Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

Using Technology in Modern Family Law Firms | Episode 104

May 06, 2022 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha Season 1 Episode 104
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
Using Technology in Modern Family Law Firms | Episode 104
Show Notes Transcript

Technology has moved at a rapid pace in the past two decades, especially when it comes to social media and new forms of communication. As a result, lawyers need to be up to date on the many different formats evidence can come in, whether it’s a crucial series of text messages or a video on Instagram. They also need to be sure that their clients are aware of how text messages can inadvertently be deleted by their software or service provider, and the types of consequences that could entail.

Today, Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha discuss the modern family law firm and how to make the most of technology to give your clients the best service possible. You’ll learn about the role that automation plays, from email templates to document management, and how it allows lawyers to spend more time and energy doing deep work serving their clients with fewer distractions and more focus. 

We reflect on how the pandemic has affected in-person hearings, the hybrid approach we expect going forward, and how to know when to use platforms like Zoom and Webex for remote input from experts. Amy also shares a breakdown of how they manage regular check-ins with their clients and describes their models for representation as well as when they can be best applied.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What it means to have a digital modern mindset in your law practice.
  • The concept of deep work, its benefits, and how to achieve it.
  • Why it’s so important that lawyers avoid burnout.
  • An overview of the components of a modern family law firm.
  • Examples of how lawyers can institute automation in their firm.
  • How our firm structures its workflows and why digital checklists are so useful.
  • Discover how automation can help lawyers do their best work.
  • An overview of document management in a law firm and what that entails.
  • Why law firms need to be up to date on different communication technologies.
  • How text messages can be used in a case and how to ensure authenticity.
  • What clients and lawyers need to be aware of regarding text messages.
  • Why lawyers need to be up to date on the different formats evidence can come in.
  • The impact of the pandemic on hearings and meetings.
  • How in-person hearings are being combined with remote online presence from experts.
  • How technology can be used to

What is Divorce at Altitude?

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.



Ryan Kalamaya (4s):
I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And Amy, Goscha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to Divorce at Altitude, a podcast on Colorado family law.

Amy Goscha (13s):
The force is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know, besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce client,

Ryan Kalamaya (21s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney listening for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce, toe parenting and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. I M Ryan Kalamaya this week. I am joined by Amy and we're going to talk about the modern family law firm. But before we get into that, Amy, how you doing?

Amy Goscha (50s):
I'm doing great. Thanks, Fran. How are you doing?

Ryan Kalamaya (52s):
I'm doing well. Looking forward to chatting about the modern law firm. It's something that we talk a lot about internally, and you're doing a presentation with Jordan Fox at Sherman and Howard. So when we say the modern family law firm, like what does that mean?

Amy Goscha (1m 11s):
Yeah. What we're talking about. I mean, I think a lot of it, you know, in our firms started doing this even before COVID, but the way that lawyers had the practice really had to change with, you know, a nationwide pandemic and also just being in the digital virtual age, people expect responses faster. We need to use technology or advantage in our cases. And so that's what we're talking about is how do you deal with the various forms of technology and expectations in today's world and how to manage a law firm?

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 46s):
Yeah. And I think for listeners to, to give them kind of an overview of where we're going, I think this is going to be helpful for any other family law lawyers or just lawyers in general, also for people that they interact with law firms to understand what is going on behind the scenes and what is going on within the industry, to the extent that they are currently in a lawsuit, or hopefully don't have to go down that road. But I mean, listeners, this is Divorce at Altitude and it's a podcast on Colorado family law. So some people listening are considering either filing for divorce or in the middle of it. So let's talk about the mindset, but for listeners, they can expect to hear about document management and how that has maybe changed electronically stored information or ESI.

Ryan Kalamaya (2m 38s):
We've talked about that in, in previous episodes with discovery and what we do in terms of automating various things and things such as Webex in virtually appearing. I mean, Amy, you and I are recording this via zoom or everyone, presumably listening to this is heard of zoom or use zoom. And we'll talk about what impact that has had on the court system. But what kind of mindset, if we're talking about a mindset, what does that matter? And what am I talking about with the digital or modern mindset?

