Sometimes you choose your ideal career path–and sometimes it chooses you. Situations change due to circumstances outside of your control, leading you to make decisions that forever alter your law practice–oftentimes for the better. Such was the case for Brent Hoeft, a Wisconsin transactional attorney with a focus on real estate, business law, and estate planning.
The path to his own practice
Brent began his legal career working for a small law firm in Cleveland, Ohio after graduating from law school in 2006. He worked at that firm for a few years, gaining lots of practical experience. Then, in 2009, his family’s situation changed when he and his wife decided to move back to Wisconsin after his wife was offered a job in Madison, Wisconsin. Both he and his wife both grew up in the Milwaukee area and looked forward to the opportunity to be closer to their families.
After an exhaustive job hunt in a poor job market, it soon became clear that Brent had a choice to make: either continue the search for a job with a Wisconsin firm or go out on his own. He decided that since he’d always planned to eventually go the solo route, there was no better time than the present.
Soon thereafter, however, he and his wife found out that they were expecting. Knowing the time and effort involved with starting a firm and the importance he and his wife placed on having a parent home with the kids during their early years, he decided the best option was to put practicing law on hold for the next few years.
Hanging a virtual shingle
Then he read an ABA Journal article that caused him to reconsider starting his own practice: “I read an article on virtual law offices. At the time, that time was a brand new concept. So I started doing research and realized that it might be a viable option for me. I could practice from my home office, utilize my Wisconsin network (mainly in the Milwaukee area), and care for our kids during the day while working on the weekends and evening hours. I knew that it would take some time to get a network established, but the virtual law office model would allow me to tap my established network in the Milwaukee area and bridge the gap until I could get my Madison area network established”.
After moving to Wisconsin and passing the Wisconsin bar exam, it wasn’t long before he’d set up his virtual law firm, Hoeft Law LLC with a focus on providing transactional law services. And, he hasn’t looked back: “It’s worked out really well. I have been able to build up a referral base of clients and business is good! Hanging a virtual shingle was a great choice for my situation.”
Using technology to deliver legal services more efficiently
According to Brent, he was able to launch his practice at a time when technology made it possible to deliver legal services online in a way that was affordable, convenient, and efficient, for both him and his clients. “My practice is unique in two ways, both of which appeal to my clients. What is different is how I provide legal services and when and where I meet with clients. I provide the same traditional legal services—it’s simply the delivery of those legal services that’s different,” he explains.
“Attorneys sometimes seem afraid of the technology but when you break it down it’s really just a different method of delivering legal services. I go to my estate planning and business law clients homes or businesses, which they like. After all, estate planning isn’t the most comfortable thing to think about and clients would prefer to sit with me in their own family room when doing so. Likewise for business owners–they appreciate that I’m able to meet with them outside of business hours rather than taking up valuable time during their workday.”
MyCase makes it possible
When Brent opened his law practice in 2010 there were only a couple virtual law office platforms from which to choose. At first he used another software platform, but in the beginning of 2014 he switched to MyCase after deciding that the law practice management software he was using no longer fit his needs. “I had been watching MyCase for a while and noticed that the company constantly added new features to its software. So earlier this year I gave it a test drive and loved the intuitive interface. Not only was it simple from my perspective, the client portal was incredibly important to me and that was very well thought out and user friendly from the client’s end as well. And, because I’m a transactional attorney, the ability to have a running commentary with a client about a particular document sealed the deal for me,” he says.
“Usability was key and MyCase fit the bill perfectly. I always look at it from a client’s perspective because I don’t want communication to be cumbersome. With MyCase, whether you’re computer literate or darn near illiterate, it just makes sense and pretty much anyone can figure it out without a lot of hand holding.”
A great product and great customer service
According to Brent, not only is MyCase great software for his practice, the customer service exceeds his expectations: “MyCase is so much more proactive with customer service and responsiveness than my former provider. Even before I was an actual customer of MyCase I used the help desk quite a bit to make sure that everything I hoped MyCase could do would work, since I was moving from one company to another. I wanted to make sure that the transition would be as seamless as possible and customer service was so responsive during the transfer!”
Brent shared one of his favorite quotes with me: “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” He explained that for him, it’s a reminder to always keep your priorities front of mind, explaining that: “It reminds me to ensure that I have the flexibility to work efficiently and on both my terms and my clients’ terms. MyCase allows me to do this. I’m never tethered to my desk and I’m always able to make a life as well as a living.”