The Modern JD spotlight series is a feature on Lawyernomics that highlights attorneys that are using technology, their brand and marketing in innovative ways to connect with clients and their peers. These attorneys come from different practice areas across the country but have one thing in common: they have evolved with the times to meet the needs of their clients and practice. This week we are excited to share attorney, Chad Van Horn of Van Horn Law Group, P.A.
What is your area of practice and why did you decide to get into it?
My area of practice is helping people and small businesses with debt issues. Whether it’s bankruptcy, consumer law, student loan or civil litigation; this type of law allows me to pursue my passion of helping people and mentoring them through tough times.
How has being a lawyer changed since graduating law school?
Everything has gone to E-filing and E-dockets thank goodness! This is good and bad as things are moving at the speed of the internet. When I first became a lawyer not too long ago (2009) it seemed as though we were in a transitional phase. Older lawyers were resisting the new technology while younger lawyers were using technology to make up for what we lacked in experience. Now lawyering is facing new threats/opportunities due to technology and other more efficient systems.
Where do you envision your practice and profession as a whole going in 5 years?
I envision my practice becoming more efficient to be able to serve more client’s at an even higher quality level with less manual tasks. What this means to me is having a very highly capable staff who’s efforts are multiplied by the use of technology to support their skills. The years of having a true secretary to dictate letters to are gone and replaced by tech alternatives. This, I believe is a good thing as it will allow legal teams to grow their skills.
How do you think your practice is unique compared to others? What is your firm’s secret sauce?
We embrace change instead of trying to fight it. We also take a consumer and customer service approach. The client isn’t always right, but we try to figure out why their perception is a certain way instead of dismissing their thoughts. We have a great relaxed, team atmosphere that I believe our clients appreciate. Also, we give out Charm’s blow pops to all of our clients when they come in. It’s something small, but people notice!
Do you see yourself as a lawyer first? Business person first? or Client service first?
Client service first, then business, then lawyer. Of course, my responsibilities as a lawyer are going to always be in the forefront but I believe as long as you are trying to do the right thing you can’t go wrong. However, if you don’t handle your business dealing and client services correctly, you will not have any clients to advocate for.
How do you use your personality or brand in creative ways to connect with clients?
I connect with my clients all hours through social media, text, email, mail, emojis, etc. I am very connected as a lawyer, maybe too connected. Also, I really try to learn about my clients other than just their legal issues. I like to talk about their favorite places to eat, visit, relax etc. as well as learn who their favorite sports teams are. This allows me to connect with them on a deeper level and present legal options to them that are more customized to their exact personality, situation and need.
How has Avvo helped you connect with clients?
I enrolled in Avvo Advisor which allows clients to get to know me better and get answers they need for only $39. Sometimes the $39 is all they need to pay, sometimes it’s a bigger issue that we need to solve which may lead to more work down the road. Also, my Avvo rating and reviews give social proof that I can be trusted with the client’s case. This has been essential to getting clients in the door.
Where do you find inspiration professionally and/or personally?
I find people the most inspiring. From family to former classmates, to philanthropic leaders, people on the front lines doing good in my life or other lives is what inspires me to do what I do. Luckily I can keep up with all of them on social media whenever I am too busy to catch up in person. It is exciting to see what good people are up to and their successes. It also motivates me and gives me ideas to integrate into my life and business.
What’s the piece of technology you couldn’t live without and why?
Computer. I prefer responding to emails/text/messages with a full keyboard instead of on a cell phone. It allows me to write more.
What kind of a role does technology play in your practice?
It is a driving force behind my success. Without the use of technology, more veteran practitioners would have a huge advantage over me as a new attorney. Technology has allowed me to shorten the learning curve while having success as a young attorney.
Favorite app on your phone?
Blinkist. It allows me to “read” through books I have always wanted to catch up on while I am on the move. It really is a must for anyone who appreciates non-fiction books.
The best tip or trick for balancing everyday work and life?
Follow your passion and do things that you love. If you’re truly passionate about something you’ll make time for it, whether it’s work or play. This is what has allowed me to get through the tough times and thrive during the great times. If you love what you’re doing it helps you stay balanced.
Describe, in three words, the Modern JD or the 21st Century Lawyer.
Resourceful. Resilient. Inventive.