Amy Goscha (3m 15s):
Yeah. And I'm glad that you mentioned Ryan, that this could also translate into not just family law firms, but just law firms in general. I think as lawyers, we're constantly getting pinged by clients or deadlines for the courts or internal tasks that we need to do for our firm. So there's just so much going on and it's easy to get overwhelmed. And so you and I have talked about within our firm, how do we set a stage for a mindset? So we're able to do the work that we need to do, you know, efficiently, but also really well. So I'll let you talk about the book that you had our firm read that really has helped us.

Amy Goscha (3m 57s):
Can you explain what book really was exciting to you and how we've implemented that into our firm?

Ryan Kalamaya (4m 3s):
Yeah. Cal Newport is a professor in Georgia and he's a podcaster and I started getting into some of his work and it really resonated with me. His best known book is deep work, which is the book that we had our whole firm read and we talked about and it seemed to resonate. And the idea for a lot of his thoughts is centered around this concept called the deep life is what he's really refined it and discussed. But Amy, we emailed back and forth. And I think anyone listening to this can think of a time when they spent all day emailing or doing various things.

Ryan Kalamaya (4m 43s):
And they kind of asked themselves, what did I actually accomplish? And we're very busy within our firm, but people are hiring us to really think about their issues deeply and to come up with solutions. So for us, it's been that balancing act of what you mentioned at the beginning of being responsive. People are expecting that. I mean, you to be available pretty much at all times versus the necessity of really thinking deeply about particular issues. So what are the things that at least from that book or other things that you've been either thinking about Amy or have made changes that come to mind?

Ryan Kalamaya (5m 31s):
When we talk about a mindset and the modern age of running a law firm,

Amy Goscha (5m 36s):
The premise I really took from the book is that it, you can't do deep work, meaning really focused, concentrated work when you're constantly distracted. So in order to work on that one way to do that is to set blocks of time within each day, that you can devote to actually working on drafting a motion or having a time where you're not distracted. So how we've implemented it in our firm is we set hours between eight and 10:00 AM, where we don't have internal communication between attorneys and staff. And it gives all of our attorneys and staff an opportunity to have the space not to be distracted.

Amy Goscha (6m 20s):
And we also encourage and talk in our firm, internal meetings with attorneys and staff about how they should be respectful of that time. And they shouldn't be pinging requests to other people. It's almost like a quiet time to be able to really focus on our work. And, and I've found it's really, really helpful. You know, I'm guessing you've experienced the same.

Ryan Kalamaya (6m 44s):
Well, Amy is, you know, I'm a morning person. I wake up very early and really that is the time when my brain and everything is super fresh for me. So I do my best work then. And I allow people to book meetings or phone calls on my calendar automatically. There's a public Lincoln clients or other attorneys. I use that because it then reduces the amount of time back and forth. I mean, I'm sure everyone can appreciate the amount of emails to set a day and time to have a conversation. So I have a self booking link, but that comes in on my time.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 26s):
People can't book a day and time in the morning to have a meeting. And it really kind of allows me some space where if I want to do my drafting such as writing a brief or really that undistracted time, then that is the time that I really know I can do that. And so our, from what we've tried to do is let our clients know that this is a benefit to them and that they might have a particular issue that is an emergency, and they can get through to us if our assistants and other people know that a phone call, if there is an emergency, they can get us.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 6s):
But it's the internal that Microsoft teams, the internal messages, the emails, no, one's expecting you to respond to an email. Maybe I'm reinsure Amy. You've had people email you and then five minutes later, you know, they don't get a response to the email again and again and again. And it's just kind of the reality of our modern age and to push back against that so that we can do quality work, but we don't set meetings. Those are the kinds of things that in terms of the mindset and things that we're at least thinking of. But if we kind of switch gears and talk about the components of a modern family law firm, what components come to mind for you, Amy, other than the internal policies of what we communicate and when we communicate.

Amy Goscha (8m 55s):
Yeah. And I'll get into the components. The last thought I had just talking about the mindset is also the fact that as lawyers, we don't want to have a high burnout, especially in the area of practice that we practice in. We need to, in order to do our best work, we need to not be burned out. So that's another reason why setting that time aside helps. So you're just not always feeling like you're throttled and being pulled in various directions. So as far as the components, you look at how a law firm operates. You need to have a document management system, you need to have workflows and checklists, you need to have touch points with clients. You need to have a system on how you're communicating internally, but also with clients.

Amy Goscha (9m 40s):
And you mentioned Ryan automation, how has automation becomes so crucial in our firm? And what are some things that we've started implement that have helped us?

