Would it surprise you to learn that childhood mischief could serve as the basis for a successful legal career? Well, according to John Nichols, a Houston, Texas family law trial lawyer, his attempts to evade the repercussions of his occasional questionable behavior as a young boy helped him to hone the skills that make him a strong advocate for his clients.
He explains: “I originally became a lawyer because my father was an attorney. I’ve always admired him and I wanted to be just like him. However, once I started practicing law, I discovered how much I loved it. I began to realize the utility of the skills I used as a kid when I was in trouble and was being questioned about my misdeeds. It turns out that those talents often come in quite handy in the courtroom! I mean this not in the sense of advocating misdeeds or wrong acts – but more in the sense of learning at an early age how to think on my feet.”
Practicing law–it’s all about the people and your creativity
For John, family law is a natural fit. It is both interactive and intellectually stimulating, with every day offering new challenges. But as he explains, his favorite part of family law practice is litigation: “Litigation is so enjoyable, in large part because of the social interaction that it requires. One of the best parts of litigating is to try to properly identify my target group—judge or jury—and then hone my communication so that I strike a chord with them.”
The creative thinking that litigation requires is another bonus for John. “In the practice of law whether transactionally or litigation—you have so many opportunities to think outside the box,” he says. “When you think you’ve hit an obstacle or a roadblock—it serves as a test of your ability to achieve your end goal. Instead of getting discouraged by the roadblock–I love the challenge of finding a way to make things happen the way I want them to.”
The nimble solo
John is a recent solo practitioner, having previously been one of five partners at one of Texas’ largest family law firms. After experiencing some frustration with the bloat of a mid-sized firm and the lack of efficiency that goes hand in hand with larger firms, he recently left to start his own firm, Bo Nichols Law Firm, in search of a more agile law practice: “I went solo because I felt like there were more efficient and better ways to run a practice rather than using that corporate mentality. I wanted my practice to be intimate, with increased interaction and a more hands on feel. I wanted to be invested in my client and have my client likewise feel invested in the process.”
John embraces technology to accomplish this goal. As he explains, his firm’s use of cutting edge technology makes all the difference: “Technology is what sets my firm apart. I’m all for working hard but I’m more about working smart. Just because people in the industry have been practicing family law the same way for such a long time doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right way to do it.”
MyCase increases efficiency and saves money
When John started his solo firm, he knew that one of the most important decisions he had to make was choosing the right technology. That’s why he spent so much time researching law practice management software and that’s why he chose MyCase.
“When I decided to leave my former firm, I began to research the different law practice management platforms and MyCase seemed the most user-friendly and was the most compatible with where I wanted to take my practice. It was easier to navigate, both for myself and the client,” he says. “And quite frankly the technical support during the trial period made all the difference as did the positive feedback I received about MyCase from my colleagues. It received far more endorsements than any other software out there so I decided that if it’s good enough for them, it was worth looking into.”
MyCase leads to happy clients
For John, one of the primary selling points of MyCase is its client portal. “Being able to communicate with clients and upload and comment on documents is key. Also important is seamless billing and invoicing since one of the biggest complaints I’ve had in the past was that billing cycles took so long. Not with MyCase. I can invoice my clients on a weekly basis rather than every 30 days. Incremental invoicing allows my clients to keep tabs on the credit balance on their retainer – thus preventing sticker shock at the end of the day.”
The fact that MyCase is web-based is a major benefit as well. Having the firm’s data housed in the cloud makes life easier for both John and his clients: “Family law litigation is document intensive and being able access documents quickly is huge. Instead of being held hostage to the office or relying on someone at the office to obtain a document or answer a client’s question, MyCase allows me to access a document no matter where I am. MyCase lets me satisfy the ‘I want it and I want now’ demand of the 21st century legal client.”
Always look on the bright side
The glass is always half full according to John. Or at least, that’s how he chooses to view the world: “I always tell myself that if this is the worst thing that happens to me today I’m in good shape. This is especially so since family law litigation can be so serious and emotional. Sometimes we get so caught up looking at the veins of the leaves on the trees that we lose perspective and forget to step back and look at the big picture. Because that’s what’s really important.”