, and I liked it. I enjoy the business aspects of running a law practice as much as the actual lawyering.

But Lawyerist was never meant to be a business. I was just frustrated with the awful law practice software I was trying to work with, as well as with most lawyers’ fear of innovation. At least that is how I perceived it. It became a business much later, and that was more due to Aaron Street, who was a friend from law school. He saw Lawyerist’s potential, he had some time on his hands to work on the business, and he turned out to be right.

John Corcoran: You have an active law practice, a popular law practice blog, an advanced forum with advice for solo practitioners and small firm attorneys, a legal humor blog and, oh yeah, a family. You and your wife just had your second child. I don’t know how you keep all these balls in the air. How do you divide your time between your various different projects?

Sam Glover: That’s funny. I don’t feel very busy right now, actually. Keeping Lawyerist going is a (very) part-time job, and I keep my client list small so that I’m in no danger of getting overwhelmed. Plus, I don’t have any day-to-day involvement in Bitter Lawyer; Greg Luce keeps that going.

John Corcoran: A lot of lawyers are frustrated with the practice of law and the pressures of the billable hour and dream about branching out and doing something different, but are paralyzed from doing so because they like their lifestyle, or steady paycheck, or colleagues they like. How did you avoid getting caught up with that, and what advice do you have for both lawyers and non-lawyers who dream about starting a company?

Sam Glover: If you want to start a business, just do it. I guess some people need a life coach or whatever, but turning Lawyerist into a business just made sense to me, so when Aaron asked me about it, I jumped on the opportunity. Starting a business is pretty exciting, and it’s quite possible I’m a serial entrepreneur.

John Corcoran: Awhile back you purchased BitterLawyer.com, a legal humor blog. What inspired that decision, and how is it going?

Sam Glover: Kind of like with Lawyerist, the opportunity presented itself, and we decided to jump on it. It’s going well, and Greg has done a great job reviving the site. It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing, but we’re excited about Bitter Lawyer’s future.

John Corcoran: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are just getting started? Do you recommend working with a partner? Do you recommend going it alone? When should people know it’s OK to quit their day job and focus all of their efforts on what they really want to do?

Sam Glover: The most important thing is to think it through beforehand. Make sure you know what you want to do, and how you intend to make money. I like working with a business partner. It makes you accountable to someone, and you feel like a jerk if you don’t do your part. But it has to be the right person.

Starting a business on the side sucks. You can’t really build something while your energy and attention is focused somewhere else. Lawyerist was a side business for a long time, and I had a really hard time keeping up. But at some point, you have to just close your eyes and jump. That’s what I was doing when I sold my consumer rights practice last March so that I could make Lawyerist my main job.

John Corcoran: In this economy, many entrepreneurs need to keep their costs down to survive. How have you kept your costs down as you have built your businesses?

Sam Glover: I think that unless you are hemorrhaging money, it’s probably best to focus elsewhere. Running a law practice takes money, and you can’t skimp when it comes to serving clients.

One of the most popular posts I have written was Start a Solo Law Practice for Under $3,000. At the time, I was just trying to demonstrate how relatively inexpensive it is to start a firm. But it feels like too many people have taken it literally.

I get so frustrated when I hear someone say they just can’t afford a document scanner or Microsoft Office as part of their startup budget. Really? If a few hundred dollars is a make-or-break issue, maybe you shouldn’t be starting a firm.

I pay for things that make me more efficient, even if there are cheaper options. And I spend the money I need to spend to serve my clients. Sure, I think about my overall overhead, and I avoid wasteful spending (I just dropped my fax service because I haven’t sent or received a fax in months), but I try not to worry about cutting every last expense.

John Corcoran: A lot of advocates of blogging say that blogging regularly opens up doors in ways they didn’t expect. Are there any ways that blogging has opened up doors for you in unexpected ways?

Sam Glover: Well, if you mean Lawyerist, then no. But I have written Caveat Emptor almost since I started my practice, and I have been surprised about the attention I have gotten because of it. It’s even been cited in a couple of lawsuits.

John Corcoran: You clearly enjoy reviewing technology for Lawyerist, so much so that we suspect you started Lawyerist just so you had an excuse to play with the latest tech gadgets. Actually, you could say that you found a way to make money doing something you like doing, or would be doing anyways. What does that say about focusing on your passions when it comes to business?

Sam Glover: If I’m not happy doing something, I generally don’t do it. That’s a character flaw, but my character flaws have dictated my approach to business.

I went paperless because I’m lazy and don’t like sorting files or carrying around stacks of paper. I don’t like tracking time, so I don’t do hourly billing.

I’m crabby about bad technology and law practice inefficiencies, so I created Lawyerist as a relief valve. So I guess the lesson here is to harness your character flaws.

Thanks to Sam for being such a gracious guest.

 

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