Ryan Kalamaya (9m 50s):
Well, what we found is, and it's kind of the dirty secret within the legal industry is that we do a lot of things over and over again. And so it probably, isn't a surprise to listeners. And certainly if they're lawyers, they're going to know this in terms of templates or other things that we do over and over again. And so what we have tried to do is automate some of the repeated things. And we'll talk about text expander and some of the ways that we try to become more efficient with some of the more repeatable writings that we do, but we have a series of automated emails that goes out in every case.

Ryan Kalamaya (10m 32s):
So for example, the attorney client privilege, it's a basic tenant of an attorney client relationship, where we explain to the client what the attorney client privilege is. And that email explaining that goes out to every single client and it's automated. So that as soon as someone hires us, then it goes out two to four days. But we also have, for example, a litigation hold email that goes out to every single client because every single one of our clients is engaged in some sort of litigation, or there is a risk of litigation. It's just what we do. But that kind of gives us an overview of where we know every single client is going to receive it.

Ryan Kalamaya (11m 19s):
And we tell clients, listen, we're not billing you for this. It is canned or cookie cutter, but it then protects us. And we also know that any case that one of our associates or someone does, and it's just an efficient use of automation and Amy, are there any other ways that we use automation within our firm that you can think of,

Amy Goscha (11m 43s):
You do short video clips on various how tos we use those and we send those to clients when they're applicable. So I think having video, I think talking about a modern family law firm, I think just the use of video is becoming more prevalent. And it's also, so you can kind of have that touch, you know, that humanistic touch point with that person, even if you're not face to face like you and I, we've never worked in the same office, you're an Aspen I'm in Denver. And I tell people that, you know, like what is different about our firm? And just being intentional about when you are doing things through automation, video can also help with providing that humanistic touch points.

Amy Goscha (12m 30s):
So that's probably what I would add.

Ryan Kalamaya (12m 32s):
Yeah. And the workflows that we have when I say workflows they're checklists. And one of the stories that we frequently tell within our firm is that my father-in-law, he is a pilot, but he flew for United and like a pilot, he would get into the cockpit and there would be a checklist. And he would go through the checklist, every single flight. And we circulated the checklist manifesto is a popular book, but it really got into kind of medicine. And, but pilots, I mean, there's a reason that they go through a checklist because they want to make sure that the engine is working. And if you don't go through that checklist and something goes wrong, you die. And, you know, no one's going to die from divorce, but certainly there can be a malpractice claim.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 15s):
In one thing that we have really tried to lean into and implement within our own practice is the workflows that we have. So we know that in a divorce that our associates, our paralegals, everyone knows who is doing what, and there are various things on our checklist to make sure that various issues are covered. And so if, for example, a trial is set, we have a particular workflow where the deadline to disclose expert witnesses and to do a joint trial management certificate that is automatically assigned to a particular person.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 56s):
But I think that those workflows are really something that we have spent a lot of time on. Certainly. And it, at least in my experience in working in other firms or with the DA's office that didn't really exist, it was just kind of like, oh, I've got this in my head. This is what I'm going to do. And some of them, you know, we'll have a paper checklist, but something that we've done digitally. And I think that it's been a huge benefit for us over the last couple of years.

Amy Goscha (14m 29s):
Yeah. And I think also thinking about a client experience from start to finish, you know, like there's the period of time where our onboarding of a client checklist was excellent and we needed to work on the closing part of it, you know? So I think just it's easy as an attorney when like the divorce is done to be like, okay, the case is done, but there are certain things that you need to do and should be doing at the end of a divorce case to make sure that you have a checklist on closing out cases. So that's super important. And I think it's also a work in progress as you. And I know since we started our firm, like our checklists have become way more expansive and better. So I think, you know, it's something that as a firm and as an attorney, you should always be looking at to see how they can be improved.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 15s):
Yeah. And I think Amy, you and I, our goal is to make sure that a client that may not be able to afford us, or they have a relatively simple family law issue that anyone that is represented by our firm is going to have the certainty of the guidance and the professionalism that we would hopefully bring to that case. And it just makes us more efficient. But I think the other aspect is with internally is then it allows our team members, the freedom to be creative, where they don't have to have the bandwidth of waking up at three in the morning, worrying about a deadline.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 59s):
I mean, any lawyer can understand that fear or that risk. I mean, we've all woken up and been worried about something not getting calendared or, and what we tell our staff members. We can fix pretty much everything except for a blown deadline and being more efficient because people in this age, they're hiring us to be creative, to bring our unique skillset, but they can do a lot of research and they can do a lot of work on their own and they don't want to be charged for something that is just like a commodity or that anyone else can do. And I think people are really expecting law firms to modernize and get with the program because the legal industry's historically pretty antiquated.

