You won’t find many lawyers who can claim that they were in the business of organic farming before going to law school. But that’s only because you haven’t yet met Daniel Schlanger, New York debt defense attorney: “Before I went to law school, I ran an organic farm in California for nearly 7 years. I got into organic farming because I felt like it was applied environmentalism. Instead of telling people what to do and how to do it–such as recycle more–I had the chance to actually practice what I preached.”
From farming to lawyering
The jump from running an organic farm to practicing law may seem like a big one, but as Daniel explains, the move isn’t as strange as it might seem. In fact, there’s a synergy between the two that might not be evident at first: “I loved organic farming because it made the world a better place. But over time, as the business grew, it became further removed from the original environmental principles and ended up being more about straight business management. So, I decided I wanted to re-focus in a way that kept that big picture–the social change piece of it. I realized that to do so, I’d have to go back to school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to continue to make a difference in the world and to help people. So after giving ti some thought, I decided to go to law school. And sure enough, helping people and making the world a better place, is exactly what I do as a consumer protection litigator, just as I did as an organic farmer.”
Changing people’s lives, one client at a time
So, once he made the decision to attend law school, Daniel sold his farm, packed up his bags and headed to Boston to attend Harvard Law School, eventually becoming a debt defense attorney. So now, instead of farming, his day-to-day life is focused on defending individual clients and bringing individual and class actions against debt collectors, auto dealers and more. His goal–to improve his clients’ lives and curb unlawful debt collection practices.
For Daniel, it’s satisfying and fulfilling work: “My practice is focused on helping people with debt and credit-related problems. I love what I do because I go to work every day and do something that is useful and helps my clients put bad situations behind them. There are a lot of unfair practices in terms of debt collection and auto lending and I get a lot of satisfaction in feeling like ,on this narrow, but very important set of issues, I make things better for my clients. Because at the end of the day, my goal is to doing well while doing good.”
Using technology to provide better service to his firm’s clients
Daniel’s firm didn’t always use cloud computing software So, when Daniel decided to make the move to the cloud, he researched his options carefully, trying out a number of different cloud-based law practice management systems.
But in the end, the decision was obvious: MyCase was a perfect fit for his law firm: “We quickly limited our choices to cloud-based systems. Once we did so, I tested all of the popular ones extensively and conducted trials of all of all of them. MyCase was by far the most intuitive and user-friendly, which was a huge plus since we’d had problems when using Time Matters previously. Its poor user interface had a negative effect on user adoption in our firm. But with MyCase, our lawyers really like inputting time as they go now because it’s so easy. The screens pop right up and you can pull up reports to see your time very quickly. It’s required much less intensive training for the staff–significantly less than Time Matters required.”
MyCase saves time and money
According to Daniel, the user-friendly MyCase interface makes all the difference. It has has greatly simplified the process of managing his firm’s practice, since he can access the system from anywhere, at any time.
“I’m never ever going back to premise-based software. With MyCase, it’s just a joy to be able to get onto the system from any web connection no matter where I am. We used to pay a lot of money to Time Matters consultants to keep the system up and running. They had to tweak it to get the annual updates to work and every time they worked on the system, you had to pay them a maintenance fee to keep Time Matters running,” he said. “MyCase is much better–it syncs through Google and the calendars and contacts sync to everyone’s phone easily. It’s a much more user-friendly environment, even more so now that we’ve become a “distributed” work force. It used to be that I had to remote into the office to access Time Matters. And scanning something when remoted into a different desktop and printer hook up was no easy task. With MyCase we no longer have those problems.”
Of course, streamlining his practice wasn’t the only benefit of moving to MyCase. According to Daniel, MyCase has improved his firm’s bottom line since it saves his firm time and money: “Getting rid of our server was a huge money-saver. When our IT guy said we needed to buy a new servers for thousands of dollars and pay him to set it up and reinstall Time Matters–not to mention the expensive new warranty–that’s when we starting looking into MyCase. Then we moved to the cloud and that was no longer an issue–and we’ve never looked back.”
Advice for new lawyers
When asked if he had any advice for new lawyers, Daniel replied: “For someone starting a practice, on a very practical level my advice for a small firm would be to go cloud-based from the very start. Free yourself from server-related headaches off the bat. From a more general standpoint, it’s really important for lawyers to develop a community. I’m lucky because there’s a fantastic community of consumer protection lawyers that is close knit, which has been so helpful to me over the years. So I recommend that you find a community of advocates–not for the purposes of networking and business development–but instead so you can interact with and learn from others who share a love for the work that you’re doing. Law can be very isolating at times, especially in smal firms, so it’s importnat to connect with people who have the same passion that you do.”