Amy Goscha (16m 49s):
Yeah, exactly. And I just know going through my own divorce, you know, like you are going through a hard time and you want your attorney to tailor their expertise, take your matter. And to be able to do that for every single client, you need to make sure that that's the baseline, making sure that deadlines things are getting done. And so if those are automated, it gives you the brain space to be able to think and be creative, to be able to customize and tailor the experience for each client.

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 18s):
Right. And talking about tailoring before we move on to management documents, but we use a program called text expander and it's a whole library of various, either explanations and written language. And we have that our whole firm has that. So if we have a case involving a parenting issue and there's some alcohol or drugs involved, we've done it in the past where we'll come up with kind of a protocol or a regime on drug testing and how that can implicate parenting. That's the same for every case. But if a client comes to us and that is their particular issue, then we can use that and then tailor it specific to their needs.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 1s):
And so we have a whole library on various issues that we have tailored for clients over in the past, and that could be business valuation. So it could be selling a house on that is something that we've really tried to both systemize, but also allow our team members to tailor particular things to a client's needs.

Amy Goscha (18m 26s):
Yeah. And I think just as you were talking, I was thinking about how a lot of firms, you need to figure out a way to use that institutional knowledge to have it at your fingertips, not only for the associate for the paralegal, but just having an organization around case law that is experts that are particular to an issue, just having the assessability of four motions or, you know, like you're saying alcohol provision. So I think being a top-notch family law firm needs to have that organization.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 58s):
Right. And I mean, you and I, we don't need to invent the wheel because we've seen a lot in 15 plus years of practicing law, but it's really being systematic about bringing in some of the unique experiences because they do come up from time to time and people, they want that efficiency, but they also really want you to spend the time to really customize that to their particular case. So let's talk about management of documents and evidence. So Amy, for listeners that don't know what document management and the particularities of that in the law firm, can you give us an overview of what that all entails?

Amy Goscha (19m 42s):
Yeah. So when we're talking about document management, we're really talking about documents that we received from clients documents. We received from the court documents that we produced to the other side in documents that we're receiving from the other opposing party or opposing counsel. So just having a system for storing those documents, keeping track of them, making sure that we're keeping confidential information that needs to be confidential, that we're complying with disclosure, financial disclosures, formal discovery as lawyers, we deal with a lot of paper, but in the cloud now we are a completely paperless law firm.

Amy Goscha (20m 24s):
So I think that's also part of being a modern law firm is being able to manage documents, not having your paper file, like we used to. So that's what we're talking about.

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 35s):
Yeah. I mean, Amy, you and I we've talked about, I mean, there's certainly a sea change going on within the domestic relations bar. I mean, a lot of older attorneys are realizing that they want to, and we're seeing a lot of really experienced, really good lawyers retire, but we're also still interacting with lawyers that literally print out their emails or they can only deal with paper. I have no idea how they manage that. I mean, you and I both cut our teeth when we would open up a Manila folder and there would be a two hole punch and it was formulated with tabs. And I do not miss those days, but we also now have to confront the reality of searching for information.

Ryan Kalamaya (21m 24s):
We, because we get so much information. And what I often explain to our paralegals and associates is that usually a case will come down like a divorce. It'll come down to two to three, to four critical pieces of information. And it's really finding that and waiting through the morass and the thousands of pages of PDF sewer, whatever, you know, maybe to get to the heart of the matter. And so figuring out a way to do that efficiently, but also, so the client has access to all the information that we have.

Ryan Kalamaya (22m 3s):
So emails and QuickBook files, those are held in digital format and really organizing in a manner where we know that we've produced it to the other side, but also we've looped in our client if they want to has been a lot of work.

Amy Goscha (22m 21s):
Yeah. Clients do want access to their documents and it's just figuring out what to give them access to certain clients love to upload documents. Some clients still don't know how to upload documents. So I think as a law firm, being able to still tailor and work with those clients to meet their needs.

Ryan Kalamaya (22m 41s):
Yeah. And one thing that we talked about is knowing, I think that that skill set is also important when you're actually dealing with the substantive aspects of the case. When I mentioned that there's two or three pieces of information of evidence that really a case can pivot on it's knowing how to actually find that and really gathering up the necessary information. So for example, a business owner, if they're going through a divorce, then they probably like us Amy, when we're business owners and we communicate over teams. So we'll communicate with our bookkeeper, they'll communicate about various internal issues. And so if a business area is going through a divorce, it's certainly helpful for the attorney to know that that's how the team communicates.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 26s):
Because if the business owner sends a message, for example, to the bookkeeper and says, we need to drain the bank accounts, I'm about to go through a divorce or hide the money, you know, withdraw this money and throw it onto your mattress after the divorce, I'll come back and get it. Or those sorts of issues. If you don't know if you're lawyer that doesn't know how modern business is run, then you're missing an opportunity to gather that information. Because we frequently, in a case, we'll ask for electronically stored information and, you know, text messages, Amy, in a parenting case. So talk to me about what the importance is or how that really is relevant to the extent that our listeners can't really conceptualize what we mean by text messages or what really matters.

Amy Goscha (24m 15s):
Yeah. So, I mean, with text messages, if I am talking to a client, I always tell them no matter what you're putting in writing, just expect that it could be an exhibit, right? So that's the first thing I say, secondly, we got to get text messages from clients. Like they can't just delete them. And a lot of phones will have like a 30 day notification where things get deleted and it's like, they can't be deleting things. We have certain applications for downloading those text messages to make sure that they're authentic. So those are the types of things that we're looking at regarding text messages.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 49s):
Yeah. And can I have a related topic is social media. We previously recorded an episode about social media, but the interactions between parents online on social media or text messaging or knowing what kids are doing. So parents are they're text messaging, but they're also dealing with social media use with their children. And I think one aspect that comes to mind for me is how do you organize that information? We've used apps to download text messages or to present social media because it's hard, you know, do you do a screenshot or what's going to be the presentation to the judge? What is it going to be? I mean, you and I had consulted on a case in which I filed a motion and I embedded pictures of a social media of Instagram in the motion that we could not do that before.

Ryan Kalamaya (25m 41s):
And those are the ways that I think technology really comes into play with the practice of law. And if clients are advised, Hey, your phone may delete your text message. After 30 days we've seen sanctions against parties. And I think it really was because the lawyer did not explain to their client. I don't think that the client actually intended, but they had an adverse ruling from the judge on that. And it's because their lawyer didn't really explain to them what the implication was.

Amy Goscha (26m 15s):
Yeah. So I think just being up to speed as a lawyer, as to how many different formats evidence can come in and what are the social media apps, what are the new ones that everyone's using? I mean, there's certain ones where certain information can disappear after a certain period of time. And how do you get that information back?

Ryan Kalamaya (26m 35s):
Yeah. So let's talk about hearings and mediation and I mean, we're doing this over zoom, you and I you're in Denver, I'm working from home, I'm in Snowmass village. So Howard mediations and hearings, how are we doing those right now?

Amy Goscha (26m 50s):
The courts are slowly starting to go back in person. I had my first in-person full day hearing and Eagle county about a week or two ago. So for the longer hearings they're doing them, they're starting to go back in person, but Webex is here to stay. I see judges and magistrates and court personnel using it as a tool for initial status conferences. They're using it as a way to manage hearings. It's more efficient. If you have, for instance, experts, Ryan, you live in the mountains. If you're hiring various experts from Denver, you might decide from a cost perspective that they might appear by WebEx.

Amy Goscha (27m 31s):
It just depends. So we're also seeing depositions. We're seeing mediations, we're seeing arbitrations by zoom or WebEx and actually people like that. And it's here to stay not to mean that there's going to definitely be a place in a time where hearings are going to be in person, but you're going to always have the ability I believe, to request a hearing by WebEx.

Ryan Kalamaya (27m 55s):
Yeah, I think for mediations in particular and client consultations like meetings, we just have another tool in our toolbox where some clients, they might prefer to do consultation or to do a mediation from the comfort of their own home. And so we have that option now it's readily accepted and you know, it's one of those things where we don't have to drive. We used to drive down to Glenwood for mediation and I wouldn't charge the client because I could run to the target or something like that. But it was an hour. People would be worried, but I had an expert.

Ryan Kalamaya (28m 36s):
You and I have spoken Amy, I think especially financial experts, people really, the judges are a lot more flexible on those financial experts appearing via WebEx. And for people that don't know, it's basically a zoom, it's a virtual platform. And I actually had a financial expert. He's actually pretty sad because he would get a lot of what he called windshield billing time. And it was like he would drive from Denver to grand junction or Denver to tell your ID. And it was really easy, kind of, he would listen to a book on tape, but he would charge the client. And those days I think are certainly done. But I think it really depends on the facts and the circumstances.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 18s):
And it depends on the judge, our judge here and aspect, I think he is really keen on WebEx and he prefers it, but then some other judges, they really liked that in person. So it's knowing who you're using and what is going to happen. But I also think it brings up the issue of knowing how to use it. I love the virtual hearings because I know I have a advantage with, I walk into any trial with an iPad. And so it's just a matter of, is it in my home office and can I do screen shares and blow up everything? And I've thought a lot about the audio, the visual, those sorts of presentation, because that matters.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 59s):
I mean, people, I don't think appreciate that trial lawyers, jury, trial lawyers, they are very thoughtful. They should be about the suit that they wear or whether or not they wear a watch and those sorts of things because they really do matter. And the presentation online is no less important.

Amy Goscha (30m 21s):
I think that judges, for sure, in the Metro area, they're so taxed. If you want to keep them their attention focused on your case. And so if you have technology where you're blowing up an exhibit and you're showing them exactly where they need to look to prove the point that you're trying to make, I mean, that's a great way to keep a judge's attention on what's important.

Ryan Kalamaya (30m 43s):
Right? Well, let's also talk about something important and that is communicating or managing clients. So Amy, you have a thing that a lot of us in the firm have poached the idea from. So can you talk to us about your scheduling of weekly check-ins with clients and some of the things you do for communication with clients?

Amy Goscha (31m 6s):
Yeah, so I schedule not in every case, but I offer it to every client if they want a check-in. And there are some cases where I require a check-in, but it's just a time for me to connect with the client. So they know what's going on in their case and just to address issues as they come up. You know, I think it's a great way to keep not only myself, but the client engaged in moving the case forward because you and I have talked about this. People want resolution, they're happier if things are done quicker. So I think it's just keeps everything on track. I've found that to be very useful. What are some things that you've found useful, Ryan, that you implement regarding communicating with clients?

Ryan Kalamaya (31m 47s):
I've mentioned the scheduling the link, but both the weekly check-ins that you have. And then the self-scheduling, what happens is all of our clients have some form of anxiety. They have uncertainty. And so they're anxious and they can just blast off the email or text message. We implement this within our firm where we have weekly check-ins with our team members and we're a remote first law firm, but it allows, I mean, Amy, you and I have, we have a monthly check-in, but it's an opportunity for us to really connect. And instead of sending off that email, we can save it and say, I want to add this to the agenda.

Ryan Kalamaya (32m 29s):
And we see that internally where an associate will come to us with, Hey, this is, I've got this question about a case. And they just know that they're going to be able to get to us in the same thing with a client where they know that they can either schedule a time. And we tell people, Hey, if you want to keep your costs down, which everyone does, one of our standard emails is how can you keep the legal fees as low as possible? And one of the ways is schedule a time to meet with your attorney and in advance, send an email that essentially gives an outline or an agenda so that the attorney can think ahead of time.

Ryan Kalamaya (33m 11s):
But then you can then schedule a time. And in both parties, the client and the attorney know this is a set time when they're going to be not a bunch of back and forth. And obviously there's going to be some emergencies, but the attorney comes better prepared. The client has less anxiety because they know they can get in touch with us and they don't have to just go back and forth. And it's a time that works for us and they keep their costs down. So that is one thing that I try to work on. And I think the other aspect is that trying to figure out, I always tell clients at the very beginning, we're going to figure out how best to communicate if you like to text. Great.

Ryan Kalamaya (33m 52s):
I can do that. You know, I challenged people on a consultation. Like if you think that, you know, we're different, one way to find out is text me and find out how long it takes me to text you back. And obviously there's some tension there with that responsiveness that we talked about earlier versus the deep work, but really it's meeting the client where they are. If they like email, if they like in-person meetings, I mean, Hey, we can offer that. And it's just figuring out what is the best way that a client is going to advance their case and really understand the issues and move forward with the new chapter in their life.

Amy Goscha (34m 27s):
Yeah. And I think with check-ins that also is in line with our mindset because you're trying to have a meeting where you're dealing with things. So you're not getting pinged all the time. So I think that's really helpful.

Ryan Kalamaya (34m 39s):
Yeah. So to wrap it up, let's talk about the different kinds of services that are available to clients, because that also is part of the modern movement. Some attorneys, they only do full scope, representation and AMIA. You've spoken about, you've been super involved with some alternative arrangements. So talk to me and our listeners about the different kinds of services, legal services that are available for someone confronting a divorce

Amy Goscha (35m 10s):
It's in line with a modern law firm, because as consumers of legal services, people want all a cart. They want something that's tailored to their circumstance. So we have various, I guess, arrangement. So full representation is you hire me as a lawyer. You pay me a retainer and you pay me on an hourly rate, right? That's the traditional model. I handle things. I talked to the court, I talked to the opposing counsel. You can also do which Ryan, you and I have started implementing, which is flat fee services. You know, like that's very common in various areas, such as personal injury, criminal defense, but we also are tailoring it towards certain family law cases. That's where we say that we're going to do a certain task for a client and it's going to be for a fixed amount and clients like that.

Amy Goscha (35m 57s):
They, they like knowing how much it's going to be in what they're going to get. So that can be a really effective model. We also have limited scope representation, which is someone comes in and hires us for a discreet task. They might want us to review a parenting stipulation, you know, like they hire us for discrete tasks. We do a specific task and it's, we're essentially an advisory attorney to them. Our representation with them is limited. We also have what's coming down. We have an implementation plan. That's going to be submitted to the Supreme court next month in Colorado. So that's the LLP program. It's a licensed illegal paraprofessional. So the way that I described that is it's essentially someone between a paralegal and an attorney with a limited license that can help, you know, in certain circumstances.

Amy Goscha (36m 46s):
So that's another trend that we're seeing nationwide. Colorado is one of the first, but we have about 20 other states that are looking at it now. So that's also something that's there to help the consumer.

Ryan Kalamaya (36m 59s):
Yeah. It's kind of like tele-health or a nurse practitioner. So if you have a cold, then you can go in and you can get prescribed something. And I mean, not to equate a divorce with a cold, but it's obviously different than brain surgery and that you offer the consumer a different way. And when you were talking about fixed fees, I was thinking about what really prompted us to really dive in. And I had a plumber come over and I asked how much it was going to cost it unclog a toilet. And they said, well, it's going to be time and materials. And he came over super nice guy, fixed it in a Jiffy. It was no big deal.

Ryan Kalamaya (37m 39s):
And then he saw some skis up on my wall because we have skis and I'm an avid skier. And he started talking to me about skiing and I can talk and talk and talk and I can really talk about skiing. And I'm just sitting there wondering, is this guy charging me for this conversation? And I know the clients have that with us or anyone on an hourly. And in my mind, like I referenced my father-in-law flew for United. If United airlines can factor in the cost of fuel labor weather, all those different variables and provide a fixed fee to go from Cleveland to Denver, then I don't know why we can't say well for a deposition or for a mediation or to go to trial.

Ryan Kalamaya (38m 31s):
This is how much it's going to cost you at the very beginning. It's difficult, but we do do it on occasion, but people just want a certain level. They just want to know what it's going to cost. And then they don't worry about that phone call or the email and how much it's going to cost and take. Because certainly, I mean, we've had clients that they don't tell us something and it ends up being really important because they're worried about it, costing them something. So I think that all of these various kind of programs and ways of doing business are a benefit to people going through a divorce, but we could go on and on. But for now I think that that's enough. We're kind of trying to give bite-sized chunks.

Ryan Kalamaya (39m 13s):
And this is certainly not a bite-sized chunk episode, but hopefully that gives you an overview of for listeners, whether they be lawyers or people going through divorce on things to, to really consider or think about in the modern age of going through a divorce.

Amy Goscha (39m 30s):
Exactly. I agree.

Ryan Kalamaya (39m 31s):
So thanks again for listening. And if you haven't already, please leave us a review on whatever podcast player and more importantly, tell a friend, if you think someone could benefit, we always do appreciate new listeners. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us via email or give us a call. Thanks. Thanks everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode. Visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in.

Ryan Kalamaya (40m 14s):
Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find me at Kalamaya dot LA or 9 7 3 1 5 2 3 6 5 that's K a L a M a Y a.law.